Thursday, May 21, 2009

Monaco GP Preview: Will Ferrari and McLaren upstage Brawn GP?

This Sunday the most prestigious race in motorsport will be on but the last 2 days most of the focus was on the legal suit files in the French courts by the Ferrari team against the FIA’s budget cut proposals and the aftermath after the French court rejected the verdict and how Ferrari continue to insist that they may pull off the season. Well they are not alone in this battle against the FIA as teams like Renault, Toyota, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and even BMW may back them in this battle.

Now let’s get back to the actual sport and leave alone the politics that comes with it as we go to the streets of Monaco to find out who will emerge as the king of the street circuit. Traditionally the track has favoured McLaren off late and the last time Ferrari won was in 2001 when the Red Baron Michael Schumacher won it for them. Though Ferrari and McLaren has been quick in practice, we all know how deceptive this can be as if we have to go by practice timing then Rosberg and his Williams would have won the races and now Brawn and Red Bull.

Jenson Button and Brawn GP would once again head the field as favourites as even during Spanish GP, everyone did suspect them if they will do well once the European season begins but the team has proved that they are no flash in the pan and they are a true Cinderella story and they are the favourites to win the championship. Two things may go against them and one is the internal battle which is brewing after Barrichello suspected that he lost the Spanish GP after team orders while Brawn GP has denied this till now.

The other threat is from the fast improving Red Bull whose young driver Vettel is showing that race after race he is the heir to Schumacher’s crown and he could spoil the party for Brawn GP. Vettel is not the only threat as Webber finally has a car with which he can challenge for race wins and well Monaco could be the place where he wins his first race of his F1 career.

Though overtaking will be next to impossible on the streets but last year we did see some sensational move from Barrichello on Webber. So overtaking will be done this year especially with the inspired Spaniard who surely will want to go fighting as his Renault is yet to challenge the front runners. His partner Piquet needs another good showing as his career depends on every race he drives. Renault will feel good if they manage to do better than BMW, Williams and Toro Rosso.

Toyota has been very consistent this season but they are still after their elusive first win and they need this win to continue in F1 as even without the current crisis, if the team fails to win, they will most probably pull off F1 and at the most may supply engines to teams. BMW seem to be on a rut after the first race and well they will be once again counting on luck to score points during the race as the car is struggling and they need to something spectacular to pull it off from there.
Both Ferrari and McLaren have claimed that they are good to win but if Massa somehow manages to get pole well he could win the first race of the season for Ferrari while Kimi without a race win after a year needs to pull off a near impossible task to win the race. Hamilton is not affected by any new controversy now and with everyone focused on the FIA – Ferrari battle, he has been in pretty good form this season and if McLaren manages to pull off a Monaco special car, well he too will be in the reckoning for a race win.

Williams once again dominate the practice sessions but for Rosberg this should be the race where he should make the call if he wants to continue in Williams or not, if he manages not to score a podium finish, well I think he should just quit the team and he surely will have a lot of offers for a racing seat. Again a win here will end the long draught for the team and their future could well be secured for another season.

Toro Rosso had a disastrous Spanish GP where both their drivers were knocked out of the first lap. It will be very interesting to see how Buemi handles the streets of Monaco while Bourdais will be desperate to score points as the team’s patience on him is running out and he could be back in Indy racing very soon.

Last year if Kimi had not taken out Sutil, well Force India could have scored its first points and well this year too this could be the best place for the team to cause an upset and score points. The budgets caps of FIA will benefit teams like Force India but they need an amazing show from their drivers to score points.

It should once again be a battle between Vettel and Button, while on paper Button will be the favourite but Vettel may just pull it off. Also don’t discount Webber who should be the dark horse of the race. Kimi, Massa and Hamilton should fancy their chances but they need a flawless drive to pull it off.

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