Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

Robert Wickens celebrates his first DTM win at the Nürburgring Circuit in Germany on August 18, 2013. (Mercedes-Benz)
Robert Wickens celebrates his first DTM win at the Nürburgring Circuit in Germany on August 18, 2013. (Mercedes-Benz)


The best and worst of motorsports in 2013 Add to ...

With another racing season in the books, it's time look back at the best and worst of motorsport in 2013.

Pass of the Year: Robert Wickens

Robert Wickens gets the nod for his incredible wet weather performance at the famed Nürburgring, where he paved the way to his first career Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters by passing three cars in rapid succession in treacherous conditions.

It began at the end of Lap 18 when Mercedes driver took fourth from the Audi of Miguel Molina going into the chicane near the end of the lap, but Wickens had more up his sleeve two corners later. With Audi's Adrien Tambay and BMW's Augusto Farfus battling over second place, Wickens swung wide as he exited the first corner on Lap 19, trying to find grip on the water-logged surface.

He left mouths agape as he found it at the edge of the track and powered around the outside of both cars through the long left-hand Corner 2, in a move that can only be described as unbelievable. The brave overtake helped Wickens clear the trio of rivals and allowed him to put in a series of fast laps that paved the way to his first DTM victory.

Clutch Performance Award: James Hinchcliffe

Oakville, Ont.'s, James Hinchcliffe tried just about everything to get past Takuma Sato's AJ Foyt Enterprises car on the final lap of the IndyCar race on the streets of São Paulo, Brazil, in May. The Japanese driver didn't make it easy, taking the blocking rules to the limits (some would contend he completely ignored them) to keep his rival behind.

With Hinchcliffe on the outside for the final turn as the pair went side-by-side down the straight, it looked like the Andretti driver's efforts would fall short. But Sato left the door open a crack in the final turn, and Hinchcliffe seized the opportunity.

When the Foyt driver braked an instant too late and slightly overshot the hairpin before the finish line, Hinchcliffe cleverly dove under Sato's car to the inside and got on the gas a bit quicker than his rival at the exit. The fast thinking allowed Hinchcliffe to surge ahead and earn his second career IndyCar win by a scant 0.3463 seconds.

Worst Manners: The tifosi

Yes, Italian Formula One fans have great passion for the sport and their beloved Scuderia Ferrari. And yes 2013 was a tough year for Ferrari, which produced another car that came up short. Although its driver Fernando Alonso delivered two wins in the first five grands prix of the year, the scarlet cars weren't able to get back into the winner's circle again.

By the time the F1 circus arrived at Monza for September's Italian Grand Prix, Red Bull Racing's Sebastian Vettel was already cruising to his fourth consecutive title while Ferrari fought to keep pace. Although the tifosi had much to be angry about in 2013, the disgusting display of unsportsmanlike behaviour when they booed race winner Vettel on the podium was beyond contempt. Not only was it a black eye for Ferrari fans everywhere, it sullied one of the world's most venerable and historic racetracks.

Short-Term Thinking Award: Sebastian Vettel

Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel is smart, engaging, funny, and, despite his huge success at an early age, pretty much down to earth. Yes, there were a couple of clashes with his teammate Mark Webber over the past couple of years that portrayed him in a not-so-positive light, but many saw them as a by-product of youthful enthusiasm rather than deliberate actions.

That all changed after the Malaysian Grand Prix. Late in the race t the Sepang Circuit, Webber led second-place man Vettel when the order came from the bosses on the timing stand that it was time to turn down the engines and hold station to the chequered flag. Webber dutifully followed the instruction, while Vettel disobeyed the order and used his teammate's compliance as an opportunity to rocket past and steal the victory.

Up until that moment many had compared Vettel to his compatriot Michael Schumacher for his sheer speed and winning ways, but Malaysia had many feeling the young German also possessed the unapologetic and unattractive ruthlessness of the seven-time world champion.

Low Point of 2013: Marshal Mark Robinson's preventable death at the Canadian Grand Prix

Seconds after the chequered flag flew in Montreal, track worker Mark Robinson was pulled under the wheels of the crane he was escorting back to the pitlane. He died later that day in hospital.

Initial reports said the 38-year-old Montrealer tripped and fell while moving the car, but the Quebec workplace health and safety watchdog found that the death was caused by inadequate training and improper operation of the crane. Had the manufacturers' instructions for the crane been followed, Robinson would be alive today.

Scariest Moment: Dario Franchitti's crash at the Grand Prix of Houston

With a few corners left in the bottom half of the IndyCar doubleheader in Houston, Dario Franchitti got airborne after contact with the back of another car and took flight. Franchitti's Ganassi racer slammed into the catch fence above the concrete barrier before coming to rest back in the middle of the track.

Everyone held their breath when Franchitti's head slumped to the side as the car stopped, but exhaled in a huge sigh of relief when he moved a few seconds later. In the end, the veteran Scot suffered broken vertebrae, a badly fractured ankle, and a severe concussion in the crash. It was also a miracle that nobody was killed by the shrapnel that flew into the stands as the car disintegrated.

The worst part came weeks later when fans learned that the racing career of a four-time IndyCar champion, three-time Indianapolis 500 winner, and all around nice guy was over due to his injuries.

Dumbest Move Award: Double Points for Formula One Finale

This was a tough one. IndyCar took the early lead in this category with its plan to diminish the allure of the Indianapolis 500 by running a race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course a few weeks before its marquee event. NASCAR soon overtook the open wheel series with its completely irrational decision to break the rules and add a 13th car to the 12-car Chase for the Cup playoff as a way to protect its integrity.

But those two silly ideas looked astute when Formula One announced the mother of all boneheaded moves in early December: The last race of the 2014 season would be worth double points. To make matters worse, F1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone now thinks that the final three grands prix should deliver a double haul.

Happily, it appears that the massive derision heaped on the idea from fans and commentators alike means saner heads will prevail and the double points decision will be reversed early in the New Year.

If you have questions about driving or car maintenance, please contact our experts at globedrive@globeandmail.com.

Follow us on Twitter @Globe_Drive.

Add us to your circles.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

In the know

Most popular videos »


More from The Globe and Mail

Most popular