Tuesday, March 20, 2012

2012 Formula 1 Grid line-up - Down Under

Whale uze know duh drill - as I’ve been purposely holdon’ off on my annual F1 Car launches - since I’ve been eagerly awaiting for our last two ‘Johnny-come-lately’s, i.e.; Hispania and Marussia to actually manage to bolt their new challengers together and pass thee audition; Err the mandatory FIA crash tests - ALL 18 of them; thus whilst I haven’t paid much attention to this year’s “Winter Olympics,” here’s what should at least have been the season opening line-ups Down Under in Melbourne, Mates! Along with what were my initial thoughts upon this years Contenders, Pretenderz and everywhere else in-between - so kick back and see how close your humble No Fenders scribe’s predictions were?


(Listed in order of 2011 finishing position in Constructors championship)

(Constructor’s: Team/Chassis/Engine)
 (1) Red Bull Racing
Chassis:  RB8
Engine: Renault
(Car No. + Driver)
1. Sebastian Vettel
2. Mark Webber
(Test/Reserve Driver)
T/R: Sebastian Buemi

What can you really say about the currently dominant two-time reigning Drivers & Constructors champions? Who arguably have the greatest designer penning chassis for the greatest current driver? And although the team has suffered various niggling new car issues, you really don’t expect anyone to dethrone Master ‘Zebb from his current perch as Numero Uno - do Yuhs? While Messer ‘Handlebarz, aka Mark Webber will be his usual tougher-then-nails to overtake self and thus once again the Bulls seem the team to beat!

(2) Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
Chassis:  MP4-27
Engine: Mercedes Benz 
3. Jenson Button
4. Lewis Hamilton
Reserve Drivers) Gary Paffett; Oliver Turvey

McLaren once again appears to be Red Bulls biggest threat towards defending its titles, as ‘JENSE (Button) has been singing the company line all winter long about how much better this chassis is - with NO testing  gremlins, and hence ultra reliable. Meanwhile Louise “JAGUAR (Hamilton) is coming off of his worst season to date, having re-aligned his management and seems ready to rebound -as he seems to be one of the fastest Gran Primo Piloto’s currently on the grid...

(3) Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro
Chassis:  F2012
Engine: Ferrari
5. Fernando Alonso
6. Felipe Massa
Reserve Drivers) Giancarlo Fisichella; Marc Gene; Davide Rigon

So there’s been lotso grumblings all winter long about how la Scuderia is not well, behind the pace and having problems getting the car up-to-speed... As I’m just left wondering if this is the ultimate ruse ‘O Sandbagging or what? As surely Ferrari cannot be that far off of the mark, eh? While Ferdi plans to continue his dominance over Felipe - whose seat at Ferrari is currently under threat this year...

(4) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team
Chassis:  MGP W03
Engine: Mercedes Benz 
7. Michael Schumacher
8. Nico Rosberg

Really don’t know what to think or say about the ‘Merc - as I’ll begrudgingly commend DER TERMINATOR for his sheer determination to honour his entire 3-year contract, as HELL! Surely this has to be Herr Schumachers FINAL Swan Song, right? Whilst ‘Brittany, aka Nico Rosberg continues to outshine his elder teammate, we simply have to wait ‘N see how the chassis performs this year, although I thought I heard Norbert Haag already making his excuses by saying the team won’t contend ‘til 2014?

(5) Lotus F1 Team
Chassis:  E20
Engine: Renault
9. Kimi Raikkonen
10. Romain Grosjean
T/R) Jerome d'Ambrosio

Obviously the biggest news here is the return of The Iceman, a.k.a. Kimi Raikkonen after his two year sabbatical after having been bought out by la Scuderia and opting to go play in the WRC and ‘RASSCAR before deciding to return home. As I’m hoping thee ‘Kimster will return to his winning form, whilst another F1 refugee makes a bit of a return - as the reigning GP2 champion Romain Grosjean returns to the grid after his dismissal from the team’s old guard...

(6) Sahara Force India Formula 1 Team
Chassis:  VJM-005
Engine: Mercedes Benz 
11. Paul di Resta
12. Nico Hulkenberg
T/R) Jules Bianchi

Unfortunately the entire Off-season and beyond - into the present disturbingly centre’s around Flavour Flay’s protégé Dr. Vijay Mallya Esquire and his faltering fortunes, primarily the sinking ship known as Kingfisher Airlines - not his luxury liner... And thus nothing much seems to have been spoken about the team per sei - except for the marauder known as Subrata Roy Sahara - who doesn’t really care ‘bout Formula 1; YIKES!

Whilst the other Off-season news centered ‘round ex-Force India piloto Adrian “Bubbly” Sutil and his Mate “Louise” giving him the cold shiver over his ‘lil Nightclub incident in Shanghai... Thus giving way to thee ‘Hulkster, aka Nico Hulkenberg, while I find it somewhat intriguing that Nicholas Todt’s young charge and future Ferrari shue? Jules bianchi has taken over the Friday test driver role; Hmm? Perhaps this is some actual racing seasoning a la STR’s Daniel Ricciardo participated in last year at HRT...

(7) Sauber F1 Team
Chassis:  C31
Engine: Ferrari
14. Kamui Kobayashi
15. Sergio Perez
T/R) Esteban Gutierrez

Nothing of much to report here, as everything’s the same with the only bad news being the departure of Technical Director James Key just prior to this year’s C31 rollout. Hopefully the team’s “Young guns” can continue their upward trajectory - as I expect both drivers to continue scoring points this year...

(8) Scuderia Toro Rosso
Chassis:  STR-07
Engine: Ferrari
16. Daniel Ricciardo
17. R-Jean-Eric Vergne
T/R) Sebastian Buemi

Team boss Franz “Hertz-doughnut” Tost once again laid down the law by tossing out his previous driver lineup - along with the bath water to make way for new charges Ricciardo and rookie Jean-Eric Vergne, who finished runner-up to Robert Wickens in last year’s World Series by Renault championship. Yet the Frenchman is tipped for big things in the future - as potentially these two young Hotshue’s will deuk-it out for ascension into Mark ‘Handlebarz Webber’s Red Bull seat when the ‘Aussie decides to leave...    

(9) Williams F1 Team
Chassis:  FW34
Engine: Renault
18. Pastor Maldonado
19. Bruno Senna
T/R) Valtteri Bottas

As we all know, the biggest news was the uncelebratory dumping of ‘Rubino (Rubens Barrichello) from Team ‘willy after 19-years in formula 1 en route to amassing the most career starts ever at a staggering 322! As I think the only one close to joining him in the 300 club is Herr Schumacher? Thus a more robust in the wallet younger Countryman with the Surname of Senna has taken Rubens seat instead, as his name is Bruno Senna. While all I can say is Thank You Frank, as F1’s loss is definitely our Indy Cars gain...

(10) Caterham F1 Team
Chassis:  CT01
Engine: Renault
20 Heikki Kovalainen
21. Vitaly Petrov
Reserve Drivers) Giedo van der Garde, Alexander Rossi

Guess I’ve gotta be careful of what I wish for, eh? Since I got my way over the NOTTSOE ‘Scrumptious ‘Juan , aka Jarno Trulli getting the boot from Team Lotus; Err Caterham in order to make way fir inserting the ‘Rooskie Vitaly ‘VO5 Petrov as ‘KOVY’s (Heikke Kovalainen) teammate this season. And although the new car has languished down at the dull end of the field, the Caterham’s should be improved with the addition of KERS for the very first time, while adding two new testers in American Alexander rossi and Dutchman Giedo van der Garde, as I’ll expect Caterham to break its Duck and score its maiden Grand Prix points this season...

(11) HRT F1 Team
Chassis:  F112
Engine: Cosworth
22. Narain Karthikeyan
23. Pedro de la Rosa
; T/R) Dani Clos

Don’t know what to say about this Minnowesqe team, other then I hope they last the entire season, as their transformation into an all Spanish team has been less then smooth, and they still seem to be on shaky financial grounds? Not to mention having signed the second oldest driver on the grid - Pedro de la rosa with thee “Speediest Indian” chaffing at his heels; with the two drivers not having gained any considerable testing mileage this winter...

(12) Murussia F1
Chassis:  MR-01
Engine: Cosworth
24. Timo Glock
25. R- Charles Pic

Marussia found out the hard way that perhaps ousted Technical Director Nick Wirth wasn’t all that far off the pace after all? Having endured the rigours of NOT being able to pass ALL 18 mandatory FIA crash tests until after winter testing was over, and hence rookie Frenchman Charles Pic will decidedly be behind in his quest to outshine countryman Vergne - not that I’m suggesting the Marussia is anywhere in the same zip code as the Toro Rosso STR-07... While I feel a little bit sorry for thee ‘Glockster, a.k.a. Timo glock who surely must pine for those brighter days at Toyota, eh? Now I just hope that the team made the MR-01’s fuel tanks large enough...

And thus, while if I was a betting man, I’d haveda bet on red and definitely pick Master ‘Zebb for the win, although I’d enjoy seeing the Homeboy ‘Handlebarz being victorious - as I’ve never seen such devoted loyalty by his country, as I was cautious to mention I was rooting for Vettel last year whilst traipsing ‘round Melbourne. Thus I’ll go out on a flyer here and throw out my podium selections...

P1: Vettel; P2: Rosberg; P3: ‘JENSE