F1: Here come the 2011 circus
Red Bull’s Chosen One, Vettel, has his team-mate Webber to contend with. Webber will be hoping to make amends for losing the title that he had a shot at last year. It won’t be easy now with Vettel brimming with confidence. But with Technical Maestro Adrian Newey again delivering the good Red Bull may make it their year again.
The Red Bull pair will have Fernando Alonso, more comfortable at Ferrari, chomping at the bit to gain his 3rd world title. Team-mate Massa, may have pronounced he’s not out of it. But as seen last year, Alonso is Ferrari’s favourite son now. The 2011 “F150” should be more to Alonso’s liking, and even if it turn’s out to be a dog, Alonso will still grab it by the scruff of the neck up at the races.
Then there’s McLaren, which will be “doing a Red Bull” by launching their car later than all their rivals. With the limited testing available, they’ll be looking at maximising the car at the factory before hitting the track. Hamilton and Button, the chummiest of teammates, will want to improve on their early season success. Button especially surprised many last year, by actually beating Hamilton for a few races. He’ll be looking at improving his dire qualifying record against Hamilton though. Lewis on the other hand will be motivated to show he should be champion again.
Moving on to the chasing midpack, Mercedes GP & Renault returns with the same driver lineup. Herr Schumacher, after a disappointing return last year, will have young Nico Rosberg to beat, which he failed to do last year. Rosberg joined Mercedes, hoping to clinch his first race win last year, but was let down by a car unable to hang on to the Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren. The first few races will tell us if Brawn & co are able to deliver a car worthy of their driver line up this year.
Like Rosberg, Lotus-Renault’s Robert Kubica has stated he is ready to start winning races again. A single race win in Canada seems an age away for this driver. His teammate, Viatly Petrov, who showed some signs of brilliance last year, will be hoping to shed his “pay driver” stigma.
On the subject of pay driver, Williams GP last year ditched multiple junior formula champion Nico Hulkenberg for Venezuelan, Pastor Valdonado. Valdonado brings with him a wad of Venezuelan oil money to gain the seat. To be fair Maldonado also happens to be the 2010 GP2 Champion, so he isn’t a pure pay driver. Oldie Rubens “I’m faster than Stig” Barrichello returns for his 19th year in Formula 1.
Hulkenberg has made his way to Force India, taking over the role of test driver. 2010 DTM Champion, and Force India’s 2009 “Friday Driver” Paul di Resta has been promoted to the race seat. At least one of this year’s new drivers has proper champion pedigree. Force India stalwart Adrian Sutil returns for another season.
The other Renault powered Lotus team aka 1MF1 will be fighting on two fronts this season. One for their name, and the other for results on track. How the court drama unfolds will affect this upstart team remains to be seen. Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovailonen are decent drivers, but how much further can they bring the team up. Trulli was at Toyota for years with tonnes of backing and development yet ultimately failed to deliver. Similarly Heikki has 1 win to show after driving a race winning McLaren for 2 seasons.
Virgin Racing too has a new driver with Belgian Jerome d’Ambrosio taking a seat along Timo Glock.
Hispania Racing Team brings back India’s former golden boy Narain Karthikeyan in one of the seats. With India getting their first F1 race this year, I can’t help feeling he’s there just to sell tickets.
Sauber too will have a new driver with Sergio Perez bringing with him TELMEX money.
New Tire, movable wings
Bridgestone has left the circus, replaced by Pirelli. Pirelli has pledged to make their tires less durable, so the racing SHOULD, in theory be more exciting. They’ll make the tires colour coded too so spectators will know what tires drivers are using, from Soft to Hard compounds.
Rear wing are now movable, allowing drivers to cut drag to their rear wings when they are within a second of the car in front. This will allow them to slingshot out and outbrake opponents into the turns.
Season starts next week in the first test in Valencia next week. Let the Winter testing begin.