Thursday, August 20, 2009

European GP Preview: Change of guard as Traditional Powers Rise!

The break in the F1 calendar for once has not raised any new issues between FIA and FOTA but legendary F1 driver and arguably one of the greatest driver ever to compete Michael Schumacher was the talking point ever since the Hungarian GP. We are all happy that Massa has recovered well and if everything goes well could be racing for Ferrari at his home race, the Brazilian GP. Also BMW has announced that it will be pulling out of F1 but then though this has surprised a lot of people, but BMW has a habit of pulling out of F1, well it did happen in the 80’s and again a few years back, they bailed on Williams and the team has been in downhill ever since that.

Michael Schumacher was the biggest newsmaker and he decided to come out of retirement and drive the Ferrari as a replacement for the injured Massa but then his neck injury he sustained during a bike crash is still not healed properly and he decided to not race in Valencia though there is a chance that he could be back this season and well most know that Schumi did retire a bit early and he could have easily raced for another year or so but at 40 even with a car which is not the best at the grid, a half-fit Schumi is good enough to beat most of the younger drivers on track.

This is a very important race for Jenson Button and Brawn GP as the last few races have seem them down the pack and their rivals Red Bull seem to have the car which is the best on the grid but then the only thing which is going in Button’s favor is that both Vettel and Webber are eating points of each other which should in the end may actually benefit Button but then on the constructor’s side, Red Bull is all set to overtake Brawn very soon. Red Bull has to decide which driver to back or else they maybe just short of Button provided Brawn does not improve but in all possibility Brawn has been working very hard and should atleast challenge for podium places.

McLaren and Hamilton are happy after their first win for the season at the Hungarian GP but they know that Ferrari is also fast catching up and they could pose a very serious threat. It is also very important for Heikki Kovalainen as the next few races will decide his F1 future as Nico Rosberg is tipped for a McLaren drive and with BMW out of the picture; McLaren seems to be his only destination. Heikki has to drive out of his skin to retain his seat for the next season.

Another Finn who is under immense pressure is Kimi as with Alonso moving to Ferrari for the 2010 season is one of the biggest open secrets ever, there is a chance that Ferrari may buy Kimi out of his contract so that he can go on to become a rally driver but now with Schumi not driving, Kimi should be a happy person as he does not want to be slower than a 40 year legend but then worst is being slower than a 38 year old test driver who has never raced in F1 this century! Luca Badoer is living a dream and the man who has never scored points in F1, finally does get his chance to rewrite history and though it could be only for a short time, finally we see an Italian in the Ferrari team.

Renault and Alonso are back at the last minute and it was important for the organizers that Alonso drive this weekend as the popularity of F1 has raised ever since he won 2 world championships. Piquet finally gets the boot and Frenchmen Romain Grosjean gets to replace him. This again is a very important race for Renault as if the team continues to languish, the team may consider pulling out of F1 as the company at the moment is not doing very well.

BMW has promised that they will improve the car in order to make it more attractive for prospective buyers and with the Peter Sauber backed Brawn style takeover bid now gone, it is very important for the team to find new backers or else a new team may occupy its place on the grid. Kubica and Heidfeld will be racing as each is their last in-order to make themselves attractive to other teams.

Toyota another team which may exit F1, will be looking for a good show from both its drivers as though through the season, the team did always have a car which was really good but then the team has struggled at times and at no time it was actually challenging for a win. Time the team goes up a notch and get its maiden win but then that should be a real hard task as Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari and even Williams are far ahead. The other Toyota powered team, Williams will once again fight the big boys while spending a fraction of what they do, it is important for the team to keep scoring points and try challenging for wins if the team has to remain in the sport on a longer run.

STR and Force India will have an interesting battle at the bottom of the grid, though STR is ahead with points on the table, Force India is still looking for those elusive points and they may just do it in Valencia with a little bit of luck on their side. Hope this year’s European GP is more interesting than the one we had last year.

European GP Predictions: 1. Vettel 2.Webber 3. Hamilton 4. Kimi 5. Button 6. Rosberg 7. Glock 8. Trulli

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