7 °CBroken clouds
F1 Season Preview
|Sport||Wed, 21 Mar 2012||Tweet|
This weekend 24 cars will line up on the starting grid in Melbourne to wait for those five red lights to go out. And as soon as they do the Formula One 2012 season will finally be under way.
It’s been a long wait for us petrol heads and I know I speak for the majority when I say that we won’t resent the necessary 5am wake up call to catch the action live. But as ever there are a huge number of questions swirling around the forums and the media. One of the biggest though is one that actually has nothing to do with the cars, the drivers or the teams.
“Who will you be watching this weekend?” is the question on everybody’s lips, and it doesn’t relate to the team you support. They’re talking about the almighty battle between Auntie Beeb and the flashy newcomers Sky Sports F1. The BBC made the cutbacks last year and are now only showing 10 races out of the 20 live, leaving many fans feeling let down by the nation’s favourite broadcasters. Sky on the other hand is throwing everything they have at it. They have a brand new channel devoted entirely to F1, they are showing all 20 races live and have even poached a number of the BBC presenting team to join their ranks instead. Yet, the essential fact remains that you have to pay for Sky, leaving many fans questioning just how important it is to them to catch the action live, or can they wait and watch the BBC highlights later in the day?
I personally will be joining the legendary Martin Brundle live on Sky. The thought of having to wait for highlights and even worse watching the race without the razor sharp wit of Brundle is too horrifying for words. In my opinion he is a bit of a national treasure but then again I was never much of a Murray Walker fan. Still, it will be a shame to lose the surprisingly slick yet informal BBC coverage, although I doubt many will miss Eddie Jordan’s baffling rants.
Apart from the big coverage debate however, the other questions are slightly more predictable if not more exciting. Will Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull dominate again this year? Or will the McLarens give them a run for their money? Will Ferrari finally give Alonso a car that can take him to the top step of the podium? And will Mercedes join the party and make the ‘top 3’ the ‘top 4’?
You could say that all these questions will be answered this weekend, but the likelihood is we will need to wait until a few races in before we start making any conclusions. But that doesn’t make it any less exciting. The mastermind behind Michael Schumacher’s seven world championships and Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn said during the final week of pre-season testing that he believes that this will be the closest season we’ve had for quite a few years. And you can guarantee Brawn knows a thing or two about racing.
The Red Bulls looked fast (ominously fast) in testing, but so did the McLarens. Ferrari are a different kettle of fish altogether though as they struggled for pace and were trying out new aerodynamic parts right up until the final day of testing. The Mercedes looked enticingly quick though, as did Lotus, which gives us the mouthwatering prospect of a colossal battle for top dog. And with Kimi Raikkonen’s return to F1 this year, we will have an amazing six world champions lining up on the grid come Sunday morning. Oh how naïve we were last year when we thought we were in for a treat with only five champions on the grid!
Raikkonen’s form will certainly be discussed at length this weekend and it will form one of the ongoing storylines throughout the year along with the questions surrounding the mindset of McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton. Has he finally got his mind back on the job or is he still hung up about that Pussycat Doll he was dating? In truth, no true F1 fan cares about his relationship status we just want to see good racing.
At this stage I would usually be making my predictions as to who will win this weekend but if pre-season testing showed us anything it is that there doesn’t seem to be a clear frontrunner. This isn’t a bad thing though, quite the contrary in fact. It brings tantalizing thoughts and images to the fore. The biggest and best for me is a recurring dream I keep having of the great Michael Schumacher, seven time world champion and my favourite since the ago of seven, once again climbing up on to that top step and leaping in to the air just like he did back in the glory days. Well, I guess I will just have to wait and see about that one.
As Martin Brundle said at the start of the inaugural Indian Grand Prix last year, “5 red lights, look but never stare”. I still have no clue what Brundle was going on about there actually but I do know one thing for sure: no matter who you support and where your allegiances lie, this year’s season could be an absolute classic.
Images © Creativetimes, Grandprix, clbuzz