The 2012 season draws to a close and Sebastian Vettel wins his third consecutive World Drivers' Championship in a car that has taken its third consecutive World Constructors Championship, Red Bull-Renault. Kimi Raikkonen said earlier this year in what was one of his best quotes of the year, "The winner is the one who scores the most". That does not necessarily mean that they ranked the best through the year - at least in my view. So I present over the next series of blogs my top teams and drivers of 2012.
I am starting with the bottom six teams this year, placed 12th to 7th.
12th: HRT-Cosworth: Not much to say, sadly
Started the season unable to qualify for the first round and ended the year openly stating they were facing bankruptcy and seeking a buyer. Do a search on Google for HRT...you don't get Hispania Racing Team as a number 1 search result. The inappropriate acronym and the team from Spain are going the same way as their nation's economy. They won't be on the grid in 2013, certainly not in the same guise as they are now. I hope there is success in finding a replacement therapy though as I am sure there is a lot of talent in that team.
Championship Position: 12th
Championship Points: 0
Best Finish: 15th (x1)
2013 Objective: N/A
11th: Torro Rosso-Ferrari: The Italian bull is more of a cow
Another year goes by in what is effectively the Red Bull junior team and its been a rather nondescript year. In truth I don't get Torro Rosso - they may share the same owner, and are supposed to be the feeder team for Red Bull, but I don't see any driver of theirs obtaining a Red Bull seat in the future. Struggled all year to get into Qualifying 2 on a regular basis, below average mid-field team.
Championship Position: 9th
Championship Points: 26
Best Finish: 8th (x4)
2013 Objective: Define their purpose
10th: Caterham-Renault: Still needing to make their point
Three seasons and 58 races in, and we still await an elusive point to be scored by one of the three new teams that started in 2010. Caterham have always seemed the strongest of the three, and this year they had KERS, a Renault engine and good sponsors on board. They have teetered on the periphery of points, and came close with a fine 11th placing in Brazil, but their lack of a point sees them low on the rankings. There is great talent in this team - it needs to show its worth.
Championship Position: 10th
Championship Points: 0
Best Finish: 11th (x1)
2013 Objective: Simple. Finish in the top 10 of at least one race.
9th: Mercedes AMG Petronas F1: Early potential turns to a dismal final year for their national hero
Massively disappointing. They started the year in fine form, and were being touted as potential title contenders and with their overdue win in China achieved... their season went to pot. Unreliability, poor overall pace and losing the development battle resulted in their worst season to date. Michael Schumacher heads to retirement whilst their best asset yet joins them in 2013 in the form of Lewis Hamilton.
Championship Position: 5th
Championship Points: 142
Best Finish: 1st (x1)
2013 Objective: To provide Lewis Hamilton (and Nico Rosberg) with a car to demonstrate his talents.
8th: Marussia-Cosworth: Over achieved in an under-resourced car
The battle at the bottom end of the grid was as tightly fought as the front end. Never has a fight for 11th place in a race been so interesting (Brazilian GP). For gaining a single 11th place would have given Marussia approximately £10m. That spoil went to Caterham in the end, but for a team that has less resources, no KERS, and effectively started from scratch again this year (they also had no pre-season winter testing) to even take a fight to Caterham was mightily impressive. A great season, and I think they show greater potential than Caterham in 2013.
Championship Position: 11th
Championship Points: 0
Best Finish: 12th (x2)
2013 Objective: Unleash the potential.
7th: Force India-Mercedes: Mid-field team showing no sign of leaving mid-field
Force India seems to be rooted to the mid pack, with little or no sign of being able to show they can move into the front runners. They have a car that has pace at some circuits and had a driver pairing this year that could manage a decent car, but the gap to the front is still a bit too big. I do feel they are losing their best asset in Nico Hulkenberg in 2013, and I have no doubt that 2013 will show some glimpses of promise - but whether its development, money or infrastructure, something needs to happen to take Force India to the front.
Championship Position: 7th
Championship Points: 109
Best Finish: 4th (x2)
2013 Objective: Use the force (Luke)...but better.
So that is the bottom six... process of elimination will tell you the top six, but the order may not be what people expect. Will be revealed, next week.