Half a year of limbo land done – what’s next for Formula One in 2013?
- Credit: Photo by Vladimir Rys
Much like a Formula One car, the opening half of the season feels like it would have been missed if anyone dared blink – the best case in point arguably being the post-Malaysia arguments at Red Bull. Those are already four months old.
And with this weekend's outing to Budapest being the final fight – and grand prix number 10 of 19 – before the month-long summer break, it's a useful time to contemplate how things look. And also how it was all supposed to play out.
The fact is 2013 was always going to be a bit of a season stuck in limbo land. No rule changes for this term, but only 12 months before the whole shebang – engines and all – is turned on its head.
Indeed, Caterham's tally of more than 300 laps at last week's three-day Silverstone test was not only more than any other team – it also allowed the Hingham outfit the most time to try out some 2014 components.
While every team plans early for their following season's car, the eagerness of Caterham speaks volumes for where their priorities lie.
Add to that the fact they have fallen back in relative performance since they sorted their move to Leafield last summer, as well as not building a new car for 2013 – instead using their 2012 spec with a few ongoing additions – and it paints a clear picture.
Maybe McLaren's limbo will last a little longer, given 2014 will see them run down their contract with Mercedes – in other words a rival team – before Honda can get their teeth stuck into things the following season. But for everyone else, the limbo is a little shorter – and possibly ineffective.
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The reality is things have not changed greatly from where we were at the end of last year.
Red Bull still have the best performing, most reliable car – and at its wheel a man who is relentless in his pursuit for success. Yet everyone else seems to have gone backwards, be it from actually standing still – or literally losing their way.
McLaren's purgatory is made all the worse for their shocking performances this year, but Ferrari are struggling to fare any better.
Lotus – and that really means Kimi Raikkonen – look as capable as anyone of competing with Sebastian Vettel, yet he is still at the helm of a car that can underperform at any track and is unlikely to be developed at the same speed as others.
Which leaves Mercedes – and the unprecedented situation they find themselves in.
Having got things together, taking a wonderful win at Silverstone to underline their progress, they are faced with repeating their feat after Pirelli changed their tyres.
Be it in Hungary or the nine post-break races that follow, it may be more than just Mercedes' season that rests on what they can do from here.
• Just a quick note to say my column's own summer break will start after this edition – and returns for the Wednesday before the Belgian Grand Prix on August 25. In the meantime, keep an eye on the @EDPF1 Twitter and podcast feeds – as we still have things planned for the barren days that lie ahead.