Following on from a brilliant season in 2012, it’s successor has so far been just as swell. With three different winners in the first four races, the first fly away events have hopefully started the season as it means to go on.

Away from the sharp end though, who’s been below par? Who’s found the number 2013, unkind and unlucky?

Esteban Gutierrez

Esteban (running last) hasn't set the world on fire - Photo: Marussia F1 media
Esteban (running last) hasn’t set the world on fire – Photo: Marussia F1 media

Admittedly, this seasons Sauber C32 has rarely shown signs of raw pace, either in pre-season, or in race trim. Adding to the Swiss team’s worries has been the, quite frankly, underwhelming impression made by their rookie driver Esteban Gutierrez.

Having finished a lap down on the leaders in the opening two races, the Mexican hardly improved matters in China with an early-race exit from the race. The cherry on the cake? Well, what better way to compound the misery than to run into the side of Caterham’s Giedo Van Der Garde? In free practice. On an outlap.

Of course, Gutierrez’s situation is worsened by the presence of Nico Hulkenburg as his team-mate; a man who up until the beginning of the Bahrain Grand Prix, had led more laps than anyone on the grid in the last four races held. Fortunes need to change quickly for Esteban, otherwise he may just find himself on the losing side of a Mexican stand-off with the team…

Jean-Eric Vergne

A faster teammate means more pressure - Photo: Scuderia Toro Rosso Media
A faster teammate means more pressure – Photo: Scuderia Toro Rosso Media

In hindsight, no-one was expecting Jean-Eric to set Formula One alight in 2012. And, despite a handful of useful turn-outs in his debut year in the bosom of the Scuderia Toro Rosso set-up, he didn’t.

However, in 2013, the stakes have very much risen for Vergne, with the very real possibility of vacancy at Red Bull Racing for 2014 following the Multi-21 saga.

It goes without saying that after seven years of existence, Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz will be eager to promote either one of the Red Bull Young Driver development prospects currently driving for the ‘feeder team’ for Red Bull. On current form, you’d have to say that Vergne is second-fiddle to Daniel Ricciardo, following the latter’s impressive 7th place finish in the desert of Bahrain.

With such a golden opportunity looking to present itself, it really is time for Vergne to stop sinking, and start swimming.

Pastor Maldonado

Maldonado looking strong for Williams
Where’s the 2012 Maldonado? – Photo: WilliamsF1/LAT

After a turn-around of fortunes for Williams in 2012, 2013 has been one big fat lump of disappointment thus far. Following on from a strong package last year, the FW35 has been a nightmare for the Grove-based team, with the team’s driver line-up of Valtteri Bottas and Pastor Maldonado struggling sincerely behind the wheel.

The question must be asked: just how can an evolution of a car turn itself into a pig?

Partial blame has to be put at the Venezuelan feet of Maldonado; a man who Williams must have been looking at to provide the driving force  behind the development of last year’s car moving into this year’s contender.  Off-track Pastor in front of the F1-press has resembled a man downbeat, frustrated, and in some cases disrespectful to his Williams team; traits that cannot bode well with either Sir Frank Wlliams, or his daughter and new deputy team principal, Claire. Poor form Pastor, poor form.

Considering the brutal nature of Formula One, the three names on the naughty list above must be, and have to be, plotting the revival of their respective seasons. With the return to Europe looming, the below-par Mexican, underwhelming Frenchman, and disappointing Venezuelan, will be collectively hoping their 2013 season gets a vital kick-start.