Continuing on the preview of the 2010 season, we go on to look at another set of four teams, out of the massive lineup of 13, in a bid to identify their chances for the upcoming season.
>A sports drinks manufacturer bought over a major racing team and we were all wondering where the world was heading to. But, things haven’t been unbearable, to say the least. In fact, 2009 was probably their best chance of winning the World Drivers’ Championship title and will probably be the closest they will come in a long time.
Sebastian Vettel, the replacement for the aged legs of DC, almost sprang a surprise with some astonishing performances. Along with Mark Webber, the duo jumped into action from China, grabbing a surprising 1-2 finish. Vettel again won in a 1-2 at Silverstone while the two were unstoppable at Germany as well.
But like all good things, the diffuser magic had to come to an end soon. And it did!
Vettel went in for an early shower in Valencia and Hungary, but that didn’t rule him out of the title chase because Jenson Button was trying his best to lose the title in any case. However, despite Button wrapping up the title in the penultimate race, the Red Bull Racing team still had another 1-2 up their sleeve, although it may have come a bit too late in the last race of the season.
In 2010, nothing changes at the team. Vettel and Webber will still be behind the wheels of the Red Bull machine and Renault will still provide their power plants. The question is whether these engines will survive the assault of another gruelling season considering that they chose to sit down whenever the team looked like having a winning chance.
Whether team tactics let them down or their engines, past history suggests that, at best, the team can be considered dark horses, or should we say “Red Bulls”, for the title.
A Rose by Any Other Name…
>Should have smelt as sweet!!! Right?
Well… not quite, as Scuderia Toro Rosso have unmistakably proven time and time again. Unlike their namesake Red Bull Racing, Toro Rosso have not been near as good as their senior team. After a good 2008 season, by their standards, things seemed to go down, at first, when Vettel was shipped off to their senior outfit at Red Bull Racing.
The team tried, very hard we might add, to get rid of Sebastien Bourdais at the start of the season but just a month before the first race, were forced to sign him up probably due to the lack of talent coming up. They did have a bright spot in Sebastien Buemi, a youngster who had come up through the ranks.
After an impressive first race that promised a lot, only Buemi managed to continue at somewhat of a respectible pace. Bourdais just kept dropping down the grid until he finally dropped out completely. Toro Rosso decided to replace him with Jaime Alguersuari after the German Grand Prix.
Buemi struggled but managed a few 7th and 8th placed finishes through the season however Alguersari beat the entire grid with 5 unfinished races out of 8 outings. The team couldn’t drop any lower in the standings and was left wondering as to what their seniors were doing right.
But in F1, money has a big say and with Red Bull drinks selling like hot cakes around the world, the company would need some place to dump their money into. What better than two young drivers in a beat-up car for the 2010 season. If there is anything to look forward to this year, it might be that there are so many new teams, hopefully one will be worse than the Toro Rosso outfit.
Swiss Nameplate + a German Heart
>All adding up to “not quite much”!!! The tale of the Sauber team was quite dismal when it entered Formula One in 1993. And then, there was the massive move when BMW bought it over and things changed, well… not so much.
2009 was quite a sad year for the team but on the bright side, they weren’t expecting much from it anyway. With Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber did have some expectations especially after some strong performances by the two in 2008. However 2008 just saw the team grab one podium in Malaysia, towards the early part of the season.
The team held no interest for BMW anymore and the Germans decided to move out, leaving space for other suitors to come in. Heidfeld and Kubica were left with the task of wooing probable investors for the 2010 season. Kubica’s second place in Brazil may have saved the team’s life in Formula One by giving them the sixth place in the standings.
In 2010, BMW is out of the picture but an even bigger name, Ferrari, will be making the engines that go into the Sauber. The drivers have also changed as Pedro De La Rosa, long time absentee from the F1 scene, will be making a return alongside Kamui Kobayash, a fast, young Japanese youngster. While De La Rosa has proven his mettle at the big stage, most young Japanese drivers are like a bull in a china shop (or Japan shop if that suits you better).
The fate of the team seems quite dodgy especially considering that neither driver has been in the sport for too long, especially in the recent past. Time will tell whether their stints will last any longer than we expect them to and whether they will be able to get the team above 6th place in the standings.
The Indian Dope Trick
No one knows why Dr. Vijay Mallaya went ahead and bought a Formula One team. Was it the speed and the technology that attracted him? Or was it the breakneck competition and a-minute-a-thrill action that caught his eye? Anyone who knows him well from his earlier escapades will probably say that the reason had more to do with yacht parties in Monaco, the grid girls and, to a very large extent, proving that he could, in fact, buy a Formula One team.
2009 had some bright spots for Force India F1 though. First, there were the two podium finishes by Giancarlo Fisichella for a team that had, before this, never won a points finish. There were other bright moments when Adrian Sutil looked settled in second place, but a crash with Raikkonen ended his adventures. Then there was his fourth place finish and some other gems in qualifying that kept the hearts beating in the pit garage.
Just when things seemed to be going well, the engine supplier to the team, Ferrari, decided to take the only bright spot, the only points winner in Force India, away. Fisichella moved to Ferrari as a replacement for Felipe Massa while Vitantonio Liuzzi> came in to partner Sutil. Liuzzi was running fourth on debut before gearbox trouble took him out of the race.
13 points at the end of the season may not seem like much but they are a lot for a team that has huge financial backing and a lot of potential. In 2010, the drivers stay on, the team stays in place and Dr. Mallaya will continue his partying on the roof. Whether race wins come out of this, or even points for that matter, we all doubt but with some rookie teams in the fray, they will be reassured that what was the bottom of the championship race last season, will be mid-table this season.
To be continued….