13/03/2012

Season Preview- Lots to look forward to in 2012

Whoever thinks that the pre-season testing has given us the results to be seen in the races then he/she is hugely mistaken. Yes, the testing does give us a pretty rough idea but none to be taken very much seriously. Some teams set times on low fuel just to attract their sponsors or new sponsors. So, whatever we discuss, it should have words like “hope/hopefully, may/may not, likely, etc” to state our point until the season actually starts.

To start off the season preview, there were 3 testing this time with Jerez, Barcelona 1 & Barcelona 2 and the 4th test to be held during the season, a welcome change. The 2011 season ended with RBR at the top, Sahara Force India leading the midfield and Caterham (the then Team Lotus) the newbies. From the rough times of the pre-season testing there’s not much difference to be seen other than Ferrari’s pace which can be deceptive. Coming to the main team I am focusing on is Sahara Force India, they are having a new driver line-up in Paul Di Resta & Nico Hulkenberg with Jules Bianchi joining in as reserve driver. It is a pretty strong line-up and one of the best line-up on the grid.

Overall if we see the number of laps and the decent times (though meaningless), we have to be satisfied with it. Both Nico & Paul have done good number of laps, more importantly Nico as he sat a year out and he has to learn how to use the DRS, KERS and most importantly the behaviour of Pirelli tyres. Also, Bianchi got a bit of running in Jerez. It’s good for Bianchi to get some run to familiarise more with the team. Let me give some facts: the team in all covered 1039 laps during the three test with Paul covering 560 laps, Nico covering 433 laps and Bianchi 46 laps. Fair number of laps covered but  Nico’s days were hampered due to car problems twice which shouldn’t be a big problem. The times if we talk about were good and the post day thoughts were satisfactory too. One blip was when they did the race simulations, both Paul & Nico felt a bit uneasy but were hoping that all will be taken care before Australia.

My view after getting a rough-rough idea is that the team is in a good shape to fight with their near rivals Sauber, Toro Rosso & Williams. As for challenging the team like Lotus & Mercedes seems possible but still tough as they are looking good too. P5 is surely the aim but holding on to the P6 will the prime aim in my view with scoring regularly in all the races, not just single driver but both of them and if they can get an odd podium it will be welcomed by anyone. The few rules changes does even out the field but then it won’t affect largely on the battles we had seen in 2011. The midfield is the trickiest of all the battles, the game changes pretty quickly as we saw in 2010 with Sahara Force India & Williams and then last season Sahara Force India & Sauber. And so the team have to be on their toes always bringing new strong upgrades to stay on top. The driver line-up being strong is major boon for the team as both Nico & Paul are quite fast drivers and the team to watch out for. The Sahara Force India team has come a long way since 2008, every year gaining position is the Championship. Since Jordan this is for the first time this team has stayed as one team for 4 years with 5th year starting. There is a high hope from the team after they have done well in the past years and we all know India is very emotional when it comes to support.

In short, I’ll cover up the others teams on the grid and the relative position of Sahara Force India. I start with Red Bull as they are still the team to beat, they did quite well during the testing along with McLaren who too are there in the mix with Red Bull. People predict that Mercedes & Lotus line up behind RBR & McLaren but I put Ferrari behind McLaren still as I think they are hiding their pace somewhat and have resource to find the solutions to their problems. Yes, Mercedes have upped their performance as have Lotus but it is to be seen during the weekend. Sahara Force India is leading the midfield pack with Sauber, Williams/Toro Rosso completing the line-up there. Caterham will be the surprise as I think they will score their first points and possibly target the lower midfield teams. With the limited running HRT & Marussia have, difficult to put them in line with Caterham until we see how they are fairing in Australia. As for Karthikeyan, who hasn’t got any running may face some difficulties to get to terms but he has got the 2011 experience to bank on. But, I am a bit disappointed with Chandhok not being around the F1 paddock. Anyways, we are hoping for a fantastic season ahead. Just brace yourself for an epic ride of the V8 engines on the tracks all around the world. Roll on 2012 F1 season!!

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