Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Australian GP 2012 & Beyond!

The first race of the season got over last week in Melbourne and if we are to take anything from it the pecking order is still not too clear and I guess we will know the true order only by the European Leg of the season. Jenson Button managed to win the race while Hamilton after a good pole performance managed to come only 3 and should be disappointed as his teammate in an identical car has outperformed him during the race once again. Hamilton as a driver is drastically going down while Button ever since his title win with Brawn has improved a lot as a driver and with the right machine could be a very serious threat for the title.

Vettel & Red Bull who many expected to smoke everyone once again will find this season tougher than they though it will be but in the end Vettel coming 2nd in a car which was slower than McLaren is a good result and I do expect Red Bull to catch up with McLaren very soon. Webber also had a pretty decent result in coming in 4th but one thing is certain and it may just be the 1st race of the season but Vettel already looks like a better driver and Webber winning the title is something which looks like will never happen anymore.

Ferrari as expected had a horrible race but Alonso salvaged it for the team by coming in 5th in a car which truly does not deserve to be in the top 10 itself. Ferrari needs to do something real soon as a driver as good as Alonso just cannot go about driving car which is bad compared to the title contenders. Also it is time Ferrari drops Massa as he is not good and with Massa in the other car the team by the end of the season will struggle to even finish in the top 3 in the constructors table.

Mercedes & Lotus have made lot of improvement and though it is still early days and Mercedes for all their talk in the end failed to score points but the car does have potential and if the team can solve the mechanical issues they can challenge for podiums while Lotus traditionally have always had good starts but it is up to the team to capitalize on this and as far as the Australian GP is concerned despite their bad luck and poor planning during qualifying the team managed to score points and Kimi is rusty but by the team the European leg comes he will be up to speed which means that the big teams has to worry about Lotus as Kimi in a fast car is always a threat.

Sauber looks pretty decent and if they just manage to continue their progress they can take away crucial points from top teams and it is also a very important season for both Kobayashi and Pérez as a few seats will be vacant next year and a very good performance could see them land up with good seats in top teams. Williams is one team which had made a huge improvement from the previous year and at one stage it was looking good for even a 5th place with Maldonado but then he rather lost it in the last lap and despite him showing good speed there were crucial points which the team cannot lose. Always a decision to go with 2 pay drivers is not a good one and this may hurt the team in the end of the season.

Daniel Ricciardo is his debut Australian GP scored points in his home race while teammate Vergne making his debut for the Toro Rosso team had a decent race and managed to bring him the car in the 11th place. Force India another team which was supposed to be fast will have their hands full this year as they have set high ambitions of finishing 5th this season and this will be a tough ask as the likes of Sauber, Williams and even Toro Rosso looks string while Mercedes and Lotus have improved a lot.

Among the 3 new teams Marussia finished the race while Caterham despite the pre-season hype had issues and looks like another season where they will be quicker than Marussia and HRT while they will fail to catch up with the middle pack as the middle pack has just become faster. HRT is an embarrassment at this level and they fail to qualify for the race with the 107% rule being enforced upon. They look like they will yet again fail to qualify in Malaysia and the campaign looks like a long tough one for them.

Still early days but one thing is certain is that Red Bull will not dominate the season as it did last season while Ferrari is in real danger of being in the mid-pack if they do not do much to improve the car. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

F1 2012 Season: Preview, Thoughts & Predictions!

The biggest news going into this season has been the comeback of the 2007 World Champion Kimi with the Lotus Renault team while Williams which is a deep free fall into F1 obscurity has tied up with Renault in a hope to rekindle the magic which resulted in total dominance in the early 90’s. Apart from that there have not been any big name moments between teams.

This is the team line-up for the 2012 season:

Red Bull Renault – Vettel/Webber
McLaren Mercedes – Button/Hamilton
Ferrari – Alonso/Massa
Mercedes AMG – Schumacher/Rosberg
Lotus Renault – Kimi/Grosjean
Force India Mercedes – di Resta/Hulk
Sauber Ferrari – Kobayashi/Perez
Toro Rosso Ferrari – Ricciardo/Vergne
Williams Renault – Maldonado/B Senna
Caterham Renault – Heikki/Petrov
HRT Cosworth – de la Rosa/Narain
Maurussia Cosworth – Glock/Pic

The Lotus issue has been solved now with Renault F1 becoming Lotus while Team Lotus has become Caterham while even Virgin has now become Maurussia. Mercedes have also added AMG to their name.

Among the drivers, the longest servicing F1 driver Rubens Barrichello was given the boot by Williams while fellow veteran Jarno Trulli who was originally supposed to drive this season was replaced at the last minute by Petrov. Sutil was also dropped by Force India while Toro Rosso went for a total clean-up as they replaced both Sébastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari were dropped. Others missing from the grid includes Nick Heidfeld, Vitantonio Liuzzi & Jérôme d'Ambrosio. Atleast d'Ambrosio & Buemi have landed up reserve driver roles.
The pre-season testing is always interesting and though this season it looks very close when you look at the time of various drivers but Red Bull looks like the favorites once again while McLaren could have a car which can challenge for the title. Ferrari seems to have got it wrong and so this could be another year where Ferrari will struggle and this time around they could be lucky to retain the 3rd place in the constructors table. Mercedes is looking strong and looks good to challenge for regular podium places while if you look at pre-season pace Lotus is looking very dangerous and if they actually have a fast car and with Kimi behind the wheels they can upset some big teams.

The mid-field once again looks tight but early signs show that Force India looks more likely the team which can break away from this pack while Toro Rosso could also surprise a lot of people. Sauber looks ok but nothing special from the team and they will actually do well to finish 7th like last season while Williams will just feel good beating these teams are gone are the days where you had Williams challenging for the title. Caterham will do anything just to score a point while HRT & Maurussia just make up for the numbers. Atleast Maurussia is trying hard; HRT is nothing but a joke.

My Predictions for 2012:

2012 World Drive’s World Champion: Sebastian Vettel
2012 World Constructor Championship: Red Bull Racing
Disappointment of the Season: Ferrari
Sure to get Fired: Massa
Sure to change Teams: Lewis Hamilton
Sure to Quit the Sport: Mark Webber
Surprise Package of the Year: Lotus/Force India
Rookie of the Year: Jean-Éric Vergne