Ten reasons why F1 2010 will rock big time
7 March, 2010
Mar.7 (Daniel Chalmers) The forthcoming 2010 Formula 1 World championship is one of the most anticipated seasons in the history of the sport. The preseason hype has been enormous, with news and developments every week since the last garage door closed in Abu Dhabi in November 2009. Ahead of the opening Bahrain Grand Prix weekend, which comes to life on Friday 12 March for the first free practice of the year, we look at the prospects of an epic 19 race title battle.
The return of Michael Schumacher
Love or loather him he is back, but whichever of those two clubs you belong to, there is no doubt that his return will add to the show in 2010.
The level of his opposition is now stronger than it was in his final season in 2006. It’s going to be fascinating to see how he fares against the younger generation. How will he compare to Lewis Hamilton and Sebastien Vettel? Who will be the first to lift off in a wheel to wheel battle?
He will also be renewing his old rivalry with Fernando Alonso, and taking on his former pupil at Ferrari, Felipe Massa.
Will he be as ruthless as he always was, when he would never give an inch to his opposition?
His stats are already incredible but how much can he add to them? Can he win an 8th championship? Or arguably more significantly can he reach a century of race victories? He just needs nine more race victories to achieve that. That may be very hard in what looks to be a very open season, but if he sticks around for three years it’s certainly a realistic target.
The new teams and how they will cope in the big league
F1 has been desperate for new blood for a while now. In the 2000s there were plenty of takeovers of existing teams e.g Red Bull taking over Jaguar and Honda taking over BAR. However there were only two new teams built from scratch, which were Toyota in 2002 and Super Aguri in 2006.
Virgin, Lotus, and Hispania Racing Team (formally Campos) will bring new ideas, their passion for racing, and add a new lease of life to the sport.
Ferrari may think it should be all about the big teams, but they seem to be forgetting that the general public love the underdog. Remember how well received Vettel’s victory for Toro Rosso at Monza in 2008 was. This was a team who had Minardi DNA inside them.
It’s going to be interesting to see how the new teams evolve as the season goes on. How close can they get to the established teams? Who will make the biggest impression and score points first?
And who’s to say that in the future they can’t match the achievements of the sport’s most successful independent teams like Williams and Tyrell.
Thrilling pit stops where races will be won or lost
The amount of time it took to put in the fuel at pit stops actually gave the mechanics plenty of time to change the tyres (as absurd as that may sound).
This season, with the ban on re-fuelling, pit stops are going to be much quicker, and there will be immense pressure on the mechanics to change the tyres as quickly as possible. In practise pit stops have been completed in less than 3.0 seconds.
Will the crews be able to replicate this in the races, when the heat is really on, and their driver is locked in a very tight battle? Time gained or lost in the pits could decide races. We could potentially see errors.
Four top teams
Mclaren and Ferrari have consistently been battling each other for the championship over the last 10-15 years.
Brawn and Red Bull took advantage of the huge 2009 regulations to become frontrunners. With Mercedes taking over Brawn they are now set to establish themselves as a major player in F1, and join in the Ferrari/Mclaren rivalry.
Red Bull are also looking like they are set to establish themselves as a leading team too.
Testing shows that we could see all four teams locked in a tight battle for the championship. This is something that we haven’t seen for a long time in F1.
Even better still is that within those teams we have four world champions, along with two recent runners-up.
In 2010 all three sessions will take place on low fuel. This means that it will just be man and machine, and we will see who really is fastest.
We won’t get some of the fake pole positions that we have seen in recent years. Fernando Alonso’s pole position at Hungary was a great example of this. Fuel corrected his time wouldn’t even have put him in the top 5.
With the teams so closely bunched together at the moment qualifying promises to be extremely tight. The battle to get into Q3 in particular will be frantic. As it stands nobody will be safe from elimination.
In Q3 potentially all ten drivers have a shot at pole position if they put a special lap together. We could see some interesting grids.
Five new rookies
In 2010 Nico Hulkenberg, Vitaly Petrov, Bruno Senna, Karun Chandhok and Lucas Di Grassi all start their F1 careers.
We have seen some stunning debuts in the past from the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Jacques Villeneuve, Michael Schumacher and who can forget Kamui Kobayashi’s debut last season. On the other hand we have seen disastrous debuts. Yuji Ide is perhaps the first name that will spring into people’s minds.
It’s always interesting to see how rookies get on in their first season. Petrov and Hulkenberg both look like they have a competitive car so they have the best chance of getting some strong results.
It’s also going to be great to see the Senna name back in F1. How will Bruno cope with all the pressure and expectation?
Two champions, one team: Button vs Hamilton
In 2010 we are going to be treated to some great inter-team rivalries, but surely this is the one that has box office written all over it.
Mclaren have had big problems in the past with the Senna/Prost and Alonso/Hamilton partnerships. However this hasn’t put them off hiring two world champions this season, which you have to give Mclaren praise for.
Hamilton and Button are very different drivers. Button is very smooth, whereas Hamilton is a much more aggressive driver. Both styles have proven to be equally as effective, and given the pair a WDC each. But which will prove better?
Hamilton will go in as the favourite, but it is regarded that Button’s smooth style will suit the re-fuelling ban, when it will be more critical to be easy on the tyres.
On the other hand Hamilton’s aggressive style will suit qualifying, when it is crucial to warm-up the tyres. Qualifying could well be the decider. If Button is too far behind Lewis on the grid then he won’t be able to make the most of his strong race pace to beat him.
Button has to hit the ground running straight away, and not let Lewis pull clear in the standings.
It’s going to be interesting.
Two champions, two teams: Hamilton vs Alonso
It’s looking likely that Hamilton and Alonso are both going to have competitive cars this season.
Therefore they will be going head to head in a championship battle for the first time since their bitter rivalry together at Mclaren in 2007. For the last two years Alonso has had an uncompetitive Renault so we haven’t seen them battling for wins and championships.
This time they are both driving for separate teams so there will be no team orders to restrict their racing, or constant talk of if they are being treated equally.
Alonso will be keen to seek revenge on Hamilton, and perhaps even more so on Mclaren themselves.
It’s clear that the Alonso/Hamilton relationship has progressed since 2007, but that could all change if they have a tangle fighting for 1st place.
Returning to Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal
Axing the Canadian GP from the calendar was an absolute crime. It’s great to see it back in 2010.
Something always seems to happen when F1 goes to Montreal. We have had crashes in the pit lane, red flags, the track falling to pieces and beavers running onto the track. Let’s not forget the number of top drivers the famous “wall of champions” has claimed over the years.
Even without those incidents we always get interesting races with overtaking, and the close proximity of the walls in places makes the Gilles Villeneuve circuit one of the most challenging.
The passionate and knowledgeable Canadian fans help make the race weekend very special.
Less predictable strategy
The ban on re-fuelling will completely change the tactical element of races. When drivers come out after a pit stop they will be going faster instead of slower because they will be on new tyres.
Drivers will try and pit one or two laps before their rivals in order to jump them, as opposed to after them. The tactics will be more reactive. Teams will see how the race is unfolding to see what strategy they adopt, as opposed to coming in on a certain set lap.
Also, will teams opt to try and pit just once, or will they decide to pit two or three times in order to spend more time on fresh rubber?
Hopefully we will see a variety of approaches. Question is what are you most looking forward to in 2010? There’s plenty to choose from…