Skip to content

F1 Primer: The drivers

Mar 12, 2013, 7:42 AM EDT

The Formula One world championship is contested by 22 of the best drivers from around the world.

The champions

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel (Germany) is shooting for a four consecutive drivers’ championship title, which has only been done twice before in the sport’s 63-year history.

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso (Spain) is among those trying to stop him. Since winning the 2005 and 2006 titles Alonso has come within a whisker of three more championships in 2007, 2010 and 2012.

Lewis Hamilton has turned his back on the McLaren team which propelled him into F1 and to the 2008 title, and taken over from Schumacher at Mercedes. Fellow Briton Jenson Button, Hamilton’s successor as champion in 2009, remains at McLaren.

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

And finally there’s Lotus’s enigmatic Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) who won last year on his return from a two-year lay-off which included rally and NASCAR appearances.

Race winners

Mark Webber (Australia) and Felipe Massa (Brazil) have the unenviable task of partnering two of F1’s top talents, Vettel and Alonso respectively.

Nico Rosberg (Germany) and Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) scored their breakthrough Grand Prix victories last year. Rosberg, son of 1982 world champion Keke, is yet to establish himself as a regular front-runner, and faces a stern challenge from Hamilton this year.

Maldonado’s win was one of few high points in a season which saw too many incidents. The same can be said of Romain Grosjean (France), who was quick but too incident-prone in 2012.

Up-and-comers

One of the most interesting storylines ahead of the 2013 season is how Sergio Perez (Mexico) will fare having been promoted to McLaren in Hamilton’s place.

Another one to watch is Nico Hulkenberg (Germany), who led 30 laps of last year’s season finale in an unfancied Force India. He’s moved to Sauber, and is tipped as a future Ferrari driver.

His fellow German Adrian Sutil returns to F1 following a one-year absence. He is reunited at Force India with 2011 team mate Paul di Resta (Britain), which promises to be an absorbing intra-team battle.

Red Bull junior drivers Jean-Eric Vergne (France) and Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) remain at their junior team Toro Rosso for a second year, bidding for a chance to join the senior team. Sophomore driver Charles Pic (France) moves from Marussia to tail-end rivals Caterham.

Rookies

Five new drivers arrive in the sport this year. You can read more about them in this earlier article:

F1 Primer

Latest Posts
  1. Formula E: Di Grassi anticipating “massive” Monaco ePrix

    Apr 24, 2015, 6:30 PM EDT

    AUTO-FORMULAE-URU-RACE Getty Images

    Formula E’s championship leader looks ahead to his adopted home race in Monaco on May 9.

  2. Palmer comfortable in Lotus reserve role after FP1 run-outs

    Apr 24, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of China - Practice Getty Images

    2014 GP2 champion reflects on the opening four races of the year with Lotus.

  3. WSR: Comtec pulls out of first Formula Renault 3.5 round, parts company with Regalia after three days

    Apr 24, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT

    © GP2 Series © GP2 Series

    Grid falls to 20 cars for the Formula Renault 3.5 opener in Spain this weekend.

  4. Report: Indian government recognizes national motorsport federation, aiding F1 hopes

    Apr 24, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of India - Race Getty Images

    The Indian Grand Prix was last held in 2013 at the Buddh International Circuit.

  5. WEC: Rene Rast looking forward to LMP1 debut with Audi

    Apr 24, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT

    Blancpain GT Sprint Series - Brands Hatch Getty Images

    Audi and Porsche will field three cars for the next two races of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

  6. Horner: Newey still highly influential at Red Bull

    Apr 24, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain - Qualifying Getty Images

    Red Bull has made a slow start to the 2015 season due to a variety of problems with the RB11 car.

  7. Maldonado upbeat ahead of F1’s European leg

    Apr 24, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    AUTO-PRIX-F1-ESP-TEST Getty Images

    Venezuelan driver currently bottom of the table after just one finish in four races.

  8. Preview: Barber marks end of IndyCar’s first quarter of 2015

    Apr 24, 2015, 9:05 AM EDT

    Barber Getty Images

    To reference the Smashing Pumpkins, Barber is the beginning of the end of the beginning for IndyCar 2015.

  9. Mazda Road to Indy: Andretti down to one driver in Indy Lights

    Apr 23, 2015, 7:50 PM EDT

    ShelbyBlackstock

    Andretti Autosport’s Mazda Road to Indy program goes to Barber Motorsports Park with one less Indy Lights entry.

  10. Graham Rahal hopes to build on consistent 2015 at Barber

    Apr 23, 2015, 6:38 PM EDT

    Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Getty Images

    Graham Rahal aims to continue consistent success of one-car team at Barber Motorsports Park.

  11. Ryan Hunter-Reay looks to right 2015 season by completing winning trilogy at Barber Motorsports Park

    Apr 23, 2015, 5:05 PM EDT

    Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama Getty Images

    Ryan Hunter-Reay looks to turn season around at track he’s won last two races at.

  12. Formula E set for a full house at Monaco as tickets sell out

    Apr 23, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    Nelson Piquet Jr. AP

    For a series that is in its inaugural year, Formula E is having little trouble in getting fans through the gate as it prepares to hit European shores for the first time.

  13. As GP2 turns 10 years old, where is the Class of ’05 now?

    Apr 23, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    © GP2 Series © GP2 Series

    Luke Smith takes a look at the humble beginnings of what has turned into F1’s most prolific supplier of drivers, and takes a look at where the 2005 grid is now.

  14. GP3: Pal Varhaug quickest in final pre-season test

    Apr 23, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    © GP3 Series © GP3 Series

    The new GP3 season kicks off in support of the Spanish Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.

  15. Steve Torrence NHRA Team aligns with Chris Kyle Frog Foundation

    Apr 23, 2015, 2:21 PM EDT

    NHRA team joins forces with non-profit dedicated to Chris Kyle

  16. Lotus to conduct filming day at Brands Hatch next week

    Apr 23, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain - Qualifying Getty Images

    F1 to return to the former host of the British and European Grands Prix for one day only.

  17. Bottas confident Williams can cut gap to Mercedes and Ferrari

    Apr 23, 2015, 12:20 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain Getty Images

    Finnish driver believes that Williams’ upgrade package for the Spanish Grand Prix will draw it closer to Mercedes and Ferrari at the front.

  18. Vettel becomes patron of new German F4 championship

    Apr 23, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT

    Australian F1 Grand Prix Getty Images

    Vettel pays homage to where it all started for him at the bottom of the single seater ladder in Germany.

  19. Alonso: McLaren set for “huge step” in Barcelona

    Apr 23, 2015, 9:45 AM EDT

    Alonso 234 Getty Images

    After its worst ever start to a Formula 1 season, can McLaren bounce back at the Spanish Grand Prix on May 10?

  20. RHR, Nick Saban and boxing champ Deontay Wilder: It happened to promo Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (PHOTOS)

    Apr 23, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Photo: Nigel Kinrade/LAT for Honda Photo: Nigel Kinrade/LAT for Honda

    RHR, Nick Saban and Deontay Wilder promote the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber media day.