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.