- Ask Steven
Bring on the rookiesSteven Lynch January 4, 2013
How many new drivers will be on the F1 grid in 2013? asked Graham Gilbert
At the moment it appears there will be three F1 rookies on the grid when the 2013 season starts in Australia in March: Valtteri Bottas, the well-regarded Finn who has replaced Bruno Senna at Williams; Max Chilton, the British driver who has just been confirmed as the second driver for the Marussia team; and Esteban Gutierrez, the replacement for his fellow Mexican Sergio Perez at Sauber. Bottas, 23, was the GP3 Series champion in 2011, when he won four of the season's 16 races, and was the Williams test driver throughout 2012. Chilton, 21, steps up after finishing fourth in GP2 in 2012, driving for the Marussia-supported Carlin team. Gutierrez, who's also 21, won the GP3 Series in 2010, and was third in GP2 in 2012. There are still one or two seats to be settled, so there might yet be an addition to this list.
Which driver once hit a deer during a Grand Prix? asked Michael Lincoln
The only incident I can think of like this - which of course was probably a lot less funny than it sounds - was in 1987, when Stefan Johansson's McLaren hit a deer while doing around 140mph during the Austrian GP at the Osterreichring. But this was in practice - one report says Johansson was lucky to escape with only a headache, although the deer fared predictably worse - and he recovered well enough to finish seventh (just out of the points) in the race itself, a rather chaotic one that had two restarts and was eventually won by Nigel Mansell. "That deer was running around the circuit for about 20 minutes until I hit it," said the unamused Swede. "The organisers really need a kick in the backside." Something similar happened to the British driver Anthony Davidson in the 2007 Canadian GP, while he was running a strong third in the unfancied Super Aguri: he claimed his car was damaged when his car hit a beaver, although locals suggested it was more likely to have been a groundhog.
Sebastian Vettel won the title in 2012 by just three points. Would Fernando Alonso have won using the old system of ten points for a win? asked Richard Bailey
Under the system in use immediately before the recent (2010) change to 25 points for a win, Vettel would have ended up with 115 points and Alonso 114, so the drivers' championship would still have remained in German hands. In fact, as far as I can see, Vettel would just have shaded the title under any of the points systems used in F1 since the first official championship in 1950 (when he'd have scored 85 points to Alonso's 80). The only significant change to last year's championship would have been that, under the systems used from 1950 to 2002, both Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button would have finished above third-placed Kimi Raikkonen.
Michael Schumacher raced in 19 different F1 seasons. I assume this is another record for him? asked Jim Wilson
Actually, although Michael Schumacher did indeed take part in his 19th championship season in 2012, that only equalled the record, held by his former Ferrari team-mate Rubens Barrichello, who competed every year from 1993 to 2011. Although Schumacher made his debut in 1991, his first retirement at the end of 2006 meant he missed three seasons before his comeback for Mercedes in 2010. Graham Hill raced in 18 different seasons, Riccardo Patrese in 17, Jo Bonnier and Jack Brabham in 16, and David Coulthard, Andrea de Cesaris, Nigel Mansell, Maurice Trintignant and Jarno Trulli in 15.
Lotus won a race in 2012, which I read was their first victory since 1987. Is this the longest gap between victories for a constructor? asked Derek Evans
The record gap between victories by a constructor was set in 2012 - but not by Lotus. When Nico Rosberg took the chequered flag in the Chinese GP in Shanghai last April, it was the first victory for Mercedes as a constructor (rather than an engine supplier) since September 1955, when Juan Manuel Fangio won in Monza, a gap of 56½ years. Next come Honda, with a gap of almost 39 years between John Surtees's victory at Monza in 1967 and Jenson Button's in Hungary in 2006. Before Kimi Raikkonen's win in Abu Dhabi last year, the previous win by a car called a Lotus was by Ayrton Senna at Detroit in June 1987.
I may be imagining this but did Jody Scheckter's brother drive in F1 too? asked Austin Miller
You're not imagining it: Ian Scheckter, the brother of the 1979 F1 world champion Jody, did have a few F1 races. Ian is three years older and, like Jody, was born in East London in South Africa. He made his F1 debut after his brother, though, and never attained the same heights. His first F1 drive was in the 1974 South African GP - Ian finished 13th in a locally entered Lotus, two laps behind the winner Carlos Reutemann (and five placed behind Jody who was eighth). Ian's only full F1 season was for March in 1977, but the car proved unreliable and he finished only two of his 13 races, with a career-best tenth place in the Dutch GP. Jody's son Tomas (born in 1980, the year after his father won the world title) was also a notable racing driver, winning two Indycar races in a ten-year career in the North American series.