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Who is better off? 2013 vs 2014 F1 points comparison

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After the first four rounds of the 2013 Formula 1 season, the stage appeared to be set for a tight championship battle. Sebastian Vettel led the way with two wins, but Kimi Raikkonen – who was the surprise victor in Australia – trailed by just 10 points. Fernando Alonso had also claimed a win and was waiting in the wings, whilst Lewis Hamilton had made a great start at Mercedes and sat third in the championship. Of course, we all know what happened from then on…

What a difference 12 months makes. The championship has been turned on its head, and we are now staring down the barrel of a season of Mercedes dominance that could make Red Bull’s exploits look tame.

In order to put how much has changed into perspective, let’s take a look at how the current scores stand up against the tallies from the first four rounds of the 2013 season.

2013 VS 2014 – POINTS COMPARISON AFTER FOUR RACES

THE WINNERS

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes
2013: 14 points. 2014: 79 points. Difference: +65
Of the entire grid, Rosberg has made the biggest gain over last season. One win and three second places has given him the championship lead, but his teammate is in hot pursuit.

Nico Hulkenberg, Force India
2013: 5 points. 2014: 36 points. Difference: +31
The other German Nico has also made a great start after leaving Sauber to return to Force India. He still inexplicably lacks that maiden podium, but surely this is the year for Hulkenberg. He finally looks at home with the Indian team.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
2013: 50 points. 2014: 75 points. Difference: +25
His start to 2013 was by no means bad, it’s just this year has been better. Three imperious wins has given him 75 points, and had it not been for a DNF in Australia, it could easily have been the maximum 100.

Valtteri Bottas, Williams
2013: 0 points. 2014: 24 points. Difference: +24
What a difference a year makes. Bottas’ F1 career started in quiet fashion thanks to the lackluster FW35 car, but he has now proven just how good he is. In fact, 24 points actually short changes the Finn given his great races.

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull
2013: 6 points. 2014: 24 points. Difference: +18
Perhaps it’s unfair to compare Red Bull with Toro Rosso, but Ricciardo has still made a huge step up. Two fourth place finishes, like Bottas, leaves him short. Factor in the 30 points lost in Australia and Malaysia, and he’s got a very good return indeed.

Jenson Button, McLaren
2013: 13 points. 2014: 23 points. Difference: +10
JB struggled in 2013 with the troublesome MP4-28 car, but he has ran better so far this year. However, it’s not the seismic step forwards that many at McLaren expected, having scored just 8 points since Australia.

Sergio Perez, Force India
2013: 10 points. 2014: 18 points. Difference: +8
Same as Button. Rubbish car last year, a bit better this year. Was unfortunate to not start in Malaysia.

Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso
2013: 1 point. 2014: 4 points. Difference +3
A minimal increase for Vergne, who must be feeling worried with Carlos Sainz Jr. and Antonio Felix da Costa eyeing his seat.

THE LOSERS

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
2013: 67 points. 2014: 11 points. Difference: -56
Probably the most surprising statistic from the first four races. The Finn appears to be struggling with the new regulations and the Ferrari F14 T; a far cry from his win and two second places at the start of last year.

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull
2013: 77 points. 2014: 33 points. Difference: -44
Frankly, 33 points is still a remarkable haul for Red Bull considering where the team was during pre-season. Still looking decidedly average, and sounded like a troublesome kid in kindergarten in China.

Romain Grosjean, Lotus
2013: 26 points. 2014: 0 points. Difference: -26
It’s a dire situation at Lotus, meaning Grosjean has stood little chance of scoring any points in the first four races as he did last year. Progress is being made, though, as he was set for points in China before retiring.

Felipe Massa, Williams
2013: 30 points. 2014: 12 points. Difference: -18
Another weird stat, given that he’s in a quicker car than before and also under less pressure. Some bad luck in Australia, Bahrain and China hasn’t helped, though. Probably deserves more.

Adrian Sutil, Sauber
2013: 6 points. 2014: 0 points. Difference: -6
Three straight retirements for Sutil, but it’s not like he would have made the top ten anyway.

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
2013: 47 points. 2014: 41 points. Difference: -6
Not much in this one for Alonso. He scored 43 in the first four races of 2012, so it’s a pretty regular start. Similar story, too: car isn’t quick enough, but he still makes it work. Great result in China with P3.

ALL THE SAME

Esteban Gutierrez, Max Chilton, Jules Bianchi and Pastor Maldonado have all broken even. That said, they couldn’t lose any points. Zero in 2013, zero in 2014.

Here’s a full table of the comparison for all you F1 stat lovers out there. It’s not just me, right?

Nobuharu Matsushita to remain in GP2 with ART Grand Prix

2015 GP2 Series Round 11.
Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Friday 27 November 2015.
Nobuharu Matsushita (JPN, ART Grand Prix).
Photo: Zak Mauger/GP2 Series Media Service.
ref: Digital Image _MG_4660
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Nobuharu Matsushita will remain in the GP2 Series for the 2016 season after agreeing a new deal with defending champions ART Grand Prix.

Matsushita made his GP2 debut in 2015 with ART, racing alongside Stoffel Vandoorne who ultimately won the drivers’ title in record-breaking fashion.

Matsushita finished ninth in the final drivers’ standings with one race win to his name, and is now gunning to battle for the championship in his second year with ART.

“I would like to thank Honda and ART Grand Prix for giving me this opportunity to continue racing in GP2 Series,” Matsushita said.

“ART Grand Prix won the championships last year, and I am so honored to be part of such an amazing team again. As a member of HFDP, Honda Formula Dream Project, aiming to be the top-world-class driver, I will give my best to win the drivers and the team championship in my second GP2 season.”

Matsushita will race alongside Russian youngster Sergey Sirotkin at ART in 2016, with the Russian driver moving from Rapax for his sophomore year in the series.

“I am truly delighted to start our third year of partnership together with Honda with this reinforcement of our collaboration,” ART team boss Sebastien Philippe said.

“Nobuharu will partner Sergey Sirotkin in the GP2 Series. He had an incredible year in 2015 when he did not know Europe or the championship, the team and the car, but nevertheless he secured one win, several podiums and made massive improvements all year long.

“As a driver and on a personal level, we have no doubt at all that he has all the assets needed to fight for the title in 2016.”

NHRA: Lots of change heading into this weekend’s season-opening Winternationals

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Last season, the National Hot Rod Association adopted a “#BaptismByNitro” theme to attract new fans and attention to the sport.

But as it kicks off the new season with this weekend’s Circle K Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California,  if the NHRA were to come up with a new theme song for 2016, it’d likely be the old Scorpions ballad “Winds Of Change.”

Change – and positive change at that – seems to be all around in the wind for the NHRA, including:

* Peter Clifford begins his first full season as NHRA president (he replaced the retired Tom Compton last June). Clifford has made a number of dynamic hires in an effort to improve the sanctioning body’s reach and attractiveness to fans.

* The NHRA has embarked upon one of its most ambitious marketing and communications initiatives ever to increase fan attention and attendance at events, including the hiring of veteran motorsports reporter Terry Blount late last season as new vice president of communications.

* Another significant hire is Emmy award-winning Ken Adelson as vice president of broadcasting and digital content to supercharge the NHRA’s TV and digital sides.

* Fox Sports and Fox Sports 1 has become the official TV partner of the sport, with plans to televise live the majority of the 24 races this season, including expected three-hour presentations of final eliminations on Sundays. In addition, former Funny Car champ Tony Pedregon embarks upon a new career as a NHRA TV analyst.

* New rules in Pro Stock, including the long-awaited implementation of electronic fuel injection and the removal of long-standing monster hood scoops, should inject life into a class that had grown somewhat stagnant to fans in recent years.

* After becoming the first back-to-back female champion in any NHRA pro categories, Pro Stock queen Erica Enders goes for three straight titles this season.

* Fan favorite and five-time Pro Stock champ Jeg Coughlan returns to the sport on a full-time basis after racing part-time last season.

* After enduring what he called his “worst season in 25 years” in 2015, 16-time Funny Car champion John Force is bound and determined to earn title No. 17 in 2016. The ageless Force (66 years old) told MotorSportsTalk that he feels as invigorated as he’s ever been and looks forward to significantly improve from last season’s disappointing seventh-place finish.

* In addition, Force will have long-time crew chief Austin Coil “helping out” in an unofficial capacity for Force’s Funny Car, as well as those of son-in-law and John Force Racing team president Robert Hight and Force’s youngest daughter, Courtney.

* John Force Racing also scored another coup in the offseason by hiring 11-time Top Fuel champion team owner/crew chief Alan Johnson as a consultant to oversee the Top Fuel efforts of driver Brittany Force. Judging by some of the runs Force had during last weekend’s preseason testing for nitro cars at Phoenix, not only does she seem likely to earn her first career win, she also is an early possible contender for the championship.

* Defending pro class champions are Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Del Worsham (Funny Car), Enders (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

And those changes are just for starters. There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic that the NHRA is poised for increased growth and notoriety in 2016.

While the sanctioning body still has not capitulated to what many fans want – the return of full quarter-mile drag strip racing for Top Fuel and Funny Car competition (the standard remains 1,000 feet for 2016) – the changes that have already occurred for this season definitely hold a lot of promise.

Yes, the winds of change are swirling within the NHRA.

And if Clifford and the rest of the sanctioning body officials have their way and many of the changes prove successful, by season’s end the NHRA may be signing another Scorpions song that deals with wind: “Rock Me Like a Hurricane.”

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Helmut Marko: Modern-day F1 drivers are overpaid

xxxx during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on June 19, 2015 in Spielberg, Austria.
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Red Bull Racing team advisor Helmut Marko believes that modern-day Formula 1 drivers are overpaid due to the reduced risk and easier driving conditions they experience.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel are two of the highest-paid drivers on the grid in 2016, earning upwards of $30 million per year from their teams.

However, Marko believes that drivers in F1 are overpaid as there is now a reduced risk of suffering a fatal accident, and that with the cars being easier to drive, their worth has decreased.

“Basically, the drivers of today are definitely overpaid for two reasons,” Marko told Sport Bild in Germany.

“Firstly, there is only a small risk that serious accidents can result in injury or even be fatal.

“Secondly, young top talent like [Max] Verstappen or [Pascal] Wehrlein can take the modern car and straight away easily do 100 laps without tiring.

“Previously you had even a Vettel have to take breaks because he was not used to the high centrifugal forces. This means that the cars are easier to drive. The drivers must do less.”

Wolff: Wehrlein, Ocon deserve Formula 1 roles

SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JUNE 23:  Pascal Wehrlein of Germany and Mercedes GP drives during Formula One testing at the Red Bull Ring on June 23, 2015 in Spielberg, Austria.  (Photo by Andrew Hone/Getty Images)
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Mercedes AMG Petronas team boss Toto Wolff believes that junior talents Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon have both earned their roles in Formula 1 for the 2016 season “on merit”.

Wehrlein will make his grand prix debut in 2016 with Manor Racing after winning the DTM title for Mercedes last year, becoming the youngest champion in the history of the series.

Ocon has been loaned to Renault Sport F1 Racing for its comeback season, and will work as the team’s reserve driver following his GP3 title success last year.

Wolff feels that both drivers deserve their chance in F1 this year, and also said that Mercedes will look to expand its junior program across the course of the season.

“We’re delighted that Pascal and Esteban will tackle a fresh set of challenges in 2016,” Wolff said. “Our aim is to build their experience in the best possible environment and, following positive discussions with our counterparts at Manor and Renault, it became clear that their respective Formula 1 programmes presented ideal opportunities to achieve that.

“It is very pleasing to see young drivers earning their spot in Formula 1 on merit and to see that talent is being rewarded by the system. Pascal and Esteban have proven themselves to be amongst the top young drivers out there – and both come into 2016 as champions of their respective series.

“But they still have plenty to learn and they will be staying humble, with their feet on the ground. This is an important year for them and we will be following their progress with great interest, while also looking to expand our junior program.

“Mercedes-Benz has a strong tradition of developing young racing talent and our eyes are very much open to other promising prospects for the future.”