As ever, the end of a Formula One season marks the end of several eras, and the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix (11 a.m. ET, Sunday, on NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra) is no different. You have several entities signing off to F1 altogether, some leaving their teams and others uncertain. Without further adieu, here’s who or what you’ll see for the last time in their current guise on Sunday:
LEAVING F1 ALTOGTHER
MARK WEBBER, TO RED BULL
Candid, outspoken, determined, gritty and all-around cool, Australia’s Mark Webber will start a Grand Prix for the 215th and final time on Sunday after a career dating to 2002.
Webber’s won nine Grands Prix and 13 pole positions – all with Red Bull, which he joined in 2007 – after prior stints at Williams, Jaguar and Minardi. His Minardi debut in his home grand prix in 2002 was a thing of beauty, a shock fifth place and a surprise trip to the podium after the main one.
Since Sebastian Vettel has arrived at Red Bull, the German has been relentless to gain the upper hand. For one last time though, we can dream of Webber taking it to his teammate, winning the finale (as he did in 2011) and perhaps, maybe, getting a good launch from the grid.
V8s, AND COSWORTHS
Perhaps fitting in a sense these two eras bow out at the same time. The first year of V8s, in 2006, Cosworth was permitted to run a grandfathered and rev-limited V10 at Toro Rosso. While the shrill shrieks of the V10s are long gone, the current hum and noise of the normally aspirated V8s will be replaced by the turbocharged, smaller 1.6L V6s next year. No one knows how they’ll sound yet in race situations, but for now, a chance to enjoy the V8s at historic Sao Paulo awaits.
As for Cosworth, it’s a shame given its overall history in the sport. The memorable Cosworth DFV – “off the shelf” – garnered 155 wins between 1967 and 1983. In its current iteration, Nico Hulkenberg’s pole for Williams in 2010 at Sao Paulo was the ultimate highlight.
DRIVERS LEAVING CURRENT TEAMS
FELIPE MASSA, TO FERRARI
Webber’s career hasn’t hit the same heights – or depths – as Massa’s has in his Ferrari career dating to 2006. This was a driver who largely outpaced Kimi Raikkonen in their two-and-a-half years as teammates, and a driver who of course famously, nearly, won the 2008 World Championship.
But the accident at Hungary in 2009, and the team orders controversy a year later at Hockenheim, has taken the wind out of the sails for the second half of Massa’s time at the Scuderia. It’s a lamentable end for a popular driver who seeks a rebirth at Williams next year.
SERGIO PEREZ, TO MCLAREN
On paper, Perez was the rising star picked to replace Lewis Hamilton this year, but McLaren opted to dump him after just one year prior to the USGP. Still, Perez has had his moments this year with a difficult chassis, and has proven enough in three seasons to merit another shot.
PASTOR MALDONADO, TO WILLIAMS
The excellent and staggering 2012 Spanish Grand Prix weekend aside, honestly, there’s little positive to be said about Maldonado’s three-year tenure at Williams other than he brought them a lot of money. His attitude and penchant for contact blotted his copybook rather frequently.
DANIEL RICCIARDO, TO TORO ROSSO
This is the under-reported part of Webber retiring; this is the last time the junior Australian on the grid will be racing with lower pressure and lower expectations. He’d better relish it because the media scrutiny will intensify at the Red Bull mothership next year.
TEAMS LEAVING CURRENT ENGINES
- WILLIAMS will switch from Renault to Mercedes in 2014.
- TORO ROSSO from Ferrari to Renault.
- MARUSSIA from Cosworth to Ferrari.
COULD IT BE THE LAST TIME FOR?
- For HEIKKI KOVALAINEN at Lotus…
- For NICO HULKENBERG and/or ESTEBAN GUTIERREZ at Sauber…
- Ditto for PAUL DI RESTA and/or ADRIAN SUTIL at Force India…
- Ditto for CHARLES PIC and/or GIEDO VAN DER GARDE at Caterham…
- Lastly, for MAX CHILTON at Marussia…
All will be revealed in due course. With the driver market far from sorted, this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix is the last 2013 chance to make a lasting impact.