Formula 1® 2014-style is almost upon us, and if you thought you could track who’s gone where simply by checking out the numbers – think again!
One of the many changes for 2014, and perhaps one of the more curious, is that the governing body, the FIA, has abandoned the time-honoured practice of numbering the cars starting with #1 for the reigning World Champion and continuing in ascending order of the teams’ positions in the previous year’s Constructors World Championship.
Instead it’s open slather: the champ is still allowed to keep the #1 but everybody else can nominate his favourite number.
So they range from #1 (Sebastian Vettel) to #99 (Adrian Sutil). The equally familiar practice of having consecutive numbers within one team is also gone: only two teams have their drivers with consecutive numbers, and they are Scuderia Toro Rosso and Caterham. In terms of who’s gone where, perhaps the most significant change for us Down Under is who’s gone – and that’s Mark Webber.
After 215 Grands Prix Aussie Grit has had enough of F1 and moved on to the World Endurance Championship with Porsche, leaving the splendid legacy of nine Grand Prix victories behind.
So the next big change is who’s taken his coveted place at Red Bull Renault, and that’s another Aussie in the shape of Daniel Ricciardo. The West Australian was promoted from sister team Toro Rosso to take on the twin challenge of a potentially title-winning car and a four-time World Champion for a teammate.
Next is F1’s all-time favourite team, by which of course we mean Ferrari. Fernando Alonso remains to try to spearhead a scarlet revival, but Felipe Massa is gone after eight F1 seasons at Maranello.
Intriguingly, Ferrari have lured back a man who once turned his back, not only on the Scuderia but also on F1 altogether. Kimi Raikkonen, unhappy at delayed payment by Lotus, has opted for another crack at the sport’s most iconic team: he and Alonso surely represent the most charismatic pairing on the grid.
Kimi quit – so who has taken his spot at the troubled Lotus operation? Unsurprisingly, with talk of financial crisis, it’s the man who brings Venezuelan loot with him wherever he goes: Pastor Maldonado, gone from Williams in mutual relief and preparing to partner Romain Grosjean.
McLaren have dropped Mexican Sergio Perez to make way for the prodigious talent of Kevin Magnussen, son of Jan, who made one appearance for Ron Dennis and his team way back in the 1995 Pacific Grand Prix.
More significantly, perhaps, there is major change afoot behind the McLaren scenes. In what is being described as ‘an internal coup’ the big boss, Ron Dennis, is back in control and Martin Whitmarsh’s position looks virtually untenable.
Might Dennis tempt Ross Brawn, currently taking a bit of a holiday, to come back as team leader as he promises to make McLaren win again? Stranger things have happened – and Brawn has that precious link to Honda, with whose help he won both world titles in 2009, as the Japanese engine giant prepares to partner the Woking team once more in 2015.
Perez has taken his bat and ball and gone to join Force India alongside a man also returning to his former team. That’s highly-rated German Nico Hulkenberg, back with Vijay Mallya’s team after a largely disappointing season at Sauber.
The Swiss outfit, meanwhile, has retained Esteban Gutierrez, albeit tardily, and signed Adrian Sutil from Force India to partner him.
Toro Rosso, too, make one enforced change. With Dan the Man off to higher things, they have taken a punt on another Red Bull junior, GP3 champ Daniil Kvyat from Russia, who took out that title in the team backed by Mark Webber.
Williams did what looks like a good piece of business by exchanging Maldonado for the popular Felipe Massa, keen to show he still has something left in the tank despite the draining effect of years in the background at Ferrari in the wake of his gallant world title bid back in 2008.
The Brazilian will be the perfect foil for the unquestioned but as yet unfulfilled talent of Finland’s Valtteri Bottas in Sir Frank’s colours.
At Caterham it’s all change: out go Giedo van der Garde, snapped up as a third driver by Sauber, and the unfortunate Charles Pic. In come the returning and very popular Japanese Kamui Kobayashi after a year in the F1 wilderness, and Swedish newcomer Marcus Ericsson, a graduate from GP2 despite finishing only sixth in that series in 2013.
Which, as you may have noticed, leaves just two teams unmentioned so far. That’s because they are the only two who go into the radically altered landscape of F1 in 2014 without any alterations to their driver line-ups. We knew a long time ago that Mercedes would retain the glamour pairing of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, which will be a major advantage to the Silver Arrows as everyone struggles to cope with multiple changes to cars and regulations.
But it was only days ago that we learned that Marussia too would keep faith with their young twosome from 2013, Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton.
Just three F1 rookies this year, then, in the varying shapes and sizes of Magnussen, Kvyat and Ericsson; two older hands in Raikkonen and Hulkenberg head back to previous employers; the senior man in years is Kimi, but in race starts it’s Jenson.
But the #1 is still Seb – and all Australians will be hoping that 3 proves to be a lucky number indeed for his new partner at Red Bull, Dan Ricciardo.
2014 Entry List in numerical order
|1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Renault|
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Renault|
|4||Max Chilton||Marussia Ferrari|
|8||Romain Grosjean||Lotus Renault|
|9||Kamui Kobayashi||Caterham Renault|
|10||Marcus Ericsson||Caterham Renault|
|11||Sergio Perez||Force India Mercedes|
|13||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus Renault|
|17||Jules Bianchi||Marussia Ferrari|
|19||Felipe Massa||Williams Mercedes|
|20||Kevin Magnussen||McLaren Mercedes|
|21||Esteban Gutierrez||Sauber Ferrari|
|22||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes|
|25||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso Renault|
|26||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso Renault|
|27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India Mercedes|
|77||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Mercedes|
|99||Adrian Sutil||Sauber Ferrari|