Alex Dibble gets excited about the all new Formula 1 Season…
“the closer Formula 1 gets to Mario-kart the better in my opinion…”
With a new Formula 1 season beginning on the 14th March in Bahrain, I have been mulling over the latest set of rule changes, and how they will affect the racing. The major difference in 2010 of course will be the refuelling ban – pit stops will only be for tyres. However, my mind was cast back to 14th January when F1 boss Bernie Eccleston put forward the idea of short cuts.
I’ve got sympathy with Bernie Eccleston’s attempts to spice up F1, and decided to run with the idea in my mind just for fun. After all, the closer Formula 1 gets to Mario-kart the better in my opinion.
So, in 2009 we had the boost button. “KERS” gave some extra horsepower for about 6 seconds a lap – the mushroom weapon of real life motorsport. In the classic Nintendo game, green and red shells could be thrown out to create mayhem, which unfortunately doesn’t seem to have a real-life 200mph equivalent. Although the concept of having a friend on the back of the car taking care of the weapons does appeal – David Coulthard facing backwards on Lewis Hamilton’s McClaren and armed with a water pistol would certainly increase viewing figures.
Inevitably Bond gadgets did pop into my head as well, especially all those puncture-causing spikey things Pierce Brosnan lets out of his BMW. Imagine that in a proper race! You’d be unable to spot them on TV until a car in slipstream suddenly lost tyre pressure and spun off the track. Radio telemetry would be a different kettle of fish as well: “Jenson! Fernando’s just dropped 5kg of banana skins at turn 12.” Wacky races indeed.
“Richard Branson enjoying a sneaky chortle in the Virgin garage would be a welcome sight in the 2010 paddock.”
I say as well, how about making it legal to interfere with other teams’ equipment? I can see now the Red Bull mechanics pouring their own soft drink into the Mercedes fuel tank, and then watching in gleeful delight as Michael Schumacher splutters his way down the pit lane trying to power himself on their own fizzy refreshment.
A few new teams will be on the grid at the season opener in Bahrain, such as Virgin F1, Lotus, and Campos (if they can find the money). There would not be many easier ways of sabotaging the big boys than switching the covers on the dry and wet weather tyres at Ferrari and McClaren. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to see the Fernando Alonso unknowingly drive out into a downpour with an identical set of dry tyres? Richard Branson enjoying a sneaky chortle in the Virgin garage would be a welcome sight in the 2010 paddock.
Unfortunately I think Formula One wheels with mace-like spikes attached is a bit farfetched for the real world, as much as I would like to see the planet’s most competitive motor-racers inflicting some proper punctures on each other. In actual fact the closest thing to mayhem we will be treated to in the 2010 season will be three, or possibly four, teams all capable of winning races. I speak of Ferrari, McClaren, Red Bull, and Mercedes.
Pre-season testing is notoriously difficult to make judgements on, but we have been able to gauge a little bit of the pace at the top. Ferrari are looking strong, and with Fernando Alonso and Filipe Massa, they have two exceptional drivers. McClaren have shown good speed as well, and possess the last two Formula One world champions. Then there are Red Bull, who won the final three races of 2009, and look like they have maintained their pace over the winter. Both Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel are capable of winning the world title
“Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have never raced against the seven time champion.”
A huge amount of attention has been given to Michael Schumacher’s return to drive for Mercedes. The team raced as ‘Brawn GP’ last year, and won both the drivers and constructors world championships. However, pre-season testing has revealed that they have a bit of work to do in order to challenge for wins at the start of the year.
A particularly interesting element of the season ahead will be how Schumacher deals with the younger drivers. Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have never raced against the seven time champion. Jenson Button has, but was never given a car good enough to truly go wheel-to-wheel against the German. All three of them, as well as the rest, will be determined to show their worth on the same track as the legend.
The drivers may not be able to strike each other with lightning bolts, and it will be a while before they race on rainbows (though don’t put it past Bernie Eccleston to look into it), but the 2010 season promises to provide fantastic competitiveness, spectacular racing and, as always, a political scandal or two. Surely you’d be foolish not to tune in?