Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Round one Australia

Right, okay. All you old hands know the drill by now. I promise there will be less random, poorly thought out ranting fuelled by red wine and pork scratching this year.  It’s going to be tight ship from now on. No, really it is.  
And to you new bloods welcome to the show. This is the bit where I talk about the various highlights of the F1 circus and pass out some handy pointer for the upcoming race. You can either ignore my advice completely (probably for the best) or follow them and commiserate with me on Sunday afternoon.
The first important point is you don’t need to change your predictions every single race. Don’t feel the need to chop and change where Maldonardo is going to come. Take your time and feel how the season is developing, the first few races are always a lottery as the cars will be pretty much stock until they get back to Europe.
And secondly, don’t take it too seriously as it’s just a bit of a laugh that’s all. Don’t feel down hearted if you’re not getting 40 points every week, most of the time its just blind luck and especially now as Max Chilton isn’t driving anymore, we have no 5 point banker for last place.  
Well doesn't time fly when you're having fun ?!

It only seems like five minutes ago we were all breathing a sigh of relief and nodding our heads at a job well done. Alonso had finally signed for McLaren and we could all settle down for the winter break and stop worrying about who was going to give the Spanish whinger a berth in 2015. Then with the warm spring breeze and a hazy sunrise, we're all off again for yet another season of infighting, backs stabbing and rumour that is the F1 circus.
Happy days J

Yup, the 2015 F1 season is about to start and already the question of Alonso actually staying at McLaren have surfaced. The man is like a one man rumour machine! Yeah I know he's probably one of the top 5 drivers of all time. You give him a rubbish car and he'll drag it kicking and screaming to the podium week after week. But clearly the man has some limits and allegedly being fried into unconsciousness by a malfunctioning KERS unit in testing, is it. Or not, who knows? But Alonso isn't getting in the car this weekend and so as the more excitable elements of the media would have it .. ever again!
The claim by the team that "He was caught by a sudden cross wind, guv'ner", is fooling no one. Even his old team boss and bezzy mate Briatore has waded in to demand the FIA find out the truth of the matter.

But to be serious for just a moment, the other drivers have expressed a wish to know what actually happened too. Alonso was tooling along quite happily during testing when he suddenly ran wide and the car spun back onto the track and slammed into the wall, knocking Alonso unconscious in the process. The fear is that something went wrong and Alonso was unconscious before he hit the wall, there are a lot of very complex systems on a modern F1 car and some serious voltages flying about. Some of the back of the grid teams are buying in their energy recovery system and didn't design them from scratch. They only have the word of Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari that the systems are fine. Okay, Alonso was in a Honda system, but it’s based around the old Merc system McLaren had knocking round the back of the sheds.
So there are a few F1 personal wondering around asking difficult questions and McLaren are not doing much to allay their fears. Also, if it happens again, the McLaren might not hit the wall first.
There is also a lot of speculation that the car was fine when it hit the wall, the problem was Alonso blacked out for some other reason. There was a lot of flu going around the paddock that week, even Lewis had called it a day after a handful of laps on the first day. Could Alonso have just passed out, if that is what happened .. well once again, could it happen again ?

So then, Magnussen has been recalled to the squad and been told he's got the Australian gig. A chance to shine and prove he's got the chops for the job, he needs to beat Jenson, move to Japan and marry a Japanese supermodel before the race starts if he wants Jenson’s job though. The plucky Brit is practically driving under a Japanese residency visa these days and Honda will be reluctant to replace him.
But it all comes back to Alonso really. Did he have some sort of “episode” in the car? Is he in a real huff with the poor performance of the car, or did he just lose concentration for a split second and hit the wall hard.
It will be interesting to see how the team operates this weekend, and if Alonso bothers to turn up to see his new team start the new season without him.

So then the first race!

Well it’s always a lottery, last year we had two McLarens on the podium after Ricky was banned for driving a very illegal Redbull, a Redbull which up to that point hadn’t gone more than 500 yards without bursting into flames. After that McLaren went backwards and Redbull sneaked best of the rest from Williams.
There is no form book to draw upon here. You can only go by what happened in testing. And even then we have no idea who was running light fuel loads to attract late sponsorship deals and who was sandbagging to avoid giving the game away.
I think however, we can be sure Mercedes are going to win this one. They’ve still got the best car and engine gig. Two race winning drivers capable of cruising to the title if they were in against lesser team mates. My money is on Lewis for the win and Nico for the pole.  Fastest lap is going to be decided by which driver doesn’t get the pole.
Next up ... well, Williams or Redbull. I think Redbull will sneak it from a Williams team that just want to be sure they have a good car for a second year and want a banker result before the fun. Danny, Bottas, Massa. Kvyat might need a race or two to settle in.
Next Ferrari and probably Vettel who has something to prove. Now the Ferrari went very well in testing, are they back on form? If they are then they could be ahead of the Redbull and Williams boys. If like Williams  they too just want a banker to be sure, they’ll sit back with the wick turned down and collect the points.
So that’s: Lewis, Nico, Ricky, Bottas, Massa and Vettel in the top five. The next five are the tricky ones.
Kvyat, on the strength of the car, and Kimi should be there. Which leaves a Force India and Lotus for the minor places; Perez to edge out the Hulk and I’ll go with Grosjean.

Now then, who’s going to come last then, one of the new boys perhaps ? Verstappen and Sainz should have a capable car they could be in the top ten is the Force India isn’t up to speed. Nasr or Ericsson in the seriously dull Sauber, a car held together with a wing and a prayer.  I’ll leave that one up to you

As for the rest, well I don’t think the Manor cars will be get past the 107% rule, which states that the car has to be within 107% of the fastest cars time. Manor have a year old car with some 2015 bits gaffer taped onto the side, two drivers with little or no experience and an engine that was rubbish last year.  They’ll be over seven seconds off the pace. I think just getting to the end of the pit lane for first practice will be a spectacular success for them.

Which leaves McLaren doesn’t it. Do you think they’ll finish?  In fact do you think they’ll finish any of the practice session they start with the both cars in the pit rather than stopped out on the track. How about qualifying? What odds will you give me they don’t make it out of Q1.
If that happens, what odds do you give me that Alonso doesn’t get back into a McLaren Honda ?  

Okay, you have until midnight on Thursday to update your predictions.

That means all the little boxes have to be filled in and you HAVE TO PRESS THE BUTTON AT THE BOTTOM OF YOUR TABLE, the one that says UPDATE MY PREDICTION.
When you have pressed this button a message in red will say “Predictions Updated”.

 If it does not, you have not entered a prediction.

Good luck everyone.

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