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Red Bull on top after F1's winter war

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Sarah Holt | 11:15 UK time, Saturday, 12 March 2011

There is an adage in Formula 1 that if a team shows form at Barcelona's demanding Circuit de Catalunya in the winter then they are in good shape to go racing.

Over the final two pre-season tests in Barcelona, team analysts have been poring over reams of data, calculating fuel levels and conjuring tyre tactics to try to find out where their team falls in 2011's pecking order.

The teams were unanimous in one thing - Red Bull will once again be the ones to watch in 2011.

But as the field of 12 teams prepares to race under new regulations for the new season, the champions may not have it all their own way.

Just like last season, Ferrari are not far behind Red Bull.

Nevertheless, after four pre-season tests, it is widely agreed Red Bull have an advantage in both qualifying and race pace.

Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull at the Circuit de Catalunya

The Red Bull has looked ominously fast in all conditions in pre-season testing. Photo: Getty

In terms of pure pace, the champions have yet to push the RB7 in full qualifying trim - with some insiders saying they believe the car has never been on track with less than 80kg of fuel on board when 10kg is usually enough for qualifying.

Despite this, world champion Sebastian Vettel and team-mate Mark Webber have managed to top the timings in Barcelona four times out of eight days between them.

Red Bull have also raised eyebrows with their consistency and speed over longer spells on track.

Analysis of Webber's long runs at the final test suggested that after 10 or more laps he was 0.7 seconds per lap faster than others, showing the car has pace and is kinder on the tyres.

That could be crucial in a season when tyre wear and management is expected to be key factors.

Over at Ferrari, championship runner-up Fernando Alonso and his team-mate Felipe Massa have both shown pace in shorter bursts and strength in race simulations, but analysts point to tyre life as a potential weakness for the Italian marque.

After teething problems in the first three tests, Mercedes bared their teeth in Barcelona as Michael Schumacher was unassailable at the top of day four's timesheets in the heavily upgraded Mercedes.

Insiders within the team are confident they are now the third fastest team on track - if not the second.

Behind Red Bull, Ferrari - and now perhaps Mercedes - the pack tightens around the midfield of Renault, Williams, McLaren, Toro Rosso and Sauber.

After a catalogue of headaches, from exhaust, hydraulics and engine problems to a lack of spare parts, McLaren have done little to show they will start 2011 where they left off as F1's third fastest team.

The mood within McLaren has swung between concern, voiced painfully by both drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, and optimism that things will better.

And on the plus side, it would not be the first time McLaren have had to battle back from a difficult design through determined development.

Fernando Alonso's Ferrari in the pit lane at the Circuit de Catalunya

Ferrari appear to be best of the rest - just as they were in 2010. Photo: AFP

"If you had to pick a team on the grid who could make most progress throughout the course of year, McLaren are the ones to flag up every time," one rival team insider commented.

"In 2009 they took a car that was 3.5 seconds off the pace of the [eventual champions] Brawn to races wins at the end of the year."

Of 2010's three new entrants, Team Lotus appear to have made the most progress - on pace alone the Norfolk-based team have made up at least a second over the winter to move closer to Force India at the back of the pack.

There is, however, a view up and down the paddock that Formula 1's new regulations could upset the form book.

When Pirelli won the contract to supply the sport's tyres this season in place of Bridgestone, the Italian company was asked to make the rubber less durable in the hope that it would spice up racing.

The early signs are Pirelli have delivered on what was asked of them.

Throughout the four pre-season tests, two themes have come up time and again; how quickly the Pirelli tyres are degrading and the performance difference between the four compounds.

For the first three races in Melbourne, Malaysia and China, the teams can only choose between the soft and hard tyres.

Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery predicts the soft tyres will last between 10-15 laps and the hards up to 25.

One experienced F1 race engineer estimates the difference between those tyres could be worth as much as 1.3 seconds a lap.

Tyre selection and when to change them during a race will be crucial to deciding 2011's winners and losers.

Team strategists believe by getting it right - or wrong - strategy calls could be worth up to six positions.

"The team with the fastest car may not necessarily win the races," warned Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn.

"If you are out on track on the wrong tyre at the wrong time, people will overtake you. There is more potential to get it wrong than there was last year. It's a challenge I'm relishing."

The pit wall strategists and the drivers will have to work together to determine tyre strategy over the weekend.

Drivers who have a good feeling for tyres and how to manage them - the likes of Schumacher, Button and Renault's Nick Heidfeld - will use that skill to their advantage.

The return of the kinetic energy recovery and power-boost system (Kers) and the introduction of the moveable rear wing also increase the pressure in the cockpit.

"Drivers used to drive the car and were not that good at controls and switches; now they are totally dominated by them," explained Williams technical director Sam Michael.

"It will be a real thinking game now; tyre degradation, how you are using Kers and the rear wing. You are going to see drivers making some mistakes, that's for sure."

At the final test in Barcelona, the F1 field were beginning to tire of looking into their crystal ball to respond to questions on form and expectations for the new season.

In less than two weeks' time, the drivers will race through the leafy surroundings of Melbourne's Albert Park and find the answers - whether they like them or not.


  • Comment number 1.

    I thought Hughes was stating in the live feed yesterday that analysis showed Ferrari to be edging it in both Qualifying and Race pace.

  • Comment number 2.

    Please, do not break your texts into so many paragraphs - it is hard to read. In my humble opinion it compromises the flow of reading if every sentence is a new paragraph.

  • Comment number 3.

    Please, keep breaking your texts into many paragraphs - it makes it easier to read. In my humble opinion it truly aids the flow of reading if every sentence is a new paragraph. ;)

  • Comment number 4.

    Hello Sarah,

    Nice read and a fair sum-up of the current standing of all teams. I'd have to say it's not surprising that Red Bull are top of the pile. And with good reasons, they've applied the right recipe to hit the jackpot :

    1) Hire a brilliant engineer to design a brilliant car
    => Adrian Newey, widely accepted as one of the top designers, if not the top F1 designer in activity (Rory Byrne in his time was quite brilliant too, he was behind the famous F2002).

    2) Hire a brilliant driver to drive bespoke brilliant car
    => Sebastian Vettel, widely seen as a multiple F1 World Champion, regardless of his character flaws (which are numerous).

    3) Hit the jackpot
    => Red Bull Racing were 2010 Constructors' World Champions and Sebastian Vettel ended Drivers' World Champion.

    Of course, there is also an element called "stability" that one needs to bring in order to properly reap all rewards. Christian Horner has done a fantastic job in that respect, for all the unfair criticism he's been getting he still has managed to reach the targets he was given.

    Perhaps the so-called higher-ups at McLaren could use a bit of common sense and get back to the basics of building a winning team, rather than spending time complaining about flexible wings. Introducing innovative designs is a good thing because at least they try something different but what's the point if the design itself is flawed or isn't reaping the rewards ? I'm pretty sure they would have a faster car if they had simply adapted last year's car to the current regulations.

    It'd be better for Lewis Hamilton to leave McLaren if they keep making uncompetitive cars every year right from the start. It doesn't matter if they manage to make the car a race-winner after 8-10 races, the gap with the car/driver at the top of the standings will be already to big to plug, unless the car/driver starts facing major issues but that doesn't happen pretty often.

    I won't be looking forward to this season, Red Bull will be having a stroll in the park and Vettel will probably bag the title with a few races to go, Ferrari will be good too but I don't see Alonso beating the Red Bulls for pace over the whole season. Hamilton will do well to finish higher than fifth given the absolutely disgusting car he's been given so far.

  • Comment number 5.

    The consensus amongst most analysts is that Red Bull are the quickest over a single lap but writing in Autosport Mark Hughes stated that Ferrari should have better pace over a long run.

    Whilst Mercedes have clearly made a step forward in pace, I can't imagine that any 'team insiders' believe they are the second fastest team on the basis of one headline lap-time set during a full qualifying simulation. Is there any real substance to this suggestion?

    As for Mclaren, they may have acquired a reputation for their pace of development but this is hardly cause for optimism when a fundamentally problematic car leaves them playing catch-up all season. Looks like that elusive WCC will have to wait for the foreseeable future.

  • Comment number 6.

    I have to agree with comment 2: this article looks as though it was written as a series of Tweets. It's very disconcerting to read and a touch depressing to see serious journalism deconstructed in this simplistic way. For me it spoiled an otherwise interesting article.

  • Comment number 7.

    If the Red Bulls have sorted their reliability problems this year then I can see them easily winning the championship. Wether or not Ferrari can challenge them we will see in Melbourne.

    Mclaren for sure can develop the car but the fans don't want to see them play catch up like previous years and with testing limited nowadays it's not going to be easy.

  • Comment number 8.

    Hi sarah, this is at #2 and #6, And i like #3's humour lol....
    It's your train set and you write it however you want, it's good to have your oppinion on testing so far and it is greatly recieved however it is presented. I'm greatful of as much info as possible.

    I can't wait for the new season to start.

    I'm a maclaren fan through and through but feel things might start off worst for them than back in 2009,I hope i'm wrong and i'm sure i am but that's just my feeling.

    Anyway keep up the good work.

  • Comment number 9.

    I cannot wait until the start of the new f1 season which is 15 days away as I write this response.

    The Winter testing has been very interesting to follow and am personally hoping McLaren have something in the bag that no-one yet as seen on track.

    Finally, with the devastating news that's coming out of Japan I wonder if the Japanese Grand Prix between the 7th and 9th of October will actually go ahead?

  • Comment number 10.

    Very disappointed with maclaren. This is becoming a regular occurrence season after season. Who cares if they can develop a car quicker than most during the season. The damage would already be done and they will not be anywhere near the red bulls and ferrari in terms of points of the WC and CC. A complete overhaul needs to be done in their process of car design. i only just found out from EJ that the build a new car from scratch each year with alternating designers for every year???? Where is the continuity in that? you want one man designing your car and building on the design year after year. No wonder they are always miles behind everyone else when new regulations come in.

    With in-season testing banned all their resources and facilities count for nothing! because all they can do is wind tunnel analysis.Getting right from the start is crucial. The MP4 26 has not a lot of testing mileage behind it and even more harrowing is that its suffering from reliability issues, something most maclren cars have managed to stay clear of. Cue button and hamilton having another disappointing year.

    Sort it out Whitmarsh!

  • Comment number 11.

    Damn BBC Sport been on some real Red Bull love fling. The Ferrari is the team to beat. This season Vettel will show again why he was the overrated champion of a overrated season, I'm surprised the kids still alive, what with all them crashes in 2010.

  • Comment number 12.

    " If you had to pick a team on the grid who could make most progress throughout the course of year, McLaren are the ones to flag up every time,"

    I have to disagree with this comment, how many of the Mclaren updates were abandonded or actually produced results last year?
    I think they were distracted by Red bull & the infamous flexible wing instead of developing their car.
    Also in 2009 they had the best engine combined with KERS which complimented their package.

  • Comment number 13.

    Very nice read Sarah, the layout is down to opinion, personally I prefer longer paragraphs but at least it is readable.

    Those questioning the article's accuracy concerning the pace of Ferrari, as the article points out whilst Ferrari have pace they have problems looking after the fast-degrading Pirellis. Red Bull are also yet to really push their car in the test, which just shows how fast their car can really be. Webber and Vettel are also a stronger partnership than Alonso and Massa, though Alonso is probably the best driver on the grid. I hope it isn't but it seems like this year will be between Ferrari and Red Bull with Red Bull probably edging the early stages whilst other teams play catch up and Ferrari relying on the skill of Alonso to get the best out of their car.

    With regards to Mclaren the fact that both their drivers are critical of the car is either a case of mind games or shows that car is well short, but in terms of the team they have behind them, their ability to adapt and change and the drivers at their disposal then they will as always be a team to watch. Last year they were miles behind Red Bull yet by the mid-way stage of the season right to the end of the season both drivers were in with a shout of winner the driver's championship and they were in the hunt for the constructors as well. Never rite Mclaren off.

  • Comment number 14.

    13. If you are going to pass comments on the layout at least makes sure your spelling is correct.

    "Never rite Mclaren off"???

  • Comment number 15.

    I wish there were a way to find out who is the best driver on the grid in F1. It seems the best man may not win the championship because his car is inferior (Hamilton, Alonso) to those of lesser drivers or vice versa. I'm trying to think of other sports where equipment used has such a great effect on the outcome?.....

  • Comment number 16.

    Good content, but the format of the article is atrocious. This is quite literally one sentence per paragraph, something you would expect on a series of tweets. Please construct your paragraphs properly. :S

  • Comment number 17.

    It's a pity the only way to "spice up racing" is to introduce the lottery of frequent pit stops for tyre changes. It will liven things up a little on the track by making it easier to overtake if the car in front needs to change tyres, but winning races on strategic pit stops isn't entertaining.

  • Comment number 18.

    No 17......totally driving skill in that!

  • Comment number 19.

    Nice summary Sarah. I think Red Bull will run away with the season, Ferrari will be let down by Massa, and the McLaren drivers will have to put with a dog until the final third of the season.

    Hopefully I will be proved wrong and Oz!

  • Comment number 20.

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

  • Comment number 21.

    I can't believe that nobody here has questioned the notion that Red Bull haven't been on track with less than 80kgs of fuel.

    It would mean that Vettel set his 21.8 lap with approximately half a tank of fuel and would be able to lap in the 18's when on a proper quali run if we a assume that for every 10kgs you lose about 4 tenths.

    It's a wishful analysis at best.

  • Comment number 22.

    Hi Sarah, Do teams actually sandbag over winter or is that just a total myth in your opinion?

  • Comment number 23.

    No. 15. Horse Racing?

  • Comment number 24.

    No.15 Most of motorsport? Shame but it's pretty true...which is also why you get fans of a team and a driver, who may or may not be one and the same!

  • Comment number 25.

    well to a extent its going to be like last year to for anyone not in a red bull to win drivers or constuctors title there going to have to rely on red bull have poor reliablty.

    but i this weekend knowing F1 should racing this weekend

  • Comment number 26.

    I have a distinct feeling that most pundits are going to be eating their words this season. Not that they dont most seasons but this year I feel, will be their biggest meal.
    The reason is simple, or rather I should say reasons, because tyres, the kers thing and the movable rear wing are making almost any prediction exceedingly suspect.
    There's little doubt that Ross Brawn is correct when he says a driver a couple of seconds off the pace could still win a race if his pit crew manage to get his tyre changes right and others get it wrong. What all the pundits should be looking at carefully is who are the canniest pit bosses because what they do could be as important as the driver this year.
    It is also virtually a given that drivers who are skilled in managing their tyres will have an advantage over those who love to blaze their way around and hope for the best.
    'Make haste slowly' may turn out to be the catchphrase of the season.

  • Comment number 27.

    9. At 3:24pm on 12 Mar 2011, Paul Baker wrote:

    Finally, with the devastating news that's coming out of Japan I wonder if the Japanese Grand Prix between the 7th and 9th of October will actually go ahead?


    Of course it will. Japan know very well how to deal with earthquakes and tsunamis and will most likely be back to normal within a couple of weeks, let alone by October. It's India that you should be worried about. I just hope it doesn't end up as another farcical affair like Korea last year. What was the point of holding a race if half of it had to be behind the safety car?

    If Red Bull really haven't been running with less than 80kg of fuel, they'll be absolutely untouchable, but I doubt that's true.

    Come on Williams!

  • Comment number 28.

    I think there is probably little to choose between Red Bull and Ferrari in actual pace, but I suspect the Red Bull is the most agile car and as a consequence kinder on tyres. Next up will be Mercedes fairly close to the front runners and definately in with a chance of winning races. As we move further back I think Williams, Renault, and Sauber will be battling it out for good points with possible race wins when things get a little confused. McLaren Oh dear! I really do think they have become too corporate and have forgotten how to design championship winning cars. As a McLaren fan I hope they can get it together, because the front teams will be taking no prisoners this year Red Bull with superb race car design have learned how to win races and championships which makes Sebastion Vettel a very lucky boy as multiple championships are within his grasp. McLaren on the other hand are wasting Lewis Hamilton's talent by producing a run of unevenly indifferent cars! McLaren have become too big on style and not enough substance. They need a really first class intuitive aerodynamicist that can lead the way back to the front. Beyond that I hope Team Lotus can put up a really good showing in the mid field as they seem to have taken a sizeable step forward.

  • Comment number 29.

    @5 NJB: "in Autosport Mark Hughes stated that Ferrari should have better pace over a long run."

    I don't know where on Earth he gets this from. An article within the previous edition of Autosport analysing longer runs states otherwise.

  • Comment number 30.

    I think Fernando would come good this season. As he has shown over the past few years, he has the ability to perform with a mediocre car. When given a good car like the F150th Italia, which is said to be the 2nd fastest car on the grid, he will win races quite easily. Probably, he may not beat the Red Bulls in quali, but he has the ability to beat them in races. He was unlucky last year. This year he is ready to make amends.

  • Comment number 31.

    I think Red Bull are going to be untouchable this year, if what everything that has been said is true. Does anyone know what the outcome was of the inquiry about the Resources Restriction Agreement that Red Bull are supposed to have broken? I didn't like how Horner just wouldn't say "No we haven't" if they hadn't.

    Would like Williams to be best of the mid-field, their car looks promising. Hope Hispania have a better season than last by finishing races not so many laps down.

  • Comment number 32.

    @29 cilurnum

    From Andrew Benson on twitter;

    andrewbensonf1 Hughes concludes Red Bull/Ferrari on top and even on qualifying pace, but Ferrari ahead of Red Bull/Williams on long runs

  • Comment number 33.

    @ Quentin, post 15, in my opinion, the drivers are a part of a team. They're always going to get more attention and they have a huge part to play, but motorsport is about the whole team. It's a bit like asking "who's the best striker in football?" - even a bad forward can do alright with good service from his midfield.

    Gutted McLaren haven't managed to get back into their groove. Here's hoping for some rapid gains once the season gets under way.

  • Comment number 34.

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

  • Comment number 35.

    Hello everyone,

    Thank you for all your comments.

    Even after attending three pre-season tests, I have to say it's tricky to get a truly accurate picture of the pecking order for 2011. I've done my best - and plenty of research - to give you a good guide to form by talking to drivers, team principals, technical directors, engineers and strategists to gather their opinions.

    When our F1 commentary box producer Mark Hughes - a man who according to Red Bull driver Mark Webber "knows his eggs" - surmised that Ferrari appeared to have better pace than Red Bull over long runs, he was making his judgements after the penultimate Barcelona test, not the one that has just been completed. Things move quickly in Formula 1 and all the teams will by now have a pretty good idea where they are.

    Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has since described his team as being in their "best ever shape" after four near-perfect tests and that - as well as the fact that Sebastian Vettel has extended his contract to drive for the team until 2014 - has to be ominous news for their rivals. Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn and several key figures within the team told me that they believe they will fight further towards the front than they did in 2010. There are still question marks over the reliability of the updated Mercedes as it has yet to be tested over a race distance.

    Unfortunately, things have not moved as quickly for McLaren, who are also yet to run a race distance, and the team head to Australia with a number of headaches.

    In answer to RusEvo's question asking if teams sandbag over the winter, I think it's fair to say that few of the top teams have shown what they can really do in terms of pace, whereas Mercedes and Sauber both said they set their top times in Barcelona on low fuel runs. Mercedes say they can go faster but whether Sauber can really lift themselves out of the midfield pack remains to be seen. Neither Sauber or Toro Rosso brought any significant upgrades to the final test, which could affect their ability to move closer to front-running teams like Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren, who continue to develop throughout the season.

    The teams will start packing up and flying out their freight bound for Melbourne and the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Tuesday.

    I could go on - but I think that whatever your opinion, everyone is agreed that the 2011 season should be another cracker!

  • Comment number 36.

    Sebastian Vettel's endearingly innocent car-to-team victory sob was one of the hallmarks of 2010. It looks like this year he will have 16 or so chances to evolve it, and given data from testing we can be pretty sure he's rehearsing already. Which way will he go with his delivery style ? Perhaps a macho "yeah baby" served up with Jenson-style panache, maybe something germanic and dignified, perhaps he'll learn how to do a proper emotional meltdown and croon all the way round the victory lap, or perhaps he'll keep us guessing with a mix-and-match race-by-race strategy. Oz could give some early indications, but it's a long season so we may have to wait until monaco for a true pattern to emerge.

  • Comment number 37.

    I love the short paragraphs which help break up long articles and in my opinion make it easier to read. I dont understand why so many people where giving out about it.

    As for the season ahead? I cant wait! I think it will be Red Bull and Ferrari fighting it out for the the championship this year with Mercedes hopefully right behind them fighting for the odd win. I think it would be great for f1 if Schumacher was winning races again. I'd love to see him in a competitive car again to show what he can really do.

    I think McLaren will have a hard time with Renault and Williams all fighting for 4th.

    This idea McLaren has of using 2different designers alternating is ridiculous and clearly isnt working for them and im guessing the guy you was behind this years car was behind the MP4-24 (09 car) aswell.

    Instead of simple ideas that work they try going radical and rarely pays off, the F-Duct was great but so many other updates for late year either didnt work or were dropped.

    Ferrari and Red Bull clearly have better design teams and design philosophies

  • Comment number 38.

    Hi Sarah,

    Have you registered with ?

    It would be great to have you log in to chat live during the race with other F1 fans.

    See you for Australian F1 soon.

  • Comment number 39.

    A very disturbing rumour in the press about BBC axing it's F1 coverage to save money. Can you comment.


  • Comment number 40.

    Nice rundown Sarah. I'm more interested in content than format and as I read most of these things on my phone it was perfect for me.
Disappointed that Mclaren seem to be struggling and am hoping they have something up their sleeve to blow us away when things start for real. If tyres are going to be as much of an issue as has been reported then it will be interesting to see if Hamilton struggles in comparison with Button. If strategy is going to play such a big part this year then you have to fancy Mercedes to be in the mix somewhere. It would be good to see another team in the frame. Looking forward to seeing an improvement from Williams and Lotus this year too. Roll on the 27th :)

  • Comment number 41.

    Have to say that having followed testing I have to agree with the view that Red Bull and Ferrari are out in front, but who is quickest still isn't clear. I'd like to see how close Mercedes seem to be to them both now, I can't imagine they'll have reliability problems for long as they've been praised in the past for their engines with McLaren so they know how to build them.

    On the subject of McLaren, I can't see them competing this year. They can improve a car drastically, there's no question of that, but if Ferrari compete from the start they won't make the same mistakes that Red Bull made. They have too much experience in the cockpit and on the pit wall to let that happen when they're in control, the points gap would be too big to overcome. I'm sure Red Bull also learnt lessons from last year along with Vettel so I'm not expecting the same mistakes again. If McLaren want to compete they need the car sorted by the time the European races start.

  • Comment number 42.

    Great article, but i must agree with the rest of the people that commented that the short paragraphs do make it kind of difficult to read. Thanks again!

  • Comment number 43.

    ive been biting my fingernails waiting for the start of the 2011 f1 season but as im a mclaren fan i dont look forward optimisticlly.

    i really hope that mclaren can sort their car out very quickly so as to be able to put some callenge in this year.

    as to this article i'd just like to point out what place did mclaren finnish in the constructors last year??

    also i have been frustrated ovewr the past few years that the most tallented driver on the grid hasnt been able to callenge. hamilton is by far the best driver his cunning and sheer brilliant over taking skills and blistering pace make him a far better driver that that arrogant geran at red bull, who as was stated in erlier coments was a mess last season and because of simply a faster car was able to win! look at the crashes that he caused into mark webber and jenson button which has he not caused would have changed the outcome of the season to his detrement.

    what can i say other than i hope red bull dont get near the titlle this year even if it has to go to ferrari.

  • Comment number 44.

    I don't agree with the poster who said McLaren should have developed the 2010 car, that car didn't have enough inherent downforce and always relied on its lack of drag to make it up on the straights. That approach meant they were not competitive enough on the majority of tracks.

    I also think that while everyone is giving them grief for putting together an uncompetitive car, they should be commended for trying to put together an innovative car. It's a gamble, and they don't always pay off, but I think it was worth taking. Another time it could have put them right to the front much like the Brawn diffuser a couple of years ago.

    It does look difficult for them to catch up to the likes of Red Bull, but with an innovative design there may just be a couple of tweaks that really unlock its potential.

    All I know is, it's going to be a fascinating season. Whether it's exciting on track, we'll have to wait and see!

  • Comment number 45.

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

  • Comment number 46.

    Wow, I seriously cnnot wait for F! to start again!

  • Comment number 47.

    Hi Sarah,

    Nice post, and please ignore the negative comments about style from other people.

    For the complainers, this is a blog (or more accurately, a post to a blog); it says so on the top of the page, and, not only is it a blog, it is also highly hyperlinked. In this scenario the bullet point type entries work due to allowing the reader time to actually finish a point in a single sentence, go away to any links and come back, without feeling as though there is more information in the blog which will be directly relevant to the link. When using paragraphs it can also be dificult to read when inserting multiple links, and can distract the reader.

  • Comment number 48.

    I like the short paragraphs, I suppose it's a matter of personal preference. I tend to phase out when I see a great big lump of text.

    Also echo the comments regarding the axing of F1 coverage after the contract runs out - I would hope that given how much the BBC has helped raise F1's profile and brought new fans to the sport that Bernie would be willing to talk about the fee for the next contract.

    Mind you, who else would bid for the F1 rights and be able to prove to FOM that they can improve on the BBC's coverage? ITV? *falls on floor laughing*

    Anyone who mentions the three-letter soon to be Murdoch-owned broadcaster getting the F1 rights gets a virtual slap!

  • Comment number 49.

    Car racing is a disgraceful abuse of the environment; it is ludicrous,given global warming, pollution, the excessive exploitation of a scarce resource - oil. It is the pornography of the automobile and the BBC should stop encourageing it.

  • Comment number 50.

    @#15 - F1 is hugely about the machines. For example, but Vettel in the 2010 McLaren and he wouldn't have done as well as Hamilton because Hamilton is more skilled than Vettel.

    However, put Hamilton in the 2010 Red Bull and he'd have won the WDC a lot more easily than Vettel.

  • Comment number 51.

    @#49. Global Warming is not caused by humans. Most of the planets in our Solar System are experiencing similar things with their environment to Earth. Sure, humans have an EFFECT but we or motorsport are not harming the planet, the Sun is the cause.

  • Comment number 52.

    Hi Sarah,

    Thanks for all the factual information. I think it is great to have a woman on board the BBC F1 team and nobody can criticise your credentials. If Danica Patrick ever raced F1 would she have an umbrella man? Get karting - you'll probably beat most guys! As a McLaren fan since the days of Senna, I am disappointed by their pace. Also, they should write McLaren on their merchandise instead of just Vodaphone. Adrian Newey has made Red Bull dominant. Alonso is a brilliant driver but can be a dislikeable character. Jenson Button personifies how a racing gentleman should be. I wish Jenson would take more risks like Lewis. It is entertainment afterall. I was at Melbourne last year and though Australia wanted Mark Webber to take the drivers championship, Vettel is faster and a thoroughly entertaining racer. Looking forward to the Melbourne GP. I am hopeful McLaren are more competitive than they appear. I moved from Melbourne to Adelaide because the beach and hills are closer, otherwise I could have offered you accommodation in South Yarra! Kind Regards

  • Comment number 53.


    Where do you think the automobile industry gets much of it's inspiration from. Things like clean burn fuel technology, advanced safety systems and composite materials? That's right, the pinnacle of motorsport.

    Many things that you take for granted on today's cars were developed in F1 in years previous.

    If it weren't for the brilliance of the designers and engineers of F1 pushing the limits, we'd still be driving around in Austin Maxi's that do 10mpg and disintigrate in a minor collision.

  • Comment number 54.

    @#51 - calvins48

    Thanks for the information. I hadn't realised it was all the Sun's fault.

    I'm never going to buy that newspaper again in protest

  • Comment number 55.

    Just out of interest. Where is Andrew Benson's Classic F1?

  • Comment number 56.

    Although it is nice to know that some people think Red Bull will have a "stroll in the park" this year, I don't believe anyone will. There are too many variables, such as new tyres, Kers, moveable rear wings and in-team driver conflict, that will affect results. My money's on Webber to surprise them all, from Alonso, Vettel & Schumacher.

  • Comment number 57.

    I am an avid follower of Formula 1, McLaren, but as a retired engineer, have been very disappointed at the cars performance since the new management took over from the fabulous Ron Dennis, who cared about engineering excellence, the important part. I was looking at their website & was dismayed to find the emphasis on sponsorship & proudest presentation, little mention of engineering. I was also very dismayed to find at this late stage, major problems with hydraulics, engine & other engineering components, after a re-design, whole winter development & testing. Now Mercedes have their own car, are you sure you are still getting the best & latest engines from them. This compares very unfavourably with Red Bull, who appear to be running away with it, in practice, even before the start & Ferrari close behind. If you remember last season the car was not properly ready at the start & took ages to catch up, in spite of having probably the best two drivers.

    I passionately want Britain & McLaren to do well & putting my engineers hat on if I may (I know a lot of the technology you are using is from aerospace & would have liked to have been involved) I am highly critical with the way this current management appears to be focussing on non-engineering aspects. Sorry, time to get another Ron Dennis engineer in charge, to get some proper focus in the team, you know what accountants did for the banks, I hope that helps.

  • Comment number 58.

    Off topic.. but where is the countdown clock on the main F1 page.. I get excited seen it coming closer and closer to the F1 action.. Bring back the clock!!

  • Comment number 59.

    Really looking forward to an exciting F1 season...However, whether we get one or not is highly debatable. I accept that last year was an exciting season, but purely because the championship went down to the last race of the season. You could count on one hand the number of genuinely exciting races and probably on a couple of fingers if you take out the ones where the weather played a significant part. I really hope that the rule changes that have been put in place with Kers and the moveable rear wing create some real on track excitement and overtaking. It has been years since we had some consistent racing, where races weren't decided by who could do the fastest two laps whilst an opponent was in the pits for tyres or refueling.

    Maybe I've got my rose tinted glasses on, but I'm sure in the days of Prost, Senna, Mansell, Piquet, when I got hooked by F1, we used to have racing where drivers chased down 10-20 second gaps an overtook in fantastic style, rather than parading round the track for 50+ laps once the initial 5 laps have set the order for the race.

    On the subject of testing, the Red Bulls look very ominous and Ferrari will definately be their biggest competition. Very disappointed with the McLaren. I was really excited when I first saw it, but the complete lack of speed and problems with reliability are very worrying. I hope Martin Whitmarsh is correct and the upgrades they've made since the final test mean that Lewis and Jensen will at least be competitive at the start of the season. Also hope that Williams are back in contention, at least in the midfield.

    Roll on next weekend...

  • Comment number 60.

    as a major f1 fan & have been for many many years im looking forward to another season, there seems to be to much talk about who's going to be at the front but im not going to comment on that as this is formula 1 you can never predict what is going to happen especially at the start of a new season.
    part of the reason i wanted to post a comment was about the new tyre colors does anyone else think that having white writing & silver writing are two similar to see when on the car.

  • Comment number 61.

    I'm excited, nervous and feeling decidely impatient. Watching Aussie V8's, Asia GP2,Le Mans series, and even a bit of rally, but Sunday can't come quick enough. Agree with two of the comments, bring back the clock, and where's the classic GP...

  • Comment number 62.

    Good Morning,

    If this silly idea of creating interest in F1 by means of artificial rain gains approval I think it is time to call time on F1.
    I am 66, I have seen much F1 racing, Fangio, Moss, Clark, Brabham, need I go on.
    The racing back then was interesting, the circuits were far better than today's sanitized efforts, the cars were less dependent on aerodynamics.
    When will Ecclestone see what needs to be done, never I suspect, he is 80, Leopards never change their spots.
    All this technology in F1, Frank Williams has admitted, very little of the technology developed in F1 filters down to the normal road car.
    Get rid of F1, bring back the big sports cars.

  • Comment number 63.

    Hi Sarah, we are embracing RED Bull this weekend in Cape Town! Can not wait to see them racing over our Beach road! Just wanted to ask if you and your readers have seen our website to host GP here in Cape Town. Please let us know what you think! or our facebook page.

    We would like your support if possible.



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