Hello all and welcome to my new blog and it roughly coincides with the 2011 season. In the next two weeks, during the massive build up to the formula one season I will be posting more in-depth thoughts pre-season. But for those of you not following the pre-season build up here is a very quick recap
First of all you must have noticed the lack of the Bahrain GP, due to the civil unrest occurring in the country at this present time. This also moved the final test to Barcelona (Circuit de catalunya) which was spread over 5 days with each team testing on 4 of them.
After the testing was all done and dusted, including the final day washout we sort of know/think this about the teams (In dare I say it a roughish order :s):
- Ferrari and Red Bull seem very competitive and reliable. Both seem to have picked up where they left off last year and with the same drivers as last year, both are looking forward to a good year. KERS development may be Ferrari’s feather in their cap to match the aerodynamic genuis newey of Red Bull.
- Mercedes initially looked down on pace but the team claimed to have a cooling issue and running a basic spec car to test the new tires. This seems to have not been PR rubbish because come the final test the silver arrow came good with Schumacher and Rosberg topping the time sheets. The car seems reliable too and will have the Mercedes engine and KERS behind it, furthermore the all German team of 7 times world champion Micheal Schumacher and the highly rated Nico Rosberg makes them look threatening.
- Renault launched (in a JPS lotus livery and sponsorship from the car company – be prepared for confusion folks!) in a upbeat fashion with a strong car including a unique exhaust that blows out the front of the sidepods under the floor of the car. However the team suffered a massive set back when main driver Robert Kubica was sidelined for the season with a rally crash. Nick Heidfeld has filled the vacant seat and although he matched Kubica extremely well when they were BMW Sauber team mates it remains to be seen how quick he can catch up with little testing and a brand new team. Petrov remains a liabilty and must improve his consistancy this year to really help the team
- McLaren fans do you remember 2009? Well possibly prepare for that all over again. The team launched their car a test late to get more development time on their new car and run the new pirelli rubber on their tried and tested 2010 car. It is an aggresive design featuring bizzare sidepods but has had serious teething troubles. The team have run the lowest amount of mileage apart from HRT (see bottom) on their 2011 challenger and have been down on pace. However the team hasn’t done much low fuel qualifying runs (we think) and have a massive reputation for bringing a car round. The team still have 2 British world champion drivers in Button and Hamilton which should see them still in the mix this season
- Williams have also pushed ahead with a head-scratchingly tiny gear box creating a super-tight rear end, the car looks good and has the possibility to be a real Q3 regular. However it remains to be seen if the Cosworth power unit and their troublesome KERS can deliever. The team have also dumped promising rookie Hulkenburg for the sponsor rich GP2 champion Pastor Maldonardo and it will be a big test for him to match Barichello
- Sauber under James Key have recovered from their nightmarish 2010 start and the revival continues in 2011, now back as plain old Sauber and with exciting rookie Sergio Perez alongside fan favourite Kamui Kobayashi there will be a lot of eyes on Peter Sauber and co this year. The car looks solid and confirms a very tight mid-field with Perez setting some headline times in Barcelona.
- Force India have finally put Paul Di Resta in a seat alongside Adrian Sutil after running him in 1st practice most of last season. The team have looked reliable but haven’t set the timing screens alight during testing. However the team do have the powerful mercedes engine and Nico Hulkenburg in the 3rd driver roll will keep the main drivers on their toes.
- Torro Rosso continue in their second year as a fully independant constructor and have come up with an innovative double floor. The team have kept their two race drivers from last year but are doing a Force India and are putting Daniel Ricciardo in the car at certain races for 1st practice. They complete a massivly close mid-field and keeps us all guessing about the order.
- Team Lotus have obtained Renault engines and the Red Bull gear box giving them a great platform for the year. A properly designed car and much improved aero package should see a big improvment in times (in fact compared to testing last year the teams are about 2 seconds slower on the new tires, while lotus are going faster). After ironing out initial reliability issues the team look in good form but possibly still a little off the back of the mid-field pack. Furthermore a lack of KERS could hurt them
- Virgin’s Nick Wirth has carried on designing their challengers using only CFD and avoiding the wind tunnel all together. It would appear the team still have some work to do to get up to their mid-field goal and it remains to be seen if a CFD design can achieve this. Despite new backers Marussia, the team have opted for under-qualified pay driver Jerome D’Ambrosio whos CV doesn’t make for impressive reading.
- Finally HRT, is possibly a sentence we’ll get very used to this year. The team have managed to sign Antonio Luizzi alongside Tata motors backed returnee Narain Karthikeyan (He last raced 5 years ago for Jordan!). Luizzi is a massive boost for the team and so is Geoff Willis. However the car was very late, the dampers were so late that the car didn’t run at all. It also has a distinct lack of sponsorship (it still has those “this is a cool spot” and “your name here” logos from the 3D renders) and with Luizzi bringing no cash it remains to be seen how well this year could go.
So there we have it, a quick overview of the teams for this season. In the next few weeks i’ll be chatting tires, KERS and DRS amongst a host of other things. Hope its been informative.