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F1 2013: Midseason round-up

Vaishali Dinakaran  | Updated: May 06, 2014, 05:21 PM IST

The 2013 season of Formula 1 hasn't been without its fair share of drama thus far. We might have all started out believing that Sebastian Vettel would manage to win from the word go, and carry right on winning until the end of the year. However, even though Vettel leads the championship standings with ten races done and nine more to go, the race to his fourth consecutive driver's title might not be quite so simple.

A second place is a nice way to start saying his good byes to F1 for Mark WebberA second place is a nice way to start saying his good byes to F1 for Mark Webber

The challengers

The 2013 season got off to a particularly good start for a certain Lotus driver who smiles very rarely. Yes, on the very top step of the podium at the Australian GP, was Kimi Raikkonen, stoic as usual, looking for all the world like his win was routine stuff. Well, the win might not have ended up as something the Iceman would repeat over the season. In fact it has been his only victory thus far. However, Kimi would take five second places, score points in every single race and prove to the world that he really was Mr Consistent. What this means is that he is currently second in the championship standings, 38 adrift of Sebastian Vettel. The Lotus driver probably has the most realistic chance of catching Red Bull's finest. But for that to happen, he really does need to start qualifying better.

Lying third in the championship standings is Fernando Alonso, who, with 133 points, is 39 points behind Vettel's 172. Alonso has had two wins this season ­ the first at China and the second at Spain where he was home hero. Two second places and one third is what he has managed other than that. But his quest to drag the ailing F138 to the podium hasn't really been successful. No wonder, then, that he whined to the media that he wanted someone else's car for his birthday. Well, the statement might have got you in trouble with Mr Montezemolo, Fernando. But we truly do feel for you.

What about the others?

Lewis Hamilton, with one win at the Hungarian GP, has managed to take his points tally up to 124, putting him fourth in the championship standings. Over the course of the season, Hammy has gradually demonstrated how he has managed to acclimatise to the W04. In fact, he's gotten so comfortable with

?the car that he has even managed to take pole position in the last three races. Despite the fact that it has been Lewis's teammate who grabbed the limelight when he won for Mercedes at Monte Carlo and Silverstone, it has got to be said that when he hasn't been winning, Nico Rosberg hasn't managed to do too well. The German driver has only managed to score 84 points and is sixth in the championship, behind Mark Webber.

Speaking of Webber, look what he's done!

No, we certainly aren't talking about the fact that Mark Webber, with 105 points, is now fifth in the championship. That really isn't much to write home about, is it? We're referring to the fact that old Aussie Grit has up and quit F1. Webber hasn't ever really had an easy time in Formula 1, and partnering Seb Vettel finally did get to him. After 'Multi 21'gate at Malaysia this year, Webber decided he had had quite enough and went ahead and signed for Porsche for their 2014 return to Endurance Racing. But it

is what the seat that vacant Red Bull seat now means that is interesting. There are rumours linking Kimi Raikkonen to it. Some speculate that Fernando Alonso will be the man to move to the energy drinks backed squad. While still more insist that the seat will go to Toro Rossi's Daniel Ricciardo. An Aussie to replace an Aussie, eh? We'll know soon enough.

Then there was Test Gate

It has been no secret that Mercedes has found tyre wear to be a cause of worry in the past couple of seasons of F1. 2013 has been no different. The Silver Arrows have often done well in qualifying only to find that when it was time for the race, their rear tyres would overheat and tyre wear would be impossible to manage. Then they went and managed to complete a test session with the 2013 Pirelli tyres on their 2013 car at Barcelona. Right after that Nico Rosberg won the Monaco GP, and

eyebrows were raised. The FIA were quick to slap the wrists of the men in silver, declaring that they gained an unfair advantage due to said test. They were then made to sit out the young driver test at Silverstone as punishment. What good has that done? Well, young driver Sam Bird has had to forego his share of laps. And Mercedes has carried right on in good form. A case of having your F1 tyres and managing them too!

A case of exploding tyres

Kaboom! Not once but four times did the tyres do exactly that at the British GP earlier this year. Well, needless to say the drivers weren't placing very much faith in Pirelli after that, and they cannot be blamed for threatening to boycott the subsequent German GP. However, as things turned out, the tyre compounds that Pirelli brought to the races after that were perfectly acceptable and even the earlier woes of tyre delamination were put to rest. By the looks of things, Pirelli have managed to get it right now and there won't be any issues to worry them for the rest of the season. Whether or not they will be F1's sole tyre supplier in 2014 ­ well, that's another issue entirely.

What about the rest of the season?

As we go into this weekend's Belgian GP, there is plenty of excitement in the air. Summer break is over, F1 is back in swing and there is Eau Rouge just lying in wait for F1 cars to fly over it. We are now at the halfway mark in the 2013 season, and what happens in Belgium and the races immediately after ­ Italy, Singapore and Korea ­ that will decide the outcome of the season. For now, it still does look like Vettel is on his way to another, rather astounding, record.

PS: We really do think young Romain Grosjean has started shaping up incredibly well this year. And Grosjean himself believes a win this year is on its way. For more on Romain's progress click here.

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