Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo have both rejected the idea of skipping the final qualifying session in order to preserve their tires for the race in 2013.
Many teams have elected not to run in Q3 in the past in order to secure fresher tires for the race, believing that this advantage outweighs a better grid position. In 2013, Pirelli have designed the tires to wear at a quicker rate, making this tactic more suitable than ever, but the idea was rejected in the drivers’ press conference on Thursday.
“I don’t think so,” said defending world champion Sebastian Vettel. “I think you always want to start from the front. There’s the odd example here or there where people maybe had a bit of a benefit putting on that extra set at the end of the race but on average I think if you can chose, you go for the front.”
Ahead of his home race, Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo echoed Vettel’s sentiments despite only reaching Q3 once in 2012.
“Obviously if I was in the position to do that as well I would definitely go for starting at the front. Starting in the mid-pack and taking that risk to save tyres is obviously putting yourself in a bit more of a tight situation potentially on the first lap with more cars around.
“The thing is, if you’re able to fight for the front row you go for it, that’s the logical one for me.”
Car No.: 27
Best Finish: P6 (Spain, Great Britain, Belgium, Abu Dhabi)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Championship Position: 10th
Expectations were hard to peg for Renault heading into its second full season back in F1 with a factory team, but Nico Hulkenberg was surely expected to be the man spearheading its charge.
With teammate Jolyon Palmer severely underperforming, Hulkenberg did exactly that, bringing home all but 14 of the team’s points in the final standings. However, consistency was never something he truly found.
Many of Renault’s issues were down to reliability issues, sidelining Hulkenberg for six races – four coming in a five-race stint from Singapore to Mexico – yet he only scored points in consecutive races on three occasions.
When Hulkenberg and Renault were on form, they proved to be a potent combination, often topping the midfield fight and even looking faster than Force India come the end of the season. His run to sixth at the final race in Abu Dhabi was crucial for the constructors’ championship as Renault jumped Toro Rosso, securing an extra slice of prize money in the process.
But for a driver who was so often tipped as being a future star in F1, Hulkenberg still has a lot to prove. Renault is set to offer a good platform for the German moving forward with factory support, yet if he cannot beat new teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. through 2018, concerns will surely be raised.
Season High: Charging to sixth in Abu Dhabi despite a penalty.
Season Low: A tough run to 16th in Malaysia.