The 2012 Formula 1 Season is just a few hours away, the opening round to be held in Albert Park, Melbourne Australia. So what better a time to preview what promises to be the most exciting season yet!!
LONGEST F1 SEASON :
20 Races spread over 5 Continents! This year poses a mammoth challenge to all the teams across the grid. Reliability is going to be of utmost importance as teams battle it out for supremacy.
United States makes a return with a new track in Austin, Texas and Bahrain would feature once again after the Race was Cancelled due to political turmoil the previous year.
RULE CHANGES :
1) No Restriction on Tyre Usage. Teams would have the liberty to test Tyre compounds chosen by Pirelli for the weekend that would suit their car setups. This should definitely reduce the Lap Time Differences between teams.
2) Mid Season Testing returns this year and Mugello is the Track chosen for the same on May 1.
Everyone specially the newer teams would benefit from this. The teams will only be permitted to do fifteen days of testing over the course of the season, the pre-season winter testing schedule has been cut back to accommodate the Mugello test.
3) The banning of blown diffusers has meant all teams had to redevelop the exit of the exhaust.
4) FIA banned the use of "reactive ride-height".The reduction in the height of the nose led to several teams using a "platypus" nose design. Some of the designs really look ugly. Mclaren & Marussia though have adopted a different design.
5) All cars had to pass their mandatory FIA crash tests before being allowed to take part in pre-season testing. Previously, passing the crash tests was only a requirement prior to the first race of the season. Crash tests for the 2012 season will also be more rigorous than in previous years.
THE CONTENDERS :
Red Bull Racing Renault ( AUT )
1. Sebastian Vettel
2. Mark Webber
Test Driver : Sebastien Buemi
VODAFONE MCLAREN MERCEDES (GBR)
3. Jenson Button
4. Lewis Hamilton
Test Driver : Gary Paffett
SCUDERIA FERRARI (ITA)
5. Fernando Alonso
6. Felipe Massa
Test Driver : Jules Bianchi
MERCEDES GP PETRONAS F1 TEAM (DEU)
7. Michael Schumacher
8. Nico Rosberg
LOTUS F1 TEAM (GBR)
9. Kimi Raikkonen
10. Romain Grosjean
SAHARA FORCE INDIA F1 TEAM (IND)
Force India Mercedes
11. Paul Di Resta
12. Nico Hulkenberg
SAUBER F1 TEAM (CHE)
14. Kamui Kobayashi
16. Daniel Ricciardo17. Jean-Eric VergneTest Driver : Sebastien Buemi
15. Sergio Perez Mendoza
Test Driver : Esteban Gutierrez
SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO (ITA)
AT&T WILLIAMS (GBR)
18. Pastor Maldonado19. Bruno SennaTest Driver : Valtteri Bottas
TEAM CATERHAM (MAL)
20. Heikki Kovalainen21. Jarno Trulli
HRT F1 TEAM (ESP)
22. Pedro de la Rosa23. Narain Karthikeyan
MARUSSIA F1 TEAM (RUS)
24. Timo Glock25. Charles Pic
SIX CHAMPIONS ON THE GRID :
A season featuring 6 World Champions brings in so much excitement. Vettel ( 2010, 2011 ), Button ( 2009 ), Hamilton ( 2008 ), Raikkonen ( 2007 ), Alonso ( 2005, 2006 ), Schumacher ( 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1995, 1994 ).
Vettel has been a confident driver for the last 2 seasons thanks to a very reliable and quick Red Bull. He certainly has no intent of stopping at 2 titles. He seems to be the man to win it again.
Button has been a consistent performer in the 2011 season and hasn't done much wrong in earlier seasons either. Mclaren are a great team to be in and I see him giving Vettel a run for his money.
Hamilton has been erratic and very rash in his driving techniques leading to many bust-ups with co-drivers on the paddock. He has the ability to accomplish what he did in 2008 and only time will tell how the Brit will perform this season. Button as a team-mate would not make things comfortable for him.
Raikkonen - The Iceman, The Flying Finn and My Personal Favourite has made a return to Formula 1 this season in a team that is in a rebuilding phase after the successful 2005-2006 seasons. They have had a strong pre-season but it would be an exaggeration to say he would be successful to the point of winning a title. As Keke Rosberg once said " If you want to win, Get a Finn! "
Alonso has lead the charge for Ferrari from 2010 after Raikkonen's exit in 2009. However Ferrari have failed to give him a car that would match the credentials of a Red Bull. The results from pre-season aren't encouraging either. The Maranello team has work to do.
Schumacher has been the most successful Formula 1 driver. Accolades and Records adorn a fantastic career. However his participation shouldn't rattle his compatriot VETTEL. He has achieved what he could in Formula 1. His participation however brings in millions of viewers from all parts of the world.
PERSONAL PREDICTIONS :
Pre - Season testing has clearly indicated that the RED BULL is the most consistent in performance over long periods. They haven't been the quickest, but the RB8 will be more than a match to the others. As Steve Slater reports " The only potential good news for their rivals is that after the Red Bull team unveiled an upgraded exhaust system and gearbox assembly to improve rear-end aerodynamic performance at the final test, they suffered gearbox problems."
Red Bull is going to still run the "B-spec" in Melbourne so reliability can be an issue.
Mclaren, Lotus, Mercedes GP have been quick on individual days but Mclaren seem to be the only worthy contender. However Kimi Raikkonen in a LOTUS F1 car will be more than a handful for the rest.
FERRARI have a lot of work to do as the feedback by both Alonso & Massa clearly underline the shortcomings of this year's car. ALONSO is no pushover and he will leave no stone unturned to fight for the crown.
MERCEDES PETRONAS have two able contenders for the crown. NICO ROSBERG would want to prove his worth and MICHAEL SCHUMACHER as a team - mate will compel him to give his best.SCHUMACHER with his 7 Titles and more importantly Experience can never be written off.
MID - FIELD Battles are going to be enthralling too as cash - strapped Force India, Sauber, Williams would find it difficult to sustain progress. This will bring in Toro Rosso & Caterham closer to the trio. HRT failed the Crash tests and will enter the season almost untested. The same can be said for the newcomer Marussia, but Formula 1 is never short of surprises, 2009 season a clear testimony of this fact.
Well we aren't far from finding this out! So Bring it on!
FORMULA 1 is BACK!!