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The battles facing McLaren

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Andrew Benson | 15:25 UK time, Friday, 29 January 2010

When McLaren bolted their new Formula 1 car together for the first time on Thursday night in preparation for Friday's 2010 launch, they hit upon a problem. It wouldn't fit in the lift in the team's factory.

The engineers solved that little conundrum - caused by the car being longer than last year because of the bigger fuel tank needed following the banning of in-race refuelling - by taking the car around a different way. But McLaren might find other difficulties they face this year harder to resolve.

Friday's launch at title sponsor Vodafone's plush headquarters on the outskirts of Newbury in Berkshire was typical of McLaren for its smooth professionalism but, as last year proved, the realities of racing in the white heat of F1 competition are not always so easy to manage.

To McLaren's credit, they did not try to dodge the issues - in fact, they had clearly worked hard on coming up with an answer to them. But it remains the case that a number of big question marks hang over the team as they head into a season that promises to be one of the most competitive in years.

McLaren team-mates Button and Hamilton weigh each other up but who will come out on top?McLaren team-mates Button and Hamilton weigh each other up but who will come out on top?"

There are four world champions on the grid for the first time since 1999 - and unlike 11 years ago all of them are driving for what are expected to be competitive teams.

McLaren have two, in Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, while seven-time champion Michael Schumacher is returning from retirement to drive for Mercedes - which won both world titles, with Button, as Brawn last year - and double winner Fernando Alonso, the last man to beat Schumacher in a straight fight for the title, has joined Ferrari.

It's a mouth-watering prospect, both for those involved and those watching, but it raises the stakes enormously.

For McLaren, the primary question, from which flow all others, is the one that hangs over all F1 team launches - how good is the car?

McLaren sounded confident on Friday, with team principal Martin Whitmarsh talking about "preparing more comprehensively than ever before". But they made similar noises last year - only to find that when they turned up with their car at the first test, it was more than two seconds off the pace.

No-one expects that to happen again in 2010, not least because as this is the second year following a major regulation change, the chances of the engineers missing their mark quite so dramatically are vastly reduced.

Nevertheless, the ban on refuelling, coupled with a reduction in front tyre width, introduces significant changes to the design of the cars, only one of which is that they are longer - as McLaren's lifts proved so clearly. It remains to be seen how well each team's designers have come up with answers to those questions.

Assuming the new MP4-25 is competitive, McLaren's other challenges in 2010 all stem from the fact they have such a strong driver pairing.

As Whitmarsh said, "it is a McLaren philosophy to have the two fastest drivers we can in the car". It is, though, a philosophy they have stuck with despite numerous problems in the past.

Most famously, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost waged probably the bitterest battle between team-mates in F1 history in 1988-89.

More recently, the year Hamilton and Alonso spent as team-mates at McLaren in 2007 involved similar levels of bitterness - even if in that case the biggest problem was the relationship between the Spaniard and then team boss Ron Dennis.

Button and Hamilton put on a good show on Friday. They joked with each other on stage, repeatedly underlined - to the point that it almost became a mantra - how important it was to work together, and generally gave the impression of getting on well. They even went to the lengths of telling the media that they had had dinner together in Newbury on Thursday night.

"Nobody knows who is going to come out on top in any team," Button said, "and that's why we're going racing - to fight it out. At the end of the year we will see who is going to do the best job. For now, we are going to work together and improve this car hopefully better than anyone else."

That, though, rather glosses over the issues involved, when in reality these two incredibly driven men are going head-to-head in equal machinery and at the end of the year one of them is going to have to face the fact that he has lost.

It's fair to say that most people expect that to be Button - Hamilton is widely regarded as the fastest driver in F1 (his comparison with a 41-year-old Schumacher will be particularly fascinating) - and the older man has already talked about what a "massive challenge" he faces going up against Hamilton.

But that is not to say that Button is setting out expecting to lose - on the contrary. He might appear laid back, but he is as intensely competitive as anyone in F1 and he will be doing everything within his power to try to ensure the opposite happens.

Whoever comes out on top at the end of the season, the battles along the way - both inside the team and on the track - will be hard and uncompromising, even if they are also, as Whitmarsh put it, "exciting, clean and open". And managing the demands of two such individuals will not be easy.

That intra-team battle could have other consequences, too. As has happened many times in the past, teams with two drivers going for the championship often find they end up losing out to those who, sooner or later, decide to concentrate on just one.

So in 1986, although Williams had the fastest car, their drivers Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet lost out to McLaren and Prost in the championship.

Equally, had McLaren concentrated on either Hamilton or Alonso in 2007, one of them would have been world champion. As it was, in the intensity of the battle between the two best drivers in the world, they lost sight of the bigger picture, and ended up tied on points and losing out by the narrowest of margins to Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari.

This year, Ferrari and Mercedes also, on paper, have two drivers battling for supremacy.

At Ferrari, the contest between Alonso and Felipe Massa could be just as close as the one at McLaren, even if most people would expect the Spaniard to be a clear winner by the end of the season.

Mercedes, though, could well be a different matter. Schumacher might be 41, but nothing his team-mate Nico Rosberg has done in his career so far suggests he is going to be able to compete with one of the greatest drivers the world has ever seen.

So that raises the prospect of McLaren's two drivers competing for the title while taking points off each other, while all Mercedes' efforts go in one direction - just as Ferrari's did when Schumacher was there.

Whitmarsh was openly contemplating that very prospect on Friday, as well as that of competing against a company that, while it remains McLaren's engine supplier and sponsor, until last December also owned 40% of his team.

"We welcome the competition," Whitmarsh said on Friday. The remark referred to the battle between his team and the new one racing under the name of McLaren's engine supplier, but it could just as easily have referred to the internal battle between his two drivers.

It's a noble stance and one that, McLaren being what they are, will not change no matter what the outcome of the forthcoming season. But it is one that is almost guaranteed to make life more difficult.

As Whitmarsh says, "We've got a really exciting season on our hands."

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I think the bigger question remains the competitivness of the car as as much as I dont want it to be the case, i see Red Bull as the clear team to beat and think Vettel could win fairly comfortably. They have remained out of the spotlight whilst all the media has focused on Schumacher's return, McLarens potential revival and Alonso's move to Ferrari.

    I do expect Hamilton to be a clear beater of Button and therefore should the title be within the car's capability, he will be the one to win without the need for McLaren to prioritise. Which is probably why signing Button is such a good move as he will be far better than Heikki in picking up points for the team but not quite quick enough to match Hamilton.

    Should be an exciting year none the less with an exciting battle out front and out back. I do fear that Williams and Renault will be lost in the the contrasting battles and find midfield mediocrity a difficult place to enjoy.

  • Comment number 2.

    I love Hamilton's driving style it's exciting to watch him throw the car around.
    However i think with the new fuel regulations and the longer wheel base cars this should elevate Buttons chances of retaining his crown.
    Very few drivers drive their cars with the craft and presicion that Button does, tyre wear is going to be key this season, and Button manages his tyres better than most.
    As Hywel said it should make an exciting year none the less but i do feel Barrichello's experience should help Willims stay just above the midfield and chalenging as best of the rest.

  • Comment number 3.

    I agree with Cronnie. Button and Hamilton - 2 different styles of driving. This battle is going to be determined on which way the designers have built the car and how much felxibility there is within the resulting car to adjust what is adjustable. If the car's longer but not proportionately wider will Lewis be able to throw it around in his style. Then again who would you design for? someone who won because they had by far the best car for at least half the season but has not shown the same results for years or someone that claims their solidarity to the team, has been there from their early years and publicly says they will stay there, is considered by many to be the fastest in F1 today and has challenged the top right from the start even with very little experience.

  • Comment number 4.

    Great article, but I think you should have included Red Bull as well. I think there is going to be a real battle between Webber and Vettel next season (I ain't going to bash Vettel ;-). Mark started last season coming off the back of a bad accident and had bits of metal in his leg, but he showed over the season the talent that was first talked about when he joined F1 coming out. This season he is going to be eager to put the young gun in his place and challenge for the title again.

    I am not so sure that Red Bull will be the team to beat, I have a sneaking feeling that will be Mercedes. However my 2p is down for McLaren to top the constructors at the end of the season, but I think its going to be a fascinating season and I can't wait.....

    Testing starts next week and I am hoping for plenty more to read....

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    As has been said it totally depends on the quality of the car and who suits it best.

    If it is more to Jensons style then I imagine the battle will be close, however if it suits Lewis more then there will only be one winner. Either way to me it is stacked in Lewis' favour. I can only think that from the previous years racing, Jenson didn't seem to adapt and be able to push in a car that is difficult. How much does winning the championship give you in confidence to deliver in difficult times?

    I would love the cars of McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull to be matching in pace so all the drivers of those teams make the most spectacular season F1 has had. That in turn would make all the teams prove there metal in managing these demanding drivers. F1 needs the racing after all the off track scandals. Hopefully the teams at the back of the grid are close to each other too as there are some quite interesting fights during the season back there.

    Alonso/Massa in my view will be where the sparks will fly. Can Ferrari handle them two? I don't think so.....Alonso will be the first driver to spit his dummy this year. So everyone buy one and send it to Maranello, he will need a few.

  • Comment number 7.

    With regard for Mclaren, my money is on Jenson for 2010.

    The extra fuel is going to impact more on Lewis's driving style, as he is most successful when the car is light. An example is Turkey in 2008, he needed three stops as his driving style was wrecking the tyres on that track. JB's less violent driving style will help, as he showed in 2009, he was faster with more fuel than his team mate on lower fuel.

    It will be close but I think JB will edge it.

    By the way Andrew, wasn't the 1986 title decided by mechanical failure the reason why Mansell didn't win the championship (exploding tyre) rather than backing one driver over the other?

    Otherwise interesting article Andrew keep it up and loving the BBC coverage and website, 100% better than ITV's effort

    Thanks

  • Comment number 8.

    "At 11:08pm on 29 Jan 2010, smifffies wrote:
    By the way Andrew, wasn't the 1986 title decided by mechanical failure the reason why Mansell didn't win the championship (exploding tyre) rather than backing one driver over the other?"

    Ultimately yes, but I think Andrew's point is that if Williams had backed 1 driver over the other, which ever one they chose would have had more points going into the Australian race, and Prost would not have been close enough to inherit the title.
    2007's probably an even better example of that, but then ultimately that was decided by Hamilton's gearbox problem early in the last race.

  • Comment number 9.

    Dearly hoping that McLaren produce a winning car, otherwise, part of the excitement will be lost. Unlike Prost and Senna, and similarly Hamilton and Alonso, I don't see the pairing as firey, mainly because Button seems quite laid-back and so does Hamilton (well, with Kovalainen he did anyway!) That was probably because Kovalainen never pushed him much anyway.

    Contrary to what you say about Nico Rosberg, I believe he has shown talent and speed, and furthermore he has beaten all of his team-mates.

    A competetive McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari, and hopefully more, will be a mouthwatering set up. . .

  • Comment number 10.

    "the intensity of the battle between the two best drivers in the world (Alonso and Hamilton)" I find this statement extremely weird.. what do you base this on? Kimi had been thought of as being the fastest driver on the track for some years as well as being the victim of mechanical failures at McLaren, the reason he hadn't won a WDC before. He than goes on to win in his first year at Ferrari.. yes the situation at McLaren affected the title race but situations off the track always do, whether they are much publicized or not.. sure, it makes the situation at McLaren sound that bit more dramatic which works well for this article.. but is this statement really valid? I'm not even saying that Kimi is better than those two mentioned.. all I'm saying is that vague, baseless statements like this should be avoided..

  • Comment number 11.

    Looking back at the 80's when refueling was last banned it was the smoothest and cleverest drivers who prospered most ( Prost, Piquet etc. ), their modern equivalents appear to be Button, Alonso, Webber and Schumi of course.

    I see these guys 'going long' regularly and one stopping a lot, whereas the charges ( Hamilton, Massa, Vettel etc. ) will surely take more aggressve strategies.

    Lewis is ultra competitive and I don't see the English budy act lasting past Agust! Car set up will be key and I see this as Jenson's achilles heel.

    I don't see the new points system promoting 'do or die' overtaking at the end of races however.

    The new McLaren looks more evolved than the Ferrari already...?

  • Comment number 12.

    Hi, the article about having two world classs drivers at Mclaren seem to forget when they had 'The Hak' and DC racing for them. That was a very good partnership that worked in Mclaren's favour.
    Cuke

  • Comment number 13.

    This season will be very interesting for Mclaren, and i think the recruitment of Button is a mistake. World champion he may be, but it was more due to the vastly superior car then his driving skill (for evidence look at his point score after the playing field was levelled with other teams implementing upgrades). It is also undoubtly true that Hamilton is the better driver, yet can Mclaren really make their number one driver Hamilton, when next to him is the reigning world champion. At the same time can they afford to make Button their number one driver when he is unlikely in the extreme to win the title again, and is inferior to Hamilton.
    I forsee the kind of tension and fights that we saw between Alonso and Hamilton, but this time more bitter, due to the different calibre of driver involved, unequal compared to two great drivers.

  • Comment number 14.

    Just an observation Andrew but have you noticed how the Mercedes logo on last years car was quite 'extroverted' in that it was shiny and bright with the Mclaren wording being quite small and almost hidden. In comparison this years Mclaren which sports a dark, (and perhaps slightly smaller) mercedes logo that looks like Mclaren may be trying to shy away from their soon-to-be-divorced partner and making the car more Mclaren than the Mclaren-mercedes of old.

    Any ideas on who their engine supplier will be when the divorce is final or if they'll invest in an enginemanufacturer to call their own?

  • Comment number 15.

    @13 - I see last season rather differently to you when it comes to regarding Jenson's talent. Yes The Brawn was the car to beat at the start of the season, but it wasn't a run away certainty with both Toyota and Red Bull being as fast if not faster on some tracks where Jenson went on to win because of his racing talent. As the season went on Brawn pretty much stopped development of the car (as can be seen by way it slid of the pace, by Silverstone/Germany it was clear that the car to beat was Red Bull and not long after McLaren had overtaken the Brawn as well), yet Jenson was still able to race superbly, even if his qualifying pace had suffered from his jitters.

    Human nature also has to play a part in the later season, Jenson had a lead to defend which made him slightly more cautious and the pressure obviously got to him (as has happened to pretty much every driver who has built up a large early season points advantage) whilst the chasing pack had the advantage of 'nothing to loose' by being aggressive.

    That said I do see Lewis being the top McLaren driver next season, I just think he has more raw talent and speed than Jenson but its not going to be a clear cut difference and Lewis won't have it all his own way.

    As for dummy spitting, I ain't sure. In the Alonso/Lewis spat in 2007 Lewis pretty much tried to stay out of it, and Jenson last season remained friendly with Rubens when they were both fighting for the championship and when Rubens had a bad day and spat his dummy, Jenson stepped back and let the air clear rather than aggravate the problem. Its also worth baring in mind that both the drivers have been friends for years (long before Lewis got into F1), I expect there will be sparks on the track between the 2 as both can be very aggressive overtakers and harriers, and there maybe odd comments thrown about off the track, but I don't think either driver has the mentality to start a feud like Senna/Prost or Alonso/Lewis.

  • Comment number 16.

    P.S. I also expect the closeness of the racing with other teams will come into play, if McLaren have a second a lap over the other teams (highly unlikely I think) then there will be more tension between Lewis and Jenson as they will be direct rivals for the Drivers WC. However is there are 4 teams competing for the top spot with half a dozen or more drivers in contention then I think it probably that that will help the relationship between the pair of them.

  • Comment number 17.

    StuBurt, the new MP4 12C's engine has been designed and developed by McLaren themselves and in their website they say that using someone else's engine would have compromised the design and performance of the car. So it's hard not to imagine a pure McLaren team sometime in the future, which would be consistent with Ron Dennis' vision of making McLaren a Ferrari-like company.

  • Comment number 18.

    Nice Blog Andrew.
    But you've stated there are four world champions on the grid for the first time in eleven years.
    What about kimi?? unlucky as the guy is with reliability can you realy write him off if Renault are anyway Competitive/Reliable?

  • Comment number 19.

    @18 Kimi? Kubica surely ;-) Personally I doubt Renault will amount to a front of the grid challenger this season, I think they are going to be left scraping around for low points and maybe a lucky podium or two. Thats not a comment on Kubica who I think is a good driver, just the car that I think he will be given to drive.

  • Comment number 20.

    I think the biggest problem McLaren will face is having 2 camera crews in the garage keeping tabs on the "Battle of the Dads".

  • Comment number 21.

    Naa they will just handcuff them together so 1 camera crew can do the job.

  • Comment number 22.

    the teammate's battle that is more clear to me, is at mercedes. Schumacher is going to be faster most of the time. And brown has all his hopes set on him.

  • Comment number 23.

    I have to agree with that, I think Nico will have his days and beat MS in qualifying and on race day but its Schumi thats going to be challenging for the Drivers. That said I do hope Nico is in the hunt till the last few races at least.

  • Comment number 24.

    @18... Kimi??
    He isn't starting because he isn't even racing in F1 this season. Durrr...

    Good blog, I think it's gonna be an exciting year for F1. I agree that the regulation changes probably suit Button more but I can't see Hamilton being behind him overall, he will adapt to the situation very well.
    Can't wait for this season to kick off.

  • Comment number 25.

    I think you are underestimating two things:
    1. I think Nico Rosberg will be a success alongside Schumacher. He consistently outclassed Nakajima last season in a car which was not as good as many of the rest on the track. This shows that he will be fast. He often got 4th/5th place last season and I think he will be one to watch - assuming the Mercedes lives up to last year's success.
    2. What about the Red Bulls? They were really dominant in many many races last season, yet you neglect them now for no reason? I totally agree with the first point that the car remains the most competitive element of F1 - if they continue with the type of technological advancements as last season, why should Schumacher's return or an A-list McLaren line-up spoil that? Webber and Vettel are exceptionally fast and may be the ones to beat.

  • Comment number 26.

    Shouldn't the focus and attention be on Mercedes? After all, they're the team that won both titles last season. And they now have the most successful driver on the grid.

    2/3

  • Comment number 27.

    Where to begin?...
    The cars:
    McLaren looks o have a good car, but last year's car looked good when presented. While it is true that Jenson's natural style is smooth, and he should have the edge earlier on. But he's not as adaptive a Lewis. Lewis is a really rare talent; underestimating him is a mistake. Look to see him learn new skills as the season moves forward. If McLaren do have a competitive car, the team mate matching for Lewis is good; learn from the smoothest guy on the track; maybe it is true he asked for Jenson as a team mate. By the end of the season, Lewis should have the upper hand at McLaren, but then again, maybe not.
    As previously predicted, Mercedes will have a top-notch machine; I'm interested in seeing the battle there. Good luck Nico!
    Ferrari may have a good car, but anyone doubting Alonso's all round dominance, just hasn't read the tea leaves right. Massa is solid, he's earned that, but Alonso has been brought in as the crown prince. I expect he'll dominate from the first race. It could be interesting with the two latin drivers; Massa will be remebering, longingly, the apolitical Raikonnen.
    I'm looking forward the the Williams team competition, hoping they'll have good machinery to put them within shooting distance of podiums and hopefully wins.
    The Renault looks like a 'marketing platform'.
    Sauber looks good, but with a Ferrari customer engine, they'll never be ahead of the red stallion. (That's just the way it is.)
    The big question mark, is, as others have alluded to, Red Bull. Starting at a later test is surely a tactic to avoid being copied, and to assess other solutions. The Mercedes looks a lot like last year's Red Bull, and that's no bull. Similar to the Mercedes duo, Weber is s smooth master, and Vettel can learn from his more jittery style. I have to say, I'd really like to see Weber do well, maybe even win the title; I don't think we've seen the best of him, and this year just might be it.

  • Comment number 28.

    The Sleek looking MP4-25 would "burn some steam", Maclaren built it around Hamilton whilst Jenson was busy winning in the car Ross built around him the previous year.

    Rossberg is already struggling in the New Mercedes. The fight is back between Hamilton and Massa, for whom Ferrari have also done the same. "The car dosent just look good, it shows how much has been put into it"

  • Comment number 29.

    Why are so many people overlooking Vettel? Everything I have read has been about Schumacher, Button, Hamilton, Alonso and Massa.

    Vettel could have won last year - he beat Webber something like 14-2 in qualifying - and this year he has the experience of the mistakes he made which stopped him winning the championship in 2009 (eg Turkey, Monaco).

    Of course it is down to the car, but last year's RB was quite something once it got a proper diffuser.

    Perhaps the German press are more interested in the Vettel vs Schumacher battle as we watch Button v Hamilton, but this season will define the careers on every single one of the big names we are talking about.

    At the end of it we will know:
    1) whether 2009 was won by Button or Brawn
    2) whether Lewis is great or just good
    3) whether Schumacher really is the best ever
    4) where Fernando Alonso stands
    5) if we have underestimated Felipe Massa all these years

    Perhaps another reason why we aren't talking about Vettel is that he doesn't have a reputation on the line this year like the others. He can beat Webber, has a great team and is in a great position...

    As much as I would like Button to beat Hamilton by 1 point, my head says Vettel will wrap it up in the penultimate race.

    My guess - the Red Bull will be the car to beat, followed by Mclaren, Ferrari and then Mercedes who I think are going to struggle on their lower budget as the season goes on.

    1. Vettel
    2. Hamilton
    3. Webber
    4. Button
    5. Alonso
    6. Massa
    7. Schumacher
    8. Rosberg

    It will also be great to see how some of the new drivers do like Hulkeberg! Can't wait...

  • Comment number 30.

    Hi, anybody know what's 'appening with friend Heidfeld?

  • Comment number 31.

    I think it will be Jenson. The change in the tyres plus the refueling ban coupled with the added confidence of being the current world champ will see to at least beating Lewis and maybe the 2010 title.

    Lewis and Jenson are like chalk and cheese when it comes to driving style. The MP4-25 is going to react better to one set up and, given the reg changes my monies on a smooth driving style. Lewis will be learning from Jenson for at least the first part of the season.

  • Comment number 32.

    Both McLaren drivers are in the championship picture. Will they butt heads? Hope not and I see no reason for them to do so.

    Both Ferrari drivers are in the championship mixer though 'that's' where the intra-team problems are going to be.

    Red Bull: Vettel's definately in the mixer but is Webber? Not so sure.

    Mercedes are not in the mixer, they will be dominated by a 41 year old Schumacher, however there is no way the 2010 grid will fear him as much as they used to.

    Still, we have five potential title contenders this year - not so bad.

  • Comment number 33.

    Red Bull? A flash in the pan. They may have good drivers, but I would be amazed if they have the equipment to beat Ferrari or McLaren this year. Neither of these teams will miss the boat like they did last year.

    Red Bull could beat Mercedes if the latter have had a bad winter, but then again Brawn's brains may just triumph once again...

  • Comment number 34.

    Looking forwards to this year as the drivers who look after their tyres may end up beating the ones who can put a fast lap in, but have no concept of taking care of their car and it's fuel/brakes/tyres.. a few of them on the grid.. Mistakes will be costly too...
    The testing has been amusing but shows nothing as to how fast each car will be over a complete race.
    I think Button may do ok as he is smooth. If he can get the car to suit him, then he will do well. but Alonso and Massa could be a pretty tough team to beat. Hamilton will be up there as will Schumacher... Vettel and Webber may suffer I fear. Lot of expectation but I'm not convinced...

  • Comment number 35.

    These two will stop talking at the crunch except on tv with the PR scripts of we're professionals respect blah blah.You are either giving or receiving pressure in F1. It will be interesting up until the first european race; we will know the form by then, barring rain or an incident. There might be the odd chance of a development race for a while mid season. Otherwise it will be even harder to race with another six back markers and I bet we'll see the 107% rule back in. Before anyone disagrees just remember Brazil and how hard it was for Button and Webber to get an overtake chance.

  • Comment number 36.

    Like other bloggers, I believe the 2010 season will be the best since-I don't know when. However caveat emptor when it comes to Schu, at 41 he still had the 3rd fastest lap.(and we all know about fuel loads, tricks n stunts yadda yadda yadda- Even if it is a Schu dog and pony show its a good 'un).
    I also think the spin generated about Massa being fit is just that and i concur with Alonso throwing his toys out of the pram it will just be a matter of time? I don't think the Brits will have squabbles tho' Im not sure about the dads, possibly another feature of the BBC f1 commentary team will be to introduce and comment on the Button and Hamilton dads mud wrestling competition after each race dependent on the entertainment level of the race?
    The undiscovered country and possibly the leveler for Schu will be no refueling, yet another potential bonus for Schu.
    Am I biased towards Schu, you betcha for one reason only at 41 wouldn't it be great for all us oldies if he won, it would be like the Susan Boyle of F1 (Sort of)
    Regards to all....
    Predictions for this year, absolutely not a clue but I will be watching every single race with anticipation...
    Regards to all

  • Comment number 37.

    Here's my take on who's going where in 2010:

    McLaren
    Jenson will struggle to compete with Lewis at the beginning of the season; it's a new team for him and Lewis is favoured. I think Jenson will become stronger as the season goes on ... but will he have enough to overtake Lewis' points? I hope so but I doubt it. Lewis is strong enough to be champion again, depending on the car. Jenson won't be entrenched enough to challenge until 2011.

    Mercedes Grand Prix
    Nico is much stronger than this article suggests. I expect him to challenge and beat Michael on several occasions. However, Brawn will quickly arrange team tactics - he's not one to lose a championship over internal team battles. Michael, I believe, will be weak in the first 3 or 4 races but will then regain some former glory. However, he wasn't fantastic when he retired, so what can we really expect? I would like him to take the 2010 crown. It is my belief that Michael will not race for 3 more seasons. I think there's a plan in place for grabbing Sebastian Vettel next year and having Michael tutoring Sebastian and Nico as he did Felipe.

    Red Bull Racing-Renault
    Mark is nothing special. Sebastian is the most special racer to emerge since Michael Schumacher. He will win many championships - probably this year with Red Bull, as it will again be a Newey-designed car - and then in the future with Mercedes and probably later Ferrari.

    Scuderia Ferrari
    Felipe is nothing special. And that accident will have taken something away from him. Fernando has entered the team as the "crown prince" - as someone else put it - and will have everything his way. He is an excellent driver and with his great feedback, the team will be back to its winning ways. But I think 2010 is too soon for a recovery dramatic enough to land a championship.

    Williams-Cosworth
    Rubens is nothing special as a racing driver. He will help develop the car and move the team forward. Nico Hulkenberg, I have no idea.

    Renault F1 Team
    Robert Kubica is one of my favourite drivers, and also very strong technically. But Renault were woefully bad in 2009 and it's going to take a couple of years before they can challenge again. As a Pole, he'll probably speak Russian fluently, which should make for a good relationship with Vitaly Petrov. I don't know much about Vitaly, but as a pay driver bringing some 15m Euros to the team, I doubt he's got massive talent. Hopefully, I'm wrong - and I am just completely guessing this one.

    Force India F1 Team-Mercedes
    Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi should do okay and spring a couple of surprises. The car may be much stronger this year - they improved fantastically well in 2009. So let's keep our fingers crossed for them. Nothing really exciting here in my eyes, though.

    Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari
    Jaime Alguersuari will still be learning the ropes this year. But I think Sebastien Buemi is something special who may spring a few exciting surprises this year. I wouldn't put it past him to get a couple of pole positions, a few podiums and maybe even his maiden win.

    Lotus-Cosworth
    Jarno and Heikki will help get the team on their feet and develop for the next couple of years. Although a lovely pair of lads, I don't think either driver is anything exciting.

    Campos-Cosworth (or whatever it is before "VW 2011"?)
    Bruno Senna. Mhm. A learning year for him in a crap car. He won't be able to prove anything. But he probably won't be in a hurry, either. He'll know the score.

    US F1-Cosworth
    Jose Maria Lopez, no idea. I just hope the team makes it to the grid. Another rookie in a new car. It will all be development for both the driver and the team/car.

    Virgin
    I think the car will be pretty weak in its maiden year but the idea is to get it onto the track and develop it. Timo Glock seems to have something, even if it isn't very special. But he won't have the opportunity to shine at all in 2010. Lucas di Grassi, no idea.

    BMW Sauber
    Thank goodness Sauber made it! Kamui Kobayashi is the most exciting driver I've seen since Vettel first appeared. I think he's going to be awesome. But like most people, I have the feeling they will have dropped well back down the grid following their difficult times. I can't see another Brawn-inspired new dawning. Pedro will really help develop the car and 2011 could be a good year for them again. But somehow I think it's going to take even longer than that. What a shame.

  • Comment number 38.

    Speed as a driver is a delicate balancing act, as is car design. Those of you who belittle one drivers skill over anothers just don't understand what is going on. Fitness maybe but not skill.

  • Comment number 39.

    Interesting to see the young guns up front so far

  • Comment number 40.

    Why McLaren thieved de number one from the Renault car and from the Brawn now?They donĀ“t have a real number one and they buy it,what a shame!

  • Comment number 41.

    is Hamilton not missing his daddy's shoulder to cry on;yes, publicly he says he wants to be his own man but he's being cosseted since he was 9 whether it be in the Hamilton household or in a mclaren garage?

 

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