Wednesday, March 14, 2012

F1 2012 Season Preview

After enduring an almost one-sided championship in 2011, dominated by Sebastian Vettel & his Red Bull team, we F1 fans were waiting with bated breath for the winter testing to find out if the other teams have been able to catch up. But now, after all the testing is complete and just before the action starts at Melbourne, the picture is still somewhat hazy.

Kimi - The Iceman returns
The Red Bull has looked good, but has not looked dominant. They came out with a surprise B-spec car just on the penultimate day of testing & could not get it to run trouble-free. The McLarens are looking good too, but it is yet to be ascertained whether they have done the right thing by going against the general design philosophy followed by most other teams. The Scuderia Ferrari have looked disappointing against the backdrop of huge expectations from them this year. But if there is one team that has stood out in the winter, it is the Lotus-Renault team. They seem to have been reinvigorated by the return of the enigmatic Kimi Raikkonen. They have headed the time-sheets on many occasions, but have also had to miss a few days of testing due to some glaring chassis problems. The Mercedes team have had a somewhat quiet winter, but are also quietly confident of being worthy of some wins, though they may not be ready for the title fight as yet.

In the mid-field, again its quite tight between Force India, Sauber & Toro Rosso. Williams might be there or thereabouts. The rechristened Caterham team look set to bite at the tail of mid-field. Behind them, the HRT & Marussia have had very little mileage under their belt, & will continue to struggle.

The platypus nose is in vogue
If you look at the cars this season, most will have a very striking (& somewhat unpleasant) stepped nose on their front, almost resembling a platypus. We will get used to it soon though, & the unpleasantness will wear off eventually. This design philosophy has been followed by most teams due to a change in regulations by FIA this year lowering the height at the front of the nose. Only McLaren among leading teams & Marussia among the backmarkers have dared to go against the tide.

Talking about the drivers, the big buzz this year is the presence on the grid of 6 world champions together for the first time in the history of the sport. The return of Kimi Raikkonen was a real good news for us fans & we hope that he is back to his speedy best from day-1 of the season. There will be two rookies joining the elite list this season - Jean Eric Vergne for Toro Rosso & Charles Pic for Marussia. The driver line-up of the top four teams of last season remain unchanged, & so does that of Sauber. Nico Hulkenberg replaces Adrian Sutil at Force India; Vitaly Petrov replaces Trulli at Caterham while Romain Grosjean joins Kimi at Lotus-Renault. Daniel Ricciardo moves from HRT to STR, while Bruno Senna moves from LRGP to Williams, replacing the affable Rubens Barrichello. HRT have opted to go for experience with Pedro De La Rosa & Narain Karthikeyan.

The rule book remains largely stable from last year, except some tweaks. Exhaust blown diffusers have been banned & the nose height has been lowered. Let us see who out-thinks Adrian Newey in the design department this season.

All in all, this season promises to be much more closely contested than the last one. Hard to wait for the first weekend at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. Bring it on!!!


Sneha said...

Very informative!
Looking forward to the new season and wish shumi goodluck!:)

Prashant Raj said...

Great article.... u shud be officially F1 reporter....