<img src=”http://media3.picsearch.com/is?oP64ztN9CIBKoy09oCxD4-XkB90sVJ49JXL9zIKQ3Zo” width=”128” height=”77” alt=”A New “Fun” Season lies in Wait” /»The 2010 season in Formula One is scheduled to begin in just a couple of weeks. Teams are rushing through their final tests, some stuttering across, while the new season looks to shake things up with new drivers, some really old ones, some big teams looking to get back into the reckoning again as well as some looking to make it big at the biggest stage in the world.
There are a lot of “first time” moments this season including the “first time” 13 teams will be taking to the starting grid; the “first time” Michael Schumacher will be taking to the wheel of an F1 car (again); the “first time” Lotus will be placing a race car on the tracks as a full-fledged team (again); the “first time” Richard Branson’s Virgin will be entering the field (as will three others) and the “first time” in many years that people will be watching racing on the tracks rather than politics off it (we can only hope).
Over the coming weeks, before the start of the new season, we will take an “indepth” look at the teams, the drivers and their past & upcoming season.
Here are the Teams:
The 2009 season in Formula One was one that McLaren Mercedes would like to forget really quick. Changes came about throughout the team but Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen> stayed behind the wheel. The season started poorly and despite some rays of hope shining through with Hamilton’s performance, McLaren ensured that more controversy and drama keeps them from running away with some good performances. They managed to end the season at a respectable third place in the standings behind a rookie team and a coloured bovine that barely managed anything up until that year. So how was it respectable? Well they did manage to finish a point ahead of an equally dismal, but arch rival, Ferrari.
2010 will bring a wave of freshness, and hopefully some race wins, with the 2009 World Champion Jenson Button coming in to join Hamilton. Hamilton had claimed that in-team competition was not strong enough to push him harder for the title. This comes as a surprise considering a strong partner (Alonso) in 2008 led to team politics and total chaos in the pits but maybe Hamilton knows what he’s talking about.
Combining the title winner from two years back with the title winner from a year ago, McLaren will be hoping to emulate their performances from previous years and go on to a winning year with one of their two former World Champions. Get that???? If nothing else, they are always rated as the firm favourites for stirring up some brand new controversy that might help them make headlines for the wrong reasons. After all, there is nothing called “bad” publicity.
The Stallion of 2009 looked more like a mule as Scuderia Ferrari stuttered and stopped on its way to a dismal fourth spot in the standings. They broke all previous records, in a bad way, by having their worst start ever in Formula One after scoring a massive 0 points in three races. Things improved and Felipe Massa> even won a podium place in Monaco.
However, just when things seem to be get fixed at Ferrari, when the team can’t, fate steps in to spoil the party. Massa was struck by a stray nut, which caused a massive neck injury and ruled the Brazilian out for the remainder of the season. Ferrari decided to fall back on Michael Schumacher who had already hurt his own neck in a motorcycle racing accident.
A return to the safer, and easier to balance, four-wheel format seemed tempting and Schumi tried to make it back but couldn’t take the load. Up stepped Luca Badoer, the spring-heeled 38-year old team test driver, looking to do what Massa couldn’t. And he did! Badoer managed to finish every race in last position, something that people in a scarlet race car shouldn’t be doing. Well, Badoer was first, albeit at the wrong end of the track, something that prompted the team to snatch away the only glimmer of hope that Force India had throughout their years of existence, Giancarlo Fisichella.
Fisichella was almost competitive with the lower end of the field however, he would go on to keep his job but as the team test driver, replacing the lightning quick Badoer who probably needed to rest his legs considering his old age. The team did decide to bring in Fernando Alonso> however they seemed to have drawn chits out of a hat when looking at replacing their existing drivers.
Considering that Massa had never won a World Championship, and that his best performance was a second place from 2008, it was an easy decision to pick him over the 2007 World Champion and, perpetually stuck with a poor car, the highest paid driver in 2009, Kimi Raikkonen. Raikkonen moved happily to rallying while rallying is something that Ferrari will need to do if they are to have a better season than their last.
Where there’s a Will…
It cannot be doubted that Williams F1 are one of the “Big 3” in Formula One. However, a look at their last season will tell you that life is not so pleasant at the “Diffuser 3” team. The 2009 season had a host of possibilities for Williams, one of the three teams to use a diffuser in their race car, alongside Brawn GP and Toyota F1>. However, Williams were looking to be “a class apart” and they were; it just happened to be the wrong class!!!
Rosberg didn’t renew his contract in 2010 while Nakajima was told that his wouldn’t be renewed. Looking to replace Rosberg, Williams decided to rope in Rubens Barrichello after Brawn GP’s buy out left the Brazilian looking for a decent outfit to fit into. One experienced and the other brand new - Nico Hulkenberg will be partnering the Brazilian when Williams take to the tracks in 2010.
The new Williams cars will be powered by Cosworth engines in the back after they decided to shun Toyota for better “reliability”. As every team powered by Toyota engines were required to have a starting Japanese driver, the move may have been “tactical”, getting rid of their Japanese tourist-bus driver. While Barrichello might be left in the lurch in a poorly performing car, the stage might be right for Hulkenberg to show the F1 world his capability.
>There have been changes galore in the stables of the French racing team, Renault F1. The mastermind of two world championship performances earlier in the decade, team principal, Flavio Briatore, is no longer at the helm following charges of modifying race results using unfair practices. Twice world champion Fernando Alonso also left the team, again, and this time it might just be for good.
And then, there were those moments in 2009 that, Renault would hope, may never come again. First, Alonso left the pits in Hungary with a loosely attached wheel, it came off and so did Renault for the next race. Nelson Piquet Jr. was fired for not performing well through the season and he decided to bring to light the race-fixing scandal that gave Briatore a life-time supply of race bans.
Briatore was a man with a simple principal in racing –If you can’t make a car that can win the race, simply make a race that the car can win. Didn’t work as well as it sounded though!
Romain Grosjean, who came in for Piquet, didn’t seem to be in a hurry to finish races while Alonso was always quicker to explain that he needed to be in Ferrari at the end of the season. The team was in the doldrums, unsure of a way back but the good part is, they did manage to sign up for the 2010 season. Or is that the bad part?
Romain Grosjean remains as one of the two men who will potter around the track on race-day while Robert Kubica makes his way over after some promising performances in 2009. Whether that will be good enough to keep Renault racing till the end of the season is something that no one is quite sure of. There is, however, one guarantee that the team will continue to be on its best behaviour considering the threat for an FIA-imposed ban lest they turn to their old ways of 2009.
To be continued…