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GP Week : Issue 196
Worst race of the year In 2012, the Circuit of the Americas was home to an exciting race that kept the title fight alive till the final round in Brazil. In 2013, however, Austin played host to the dullest race of the year, made worse by the fact that the championship had ended two races previously. Sebastian Vettel has won by more dominant margins this season, but the 2013 US Grand Prix offered little in the way of thrilling battles in the chasing pack. Instead, it was a 56-lap exercise in staying awake while trying to think of an eighth new way to say that SebVet was the class of the field. Again. Even an early Safety Car made little impact, and 21 of the 22 racers made it to the chequered flag. scandal of the year Since the departure of Max Mosley, there hasn’t been much in the way of F1 scandal. Bernie Ecclestone’s multitude of trials are still under way, and may prove not to be remotely scandalous. And even if they are, the Gribkowsky affair is last year’s news and next year’s news, with Ecclestone’s Munich trial scheduled for early 2014. Which leaves but one scandal this season – Pirelli’s ‘Terror Tyres’ which brought death and destruction to a grand prix near you. At least, until the flying rubber at Silverstone necessitated a change in construction and led to the most boring second half of a season since the Schumacher era. event of the year Sometimes F1 events are glamorous affairs. Sometimes they’re dull and corporate. And every once in a while sponsors and teams unite in imaginative fashion to put on an event that will stay with you for many years to come. Such was the case in Spa, when Shell and Ferrari joined forces to bring the F1 circus back to the 1950s with a showing of the 1955 Belgian Grand Prix. A movie theatre in the town of Malmedy was sent back in time, complete with doo-wop singers, journos in period attire, and a collection of era-specific cars for the audience to drool over. The black and white footage of the ’55 race was stunning, and the parallels between racing then and racing now drew many a wr y smile. Moment of the year "Multi-21, Seb ... Multi-21!" It was the radio call and subsequent ‘green- room' admonishment that defined the worsening relationship between Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, the on-track moment (above) that prompted podium booing that chased the four-time world champion around the world. Fans and media alike were divided into two camps – those who saw Vettel’s decision to snatch victory from his teammate at the Malaysian Grand Prix as the natural racing reaction of a man bred to fight, and those who felt it was a betrayal of common decency, of intra-team respect. Vettel argued that the difference in points between first and second could have proved vital at the end of the season, while hindsight has shown other wise. But it was the first hint of a possible rift between star driver and pit wall, with Vettel later acknowledging that he had deliberately ignored a direct instruction from his team principal. Innovation of the year They call it the infra-red camera, we call it PredatorCam. Whatever its name, the introduction of the thermal imaging devices as a regular feature in 2013’s F1 coverage has been brilliant. PredatorCam may not have been developed with the specific intention of shedding more light on tyre temps in a year when rubber has been one of the biggest stories around, but it has been both impressive and useful nonetheless. Particularly spectacular to watch was footage of Paul di Resta’s Monza shunt, when the Scot’s left front wheel was glowing orange as it flew across the cockpit, secured only by its tether. star of the year Oh, Kimi. It all started out so well, with that win in Melbourne that promised a year in which the Iceman would challenge SebVet for the drivers’ title, shaking up the status quo. And then it ended in Abu Dhabi after a first lap shunt that saw you leave the Yas Marina Circuit a scant 15 minutes into the race. Then you announced that you would be taking a leave of absence for the rest of the year as you under went back surgery. In the middle we had the Lotus salary scandal, the announcement of a 2014 return to the Scuderia, and more press conference mumbling than you could shake a stick at. With his refreshing approach to in-race communication, his refusal to play the PR game, and his sarcastic remarks (when you can hear them), any F1 fan without a soft spot for Kimi is no F1 fan at all. "Multi-21, Seb ... Multi-21!" F1 >>> FEATUrE 21 GPWEEK.com // 21 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: