Tomas on F1: Start your engines

Four-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel has ridiculed a decision to give double points in the final race of the upcoming seasons, calling it "absurd.'' (Brandon Malone/AP)
March 16, 2013, 3:01 PM

The 2013 Formula One World Driving Championship is at hand!

It’s the longest formal title by the word for a series in the sport, and it’s fitting since F1 is the biggest form of the sport around the world in terms of popularity.

Geographically, it doesn’t play in all corners of the globe, but it comes pretty darn close.

How will the new campaign unfold?

Google ‘F1 preview’ and you get a real cross section of opinions from the Mr. Know-it-Alls.

But there is one common belief among most of them.

The amazing Sebastian Vettel will win a fourth driver’s title in a row after scoring the crown last year to become the youngest three-time-consecutive champion at age 25, and just the third driver in Formula One history to bag three crowns in a string.

Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher are the other two. Congrats and an extra cookie for you if you remembered who the other two guys were.

I give Vettel, the always smiling, good natured German the nod because of his talent and his fierce concentration and his team or more precisely, the man who handles the design and engineering of his Red Bull-Renault racing automobile, Adrian Newey.

Red Bull’s chief technical officer has put the best car under Vettel’s rump with highly successful results.

Many, including myself, consider Newey the smartest man in Formula One.

And he is an Englishman who still designs his F1 cars with a pencil on a piece of paper, because he says he just can’t bring himself to draw a car on a computer.

I don’t care if the lad draws the car on a sidewalk with a piece of chalk, his cars are damn fast and have consistently outperformed the competition.

I pick Vettel and Red Bull to win again this year, but expect a much higher level of pressure and competition from just about everybody.

“Vettel the Kettle” will be on full boil again this season, but also whistling loudly with great clouds of steam: Fernando Alonso and Ferrari, the amazingly stoic Kimi Raikkonen and Lotus, Jenson Button and McLaren and his old teammate since departed for Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton.

I can see the driver battle going back and forth deep into late summer, with Red Bull and Ferrari kicking each other in the shins in the 2013 constructors’ fight almost as long.

Other storylines that will require close examination this season include Hamilton’s shuffle away from McLaren where he won a championship.

The former Raceline Radio guest might just win a race and score some podiums to bring Merc closer to the front, something F1 wants to see happen to balance out the competition between the two main players, Red Bull and Ferrari.

And let’s remember Mercedes has the legendary Ross Brawn calling the shots. We know his pedigree and credentials with Schumacher.

Young Sergio Perez, plucked from Sauber by McLaren to fill the hole created when Hamilton packed his bags for Mercedes, might just be the one driver that entertains us the most this new season.

Serg is a master already at saving equipment and tires, and he shows great speed for a man who`s a mere 23 years old.

I always smile when I see the European writers spell it “tyres.”

I never tire of tyres!

Sorry.

We shall see if Perez lives up to the McLaren’s standards and pressures.

Formula One will continue to play on the spirit of the techno-geek.

We always say F1 exploits the fact they are the most technically advanced racing series in the business, for better and for worse.

Making a move to giving car control back to the driver a few years ago by gassing traction and launch control, they confuse us by bringing in a nifty Star Trek-like system called DRS, or Drag Reduction system.

DRS allows the driver to adjust or stall the rear wing on the car to reduce aero-drag to allow the car to move through the air easier to induce more speed with less engine load or work.

Rule of thumb: wing angled for cornering down force, then flat for straight-aways so the air doesn’t dam-up and slow the car down.

Follow?

It gets more confusing when DRS rules state you can only use the system in designated zones on the race track.

I think they should ditch DRS entirely.

Never did like driver aids and I still don’t.

Let the car designer, the boffins (engineers and mechanics) back at the shop and driver skill decide who wins, not some gizmo.

All in all, the 2013 Formula One World Driving Championship will command utmost attention this year on Raceline as it has for the previous 20 seasons.

I just wish we had a Canadian driver in mix.

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