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