Formula 1

In Formula 1 on 25 February, 2009 at 11:53 pm

Why do I love F1? Good question. I’m not 100% certain. Why do people like football? Part of it is down to watching it on TV as a small boy. Playing Scalextric, computer driving games (on the ZX Spectrum, 80s computer fans!) like Chequered Flag, and ultimately learning to drive myself… I think the last part had the biggest real influence. When I learned to drive, I understood more about what these people were achieving with these cars. Particularly in wet conditions.

Strangely, even though I watched F1 with my father throughout my childhood, we had different heroes… He liked Prost, I liked Senna. He liked Mansell, I was a Piquet fan…

That really came to a head around 1991/1992… with one man: Michael Schumacher. My dad saw an arrogant German, I saw an amazing driver, who seemed to ignore the limitations of his machinery… One particular race, that I can’t remember the venue of, sold me completely. It was raining. Schumacher was throwing the car around the track like he was in a powerboat, while everyone else seemed to be crawling along in rowing boats… It was spectacular in every sense of the word. I can’t even remember who won, (probably him!) I was so absorbed in watching him slide the car round a corner, spray flying up in a huge wave of spray, as he went round the outside of two other cars!

The family issue was that Schumacher’s biggest competitor at the time was Damon Hill. A British driver driving for a British team, Williams. I felt that although Hill was good, Schumacher was better. The Williams car was the best car on the grid. The Benetton was probably the second or third best car. Schumacher pushed his car to the absolute limit on every track.

I was still banished to the kitchen to watch by myself at family gatherings, if I was “going to support that man…”!

That said, I wasn’t averse to supporting another driver if they were driving a particularly good race (like the time Hill beat Schumacher in the rain, for example), but I didn’t support any particular team (though I had a soft spot for both Arrows and Minardi). After Hill left Williams, there wasn’t really anyone that I felt was trying as hard, consistently, as Schumacher and really I would have been bored out of my mind had he been in the fastest car, and not fighting the Adrian Newey-designed cars of Williams and then McLaren… If, for example, I had started watching in 2002, amidst the Schumacher/Ferrari “Red Wash” of the titles, I wouldn’t have seen the same attraction. During those years, I prayed for rain every race.

Rain brings the whole field closer together in terms of performance and allows the good drivers in the poorer cars a chance to really shine out.

This coming year (2009) looks like it will actually be one of the closest fought seasons in a long time. All the teams that have been testing so far appear to be on a very similar pace, which bodes well. The rule changes have been so dramatic that it was expected that McLaren and Ferrari would be miles ahead, as they have to most resources…

Instead, we seem to have BMW, Renault, Williams, Toyota, AND Red Bull all within a second or two of each other… The most consistent team should win the constructors title… which realistically means the team needs two drivers on a similar level, regularly finishing in the points…

It is always hard to guess/predict form before the first few races, but going on past form, I would put BMW at the top for the Constructors’ Title. The Drivers’ Title will be hard fought, but I reckon it will come down to Hamilton, Raikonnen, Massa, Alonso, Kubica and Heidfeld… Outside possibilities lie with the Red Bull duo of Vettel and Webber, depending on how good their car is… and scarily, Trulli and Glock for Toyota… Could this finally be Toyota’s year? If it is, expect a return of the old tagline “The car in front is a Toyota”…

Here’s to a great year, with as little politics as possible… and great racing!

Oh, and a fervent prayer that the team that last year was called Honda makes it to the Melbourne grid in one form or another… Apparently the car is ready for testing… now all they need is a name, a few more sponsors, and an engine…


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