Monday, 29 March 2010

Trouble in paradise


It’s back to the world of Tilke racing on dull circuits. It’s big, it’s wide, it’s flat and we’re going to play spot the spectator again. I might rain, you never know. Monsoon season is upon us and the gods of interesting racing did smile on us last weekend so you never k now. The current prediction is for rain at some point during the weekend. Saturday and Sunday being goods bets as the start times have been moved back so us Europeans don’t have to get up too early.

Last year the heavens opened and dumped the contents of the Indian Ocean all over the circuit. They had to stop the show after 30 odd laps and hide in the pits. Where Kimi took his suit off and raided the ice cream van out the back. Button was given the win, mostly because he was the only one they could see. Heidfeld popped up in second, Glock got lucky with third and then Trulli managed to stay awake long enough to finish in fourth. Apart from Button none of that lot stands a chance this year.

This year it’s only a week since the last race and the buzz will be all about the Hamilton, Button fight. This might just be a press thing. Hamilton was pretty vocal about the team making the wrong call whilst Button was vocal about how he decided that he was changing tire when he wanted to. It’s an interesting view of the drivers where one is leading from the car telling his engineers what the score is, the other needs the team to tell him what to do, not having the confidence to say “no we’ll do it my way”. However, historically, Hamilton has always spanked the tires. If you’d been on the pit wall, would you have staked you job on Hamilton making soft tires last 50 odd laps? I don’t think I’d have done it.

So the press (who, don’t forget, said Button would be dead and buried by now) are saying that Hamilton has been kicked out of the team and toys are being thrown from the pram already. I doubt it. Its race two and people are still finding their path after all. Button got lucky with a pit call and then Vettels luck ran out. Hamilton over took a whole bunch of people and spanked the car all day. Hero to Zero in one race, such is life in the piranha club.

Ferrari also might have a few problems with team harmony. Alonso was clearly faster than Massa who was struggling on used tires, back in the day Mickey would have been ushered past the stricken team mate. These days he’s told to shut up and get on with it. How much does it grate with Alonso that he’s got 2 world championships to his name, but is not the team leader at Ferrari? Meanwhile Massa has quietly got two podium finishes without too much fuss. Could he

Down the road at Brawn things aren’t too rosy either, I’m shortening my odds on Mickey walking before the end of the season if this keeps up. He used to be peerless in the wet. Five seconds a lap faster than anyone else. He was the rain master. Not anymore. He was arsing around with Torro Rossos and Sauber. Not what he’s used too. Have we seen the last of the Brawns glory days? Whatever happens, it looks like Buttons decision to jump ship was inspired, not suicidal.

Things look troubled in the Redbull garage too. Vettel just can’t catch a break, two wins snatched from his happy grasp, Webber also having his share of bad luck. Webber has mostly made his own bad luck, getting all hairy scary when the fancy takes him. They had a reliability expert in the pits in Australia. The only reliable thing about him (or her I have no idea) is that they picked up the cheque reliably enough. They don’t have time to tear the cars apart and check everything, so they have to worried about what else can go wrong.

Renault did better than I expected, well Kubica did. Petrov hasn’t made the transition from GP2 to well, apparently he only has to get 25% of Kubicas’ points to keep his seat. I suspect he’ll struggle with that one if Kubica keeps getting podium finishes. It’ll all fall apart soon enough. They need investment and the boss is only in this for face time, points cost money, more than champagne in the hospitality suit.

Of the New boys, Lotus continue to be reliable, Virgin need to put a bigger fuel tank into the car and HRT got a car home in Australia. It was 3 laps behind the Lotus. But it did finish whilst Vettel and others didn’t.
Virgin are not going to finish unless there is a lengthy safety car or lots and lots of rain. HRT have two drivers that have never raced in the oppressive humidity of a Malaysia afternoon. Fitness could be an issue for them. Lotus will be on “home” soil so might try something stupid in qualifying so I don’t think it’s too cut and dried for Lotus just yet.

I think this is going to as dull as Bahrain. If it rains in qualifying than that might mix it up, if it’s dry then it’ll be the usual suspects up front and you won’t need to watch the middle of the race. Rain will spice things up as long as it doesn’t rain like last year, then there won’t be a middle of the race.

Malaysia is going to be a hard test for all of the new boys.

View from the cockpit

"Is is a Lotus or a Torro Rosso !"

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Lady Lucks needs paying

Lady Luck.

That’s who you have to court in Formula One. Not the great God Dollar, not the Gods of Technology and Design. No it’s the beautiful mercurial and easily pissed off Lady Luck that needs to be paid off before you can go racing to win.

You might well have the fastest car in the pack, designed to within an inch of its life. You might well be a seven times world champion “Greatest of a generation”. But if you’ve not paid Lady Luck in full up front, you can forget it. Whatever you do, it’s all going to fall down around your ears on turn 12 in a shower of gravel. Or relegate to an afternoon of tooling around the back of the field fighting the new boy, looking at TV time counted in seconds of you being passed by the moneyed up hot shoe getting his five minutes of fame.

Vettel had this in the bag, Big Ron assertion that the Redbull was thirty on race pace looked wide of the mark as Vettel and Home boy Webber, locked out the front row on Saturday. Ferrari still behind them with the McLarens and Merc bringing up the rear. Hamilton lost a load of grip and time after getting pulled by the Local Rozzers for “over exuberant driving” on Friday night. Back in 11th was a long way from the front.

Sunday Morning and the teams are talking about Rain and how soon it was going to come. As the cars sat on the grid their answers came as the rain fell and soft tires got changed to Inters for the dash to the first corner. Albert Park is a temporary circuit so there is a lot of white line to get slippery on a cold March afternoon.

When the red light went out on Sunday, we got to see just who’d paid lady luck up front. Alonso got tagged by Button in corner one, has he got squeezed by Hamilton who made a blinding start. Mickey Schumacher got a load of wheel spin off the line and got caught in the midfield scramble, eventually coming out with a broken front wing and very little chance of a fun afternoon. Better than Alonso though who ended up facing the wrong way and the field streaming past. Even the two Virgins starting from the pits and the pace car went past. A long afternoon ahead of Alonso then. Thankfully Trulli n in the Lotus had to replace something or other and wasn’t able to start. So Alonso was spared having to avoid the Lotus getting in the way.

Meanwhile up front Webber had managed to start a race and not hit Vettel or anyone else, plenty of time for that later. Vettel cruised off into the distance without a care in the world. It was a little hairy scary in the rain for a bit. The Sauber of Crazy Kobay lost yet another wing and took out Hulkenberg and Buemi. Schumacher pitted for a new front wing and spent the rest of the day looking at the back of various Torro Rossos, Virgins and Lotuses. HAHAHAHA Hahaha aha ah ah ah aa Seven times world champion this. Not some Jonny come lately no hoper with daddies money. This used to be the most feared driver in F1, not any more. Eventhe Virgin of Di Grassi showed Mickey that goal posts haven’t just moved, they’ve been taken off to the top field with different world first eleven.

So Lady Luck wasn’t happy with Mickey and then showed that she still isn’t in love with Vettel either. This time a break disc locked up and pitched the poor hapless German into the kitty litter. What has the guy got to do to catch a break here? Two easy wins snatched from his grasp by things he had absolutely no control over what so ever. Newey will get blamed for giving him a fast but fragile car, but he didn’t design the spark plug of break disc. It’s just random lady luck swigging out the bottle marked “hardy har ahr buddy” and flicking twigglets at the hapless fools going for glory.

Through all of this Button, had grabbed slick tires for a damp track, and got the jump on everyone to lead the race home. Everyone said he was mad to join McLaren and enter the home of Hamilton. But he drove a perfect race, called the perfect pit stop and finished 10 seconds up the road. Lady luck smiles sweetly and raise a glass of Vintage Tattinger towards the lovely Mr Button. A very timely win for the new Woking boy in his second race, this will do everything for his confidence and determination. He’s not going to give Hamilton an inch now is he.

Second up, Kubica in “Renault alright actually “shocker. He didn’t hit anyone and kept the two Ferraris behind him with no dramas what so ever. Does this mean Renault have a fast realisable car? Maybe. Kubica is fine when he shuts up and gets on with it. This might even encourage the money men to come up with a few more reddies.

Talking of Lady Luck and its Massa in 3rd and another podium for the bionic man. Podiums are the way to build a championship. Keep the score board ticking over, picking up points as the big guns cock it up.

4th and lucky to be there at all, Alonso looked faster than Massa but proved once again that the driver behind needs the driver in front to make a mistake if he wants a better result. Stuck in 4th is a good recovery from plum last. But he could have been second with a fair wind and nod from Lady Luck.

5th Nico, who gets this weeks, “was he in the race, I must have missed him” award. He got in some peoples way and did one of his trade mark fell asleep races. He beat Schumacher in qualifying and the race again. But he didn’t turn that into a charge for the line. Ross will be expecting better things from the lad.

6th and mighty pissed off with all of Australia, Hamilton. He got nailed by the local fuzz out looking to make a name for itself on Friday night. Then got punted not once, but twice by Webber, who lost all sense of race control and was out for blood. Hamilton drove a barn stormer of a race and should have been at least second to Button at the chequered flag. But a pit call at the wrong moment. Webber getting all unnecessary cost the plucky English chap and chance of the shared glory. If was Webber, I’d not be looking to grab a glass of fizz of the McLaren boys tonight. 11th to 2nd would have been a dream for Hamilton. 11th to a battered 6th is poor consolation.

7th Liuzzi. Better than his more fancied team mate Sutil yet again. I might have to swallow my pride and start liking him at this rate.

8th Barrichello. See Nico, did you see him? I must have blinked. Still he did better than Schumacher, so he’ll be happy. And it’s another points payer for Williams. Picking up the pay check.

9th and he should be banned for a month for being utterly crap, Webber. Who let driving on home soil go completely to his head? He punted Hamilton twice. The second time for no reason other than he wasn’t paying attention. He spun, got in the way and was generally rubbish. He keeps doing this, hitting other cars that are racing, cutting up drivers for minor places and cocking around. He’s not all that and Hamilton is right, retire you waste of Bridgestone rubber.

10th and the last points payer, Schumacher. Oh how the once mighty have forgotten the phone number of lady luck. He doesn’t even send her a text message to tell her he’s going to be back in the paddock and they should hook up some time. Those two were once the toast of all the after show parties. Inseparable, falling out of night clubs in the wee small house, a cherry faces Lady Luck having the time of her life and showing Schumacher the ultimate prize through the mist of petrol and champagne spray. Now she sits on another’s pit wall pretending to ignore her once favourite and flicking the V’s behind his back. Sad times indeed for the square jawed one.

So there you go. Far more entertaining that Bahrain, and the championship doesn’t look like it’s going to be a Ferrari/Redbull benefit gig.

As long as the boys remember to pay Lady Luck up front and in full.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Will it be a snooze fest down under ?

We’re off to the Albert Park, in down town Melbourne, Australia. It’s a medium fast, temporary track. It’s got some sensible bits and some silly bits. Drivers need to be smooth here and not kiss the wall too often. It’ more forgiving than Monaca, faster too. But still need concentrations from the driver. Usually it’s the first race of the year so form is no guide here. New drivers in new cars can go well here as old hands get sloppy and over confident.

Can anything stop the march of Ferrari ?

Vettel may have bagged the pole in Bahrain but the Redbull, according to Ferrari, didn’t have the legs at the end. Redbull might argue about that, Vettel kept Nico behind him when the spark plug started working again after all. Webber once again talked a good race and didn’t supply anything of any interest. Redbull probably have the best one lap car, but will it prove to be as fragile as last years car. As Alonso cruise up to the chequered flag, Massa held station as rear gunner. If he’s to stop Alonso from taking over his head boy badge he need to dominate in Australia, not something he normally does. Alonso should win on form, Vettel will be better than Bahrain, Massa is wild when under pressure. Webber is on home soil and needs to make up ground on the leaders

Whilst Button failed to shine, Hamilton won the first round of the fight to be best Brit. The McLarens didn’t look to have the legs of Vettel or the two Ferraris. Hamilton was fast once he cleared Nico but their trick air wing thing didn’t look all that trick come the speed trap. Button needs to be good here on a circuit that should suit his smooth style. Hamilton for another podium probably, button to make the top 5.

Not looking too trick either was Heir Schumacher. Where was the spark , the daring do, the win at all cost? He drove off the line like he was in a women’s institutes all comers 20 yard pancake tossing dash. SOOOOOOO SLLOOOWWWWWLLLLYYYYY. He claims he’s rusty, but to clean up rusty you have to go out and practice practice practise. That’s not something you can do anymore and sitting in front of the 42“ plasma knackering the PS3 pad isn’t going to get him race ready now. Are we about to see Schumacher’s first mid table season ? I don’t think he’ll be any better in Australia, but this is the 7 times world champion (three years ago)

“leave it out, he’s a facking hero sunbeam”

Nico Rosberg did a good job in Bahrain, showing Schumacher the way home and beating him through out the weekend. If he can continue that run of form he might just be remembered as more than the guy who Schumacher beats. He does well here usually, in rougher cars than a Brawn Merc. He’s fast and smooth and on a mission to beat the ex-best. A solid top 5 beckons

So that’s you’re top eight. Put them into some sort of order.

As to 9th and 10th,well that will probably come from either Williams or Force India. Barrichello is not the sort to get flustered and is racking up the miles to collect the pension. Sutil needs to start delivering the results. If any of the big boy’s trip up, then these two will be there. Liuzzi is also being talked up by those in the know. But he could hardly give me the time of day when I met him, so I don’t like him.

Sauber and Torro Rosso will be shit yet again.

As to those Tail End Charlies that proved so exciting last time out. Well Lotus has to be favourite to finish ahead of the others again. Though i think Virgin might get one to the flag this time. HRT will get both cars to pratice, neither will make it further than Q1 or half distance actually 1/3 distrance might be seen as a victory.

There will be more over taking this time out. I'm sure of it

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Bernie responds to the acusation that F1 will be dull this season.

"As long as Ferrari are winning, it's not boring sunbeam. Know what i mean"

Fans respond to this .....

Brian - We didn't realise the race had started man, bob was just getting a beer from the cool box and I said, "like, the parade laps started dude". Then bob was all like "wooo that is one long parade lap man, i'll get some more beers"
Bob - err yeah, we only knew the race was over when the corporate hospitality stands emptied dude.

Monday, 15 March 2010

It's a Red wave to the finish

So the 2010 Formula One season kicks off not with the hoped for BANG, but a rather dull processional whimper. Livened up only by Adrian Newey once again showing that he can build a very fast car, but he can’t build a very strong car. Not helped by Renualt giving them a rubbish engine

Redbull were all over this place like a rash. They had a few problems on Friday, giving the mechanics their first all nighter of the season, but they came out on Saturday morning with a car that flew through the desert. Ferrari was expected to take pole with ease, but Vettel storms the middle section to leave Alonso behind Massa. Not the expected result. Although Redbull did have a fast car during the testing season, it always got piped by the bigger boys. Maybe Redbull have been sandbagging somewhat.

Meanwhile down at the Mercedes end of the pit McLaren where rather surprised to be so far behind Redbull and the much heralded return of the prodigal Micheal had turned into a wake as first Nico went faster than him and then everyone else improved. “it’ll all be different come the race” said Ross.

McLaren were happy that their car wasn’t as awful as the car last season, but winter testing had put them fighting for pole, not scrapping around with the Merc and Nico. The Hamilton/Button love in was still in full swing with much back slapping and “we’ll be better once the race starts” but there were a few worried faces in the pits during Quli 3.

Meanwhile the rest did their best not to be too embarrassing. HRT got one car out on Friday and the second just made it into qualifying 1. But they were woefully slow. Lotus got their cars out all nice and clean and made a good job of fighting the Virgin boys. This time Glock beat Trulli to the Tail End Charlie pole, and made sure he pointed it out to Trulli during the BBC interview. Lotus might not have the fast car, but they have got a solid car however.

Of the others the Renault looked half built and slow in Petrov’s hands. Kubica did alright but was nothing special. The Hulk and Barrichello were comfortable in the best of the rest crew, Barrichello almost stopping the current world champions from making Q3. Sauber did not live up to their testing promise, the car looked slow and very twitchy in the Mickey Mouse new section.

Most pundits said that qualifying was going to be the important bit of the weekend. With new tire regs no one was quite sure if the tires would last a full distance, so were edging on 1 stop strategy but had a 2 stop if the need arouse. If they one stopped then they had to be high on the grid to avoid losing spots to faster cars on 2 stops.

Come Sunday and that’s exactly what happened. Vettel made a nice clean start off the line followed by Alonso sneaking past Massa. Hamilton made a good start to get to second by turn 3 but got edged out by Alonso and dropped back to 5th behind Nico. ..... and that was the excitement over with. Webber tried to escape everyone by using a smoke screen as his engine appear to lunch itself in turn 1 and 2. But nothing else happened and he continued on his merry way. HRT and chandhok was the first driver out after 2 laps. Apparently after only doing 7 laps all weekend, he found a new bump on lap 7 and speared off into the wall. The Virgins dropped out next leaving Lotus to cruse to an unopposed Tail End Charlie Challenge win.

The rest of the field pretty much held station. Hamilton sneaked passed Nico during the pit stops and all continued as before. Until the curse of the Newey design office struck and Vettels exhaust started burning a hole through the body work and then the Renault engine developed a faulty spark plug. He dropped back allowing Alonso to sail off into the sunset.

So a fine first win in a Ferrari for Alonso, well done I suppose to him. The Ferrari might not have the legs of the Redbull in qualifying, but it’s race pace is going to be hard to beat I suspect. He says he had the measure of Vettel all race. I’m not too sure that overtaking is any easier than it was last year.

Massa make a superb come back with 2nd. But he lost the race to Alonso in the first corner and he’ll know he can’t afford to let Alonso through so easily next time.

Hamilton gets good solid 3rd, he wasn’t on the pace of the Ferraris or the Redbulls. But he beat Button comfortably and that’s what he’ll be most positive about.

Vettel makes it to 4th in the end in a race he should have won. Like the championship he lost last year, reliability robbed him of the result.

Nico in 5th does a good job of being M. Schumacher’s team made. He beat the 7 times world champion all weekend and then drove away from him in the race. Lot’s of smug pundits said he struggle when Mickey hit the track on Sunday. But Nico held his nerve and did a very creditable job.

Not the dream return for Schumacher in 6th that we expected. He looks rusty and conservative in the car. He’ll get better, but how long will that take.

The Current world champion Button in 7th had a lack lustre weekend, scrapped into final qualifying, but never looked like challenging the top 5.

Webber, didn’t hit anyone and made it to 8th

9th Liuzzi did alright from a long way back.

10th for Barrichello.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Who will win then ?

Welcome one and all to the 2010 F1 world champinship.

The sun is just rising and the air is still fresh with the heady scent of a new world championship popping it’s head up over the horizon. Jean Todt is checking the FIA ban hammer of Doom is nicely polished. Checking the velvet glove that fits over it is as bright red as usual and that the random rule generator is purring. Ready to spring into action at the first sign of trouble the (almost) new FIA guv’ner eases his backside into the seat of power in the Ivory tower and surveys the opening round.

Welcome back all you old hands and welcome all you new bloods. Don’t worry it will all make sense after a few races. The basics rule is to ignore my jaded and ill informed opinion. It’s mostly slanderous and overly jingoistic. But it’s from the heart or more usually the bottom of a bottle of red wine.

We’re starting at The Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir. Designed I’m afraid by Herman Tilke. This means very little over taking, there is zero chance of rain and not much chance of a spectacle. But being the first race of the season it’s always a lottery. New cars, new drivers and new teams this year mean you’re never quite sure what the outcome will be.

Bahrain in the heart of the desert is a circuit that is very dusty. Last year the boys at Brawns won, but only just after amazingly Toyota had locked out the front row of the grid they then tried really really hard to cock it all up. The Brawns were worried about the cooling of their Mercedes engine so couldn’t chase the Toyotas down. Relying on the pit stop to jump Trulli when he stopped to ask for direction, I think, as Vettel cruzed past in his Redbull, laughing all the way to second.
This year sees no refuelling, narrower front tires and adjustable front wings. The conventional thinking is that drivers who are kind to their tires like Button and Alonso, not all hairy scary like Massa and Hamilton, will do a better job. With the dust and high winds of the desert, looking after the tires is going to be at a premium, with enough fuel to run for 49 laps cars will be heavy and slide around.

Winter testing saw Ferrari having problems with the tires losing their edge for 10 laps or so after a few laps off the start line, then they come back into their sweet spot. Once up to temperature they where the class of the field. McLaren meanwhile where better at the beginning, before gradually tailing off. Maybe a shade behind the Ferraris on the longs runs. The Mercedes and Redbulls were having problems getting the tires to be consistent over the long runs. They’re fast, but not as fast as Ferrari and McLaren.

I think you have to look for the winner to come from one of those four teams. Luck and consistency remember, that’s what makes a championship year come together. The team that has the car running sweetly out of the box has a huge advantage. Teams like Mercedes that are bringing lots of aero updates to the first race suggest they don’t have the car sorted yet and are still looking to find a base line to start working from.
Pole will be about being the last driver doing the last lap. All the other will be clearing the sand and dust for the last lap hero. A dream pole would be Schumacher returning after three years. He always was the master of being in the right place at the right time, three years ago. These days Hamilton, Alonso, Webber and Vettel are all great at that Banzi lap.
But last year the no hopers Brawn turned up in Australia and Button, who up to that point had been an also ran for so long, blew everyone away with Pole and the win. Maybe Sauber will be this years Brawns,
they’ve had some fast times on short runs, could they go for glory and get pole. The wins probably a step too far, but didn’t we all think that a year ago ?

My monies on Alonso, i think he's got the edge on Hamilton, maybe Mickey to spring a suprise and pick up a podium. All the usual supect in the top ten, with maybe Hulkenberger and Sutil joining them.

I think Lotus will finish with 1 car, Virgin will retire before half distance and HRT will got home after qualifying after both cars burst into flames and crash in the first corner grandstand.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Are we ready for the new season yet ?

The planets align, the stars twinkle, Sir Jackie Stewart pops up to spout some 20 year old rubbish and the Formula One world Championship sees not just four previous world champions, but four of the Best World Champions you have ever seen, stare down the thin ribbon of tarmac and know THEY ARE THE BEST IN THE WORLD.
All four of these giants have something to prove this year, all four have everything to lose this year, and failure could very well end a career here.

Jenson Button, current world champion; he’s left the very comfortable world of Ross Brawn and the ex Honda mob for the cold stark world of win at all cost McLaren. These boys don’t go racing for a bit of a laugh; it’s not “cup of tea then change the tires chaps” racing. These boys play to win and it’s also the home of ...

Lewis Hamilton. The wonder son of McLaren, the prodigal son. Last year he turned a rubbish season around. He lied, learned that not everyone loves him and realised that winning isn’t about just turning up. He won races, but lost the world championship. He did grow up last year, but did he become a man? Only he can know that.

All the great drivers, drive for Ferrari eventually. Alonso won the world champions ship in 2005 and 2006, back to back. That was always the sign of a great driver, but then he went to McLaren to prove that he was the greatest, that he was better than the car. He could go anywhere and win back to back to back in different cars. No one had done that before. But it all fell apart. He fell out with McLaren, with Hamilton and with many of those that had supported him. He left after only one season and fled back to the comfort blanket of Renault hiding behind Flav and licking his wounds. But then it all went wrong again with cars hitting walls, pointed fingers and FIA hearings. Now he’s back in a car that can and will win. All the great drivers know that they are only as good as their last race.

He’s been away for 3 years. He’s won more Championship than anyone, more races than anyone, more poles, more fastest laps, more bloody everything. He IS modern Formula one. Cut him in half and it says WIN AT ALL COST. He is Michael Schumacher. God only knows what he feels he has to come back and prove here. Ross Brawn and Mercedes have tempted him out of DIY on Sundays and trips to Tesco’s for the weekly shopping. He broke his collar bone last year trying to win a motor bike race. Will he break something this year trying to win an F1 race?

These four are the core of a great year. Hamilton wants to win it back. Button doesn’t want to lose that which he has worked so hard for. Alonso wants to prove he can do it without a Renault engine. And Mickey wants to prove that he is and always will be the Greatest Formula one driver of all time.

Meanwhile we have a whole bunch of thrusting young bucks out to prove they are better than the Americans, who have not turned up. I don’t want to say I told you so, so I’ll let Bernie do it for me.

“I told you so”

The Tail End Charlie Challenge: It’s looking like a one horse race at the moment to be honest. Not quite what I was expecting, I have to say. Yes yes Lotus and for F**ks sake bloody Trulli look to be the best of a rather bad mob of idiots. The Virgin team with Glock and Lucas Di Grassi doesn’t look like it can do more than 10 laps before it dumps its hydraulic fluid all over the track. Whilst the Campos chappies have turned up (at long last) with a car designed by my five year old after his swimming teacher explained what an F1 car looks like. “Throw some shapes at the design board and see what sticks chaps”. Even Brawn turned up to one test last year before blowing everyone away. Maybe Campos knows something we don’t.
Not what I’d hoped for. Still it keeps you interested in the back of the grid, which was the plan.

Meanwhile we have some new boys, some old boys and a few random funnies to keep an eye on this year.

McLaren - Button joins Hamilton, Google isn’t being much help tonight, but I think the last time two English drivers drove for an English team was Julian Bailey and Jonathan Palmer at Tyrell in 1988, they were rubbish. Button and Hamilton are this year’s dream team. Those in the know say the mind games have started with Hamilton ditching his father as manager. That McLaren has wrapped up Hamilton and built the team around him. Buttons first day of testing was spent getting him to fit into the car for instance. But I think Hamilton has learnt from the Alonso year and knows he needs to beat not just Ferrari but Mickey Schumacher this year. They both need to work together to be in with a shout. Better to be fighting a team mate rather than six other drivers.

Mercedes – The car giant flicks the V’s at McLaren, took their ball off to their new best friend Ross and bought an old man out of retirement. Nico must be wondering where it all went wrong. From team Numero Uno to tea boy in one swift move. He had it all and then Michael Schumacher turns up and Nico is just another driver being told to pull over to let the big man past. Harsh on Nico I think. He is better than that. Can Mickey do it? I’ll let you know after Brazil okay.

– Last year’s best car didn't bring home the bacon, they lost out with bad luck and Renault engines that needed more cooling. Vettel and Webber get to keep their seats. This year Vettel needs to make fewer mistakes and Webber needs to stop hitting so many people before the first corner. Wins will come if Newey can cool the Renault effectively from the off.

Ferrari – Kimi flounces off to WRC, good riddance to the petulant ice man, no loss there. In comes Alonso, love him or hate him (and I do kind of dislike him) you have to admit he is one of the best drivers in F1 right now. He’s focused and utterly professional. He gave McLaren the direction they needed, dragged Renault to the sharp end of the pack and avoided yet more finger pointing and mudslinging. Teflonso is the only front runner who knows what Schumacher is capable of. Massa returns after the doctors rebuilt the front of his skull. It’s a miracle that he can live and breathe, let alone go out and race. Testing showed he still has the speed and stamina, only a race will show if he has the ability to race.

– off goes Nico and the other one. In comes the oldest man in F1, Barrichello, to give them experience and cheapo Saga travel I guess. The new boy is Nico Hulkenberg, who didn’t embarrass himself during winter testing. Those people who know about stuff are saying the name Hulkenberg and Hamilton in the same sentence. Though Hamilton had possibly the best car one the grid when he joined and a double world champion to tell him where to queue with his lunch money. The Hulk gets an old man who’s well past his sell by date in my opinion.

Renault – It’s now 11.12pm and I’ve had a large G&T and a bottle of red and now I have to think of something interesting so say about Kubica and Petrov. Errumm mmm eeerrrrr, yes. Well they’re going to be better than Lotus I suppose. Renault have sold up to a business chap who wants to “make business to business face time” whatever that means. I predict a slow slide to the back of the grid and eventual sale to some gangsta types from Russia or China. Kubica has gone to the wrong team at just the wrong time. Petrov is bank rolled by Russian money. Make of that what you will.

Force India - did alright last year moving up from the bottom feeder class. Expect to be mid field jonnies this year. Sutil and Liuzzi return. Sutil needs to step up to the plate this year. Liuzzi has lots of money behind him. He was also very sullen when I asked him to sign my son’s autograph book. So I don’t like him.

Torro Rosso – Have built their own car this year apparently. Though I suspect if you scratch it, it’ll have “designed by A Newey” under the paint work. Buemi and Algueruari are back again. My bettering is one of these two will be the first to get fired.

Lotus – first of the new boys. ...... Trulli. That’s all. They’re not Lotus cars, they’re a bunch of Malaysians who went to Norfolk on holiday once and kind of liked the views. The Chapman Family have nothing to do with this. ....... Trulli..... For the love of God...... Trulli. They’ll be the best of the new boys. But that doesn’t make it alright. It’s a Gascoigne vanity project; let’s see if they make it to the end of the season. Kovalainen is in the second seat. So you have Trulli and Kovalainen in one team. The best thing about this is that they will not trouble the top ten in any way shape or form and thus I don’t have to write their names out more than absolutely neseccary.

– The other new boys that made it to the grid on time with a car that actually moves. So far it’s shown that it can lighten itself after 10 laps by dumping its hydraulic fluid all over the track. They’ve not got long to sort out a fairly major design flaw, so Bahrain could be a short race for the CFD boys. Glock gets new overalls with a Virgin Logo on them, it’s a shame he’s here and not in a better car. I thought he did a better job at Toyota than this. Some chap called Di Grassi is in the second seat, I have no idea who he is...Good in Gp2 apparently though he never won the big cup.

– was BMW until they threw their toys out of the pram and flounced out of the fire exit pretending to not care and telling everyone that they could have Bernie any time they wanted too. They sold up to Peter Sauber at the very very last minute in a really pathetic display of business morality. They even took their engine away, but made sure Sauber had to keep the BMW name. Cheap and pathetic. So Sauber gets his old team back and looks to have turned it around. Pedro De La Rosa has been brought in from McLaren along with everyone’s favourite crazy Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi. These two have been setting some good times in winter testing. Are they going to do a Brawn and win the silver Cup? I just can’t see it happening. Like I couldn’t see Brawn wining last year......

– oh dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear. .................... Oh dear. Bruno (not trading on the Senna name what-so-ever at all honestly) Senna. And Karun Chanhok. I think they have lots of money, because Campos doesn’t have any. Adrian Campos was last seen hanging around outside Madrid airport with a dancing monkey on a chain, rattling a tin and asking for spare change. He’s sold up to some chap called Jose Ramon Carabante. He’s renamed the team Hispanese Racing team (HRT ). The word on the street is they have more than a little backing from VW/Audi. Who are waiting to see what the 2013 engine rules look like? Maybe, maybe not. If Campos/HRT is there at the end of the season that will be a very big achievement.

Team wise, Mclaren, Ferrari, Mercedes and possibly Redbull will be fighting it out for the constructors. Renault, Sauber and Williams will be hoping to pick up points if the big boys stumble. Whilst Torro Rosso, Lotus, and Virgin hope to finish the odd race. Campos will be hoping to finsih the whole season, let a lone a race.

Mr Todt will be hoping he doesn't have to get the big bad ban hammer if FIA meaness out of the cupboard and Bernie will be making more deal round the back of the bike sheds.

So there you go, it's all jolly exciting with Button, Hamilton, Alonso and Schumacher all out to prove they have the right stuff.