Alex Palmer Writes
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So - as we prepare for the start of testing in Spain in a few hours, heres your handy-dandy reference list of this years teams, drivers and the number which will be on their cars this year (remembering that the drivers got to pick a number which theyll keep for their entire career - although the World Champion has the option to use 1 on their car).  (check out the article on GP Hub for more information, the list below first appeared on their website).

Infiniti Red Bull Racing (Renault)
Sebastian Vettel #1 (#5)
Daniel Ricciardo #3

Mercedes AMG Petronas (Mercedes)
Lewis Hamilton #44
Nico Rosberg #6

Scuderia Ferrari (Ferrari)
Fernando Alonso #14
Kimi Raikkonen #7

Lotus F1 Team (Renault)
Romain Grosjean #8
Pastor Maldonado #13

McLaren Mercedes (Mercedes)
Jenson Button #22
Kevin Magnussen #20

Force India (Mercedes)
Nico Hulkenberg #27
Sergio Perez #11

Sauber (Ferrari)
Adrian Sutil #99
Esteban Gutierrez #21

Scuderia Toro Rosso (Renault)
Jean-Eric Vergne #25
Daniil Kvyat #26

Williams (Mercedes)
Valtterri Bottas #77
Felipe Massa #19

Marussia (Ferrari)
Jules Bianchi #17
Max Chilton #4

Caterham (Renault)
Kamui Kobayashi #tbc
Marcus Ericsson #tbc

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Hmm - what does this fella and the 2014 F1 cars have in common? (Ed. Removed link to picture of a Proboscis Monkey on another site due to file size)

If youve not yet done so, check out the Torro Rosso, the Williams and particularly the Force India on the 2014 Launches coverage on F1infocentre.com, then look back at the monkey......

With all now revealed except the Marussia (which I believe left the factory around first light UK time this morning and should make Jerez by Thursday!) and the Caterham (which was to have been launched today but a last-minute glitch meant the launch was cancelled) we have some seriously good looking machines from Red Bull (helped by their clever paint choices), Mercedes AMG, and Ferrari, and some which are absolutely on the nose like the Williams and the Force India - which, apart from the obvious animal jokes also  seem to be attracting their fair share of snide remarks.  (This is a FAMILY blog, but if you must, you can search for #VJM07 on twitter - although Id suggest you DONT do that at work!!)

The odd car out so far seems to be the Lotus which has two noses, a small one and a larger one creating a V shape which quickly attracted the attention of the photo-shoppers who took great delight in speculating what a nose-to-nose collision between the Lotus and, say, a Williams might looks like (and no, youll have to google that one yourself - this is a FAMILY blog!!)

Jocularity aside, some knowledgeable F1 technical folks are speculating around the potential safety issues should one of the cars with a big nose, or a flattened out scoop nose (ie Ferrari) run up the back of another car, or into the tyre barriers at speed.  In any case, there will be a lot of people watching the testing with interest as there does tend to be at least one or two high speed crashes which might give us an indication of how the noses will perform in a frontal impact.

In any case, its certain that the nose jokes will persist well into the season - who knows, we might even see an entrepreneurial Aussie or two outside the gates in Melbourne selling nose merchandise......

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After a flurry of last minute car reveals on day 1 - and one which didnt quite make it out of its wraps (*cough - Caterham - cough) - it was Lewis Hamilton on the dot of 9am for a single lap in the new Mercedes.  Then a lot of nothing, then the first foray from Kimi in the Ferrari which promptly broke down part-way round the track to trigger the first red flag of the year.  Hmm - reliability......

For those in parts of the world where theres no coverage of the testing on TV or radio, heres a youtube clip where you can hear the cars.  I have to say I think theyre a bit tinny, the high-pitched sound that has characterized the F1 cars for so many years now has been replaced by a low pitched rumble - what do you think??

Noses aside, the big talking point across the wet day and the final day of testing has been the reliability issues plaguing the three Renault-powered cars at Jerez which all seemed to suffer a failure of some degree - including the Red Bull which was smoking (literally) on more than one occasion.  Im sure that the best brains at Renault are on the job and by the time we see the cars again at Bahrain they will have gotten to the bottom of the issue.  One wonders whether Lotus decision not to take part in Jerez was actually a stroke of genius - perhaps they were aware of the Renault engine issues and decided that given the likelihood theyd not get much running they would save their money and keep the team at home!

The other thing weve learned from testing is that Mercedes merchandising has reached an all-time high - if you havent seen the pictures of Nico and Lewis laying rubber in the pit box in the latest car from Mercedes check out this picture tweeted by @MercedesAMGF1 during the week.

So we now have a couple of weeks until the back-to-back Bahrain tests (19 to 22 February and 27 February to 2 March) - and the teams have a couple of weeks to reflect on what they learned from testing.  And then its off to Melbourne - hooray!!

A final editorial note if I may.  F1infocentre.coms tipping competition for 2014 is a great way to enhance your F1 viewing in 2014 - as a tipster you get access to the members only section of this website to join in the discussion (polite sledging is not only allowed, its encouraged!) and try your hand at picking the winners and losers from what is sure to be an entertaining season.  New this year, we are also offering to our tipsters a newsletter which will give you all the detail you ever wanted to know on the technical regulation changes for this year - to arm you for those water-cooler conversations so you can impress your mates with your technical knowledge!.  If youre interested in being part of the F1infocentre.com tipping competition, use the Contact Us link at the bottom of this page to send us your details so we can welcome you aboard for 2014.

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Although the racing for 2013 has finished, the F1 news just keeps coming.  Weve seen Sergio Perez moving back to Force India partnering Nico Hulkenburg, Maldonado and his money over to Lotus, Massa to Williams, Ross Braun on sabbatical, and Vettel announcing hell be a dad shortly after Christmas.  The rumors of Paul Di Resta moving into Indy with team Ganassi proved false, with most money now on Di Resta to pop up at Sauber given the rumored issues with their young Russian hope Sergey Sirotkin.  And now theres rumors that Eric Boullier (Lotus) is also on the move.   It will be interesting to see just what field turns up in Melbourne in March, thats for sure.

The FIA has released the regulation changes for 2014, with the most controversial being the awarding of double points for the last race of the season.  Most drivers and commentators have slammed this change as a gimmick and some drivers - including Vettel - have come out in public with similar views.  And Pirelli have been granted a tyre test in Bahrain from 17-19 December, although a number of teams and main drivers have decided not to take part.  Theres been much speculation in the last few days around why the FIA has opened the process seeking a 14th team for Formula 1 in 2015, particularly when the future of Caterham (and to some degree Sauber and Lotus!) are in doubt.  I do recall intermittent rumors through the year about an eminent US identify looking to enter F1 but that might have actually been in reference to the recent announcement that Leonardo di Caprio is backing a new Formula E team.

(With apologies to our US friends, to whom this bit wont be of interest......) It seems theres a few UK-based F1 identities in Perth, Australia this weekend for the third Ashes cricket test and staying on for the Boxing Day test in Melbourne.  I guess if you have as many frequent flyer miles as they would after a season following the F1 paddock, 40 degree celcius temperatures in Perth would be looking quite good about now regardless of who is actually likely to win the cricket!!

Thanks to all those who have joined the conversation here on F1 Infocentre over the 2013 season!  If you have been reading this blog and were interested in joining our F1 tipping competition on the private section of this website, check back around the time that 2014 winter testing commences (late January/early February) for more information.

Best wishes to all for the holiday season - and I look forward to seeing you back here again next year (or in Melbourne in March 2014 if you can make the journey!)

Alex (Adele) Palmer.

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Well, well, well - hasnt the summer (or winter for those of you not down under!!) break flown by??  Hard to believe were only 50 days from FP1 in Melbourne (or 49 days until they open the gates if youre planning on a 4-day ticket......)

The off-season has been full of news, both good and not so good.   Arguably the biggest story though would be Michael Schumachers unfortunate skiing accident, which seemed to become an unnecessary (and distasteful) media circus given the lack of other news around at the time.  The next biggest story was probably Bernie Ecclestone being committed to stand trial in Germany on those fraud charges (although it looks like the civil suit in the UK has recently been dropped) and subsequently stepping down from a range of F1-related board positions - although he has continued as the F1 head honcho for now.  Given the local (Australian) medias liking for running Bernie stories in the lead-up to the Melbourne GP itll be too bad for them if he doesnt make the trip to Melbourne this year!!

On a lighter note, weve seen the last of the drivers seats filled this week with the announcement of Caterhams team - and its a very big welcome back to Kamui Kobayashi who brings his unique brand of kamikaze bravado back to the big league for 2014.  Kobayashi will be joined by rookie Swede Marcus Ericsson in the new-look Caterham team which (if you can believe recent quotes attributed to Tony Fernandez) may not be around after this season if they dont improve their performance.  The Force India team of Sutil and Hulkenburg looks strong as well, and both Sauber and Williams will be hoping for a better season given their new driver pairings.  For the front-running teams, the dynamic between Alonso and Raikkonen will be one to watch as will Ricciardos performance with Red Bull.  Although given the significant technical changes between last season and this (which, dear reader, I am definitely not qualified to discuss but I wont let that stop me!!) theres a lot of focus on the pre-season testing which kicks off in Spain next week.

Theres plenty to discuss in coming days, from the permanent driver numbers to which teams will / wont turn up at Jerez, to the mostly online / at Jerez car launches, to the recent announcement that Pirelli have secured the contract to supply F1 tyres (through 2016 I think), to the alleged foray into hip-hop music undertaken by one Lewis Hamilton over Christmas (if youve not already seen it, check out the bling on Hamiltons bulldog Roscoe.....).

If you are interested in joining the F1infocentre tipping comp this year, use the contact us link on the bottom right hand side of the F1infocentre website for more information!!

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What an interesting way to wrap up the season, although perhaps a bit more rain could have spiced things up a little more.  A couple of callout results which you might have missed in the heat of the moment:

- with the retirement of Pics Caterham late in the race, Marussia have come through to win 10th place (ie second last) in the constructors championship - something that will significantly boost the teams coffers for next season.  Still unclear whether Max Chilton will stay with Marussia next year though, despite having finished all 19 races this year in his rookie year.

- Mercedes AMG have secured second in the constructors championship.  Most commentators seem to think Ross Brawn will not remain with the Silver Arrows into next year, hes being touted as potentially heading back to McLaren for 2015 (the Honda engines said to be a drawcard there) or perhaps heading over to Ferrari.  Time will tell on that one!

- Button did a remarkable job to bring the McLaren home in 4th place, saving McLaren from the embarrassment of 2013 being their first season since the early 1980s with no 4th place finish.

- Massa took the opportunity to do some donuts on the last lap, as did a few other drivers.  But no-one was called to the stewards (yet).  Will we see the return of the donut as a staple on the race-day menu??

- In his messages to both Vettel and Webber aired over the pit radio (FOM feed with SkyF1 commentary), Christian Horner managed to use the words "brilliant" and "well done" with exactly the same tone of voice to each driver, but by tacking different words before and after he managed to make the message somewhat unique each time.

And in big news - the mystery of the Marussia has been solved.  At Austin last weekend there was much speculation amongst the F1infocentre fraternity as to what you might get if you asked for a Marussia.  Although on reflection, we didnt ever clarify where one might ask for a Marussia......anyway, according to the ever-wise Google bird a Marussia is a Russian sports car (seems a bit obvious though, doesnt it??).  Apparently it was founded in 2007 and most notably was the first luxury car made in Russia - although one would hope that it can hold its own amongst the other supercars (McLaren, Ferrari, Lotus, Bugatti etc) a little better than it does in the F1 paddock and that it is a little less fiery than the Marussia F1 cars have been over the last few seasons.

Ill be doing a season wrap-up blog post a bit later this week before hanging up the keyboard for the winter break.  Feel free to post any thoughts, opinions, views or topics youd like explored in the comments section below - and Ill see what I can come up with.

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