So it is that the Formula One racing season looms on the horizon for 2010 and some of the most interesting and telling developments have come out of a winter of radical and dynamic changes unseen in the Formula One world for many years. I would certainly be a pretty boring fan if I said that I did not think that this season will see a rebirth of some of the fire and ice that spices up the world of Formula One racing and makes it so thrilling to watch.
For many people the idea of watching a car loop round a circuit for lap after lap could only spell boredom and complete loss of interest, but for anyone that has ever driven a powerful sports car at incredible speed, there is a bug and a bite that grips you and never fully leaves you. You just have to look at the Formula One paddock to see the truth of this in the likes of Eddie Jordan who for many years was a team principle and now is firmly rooted in our hearts as a Racing Pundit. The likes of Michael Schumacher returning to the sport after a three year hiatus and the many others that return and pop up time and time again, returning to a sport that becomes a passion.
As a young boy I guess I was overwhelmed by the unique shape, the unthinkable speeds, the sheer amounts of money involved in the sport, and the pride of winning the championship not only for the driver but for the constructor. The vibrant colours, the excitement of that first corner, the expense and catastrophe of an accident, the chances that men take pushing their vehicles and themselves to the limits for hours on the track. There are times, as in the last two seasons where it has come down to the result of a certain race that will determine the outcome of a whole season of racing that keeps you firmly in place in front of the screen of your television as the drama unfolds and like any sports fan your heart is in your mouth as the battle unfolds before you. The elation of victory lifting you off your seat as that final push carries your favourite driver over the line to victory and glory.
For any Formula One fan, this is the passion and thrill that brings us back every year to watch another season unfold with its admittedly sometimes mundane familiarity as the teams battle it out to take glory at the end of the season. In today’s Formula One world, the competitiveness of the team and driver lies in the value of the car they find themselves in. This is certainly evident in the lack of performance from both McLaren and Ferrari last year. It was amazing to watch cars that had once dominated the sport slip into almost oblivion as two complete new cars to the race stormed away with the pack.
I truly do believe that Ross Brawn is a genius of Formula One. It is his uncanny understanding of the sport, the way he is able to inspire and drive his team in pursuit of perfection, his ability to read a driver and gain the maximum advantage from a race that makes him a formidable force behind any team. I don’t care if you gave him a wooden go-cart and a team of self stackers from Tesco to operate his garages, the man would still pull off a miracle on the starting grid come race one. Ok maybe that is farfetched, but it his accomplishments of the 2009 season that sets him aside as one of the greatest men in Formula One for me.
It is only natural then that it would be Ross who would be the man to bring Michael out of retirement, and I have to be honest, I am surprised to find that it is Nico Rosberg that’ll sit next to him in 2010. I a way I was hoping that it’d be Jenson Button, as I honestly believe that it would have given the whole field a level playing pitch, as I think it’ll be far too easy for the Brawn team to now play favourites with Nico in much the same way as we became used to seeing with Michael in his days at Ferrari when frequently the likes of Rubens Barrichello would fall foul of team orders to let Michael through.
With both Button and Hamilton now driving for McLaren, it seems that the team are very determined to put a British stamp on the team in 2010. With both world champions in the same team I am very interested to see how the team dynamic plays out over the season. Two very different drivers, and two very different people, I think that it’ll play out a very interesting season as we watch these two settle into 2010. I can only pray that McLaren get it right this year and pull their finger out and get the car working, for if they don’t Brawn Mercedes will give them a firm and not so pleasant kick up the bum.
Red Bull I do believe will continue to excite us in 2010. A team with a dedicated focus on winning and a drive to accomplish a lot, Red Bull have proved to be the one to watch in the last few seasons, building from success to success and are now really in the hunting for a title in the season looming ahead. I think Christian Horner has been sensible and very mature in sticking by his drivers and stands a very real chance on building on his success in 2010 if, and I say if tentatively, he can overcome his engine reliability issues this season. As yet I have not heard of any change of engine for the Red Bull team, so let’s hope that the engine they unveil for their 2010 car can lose some of that unreliability that dragged possibly the fastest car on the track in 2009 down. I am also really keen to see what Sebastian Vettel will pull out of the bag when put up against the one and only Michael Schumacher. I have a sneaky suspicion that the young wonder boy will show the maestro a thing or three.
Ferrari storms on a usual, the reliable and ever present thorn in everyone’s side. Despite their lack of performance in 2009, Ferrari is always a team to watch out for. As a dominant player for so long, it is only natural that as their dominance came to an end they would need to go back to the drawing board and design a new team, something that the Ferrari paddock has always been great at doing throughout the years of Formula One. I have no doubt that in time to come they will once more surface as a dominant player in the game. With Alonso and Massa in their cars, they certainly have experience behind the wheel, it just remains to see if they will deliver mechanically in 2010.
Williams field a complete new car with a complete new engine this year. They have ditched the unreliable BMW and instead are entering a car powered by a Cosworth V8 going into 2010. Sir Frank Williams has been around long enough to know that he needed to do something about his engine, and it seems sad to see the BMW bow out of Formula Once more as Williams takes up a new drive under Ford power. The exciting news from the Williams stables this year is the fact that Nico Hulkenberg is recruited as their number two driver alongside Rubens. The winner of last season’s GP2 feeder circuit is an exciting and fresh talent to emerge in the racing world over the last few years and I think the 22 year old will be one to watch as his wings unfold and take to the F1 world.
Renault does not seem to have quite shaken off the gloomy cloud that has hung over the team since its shenanigans midway through last season. Little seems to be coming out of the team news room in terms of its 2010 season, what their plans are for the new year ahead and who they will have driving for them. For now I am given to believe that Robert Kubica is on their books, but have no clue who will be joining him in the team if anyone at this time. It seems testing is underway with three potential young guns but no official word has confirmed if any one of them will defiantly have a ride with Renault in the 2010 season. What I can say is that from what I have seen of the 2010 Renault R29 F1 car, I have to say it looks impressive. Bright and colourful is always a winning trend in my opinion.
Force India certainly stamped their place in Formula One last year as they took podium places that is very unusual for a new entry into the world of Formula One. Once more this showed the reliability issues that so many of the other teams face in 2009, but also showed that a new team with dedication and determination can make it to the top in the tough world of F1 racing. I think that this has certainly opened up the field in terms of who is who in the jungle and leaves opportunities that five or six years ago did not exist for a new team trying to break into the heavily dominated world of F1. Sutil and Liuzzi will continue to build on credible performances in 2009 and hopefully 2010 Force India and the Mercedes-Benz engine continue to hassle the boys at the top reminding them that they are not the demy gods they like to think they are.
Toro Rosso again fields a strong challenge and I guess that here, as with so many of the other teams they can give everyone something to think about in 2010. Another Red Bull sponsored car, it seems that their reputation can only improve going into 2010. Buemi and Alguersuari are still fresh faces to the F1 circuit and after many incidents through the 2009 year, the team seem to have stuck to their guns and stayed with the two for the 2010 season. Is that such a wise idea one has to ponder? Well I guess as a fresh and new racing team, they open the way for new and inexperienced drivers that perhaps don’t cost as much financially to get to grips with F1, while allowing the team to perform in a potential race winning car. Maybe there is merit in their formula, but after a season as expensive in terms of race damage as 2009 must have been for the team, you must wonder about the team strategy.
Sauber are as quiet as ever in their preparation for 2010. To be entirely honest with you Sauber is a team that very often I forget about in terms of F1. They never really make much of a fuss, never get involved in any of the noise at F1 meetings, quietly arrive, race and disappear into the mists of a Swiss valley somewhere again. It seems Sauber are having a complete restructure going into 2010. Having bought out from its founder to remain in the 2010 season the team, the car will field with a Ferrari engine being the last car to drop the BMW that it hope would give it so much promise in the 2009 season. Kobayashi is confirmed as its prime driver for 2010 but no news as yet as to his partner although rumours are rife that de la Rosa or Fisichella are both being considered for the position. Time will tell I guess.
And so we come to the four new comers to the Formula One track for 2010. It is exciting to be able to say that Lotus F1 finally return to the track and I hope that unlike Jaguar when it returned to the field in the 1990’s that Lotus will have more success and the staying power to make it work. There is certainly enough money behind the team, but I worry that if success is not enjoyed within the first few seasons at Lotus that it’ll head South as so many of the new comers do in this sport. Again powered by a Cosworth engine, the team have elected to put experience behind the wheel of their cars, and this will certainly give them a cutting edge in performance into the season. Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen make an interesting pairing again, and I think will make for an interesting season just watching their relationship pan out much like Lewis and Button. With Mike Gascoyne at the helm of the technical team, Lotus F1 certainly has the expertise in-house to produce a very interesting team for the track, but turning the technical prowess of Gascoyne into racing results will remain to be seen as the season unfolds.
It seems being the name behind Brawn racing for the 2009 season has given Sir Richard Branson the F1 bug too. Having been behind the winning team as the sponsor has lead Sir Richard to decide that racing is a little too exciting and now he wants to get in with the new guns in British Motor Sport, Manor Racing. The team called Virgin Racing is fielding the seasoned experience of Timo Glock alongside the Brazilian novice Lucas di Grassi. Both come to the team with underlying sponsorship and so it seems that Sir Richard and the team behind Mannor Racing, John Booth and Alex Tai are certainly aiming high. With a Cosworth tucked away under the hood, it should be a fighting team for the start of the season and it remains to be seen if Sir Richards uncanny ability to be associated with winning formulas carries through to the Manor Racing team in 2010.
In yet another return to the F1 grid, former driver Adrian Campos is making his return debut to F1 in 2010 as a team owner alongside Daniele Audetto. Campos Meta. With design expertise coming in from the respected Italian car designer Dallara using the new Cosworth engine, and the signing of one of F1’s most exciting new comers Bruno Senna, the infamous Ayrton Senna’s nephew, big things are expected for this all new Spanish team in 2010. No news yet on their number two driver, but things are looking strong in the Campos corner.
Last but certainly not least, the American US F1 team have yet to tell us very much about themselves. I guess that they want to remain an unknown till the very last minute. We know they plan to use a Cosworth, being American there is no great surprise there. We know they have Peter Windsor a former Williams and Ferrari boss on their books, but not really much else is known as yet. We know that Chad Hurley is tied up with the venture so it can be expected that You Tube will feature heavily as a sponsor for the team, and Ken Anderson takes his place as Team Principal. Rossi and Hildebrand were linked to the team in test sessions in Spain, but still nothing official about the rides for the 2010 season. There is speculation that it’d be an all American team with drivers pulled from some of the American Racing circuits, but that is mere speculation at this stage, and one has to wonder if that would be such a good idea considering the vast difference between the international racing conditions experienced through the worldwide competition of Formula One, and the multi skilled nature of the track in that far more demand is put on a driver in a F1 race say as opposed to an indie car race, though I am sure there would be some who would dispute that fact.
And so as I’ve run through the teams for 2010, I cannot help but salivate at the wonder that awaits us for the season ahead. As that first race looms in Bahrain in March this year I am sure that a thrilling and adventurous year awaits us in Formula One 2010. 19 races await us as Canada returns to the schedule and the Korean Grand Prix enters into the mix. All eyes in the Formula one fan’s world will closely be focused on the F1 news in the coming months that is certainly sure. So tell me, who’s your money on for the 2010 championship?