As the TCF team continue to look back on the highlights and talking points of the 2013 season they turn their eyes to the teams that have contested the various championships around the world. Choices include a team that bounced back from the loss of a car to take the biggest win of their history, a team that fought to success after tragedy struck mid-season and the squad that again dominated at the very pinnacle of the sport.
Peter Allen – Russian Time
The combination of high costs and the tough economic climate has seen GP2 go through a tough period in recent years, with a high turnover of teams as the traditional squads struggled to pay the bills. This reached a new low at the start of 2013 with the news that iSport – who took Timo Glock to the title in 2007 – were looking to sell their entry having failed to find strong drivers with the necessary budget. In stepped Russian Time, backed by Russian investors and run out of the Motopark operation at Oschersleben in Germany. With the funding to sign drivers regardless of the budget they could provide, they quickly snapped up Tom Dillmann and paired him with Mercedes F1 tester Sam Bird. With just one pre-season test under their belt, they were immediately competitive and Bird claimed their first win at round two in Bahrain. The Briton claimed further landmark victories at Monaco, Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps, and went into the season finale as a title contender after another win in Singapore. A stall would see him lose out to Fabio Leimer, but he and Dillmann did enough to secure the teams’ title at the first time of asking. With Russian involvement in Formula 1 growing rapidly and the support package set to race in Sochi next year, Russian Time will expand into GP3 in 2014.
David Bean – Lotus
They have less money than the top teams (just ask Kimi Räikkönen about his IOU), but Lotus were still a team to be reckoned with in 2013. Räikkönen and team-mate Romain Grosjean scored 14 podium finishes between them, and they were regularly causing problems for the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes. If Grosjean had not suffered a four-race run without scoring any points, and Räikkönen had not disappeared for the final two races, Lotus could have easily finished second in the constructors’ championship this year. In 2014 they have the added challenge of taming the somewhat erratic Pastor Maldonado.
James Broomhead – Aston Martin Racing
Unveiling four cars for the FIA World Endurance Championship in Aston Martin’s centenary year 2013 was always going to be a big year for AMR. Of course the team would add a fifth car for some WEC races on top of that was well as entering, or supporting teams, in series and races around the world. In a bitter-sweet season that will – sadly – be remembered for the wrong reasons the team took the LMGTE-Am title and came within a rotten Bahrain race of scoring the title double they had threatened all year after they dominated the Six Hours of Silverstone.
Elsewhere the GT3 Vantage proved to be the class of the competitive class on several occasions. The Bilstein liveried version was the surprise package of the Nurburgring 24 Hours, before the team of Darren Turner, Stefan Mucke and Fred Mackowiecki dominated the Silverstone round of the Blancpain Endurance Series in the same car. In the Beechdean Aston Mucke also claimed pole position for the Spa 24 Hours, while on British shores Andrew Howard and Jonny Adam gave Aston Martin the British GT crown.
Read the race report from the thrilling British GT finale – HERE
James Charman – Volkswagen
Anyone who has been keeping even half an eye on World Rallying in the past ten years will know that Citroen have been the team to beat – only Ford managed to overthrow the French team in the Manufacturers’ Championship in 2006 and 2007. Many manufacturers have come in to try and take on the French giants (who had the slight advantage of having the greatest Rally driver in history driving for them) and failed. Enter VW. Taking victory on the first stage of the season, and then beating Sebastien Loeb in Sweden proved that Volkswagen’s success were purely down to a being a strong team and not because Loeb was running a reduced schedule.
Alex Goldschmidt – Aston Martin Racing
To celebrate a world championship is one thing, but it was rather special that on the carmaker’s centenary, through all the highs and lows, that Aston Martin Racing secured the WEC GTE Am driver’ title after such a year of mixed emotions. The tragic loss of Allan Simonsen at Le Mans this year was hard for everyone in the motorsport community, especially at Aston Martin with his teammates and family looking on. “The Show” carried on, as the team were asked to continue by the late Dane’s family in his honour, which showed how the team came together and pushed forward whilst still fighting hard on track. That is what racing is about, but shows just how mighty the human spirit is when the worst can happen. RIP Allan.
Read how we covered the news that Aston Martin would race on at Le Mans – HERE
And our full race report for the 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans – HERE
Joe Hudson – Team Falken Tire
Team Falken Tire. Following a low point for the team as the 2013 spec Porsche was completely written off in a massive start line shunt at Baltimore the Derrick Walker led team took their 2011 model off the showroom floor and bolted as many 2013 aero parts as they were allowed to by IMSA.
The result was a car I christened the Porschenstein which did not achieve brilliant results – it was fast on the straights due to a narrower front profile but poor in the corners due to the lack of grip. However, combine Nick Tandy, Wolf Henzler and Bryan Sellers and brilliant thing happen, a first place at Petit Le Mans was reward enough for the teams hard work and getting a 991 for next year will see them up at the front.
Read the race report for Petit Le Mans – the swansong of the ALMS – HERE
Dan Mason – Red Bull Racing
As from the past four seasons, it is impossible to look past Red Bull Racing after their fourth constructor’s title on the bounce.
Adrian Newey’s genius has arguably aided Vettel on his way to becoming the current Formula 1 benchmark, the RB9 proving again that there was more in the tank at Milton Keynes.
13 wins from Vettel in 2013 add up to a total now of 47 overall successes for the team, with Vettel having romped to the title with nine of those wins on the spin.
Read TCF’s review of the F1 season – HERE
…and the race report of the controversial Malaysian Grand Prix – HERE
Simon Paice – JHR Developments
While Pirtek Racing, JTR and Team Pyro have all impressed me, the stand-out team on my travels this year was JHR Developments. Many teams taste success in one category alone, but JHR have remarkably battled at the front across the three most competitive BTCC support series.
While they only carded one title success, Tom Ingram’s Ginetta GT Supercup honours, the team also impressively guided Rob Boston and Pepe Massot to wins/podiums in the Supercup, alongside race-winning exploits in the Clio Cup with Lee Pattison and Josh Cook, and in the Ginetta Juniors with Ollie Chadwick.
End-of-season wins in all three series and a pair of one-two-three qualifying performances on the final two Supercup weekends capped the year off on a high, and they’ll be hoping for more of the same next year.
James Singleton – Volkswagen
Last year, I gave this to BMW for winning the DTM championship in their first year back in the sport. This year, another German manufacturer has achieved a similar result in another form of motorsport. VW claimed both the driver’s and manufacturers’ championships in the WRC this year. You could say they faced very little opposition thanks to Ford’s demise as a manufacturer entrant, and a weakened Citroen squad – at least when Sebastien Loeb wasn’t around. You could say the result was never in doubt given their extensive testing programme last year. But nobody can deny how efficiently and effectively they, and Sebastien Ogier, got the job done.
Louis Suddaby – Red Bull Racing
I made every effort to construct an argument for someone else winning this award but there is only one team of the year. Just when you think Red Bull Racing have reached the pinnacle and the only way is down, the Milton Keynes squad raise their game yet again. Sebastian Vettel clinched world title number three by the skin of his teeth but his fourth was won at a canter as his team galloped clear of the pack in the second half of the season.
2013 wasn’t without adversity as the multi-21 fiasco in Malaysia proved but a bust-up that threatened to derail their season merely proved to be a speed bump in their road to championship glory. Tyres were the talk of this season and many will point to the Pirelli tyre changes mid-season as the turning point but let’s not forget that Vettel and Red Bull were already leading both championships by then and looking favourites to stay there.
Red Bull are a team that continue to raise the bar, showing that there is always room to improve no matter how good you are. Look at the way they cured their weakness on power circuits where straight line speed was essential, winning easily at Montreal, Spa and Monza, and it would take a brave person to bet against five in a row.