Thinking about how the Formula 1 season will pan out before the first GP has even begun is rather tough. Even pre-season testing is not a clear indication of how well each team will perform. But using my knowledge and realistically thinking about all of the teams and their respective drivers, here are my Top Five Teams and Driver predictions:
1. Red Bull
It would be rather silly of me to presume that another team can leap-frog the double world champions. With the mastermind, Adrian Newey, creating advanced and reliable technology, Red Bull go into the 2012 season as the team to beat. With their added advantage, Sebastian Vettel, getting those valuable tenths of a second out of the car, he will get the car on the front of the grid and lead the charge from start to finish.
They took a risk by not adopting the stepped nose like nine of the other teams. Some say they have made a drastic mistake while others see it as a possible trick up their sleeve. I believe the latter. If Hamilton can put his problems aside and remain focused, both him and Button will be a force to be reckoned with and bring the fight directly to Red Bull.
The Brackley based team have stressed that they need to improve on fourth. They want to start winning. They delayed their car launch which led much of the paddock to believe they had something to hide. Testing times would indicate that there is nothing too special about the W03. I personally see them sandbagging. Brawn, Fry, Willis and Costa are a dream combination and with two extremely talented drivers, they will start showing considerable improvement.
Ferrari are not acting like themselves. Even with the hiring of Pat Fry, the team seem to be fighting a losing battle. Not only is their car an eye sore, but Fry has even admitted that the car is nowhere near winning status at present. Obviously with their vast amount of finance and technology, they will no doubt make a mid-season comeback but I doubt it will be enough for them to walk away with their 17th constructors’.
5. Force India
The team have made vast improvements year on year and with two young drivers, hungry to start racking up the wins, they may well surprise the paddock and the fans at home. Many would say that Lotus will no doubt take home fifth but with their decrease in finance, I see them losing out to their closest rivals. Although I am sure that Raikkonen will not make it easy for them.
1. Sebastian Vettel
As the double world champion, he is automatically the favourite at the beginning of the season. And he will make it three consecutive titles if the Red Bull is as competitive as expected. He does have some areas which he needs to prove himself mind. Over the past two seasons, he has simply led GPs from start to finish with little or no wheel to wheel action. I am reserved as to whether he can still win a race by fighting through the field and against his nearest rivals.
2. Jenson Button
Followed closely behind is the Brit. He has proven that like his rival, he is a rain master. But unlike the German, we know Button can go from 22nd and go on to win the race. He has a unique talent whereby he can preserve tyres whilst others cannot. Button became the only driver who could take on Vettel last year and I guarantee it will be the same this year. Difference being, he will fight tooth and nail to ensure Vettel does not sprint off like he did in 2011.
3. Mark Webber
Sitting in the sister Red Bull, he will have an automatic advantage for that reason alone. It is then down to him to take full advantage of what the car has to offer. Sadly for the Australian, he does let issues get to him such as being classed as the ‘No 2’ driver. With no wins last season, he will want to return to his old competitive ways like that in 2010. His determination added to a probable championship winning car, he will make the most of what he has.
4. Lewis Hamilton
After last year, Lewis will want to make a comeback. But sadly, he has been outshone by Button who has now become the top dog at McLaren. I wouldn’t be surprised if he blew the field away, getting poles and winning races but at the same time, I wouldn’t be surprised if he let his personal life interfere with his driving.
5. Michael Schumacher
Following his performance at the Canadian GP, Schumacher has revived his competitive temperament and his drive to win. The Mercedes is expected to move up the grid this year and with the German’s experience, talent and enthusiasm, I believe he will be leading the Brackley based team this year. It won’t be too long till we see him win his 92nd race of his career. Should all this prove true, we may also witness an extended contract for 2013 or longer.
What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Post your thoughts and join in the discussion…