Thursday, 11 March 2010

Meet The 2010 F1 Teams & Drivers

To follow up yesterday's post which detailed some of the new rules and regulations ahead of the 2010 Formula One season, today I will take a look at the driver and team line ups, and offer my predictions for their success or otherwise in the year ahead.


2009 Constructors Championship - 3rd (71 Points)

2010 Prediction - 1st (Best Price to win Constructors Title, 14/5, SportingBet)

1. Jenson Button
2009 - Drivers Championship: 1st - 95 Points (Brawn G.P.)
Best Career Result - 1st (7 Wins)
W.C. Points (Career) - 324
Debut - Australia 2000 (Williams)

Button enjoyed his best season to date in 2009 with surprise package Brawn G.P. with a particularly strong start to the season, winning six of the first seven races, although he made heavy work of the latter part of the season, meaning a title he should have secured by the time the European events had past by went all the way to the wire in Brazil. Now into his eleventh season in the top tier, Button is now with his fifth team, and providing McLaren can deliver with a competitive package, his smooth style should see consistent top three finishes, although whether his raw pace is enough to match Hamilton remains to be seen.

2. Lewis Hamilton
2009 Drivers Championship - 5th - 49 Points (McLaren)
Best Career Result - 1st (11 Wins)
W.C. Points (Career) - 256
Debut - Australia 2007 (McLaren)

In the worst McLaren in his three year Formula One career, Hamilton struggled in the early part of the season with a torrid car, however his perseverance paid off, with victories at Hungary and Singapore, which saw him lead his team to third in the standings ahead of bitter rivals, Ferrari. Hamilton totally outshone his team mate of the last two years, Heikki Kovalainen. Expect Button to be more of a threat, but if Hamilton can look after his tyres in the races, Hamilton is more likely to prosper in what is set to be an intriguing inter-team battle.

Mercedes G.P. (Formerly Brawn G.P.)

2009 Constructors Championship - 1st (172 Points) - as Brawn G.P.

2010 Prediction - 4th (BP 11/2, ToteSport)

3. Michael Schumacher
2009 Drivers Championship - N/A (Did Not Compete)
Best Career Result - 1st (91 Wins)
W.C. Points (Career) - 1291 (Excl. 1997 Disqualification)
Debut - Belgium 1991 (Jordan)

So, a legend, at the ripe old age of 41 returns to try to lead the team which nurtured his career through the junior formulae to victory. Schumacher hit the headlines last year, when it was rumoured he was to return for Ferrari to take the place of the injured Felipe Massa, but perhaps he realised that the car was a dog ! Schumacher won't be here to make up the numbers, and alongside his old friend Ross Brawn and with Mercedes power, this car will be amongst the front runners. I'm sure there will be lots of people expecting too much of "Schumi", not least his fans. I wouldn't back him for the championship, although I'd be delighted if he could do it. I expect the odd podium, if the car works a win isn't beyond him. Consistent points should see him take up residence somewhere between fifth and eighth in the Drivers Championship come the seasons end.

4. Nico Rosberg
2009 Drivers Championship - 7th - 34.5 Points (Williams)
Best Career Result - 2nd (Singapore 2008)
W.C. Points (Career) - 75.5
Debut - Bahrain 2006 (Williams)

Rosberg has shown signs of great potential in his drives in an uncompetitive Williams over the last few seasons - indeed in his first ever race, at Bahrain in 2006 he was the youngest driver ever to set the fastest lap in a Grand Prix. In a consistent season in 2009, he only failed to finish once, and was in the points regularly, fulfilling and exceeding the potential of the Williams. I believe, that this season he will be working closely with Schumacher and the team, as clearly, if he can continue his development, Rosberg is a champion in the making. A definate dark horse for the podium anywhere he races, should the Mercedes be a competitive package, keep an eye on his prices with the bookies - an underrated driver who I believe will fluourish under the stewardship of Ross Brawn.

Red Bull - Renault

2009 Constructors Championship - 2nd (153.5 Points)

2010 Prediction - 3rd (BP 7/2, Bwin)

5. Sebastian Vettel
2009 Drivers Championship - 2nd - 84 Points (Red Bull)
Best Career Result - 1st (5 Wins)
W.C. Points (Career) - 125
Debut - Hungary 2007

Sebastian Vettel, a product of Red Bull's feeder outfit Toro Rosso was very much a revelation of the 2009 season, in an indecently quick car designed by former Williams guru Adrian Newey. Had the team been on the pace in the early rounds, then Vettel could quite easily have been World Champion. Handles pressure well, and clearly a precocious talent, if Red Bull can consolidate their performance of last year, then they could quite well go one better. However, I put them on a par with the likes of Mercedes, but ahead of the likes of Renault and Williams. I believe Vettel will take on the role of team leader, but do not see him finishing top three in the title come the seasons end. May well be worth a punt on a "best of the rest" coupon, which takes into account the title "winners" minus the drivers of Ferrari and McLaren.

6. Mark Webber
2009 Drivers Championship - 4th - 69.5 Points (Red Bull)
Best Career Result - 1st (Germany 2009 & Brazil 2009)
W.C. Points (Career) - 169.5
Debut - Australia 2002 (Minardi)

It's perhaps a shame, but I think Webber missed the boat in Formula One. He has been about now for the best part of a decade, and shown lots of promise but has never had a big break with one of the powerhouses of the sport, in particular, I remember watching him score points in his debut in 2002 for Minardi and believing he would be World Champion in the not too distant future; unfortunately it never came, and now it's surely too late. With Red Bull, he clearly has the equipment, but rarely the luck, and last season was overshadowed by his young team mate, Vettel. I can only see this continuing this season, Webber is a match for anyone on his day, but now time is starting to count against him. If Webber can qualify strongly then he can challenge for podiums, but I believe a challenge for the title is beyond him. Sixth at best in the drivers title. What will count in his favour however, is stability, as he is competing with the same team, designer and team mate, and this could well see him and the team impress in the early part of the season whilst others are still finding their feet.


2009 Constructors Championship - 4th (70 Points)

2010 Prediction - 2nd (BP 2/1, Ladbrokes)

7. Felipe Massa
2009 Drivers Championship - 11th - 22 Points (Ferrari) *Missed 8 Rounds Due To Injury
Best Career Result - 1st (10 Wins)
W.C. Points (Career) - 320
Debut - Australia 2002 (Sauber)

Massa makes a return to the sport following the horrific incident which occurred during the qualifying session for the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2009 where he was hit on the head at over 160mph by a spring which had become detached from one of Rubens Barrichello's damping units. He has undergone intensive therapy, and is reportedly raring to go and has impressed in testing, and also in a number of competitive motor sport events in his native Brazil over the close season. His relationship with Alonso will be under constant scrutiny, following one or two disagreements in the past, along with recent condemnation of the alleged "race fixing" tactics of Singapore 2008 which involved Alonso whilst competing for Renault. I see no reason why Massa cannot challenge for regular race wins this year, and he is sure to be in the hunt should his health remain good, and the car be reliable.

8. Fernando Alonso
2009 Drivers Championship - 9th - 26 Points (Renault)
Best Career Result - 1st (21 Wins)
W.C. Points (Career) - 577
Debut - Australia 2001 (Minardi)

2005 and 2006 Champion Alonso joins Ferrari to take the seat vacated by Kimi Raikkonen, who is now competing in the World Rally Championship. He is widely tipped as being the favourite for the drivers crown this season, although it has been rare for a Ferrari driver to win the title in their first season for the team in recent years. If he can strike up an amiable working partnership with Massa, and the Ferrari is drivable this year (it was by all accounts a dog last term) then he has to be regarded as a serious contender. I still feel they could wind up as second best to McLaren, however.

Williams - Cosworth

2009 Constructors Championship - 7th (34.5 Points)

2010 Prediction - 5th (BP 50/1, Bet365)

9. Rubens Barrichello
2009 Drivers Championship - 3rd - 77 Points (Brawn G.P.)
Best Career Result - 1st (11 Wins)
W.C. Points (Career) - 607
Debut - South Africa 1993 (Jordan)

The driver on the grid with the most starts, Barrichello showed in 2009 with Brawn, that he still had the determination and grit to run up front, and was still in the hunt for the title at the close of the season, despite his protestations at having to play second fiddle to Jenson Button for much of the year. A new team, along with a rookie team mate could well hamper Barrichello's chances of regular top points finishes this season, and I fear a year of mid table mediocrity could well be on the cards for the ever popular Brazilian, who by now has to be regarded as being in the twilight of his career.

10. Nico Hulkenberg
2009 Drivers Championship - N/A
Best Career Result - N/A
W.C. Points (Career) - N/A
Debut - Bahrain 2010 (Williams)

Hulkenberg joins Williams in his first season in Formula One following a successful few seasons in open wheeled racing. He is only the second driver (Lewis Hamilton being the first) to join F.1 as a G.P.2 Champion, having won the series in 2009. Past honours include winning the A1 GP series for Germany in 2006/07 and winning the Formula 3 Euroseries in 2008. Clearly a driver of talent and raw speed, the ultimate test comes in Formula One, where he has impressed as a test driver for Williams. Coming from the same managing company as Michael Schumacher, headed by Willi Weber, Hulkenberg is already rumoured to be in the running for a Ferrari seat as a long term replacement for Felipe Massa within the next three years. Hulkenberg will, no doubt, be fast; but will he exercise enough caution to avoid visiting the scenery more often than not ? With veteran stablemate Barrichello alongside him, he has a natural mentor and is certainly one for the future. Expect the honour of best rookie to be between him, Lucas di Grassi of Virgin and Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi.


2009 Constructors Championship - 8th (26 Points)

2010 Prediction - 6th (BP 150/1, Bwin)

11. Robert Kubica
2009 Drivers Championship - 14th - 17 Points (BMW)
Best Career Result - 1st (Canada 2008)
W.C. Points (Career) - 137
Debut - Hungary 2006 (BMW Sauber)

Renault look shaky - they have an all new driver line up, and come off the back of a tempestuous season, following the shocking revelations of the race fixing incident in Singapore 2008, which culminated in the expulsion of former principal, Flavio Briatore. In Kubica, they have a talented driver, who shows displays of brilliance in terms of his racecraft, but at times appears lazy; particularly in qualifying which can hamper his race weekends. He is capable of scoring solid points, and consistency will be the key. Even so, I see him being in the lower reaches of the top ten, and this season could be an uphill struggle for the likable Pole.

12. Vitaly Petrov
2009 Drivers Championship - N/A
Best Career Result - N/A
W.C. Points (Career) - N/A
Debut - Bahrain 2010 (Renault)

Petrov becomes Russia's first Formula One driver, and he joins a Renault team living off past glories. Renault tend to struggle to develop out and out novices to the sport (look at the troubled Nelson Piquet Jr, who had the backing of a successful father and still failed). His signing could well be due to being reasonably priced in the drivers market, despite similar interest from Sauber. He does have some racing pedigree to his credit however, being runner up in the 2009 GP2 series, as well as a string of victories in the "Lada Cup, Russia" (I kid you not !!) His goals are to score points "mid season onwards". Perhaps one to avoid in the betting markets.

Force India - Mercedes

2009 Constructors Championship - 9th (13 Points)

2010 Prediction - 8th (BP 80/1, ExtraBet, ToteSport)

14. Adrian Sutil
2009 Drivers Championship - 17th - 5 Points (Force India)
Best Career Result - 4th (Italy 2009)
W.C. Points (Career) - 6
Debut - Australia 2007 (Spyker)

Sutil's stats belie his capabilities as a driver. He has had some rotten luck (remember Monaco 2008 when Raikkonen's Ferrari shovelled him off the track whilst running fourth ?) in some inferior machinery. Force India showed signs of massive strides forward in 2009 (Giancarlo Fisichella chased Raikkonen home for a fine second place in Belgium). Over the last couple of years, Sutil has matured as a driver and last year had a very good finishing record. Although I do not believe they will be regular podium visitors, I do think Sutil can lead his team to plenty of lower points finishes. Mid table, but solid and consistent - and I think Sutil could well come into his own in a wet race scenario. His one downfall maybe that the pressure of being number one driver could see him return to the days of his silly - but costly mistakes.

15. Vitantonio Liuzzi
2009 Drivers Championship - 22nd - 0 Points (Force India)
Best Career Result - 6th (China 2007)
W.C. Points (Career) - 5
Debut - San Marino 2007 (Red Bull)

Liuzzi has had something of a stop-start Formula One career, and despite being around the paddock since 2005, he only has two full seasons under his belt, having been something of a "supersub". Last year, he was promoted as Force India's test driver to second driver, following the departure of Fisichella who took over Massa's Ferrari drive following the Brazilian's accident. Liuzzi is unspectacular in all he does, and is likely to plod round staying out of trouble, and quite likely pick up a few points here and there. Stability will be the key in the Force India camp, and with him and Sutil picking up where they left off last year will possibly see them start the season more strongly than they finish it. I wouldn't risk any money whatsoever on Liuzzi - I think it will take a huge slice of luck for him to even smell the steps of the podium, let alone walk up them.

Toro Rosso

2009 Constructors Championship - 10th (8 Points)

2010 Prediction - 10th (BP 250/1, BoyleSports)

16. Sebastian Buemi
2009 Drivers Championship - 16th - 6 Points (Toro Rosso)
Best Career Result - 7th (Australia 2009 & Brazil 2009)
W.C. Points (Career) - 6 Points
Debut - Australia 2009 (Toro Rosso)

Buemi comes into his second season of Formula One with the same team, and will be looking to build upon a solid, if unspectacular debut. In a sporadic year for the team (which started and finished the season strongly, with a mid season dip in form), Buemi made few mistakes, but was dogged with reliability issues. If Buemi qualifies well, then he tends to race well, but struggles in traffic and rarely makes headway. Bear this in mind if you fancy backing him at any point this year. Again, I see this team being in the midfield abyss, maybe slightly off the pace of the likes of Williams, Renault and Force India, and could well be embroiled in situations with the newcomer teams.

17. Jaime Alguersuari
2009 Drivers Championship - 24th - 0 Points (Toro Rosso)
Best Career Result - 14th (Brazil 2009)
W.C. Points (Career) - 0
Debut - Hungary 2009

Alguersuari was hastily brought into the Toro Rosso line up in time for the Hungarian G.P. of 2009 following the dismissal of the disappointing Sebastian Bourdais. He is the youngest driver in F.1 history, therefore he is still very much on a steep learning curb, and thus expectations for the 2010 season are less than high. Out of eight starts, he only nursed the car to the finish three times. Certainly not one to back, unless you fancy a small tickler in the "first to be replaced" market, although he is likely (in my opinion) to be given at least half a season to settle and prove himself.

2009 Constructors Championship - N/A (New Team)

2010 Prediction - 7th (BP 250/1, Bet365, SportingBet, Ladbrokes)

18. Jarno Trulli
2009 Drivers Championship - 8th - 32.5 Points (Toyota)
Best Career Result - 1st (Canada 2005)
W.C. Points (Career) - 246.5
Debut - Australia 1997 (Minardi)

Trulli, very much a "journeyman" of the Formula One scene brings his vast array of experience to a familiar name, but an all new team in the form of Lotus, who bear little resemblance to the former World beaters, now under the ownership of a Malaysian corporation. Along with Kovalainen, they form an unusually strong line up for a fledgling team, showing the rest of the paddock they mean business. Lotus look set to certainly be top dog, certainly in terms of the newcomers, and if they find some reliability and consistency, a few points is not beyond them. Trulli is renowned for his qualifying supremacy and blistering speed over a single lap, and if he can qualify the car in the top half of the grid, then Lotus could quite easily spring the odd surprise.

19. Heikki Kovalainen
2009 Drivers Championship - 12th - 22 Points (McLaren)
Best Career Result - 1st (Hungary 2008)
W.C. Points (Career) - 110
Debut - Australia 2007 (Renault)

Perennial underachiever Kovalainen has certainly had some fantastic chances with top teams Renault and McLaren during his time in Formula One, and has often disappointed and played second fiddle to stronger team mates. Having said that, he has driven alongside two World Champions (Alonso and Hamilton) and should bring some useful information to the team. He needs to impress this year, otherwise I can see him making an exit to Indy Car or Touring Cars at the close of the season. Despite this, I still foresee him failing to match Trulli on raw pace, and it could well be a challenging year racing for a team who will be lacking the big money resources he is clearly used to.

H.R.T. (Hispania Racing Team)

2009 Constructors Championship - N/A (New Team)

2010 Prediction - 12th (BP 500/1, widely available)

20. Karun Chandhok
2009 Drivers Championship - N/A
Best Career Result - N/A
W.C. Points (Career) - N/A
Debut - Bahrain 2010 (H.R.T.)

Chandhok was a late announcement in the line up for H.R.T. (who had previously registered as Campos) and has briefly been considered for a drive in F.1 in the past with Force India. I have little doubt that Chandhok will be something of a mobile chicane this year, having a less than glowing C.V. in feeder series, and will be something of a tail end charlie in terms of qualifying and racing. If he scrapes any points, I feel it will be due to luck and others failing to finish. Last season, he finished a disappointing 18th in the GP2 series, which begs the question why he has landed an F.1 drive.

21. Bruno Senna
2009 Drivers Championship - N/A
Best Career Result - N/A
W.C. Points (Career) - N/A
Debut - Bahrain 2010 (H.R.T.)

Being the nephew of arguably the greatest Formula One driver of all times surely must be a heavy burden on young shoulders, and it will be interesting to see how young Senna copes with the limelight which is sure to surround him in his rookie season. A driver who has repeatedly been linked with drives in the past, it is perhaps something of a surprise he hasn't landed a more lucrative drive (even if only for the marketing opportunities he brings along). Senna has a far more distinguished racing career behind him than his team mate, the highlight being the runner up in the GP2 series of 2008. For this reason, he is sure to be the dominant force at H.R.T.; but even so, the lack of experience is bound to show, and once again I'd be surprised if the points haul (if any) is only in single figures come the season's end.

US F.1

Although the US F.1 team were granted an entry for the 2010 season, sadly they will not be making it to the grid this year, citing financial problems. They are still confident that they will be able to defer entry and race in 2011. Thus, there will now be only 12 teams competing this season.

Virgin (Formerly Manor F1)

2009 Constructors Championship - N/A (New Team)

2010 Prediction - 11th (BP 300/1 SkyBet, Bwin)

24. Timo Glock
2009 Drivers Championship - 10th - 24 Points (Toyota)
Best Career Result - 2nd (Hungary 2008 & Singapore 2009)
W.C. Points (Career) - 51
Debut - Canada 2004 (Jordan)

Despite making his debut in 2004, Glock enters only his third full season of F.1, following two reasonable seasons at Toyota. He takes on the role of first driver at Virgin Racing, where the expectations on his shoulders, in particular, will be high. Glock will be keen to impress, having missed the last three races of 2009 following injuries sustained in qualifying in a horrific incident at the Japanese Grand Prix. Although Virgin were major sponsors of last years double title winning outfit, Brawn, do not expect them to repeat the feat with their own car. I expect them to contend with the likes of Lotus and Toro Rosso, but cannot see them having the strength to be regular points scorers. The onus will be on Glock to lead, and with a weaker team mate than Trulli has at Lotus, I cannot even back Virgin to even be the best newcomers to the series.

25. Lucas di Grassi
2009 Drivers Championship - N/A
Best Career Result - N/A
W.C. Points (Career) - N/A
Debut - Bahrain 2010 (Virgin)

Newcomer, di Grassi knows his team mate Glock well - he finished second to him in the 2007 GP2 series. In 2008 and 2009, he has finished runner up in the GP2 series, and now his consistency has paid off and won him a Formula One drive. Although I expect him to perhaps be over-enthusiastic at times, there is every chance di Grassi could prove to be a revelation, and could well be ranked as the best newcomer this year. He also has some F.1 experience, having been test driver for Renault in the past. On out and out speed, he tested a Honda at Catalunya, and was 0.2 seconds a lap off the pace of Bruno Senna in the same car, but I feel as an overall package, di Grassi will have the measure of his countryman in the H.R.T. this season, particularly with the advantage of having an experienced team mate alongside him.

Sauber - BMW (Formerly BMW)

2009 Constructors Championship - 6th (36 Points) - As BMW

2010 Prediciton - 9th (BP 40/1 BoyleSports, SportingBet, ExtraBet)

26. Pedro de la Rosa
2009 Drivers Championship - N/A
Best Career Result -2nd (Hungary 2006)
W.C. Points (Career) - 29
Debut - Australia 1999 (Arrows)

39 year old de la Rosa last competed in Formula One competitively in 2006 for McLaren, since then he has been amongst their ranks as test driver. A hasty signing for the now re-badged Sauber team, following the withdrawal of factory support from BMW. Under the stewardship of Peter Sauber, the team has potential, but after so many years away from the competitive side of racing, I fully expect de la Rosa to lack edge and bite (akin to the efforts of Luca Badoer at Ferrari in 2009 who found himself in a similar situation). I wouldn't fancy de la Rosa to make much of an impact, and he could quite well find himself seeking alternative employment at the season's end, if not before.

27. Kamui Kobayashi
2009 Drivers Championship -
Best Career Result -
W.C. Points (Career) -
Debut - Brazil 2009 (Toyota)

Kobayashi made an instant impact when called up to the ranks of Toyota for the last two races of 2009 following Timo Glock's accident in Japan. He came under criticism for his swash-buckling style in Brazil where he was wheel to wheel with many seasoned pro's, and put some sweet maneouvres on a number of veterans of the sport. His raw pace and natural talent is evident, I believe he will be the most successful Japanese top tier driver to date. However, I also feel he is likely to be in the "win it or bin it" camp and may have a few big "offs" this year. If he can conserve his tyres, he is bound to get the best out of his machinery. I fully expect him to outscore his team mate at least 2:1 come the end of the year.

So, apologies for the length of this post. As you can tell from my predictions, I have made it clear which teams I feel will be the ones at the sharp end of the grid, and those to forget.

To tie all this together, tomorrow I will be posting my tips for this weekends Bahrain G.P.; and also my top selections for the Drivers and Constructors titles.

Thanks for reading,
Mountain Man


moDtheGod said...

Go manor! Well, virgin or whatever.

They're from near me :D

moDtheGod said...

Right, edited to add in some prices for the Constructors Championship. All prices correct at the time of publishing!

It's not a bad read actually, wp Tim. I must admit, at first glance I shit myself, as only a casual F1 fan. But it's not a half bad read.

Will try and get motivated to follow it this year. Can imagine I'll be sat at work on a Sunday afternoon with fuck all to do anyway, might as well dive in.

Mountain Man said...

Cheers Dom, thanks for the positive feedback :-)

Watched some free practise this morning on the red button. Although you can't always read a lot into the times posted in those sessions, both H.R.T. and Lotus look a country mile off the pace.

McLaren and Mercedes looking good. Ferrari and Red Bull still got some aces to play though I feel.

And yes, I believe Manor (Virgin) are based somewhere between Sheffield and Rov'rum !