Sunday, 31 January 2010

Formula One 2010: Pre-season review

After a wonderful season last year, I can't wait to see this season kick off.

Pre-testing it's very difficult to say anything solid about next season. The refuelling ban and new front tyres mean car design is quite different from last years cars.

So season prognosis:


Driver line up: Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button are both proven WDC material. I believe the refuelling ban will equalise the gap between the two somewhat (previously I would not expect Button to be able to compete with Hamilton). Summary: Probably best line-up on the grid.

Car: Looks very pretty. The team had lots of momentum at the end of last year. Hopefully the new car follows that momentum. The team, after coming up with some upgrades, did switch to developing this car quite early in the season. Summary: WCC contender


Driver line up: Michael Schumacher is back. It will be very difficult to tell whether he's still got it until after testing (though he most likely still has). Rosberg made waves when he joined the scene, but since then has been driving a rather underperforming Williams and (I believe) never really been able to shine. Hopefully in the new team he'll be able to cut out some basic errors and really put in some strong challenges. Summary: Looking very good.

Car: Brawn lost momentum towards the end of the season, but still had some excellent finishes - largely due to Button's skill rather than an inherently fastest car, though. Still, Ross Brawn is an excellent designer, and the Brawn car will likely be one of the fastest on the grid. Summary: WCC contender

Red Bull:

Fun fact: Red Bull is not a soft-drinks company that sponsor an F1 team. They are a motorsports company who dabble in making soft-drinks. This is why the drink sucks.

Driver line up: Vettel is excellent, and I look forward to seeing him battle it out with Schuey. This boy will win a WDC at some point. Maybe this year. Mark Webber is a fine driver but not quite in the same league as Vettel, Hamilton or Schumacher. Summary: Hot shot, and not so hot.

Car: Adrian Newey is a superb designer. However, Red Bull pushed very hard for the WDC last season and this may have cost them if it meant less focus on the 2010 car. They had lots of momentum at the end of last season but I've an instinct which says their car won't be as impressive this year as last. Summary: Regular podiums, and outside WCC chance.


Driver line up: I'm very glad to see Massa back on the grid after his injury last season. Hopefully it won't have affected his driving, which is highly underrated due to him being paired against amazing team-mates all the time (Schuey and Raikkonen). Remember that he often out-competed his team-mates and is not to be underestimated. This man is too good not to win a WDC at some point in his career. Having said this, he's not kind to his fuel consumption or tyres and may find the new rules make this season quite a struggle. Alonso is another driver with a very special talent. Summary: Probably the best line up on the grid (along with McLaren, there).

Car: Last season was disappointing, but they cut off development early to focus on this car. It's going to be fast, have no doubt about that, and it's got the drivers to do it justice. Expect to see it hit podiums regularly. Summary: WCC contender.


Drivers: Barrichello is hugely experienced, but not WDC material (he's had the cars to do it and last season he had a team-mate considered "beatable", yet failed to do so.) Huelkenberg is an unknown. Summary: Fair.

Car: Somewhat uninspiring last season. Likely more of the same. Will be competing for 5th at best.


Drivers: Kubica is, in Fernando Alonso's opinion, the most talented driver on the grid. He made his BMW perform far better then expected. Expect Kubica to trouble the front runners now and then. Reserve driver is unknown. Summary: Will make the car look better then it is.

Car: After scandal last season, and an uncompetitive car, expect to see Renault competing for 5th, but wouldn't be surprised to see them get into the top 4.

Force India:

Drivers: Neither driver is top draw by F1 standards. I'm not expecting much from the team.

Car: Again, not expecting much. 8th or 9th is probably about right.

Torro Rosso:

Drivers: Neither driver is proven as really fast, both have been prone to rookie errors in the past. Buemi shows flashes of inspiration, but isn't going to win races on his merits alone any time soon. Summary: Poor.

Car: Will probably use a car similar to the Red Bull car. Don't expect it to compete with them, though. Expect to see them around 8th or 9th, possible pushing into the higher midfield group occasionally.

BMW-Sauber: (name subject to change)

Drivers: De La Rosa has an excellent reputation, but has been off-track for a while, so I don't expect him to work wonders. Kobayashi has yet to prove himself in F1. Summary: Could (and should) be better.

Car: Midfield standard, and I don't expect that to change.

New teams:

Drivers: Only Lotus and Virgin have completed their driver line ups, and few of them will be taking part in initial testing. Campos may not reveal their car until the first race! Speculation is that they may not be ready in time. US F1 are likely to be the strongest team here, with Virgin up there too.

Cars: Completely unknown. Probably somewhat behind the established teams, but don't be too surprised if one of them is up there in the midfield.

My guess for the season:
(Guessed positions, with movement with in each group likely)

1st McLaren
2nd Mercedes
3rd Ferrari
4th Red Bull

5th Williams
6th Renault
7th BMW-Sauber

8th Force India
9th Torro Rosso (on account that Force India have better drivers)
10th US F1

11th Virgin
12th Lotus
13th Manor

I promise to review this once the season is done, and check how I did.