After what feels like an eternity, the 2011 Formula 1 season gets underway in a few hours with the first free practice session for the Australian GP in Melbourne.
There’s not much that I can say about the new cars or the drivers that hasn’t already been said, but that won’t stop me! Red Bull look fast, as do Ferrari, and I expect those two teams to be fighting for both titles with Vettel and Alonso respectively. That’s not to say Webber and Massa aren’t fast, but Webber seems to throw things away when they are going well and frankly, I don’t think Massa will ever be the same driver he was before Hungary 2009.
McLaren, Renault and Mercedes will be the next group of runners, they will all have chances of winning races and their drivers may even challenge for the title, but I don’t think any if them will have the outright pace of Red Bull or Ferrari – although I wouldn’t be surprised if McLaren at least were holding back a bit in testing. On a personal level, I would love to see Williams join these guys in fighting for ‘Best of The Rest’ and purely out of loyalty to the team I have been following for over twenty years, I’m going to!
In reality I think Williams will again be battling the Force India team, with Toro Rosso, Sauber and possibly even Team Lotus upping their game to this level. Virgin will also hope to be in this little group which basically leaves HRT trotting around at the back hoping to qualify and (due to alleged financial problems again) finish the season.
I think Alonso will take the driver’s title this year, as long as he keeps his cool and Ferrari don’t stitch him up with strategy like a few times last year. As for the constructor’s championship it’s hard to bet against Red Bull.
Thankfully this year we start where we should start every season, Australia, although it’s a shame it had to come about under the circumstances it did. After the events in Bahrain, I think F1 needs to consider the long term future of the race there, luckily (as honestly I don’t know enough about Bahrain) that’s not my call.
When it comes to Compton Grand Prix the plan for this year is a return to the 2006 glory days, based more around opinion and less about play-by-play race reviews. There may be a mid-season facelift too. 2011 is exciting already!