Home > Uncategorized > Formula 1 2012 Preview (Part 2)

Formula 1 2012 Preview (Part 2)

Force India – Questions have surrounded the team due the financial issues Kingfisher are having, Vijay Mallya’s airline. It would appear that it is only that side of his wealth that is struggling and as of the moment not affecting the team. Sahara India Pariwar, became co-owner of the team with an investment of $US 100 million. The team since has been renamed Sahara Force India. This could be vital the teams longevity. Force India has had an encouraging winter test with some very competitive times elevating them in to the dizzy heights of top of the tree on a few days and tyre degradation seems solid on the VJM05.

Paul di Resta – Enters his second season of Formula 1 have an impressive opening campaign. Coming off the back of solid races and beating his more experienced team mate at the time, along with qualifying sixth at Silverstone it was a great 2011 for the Scot. 2012 is di Resta’s time to really shine. Now knowing all the tracks, the team and what he wants from the car he will have to lead this season.

Nico Hülkenberg – I for one am extremely pleased to see ‘The Hulk’ back in Formula 1. He had a testing period at Williams even after a sensational pole position in Brazil in wet conditions. I have watched Hulkenberg since A1GP and always thought he was a star and he star is set to rise again this year. Massively looking forward to seeing him drive again and I think he will give di Resta a run for his money.

Overall Verdict – Positive signs after uncertainty with finances and with two very sharp and quick drivers I think they could boost each other to push themselves and lift themselves to the echelons of the “big three”. Quietly confident, I would call Force India.

Lotus – Just one Lotus name and livery for fans to contest this year thankfully. Working out of the factory at Enstone, the Lotus team sprung a wonderful surprise in bringing back 2007 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen. This is a massive coo for the team and from winter testing can clearly see it has fully motivated and galvanized the squad after the Briatore era. Huge issues surrounded the car at the second test where the mount points for suspension had damaged the chassis. This required the team to close the doors and fly the chassis back to England. Much speculation surrounded if the problem was worse but the team worked flat out and got it back for the final test. Very impressive times coming from the team and a real prospect for making Ferrari sweat in the early races.

Kimi Räikkönen – The Iceman returns to Formula 1 after a couple of years out driving a Citroen in WRC. There is no doubt he is straight to the point with the media but his honesty makes him an incredible character to have around the paddock. A driver that has quite an aggressive style and likes to express himself more on the track than off it. Good thing.

Romain Grosjean – GP2 champion graduates back to the big time and ironically back to the same team. Under the Briatore era, Grosjean did not fit in well and the time away has done him a world of good. In pre-season interviews I do not think I have ever seen a grin wider than his. He is very happy about being back in Formula 1 and has good speed that could challenge Raikkonen.

Overall Verdict – The driver pairing are likely to spur each other this season and want to impress from the outset. With drives coming up in 2013, Raikkonen will want to put himself in the shop window if an opportunity arises. Boullier appears to have created a solid team around him at Enstone and will want to make sure development continues throughout the season.

Mercedes – Now with the AMG brand joining them the German outfit will want a big improvement on last season. Both drivers are retained but another season like last and they may not be around long. They have gone through significant personnel changes bringing in Aldo Costa and Geoff Willis to name but two. Ross Brawn has clearly set out his intentions for this year and it is apparent to see that the team are making strides. Some stunning times in pre-season has left Red Bull and McLaren more than looking over their shoulders. Initial times indicate that Mercedes has the quickest car but gets through its tyres sharpish also.

Michael Schumacher – No longer the oldest man on the grid and a man striving for success. Troublesome two years has led to Michael’s final year of his contract without a win or a podium. His current demeanour suggests that he is a kid a Christmas. He believes he may have the tools to be able to push for podiums this year and this excites him greatly, along with many fans.

Nico Rosberg – The most points man without a victory. Successive years of great qualifying, stuttering race pace at times and pretty boy looks has left many questioning him. Rosberg was significantly better in qualifying last year but was often close if not beaten by Schumacher. His consistency in 2012 may need to be lifted before he sees the top step of the podium. Personally I think he has a little more to prove yet.

Overall verdict – Mercedes are oozing potential but they really have to kick off the season well and give Schumacher and Rosberg a car that they can translate it to results. The management, drivers, all now fit together. The race results are the biggest key for this season. Get it right, they will challenge Red Bull. Get it wrong, they could fall to the clutches of Lotus.

Ferrari – Something has gone wrong at Ferrari. Wonderful success with Todt/Byrne/Brawn/Schumacher has led to the Maranello team questioning the staff’s ability and whether they have got the “radical design” right. Testing would indicate not. Flashes of speed met with unknowns of why the car is behaving the way it is. Ferrari just seems to be all at sea. A pointless media blackout in Barcelona did not help their cause in an age where the media need their kick for the week.

Fernando Alonso – Will start to wonder why he signed such a long deal. He fits the team perfectly but the people around him are letting him down, big time. He is arguably still the best all round driver on the grid, closely matched now by Vettel. He deserves another shot at the title but is has to be quizzed if he will get in any time soon.

Felipe Massa – Unfortunately, the writing is on the wall. I think even the least knowledgeable Formula 1 fan realises that he is out at the end of 2012 and it is a chance for him to put himself in the shop window for 2013. The master class of 2008 is gone and no matter what people say since his accident in 2009, has not been the same driver. I wish him all the best but the end is nigh.

Overall verdict – Too many issues surround Ferrari. I do not think they are well prepared and can give the drivers any sort of opportunity in the first races. Unless they pull of a McLaren of last year and have miraculous two week turn around. Ferrari does not have to come from as far back as what McLaren did but the unknown of how the car will react is the worry.

McLaren – Got about winter testing in a very purposeful and professional manner. Went a little quicker than I think they would have liked to of at one stage and through the anchors out to not show the cars real pace. A different design philosophy for the MP4-27 which sees the monocoque to nose section dropped. It would appear this has not been a hindrance though as times dictate that the McLaren is quick and good on tyres.

Jenson Button – No-one expected him to do what he did last year but he proved it to a lot of people and himself. He has the capabilities of being world champion again and with his driving style will suit the Pirelli tyres even more so this year. Stable surroundings unlike his team mate promote the chance to be at one with the car.

Lewis Hamilton – Frustratingly wonderful, a contradiction I know. It is fantastic to see Hamilton’s speed and ability on track. His whinging and whining off track lets him down though. We all look for someone special in our lives but there is no need to make it as public as what he did. The winter hopefully has re-focussed his mind and we will see the Hamilton of old and his raw, tenacious talent.

Overall Verdict – It could get a little spicy between the two Brits this year. The car looks to have the speed to challenge the Red Bull. A lot of hope and promise for the McLaren team but for some reason I have an overwhelming feeling tedium about the team. Some sort of vigour is missing from them, Hamilton may re-light it.

Red Bull – Adrian Newey, enough said. It is hard to look beyond his design capabilities and see where anyone can challenge them. The ban on the blown diffuser has certainly closed up the pack but he usually finds a way around certain obstacles. The only boundary that Red Bull may have to overcome is complacency after a great amount of success in the past two seasons.

Sebastian Vettel – Proved many doubters wrong last year with his overtake on Alonso at Monza. He has become the full product of a quality racing driver and is a very cool, calm and collected individual all at 24 years old. He has achieved a lot and it will be whether his hunger and desire is still enough to guide the team again this year. I suspect it is as he is so young but he may see a few more cars around him this year.

Mark Webber – Quite simply has to do better than last year. Has come to winter testing with a spring in his step and feels good. He has to put together a good season to stay in Formula 1 though. It is very likely the Aussie is gone from Red Bull at the end of 2012 so will want to show through his performances he can cut it with a top team.

Overall Verdict – Favourites for both Championships but must guard against complacency. All signs indicate that they have the speed of Mercedes but have better tyre degradation allowing them to run longer. Spend a lot, get a lot.

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