‘Top tips’ may be a little over the top but these are my ones to look out for in 2012. As we all eagerly anticipate the start of the season, all the questions thrown up from testing are shortly about to be answered. In this post I’m going to give my answers to some of the big questions of the 2012 season.
First up is the biggy, who will win the championship? I think it will boil down to a battle between the two who finished 2012 first and second, Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button. We all know Seb was in a class of one in 2011 and I’m sure his confidence will again be sky high going into the new season. Likewise with Jenson, I believe he will carry his fantastic form into 2012 but I believe the performance gap between McLaren and Red Bull will be nothing like what we saw at parts of last year giving us titanic battles for the race victory.
As for their team mates, Webber and Hamilton. I can’t see how Webber can psychologically get back on level terms with Vettel after he was dominated so overwhelmingly in 2011. I’m sure Hamilton will push Jenson all the way but can he cut out the DNFs or trips to the stewards to mount a better challenge this year? I’m not fully convinced. His personal problems were well documented last year and they were blamed on Button getting the upper hand. I’m not sure that in some way, it could have been the other way around where Buttons pace and relationship with the team actually got to Hamilton.
Will Mercedes/Schumacher win a race in 2012? Yes! Mercedes will win a race in 2012 but the seven times world champion won’t be the man to stand on the top step. Undoubtedly, Mercedes AMG have built an outstandingly clever car (similar to the Brawn in 2009) which will pull a surprise or two, especially in the early part of the season. However, it will be Nico Rosberg who climb to the summit of the podium and not his Schumcherness. Why? The answer for me is a simple one. Since the two became team mates back at the start of 2010, Nico has enjoyed the upper hand against Michael, something his team mate has never enjoyed up to now. It is now 21 years since Schumi’s debut back in 1991 and if he is/was to win a race this year it would have to be a wet race where both McLarens didn’t finish.
In how bad shape are Ferrari in? Judging by their recent standards (post 1996), they is perhaps in their worst shape. I’d go as far to say that 2012 could rival 1992 in seasons they would like to forget. Ferrari are up the creek without a paddle at the minute and they don’t know which way the river is flowing. Poor performances during testing may not be as bad as first thought until Ferrari banned both drivers from talking to the press during the final test. Then came news that they were considering chassis modifications which will result in further crash testing. This, if true highlight the plight og the prancing horse outfit’s woes.
Ferrari are the team that have been hit the hardest with the ban on in season testing. They used this to their advantage during their dominating are in the noughties and have struggled to reorganise their selves to accommodate a much more stringent testing programme.
Who will win the midfield battle? Just to clarify before answering this one, the teams I consider midfield runners are Force India, Williams, Toro Rosso and Sauber.
And the winner of this battle will be…. Force India! The Silverstone based team have perhaps the most exciting young driver line up for quite some time. Vijay Mallia, in four short years has turned this team from a back of the grid joke into a force (no pun intended) to be reckoned with. Their times during testing have been very encouraging and if that pace is true, they could even be nibbling on the heels of Lotus and Ferrari in the constructors championship!
Behind them, I think (hope) Williams will see a return in their reshuffle and start their journey towards the business end of the grid. Followed closely by Toro Rosso then Sauber.
Last question of the night, Will HRT be ready for P1 tomorrow? No!