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Thoughts as I board the plane for Melbourne
Posted By: James Allen  |  22 Mar 2011   |  11:29 am GMT  |  277 comments

It’s a grey, chilly morning in London. The traffic has been intense, the news programmes are full of the Libya intervention, Japanese earthquake, problems in Yemen and the prospect of the British chancellor bringing in a tax on private jets. And Karun Chandhok has just been given the reserve driver role at Lotus this morning.


Formula 1 seems trivial in comparison to the seismic events going on in the world, however sport and politics have already overlapped this season with the cancellation of Bahrain Grand Prix and I’m sure it will overlap again as F1 forges paths into new markets in an unsettled world.

The new season is here and I’m getting onto a Malaysian Airlines flight to Melbourne via Kuala Lumpur. I’ll arrive on Wednesday night in time for a shower, dinner and hopefully a good sleep before the business starts on Thursday. I’m interviewing Hamilton, Vettel, Webber, Heidfeld among others for Australian TV that day, the everyday interactions of F1 life will quickly get back into step; the lunge and parry of the drivers and media, the mischievous politicking of those higher up the food chain, the bustle in the paddock.

It’s a great feeling, the start of a new season and this is the 22nd time I’ve felt it.

Every year we travel hopefully, wanting it to be a good season low on politics and high on good racing. Lately it’s been pretty good, with seasons going down to the wire more often than not.

This season I reckon we’ll have loads of fun with the Pirelli tyres. It’sgoing to make the strategic side of the racing so much more important.

I’ve started a content strand, kindly supported by F1 sponsor UBS, where I will do a deep dive into the race strategy and how the decisions get taken, with inputs from insiders. I hope you like it, it should help fans to understand in more depth why things happened as they did in the races. I’m also doing pre-race strategy planning content which will sit on the UBS F1 website.

I predict a good battle for the title between Vettel and Alonso, which might get a bit fractious at times. Webber will give it everything to be part of the battle, Hamilton too.

I worry a little bit about his decision to take on Simon Fuller as manager. Hamilton came into F1 with single-minded focus on racing, his Dad’s strict discipline saw to that. Then he split with his Dad, got more into the LA lifestyle with his pop star girlfriend and now Fuller is going to make him into a brand.

Rumblings of unhappiness with the team that brought him into the sport have emerged since that management contract was signed. The relationship between the man and his team is changing. McLaren tried to be clever with this year’s car and it caught them out. Now it’s another uphill fight to catch the front runners.

In terms of other predictions I also think we’ll see a stronger Schumacher this year, mixing it with the younger front runners at times. I also expect quite a split in the middle of the grid with the stronger drivers in slower cars getting ahead of the weaker drivers in faster cars. There is a lot for the drivers to deal with this year with new tyres, KERS, adjustable rear wing and I think it’s a tough time to be a rookie.

The odds for the championship, according to Paddy Power, are

9/4 Vettel
11/4 Alonso
6/1 Hamilton
8/1 Webber
10/1 Schumacher
12/1 Rosberg
12/1 Button
14/1 Massa

What are your predictions for the season? Put them down below and to the one I like the most I’ll buy an Australian GP T shirt and send it to them!

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277 Comments
  1. Michael Grievson says:

    I hope Lewis keeps focused on his driving.

    1. wayne says:

      Predictions? Here are a few for debate – a mix of the probable, possible, hopeful and gratuitous. Staring with a couple related to this very man:

      Circumstance rather than sheer talent allows Button to outperform Hamilton one too many times for the young charger’s liking and the relationship shows the first signs of cracking.

      The media begin to speculate that Hamilton suffers from focus issues that affect his preparation and on track performance. Hamilton responds by trying too hard and his performances suffer as a result (as a massive fan I hope this is utter hogwash!).

      Schumacher rediscovers what he never lost in the first place and is in contention for the driver’s title right up to the penultimate race of the year, roundly outperforming Rosberg on the way. Simply put he just needed a season to get used to the latest cars and a car that would give him a platform to challenge from.

      The idea of having two tyres at every race which are not next to each other in the range (i.e. supersoft and hard rather than supersoft and soft) is abandoned as unworkable by race 3.

      The Canadian GP is reduced in duration as the tyres turn proceedings into 60 minutes of pit stop practice.

      Bernie announces his idea for a grip suppression system from 2012 which allows the driver to release oil from his transmission onto the track when the car chase car is within a second. This is to counter the fact everyone is overtaking everyone else 3 times a lap due to DRS and KERS J

      Vetell yet again manages a season without anything resembling a genuinely competitive overtake yet is continued to be regarded as a ‘legend in the making’.

      DRS is abandoned for 2012 as it is discovered that the current tyre specifications add enough madness to the proceedings without a ‘push to pass button’ being in place.

      Fans begin to realise that there actually has always been plenty of overtaking in F1 and that the question of ‘overtaking’ has just become an out of control bandwagon that we have all jumped onto. We collectively take a step back and realise what we really want from our sport is unpredictability in general.

      Alonso wins the title 3 races before the end of the season.

      McLaren unlock the potential in their radical design to win the last three races of the season back to back but it is too late for them and perhaps too late for their relationship with Lewis.

      Massa swaps places with Schumacher for 2012 (wishful thinking to see Alonso and Schumi in the same machinery I know but mmmm so delicious a prospect for so many reasons).

      Kubica races the final race of the season as a token gesture for and by Renault and finishes on the Podium!

      1. wayne says:

        Oops, I realise the schumi and Alonso predictions can’t both be true!

      2. Galapago555 says:

        Brilliant. My vote for your predictions, mate. I especially loved the Grip Supresion System (GSS).

        Not to mention Alonso winning the title 3 races before teh end of the season… ;-)

      3. Jo Torrent says:

        +1

      4. Jo Torrent says:

        great mate, the one about shortening Montreal race looks very realistic to me

      5. Pargo says:

        +1 on Vettel comment. Hasn’t been able to pull off one decent overtaking move when under pressure or fighting from back of field. Yet somehow is the next Schumacher!

      6. wayne says:

        I know, infuriating when pundits let their emotions and desire to hype everything get the better of them isn’t it? Hamilton is an exciting, agressive driver who usually pulls off more overtakes than anyone in a season. Alonso is the calm (unless his team mate is infront of him)before Hamilton’s storm – a solid thinker and all round exceptional performer. Schumacher is cold, calculating and the sport’s great thinker, always mentally one step ahead of the field (not to mention the holder of one of the most amazing track records in this or any sport). Vetell? He just about won the wdc driving by far the fastest car over the season while managing to trail his older less sensational team mate for the majority of the year. Anyone who wins a wdc by definition deserves it but this kid has not proven any future greatness to me and many others no matter how bleary eyed the pundits get about him.

      7. wayne says:

        Or perhaps Kubica wins the last race of the season as Hamilton, Alonso and Vetell all move over as a show of solidarity and sporting goodwill! Wouldn’t that be something to see!

      8. dingbat says:

        +2

      9. +3

        Genius Wayne!

        2012 Schumacher does indeed swap places with Massa, Lewis falls out with McLaren, Ferrari get it’s 3rd car rule so we see Alonso, Schumacher and Hamilton in the same team…..

      10. Val says:

        Yes, yes ….please!!!!

      11. wayne says:

        That’s all I want for Christmas!

      12. azac21 says:

        Also,
        FIA will publish a new 800 page rule book to manage traffic in the pit lane.

  2. Irish Con says:

    I Think were about to witness vettel and alonso become the nadal and federer of the f1 game. Think they will dominate. Reckon hamilton will spit the dummy out big style this year and that his crabit and bitchy radio conversations will become even funnier this year. Also expect at one big massive slipstream rear wing assisted possible move end in someone doing a webber. Hopefull that there is no arguments about flexing or ride heights and that Michael wins at least one race and that ferrari win at Monaco this year like they could and should of done last year. Also massa to be his usual self unbelievable good one week and the next terrible. Also jb will complain about balance and rear locking lots this season.

    1. Damian J says:

      If anyone is likely to spit their dummy out it will be Alonso. Even when he is beaten fairly by rookie drivers…..such as Petrov at the last race of 2010 in Abu Dhabi. Unsporting behaviour at its worst.

  3. Marcin says:

    Australian T Shirt it would be something. I’m not very good at English but why not to try.

    - Pirelli tires could be a problem – 2 or 3 tire explosions and it will trigger discusion about the safety.
    - DRS won’t last 6 months – in reality system will not give as much as it is predicted. Plus managing it will be problematic for a driver.
    - HRT wont last until season finale.
    - There might be another race canceled due to political frictions.
    Cheers

  4. azac21 says:

    I have the same opinion about Hamilton’s manager choice. It’s not ideal seeing athletes altering their objectives.

    1. John Z says:

      If you look at the career path Fuller mapped out for his most noted client, Hamilton’s future at McLaren does not seem set in stone. Beckham was Manchester United’s biggest star, but Fuller got him moved to Europe’s biggest and most prestigious club, Real Madrid. Mind you, Manchester United are one of the world’s top 5 clubs, as are McLaren in F1. But we all know who’s the Real Madrid of F1. Fuller will want to move Hamilton on to Ferrari. Maybe not in the next couple of years but sooner than later. Its the highest profile drive, it pays the best and its the most prestigious. Hopefully he doesn’t send Lewis off to America like Beckham and have Lewis race NASCAR in his 40s.

      1. Jo Torrent says:

        I hope for Ferrari that Lewis doesn’t move there. Afterall he suggested more than once that he imagined completing an F1 career without going there and that it wasn’t necessary for being a great to go there etc.

      2. jonrob says:

        Some feel that it is just a bit of gamesmanship being tested by Lewis’s new manager.

      3. Damian J says:

        Hamilton was spot on. There is more to F1 than a single team that chooses to use red paint on its cars. It would be arrogant to think so. I hope Hamilton does not go to Ferrari also otherwise we might see him also start throwing his fist at other drivers based on some misguided belief in priviledge.

  5. Jon says:

    Predictions,

    1. I think the title will be between Alonso and Vettle, Alonso will win in the end.
    2. Hamilton will struggle, and Button will out perform him over the season, due to the tyres.
    3. Michael Shumacher will win 3 races, and out perform Nico over the season. Nico will get his maiden win.

    1. JLR Racing says:

      Michael will outperform nico this season and take 5 wins. :)

    2. For Sure says:

      No he will beat everyone, not just Nico :)

  6. martin_tf says:

    Can’t wait for it. So many unknowns – Is the McLaren too slow? Is the Mercedes faster than we think? Is the Red Bull going to run away with it? Will the new tyres lead to really exciting racing? Will the moveable wing work with KERS? Can Vettel multi task? Which car can be called a Lotus? Will Jake Humphrey have upgraded to the iPad 2?

    1. James Draper says:

      What will cause the Ferrari to almost win this year?

      1. Damian J says:

        Alonso could shake his fist a little harder at other drivers?

      2. Emma says:

        Brilliant.

  7. Ashwin says:

    I believe there is gonna be a minimum of 25 accidents this season.

    Mid-field is gonna be hot as hell.

    Lots of conversations between the front-runners and the engineers will be broadcast.

    Drivers are not going to block others from overtaking. May be take advantage of DRS and KERS rather risk locking up brakes or going away from racing line.

    1. Ashwin says:

      One more.
      Hamilton will be in the news other than his dashing driving and interviews on racing. :)

  8. Miles says:

    I predict a season quite similar to last season, with McLaren doing a lot of catching up, The Red Bull quickest, but not necessarily hauling in the points, and the Ferrari running quick and steady.

    Where some of the mid-field teams will end up is what interests me. Mercedes are looking to be well up with McLaren and potentially Ferrari while Torro Rosso have been looking very quick. How will the Renault exhaust system help them and how strong will they be without Kubica? Petrov was pretty quick by the end of the season, but will that and Heidfeld be enough? How will the Williams fair? That back end looks pretty tight and I’ve heard they’re pretty quick to match!

    And the “new teams”. I expect Lotus to be hot on the heels of the midfield with their new Renault kit, while little has been said of Virgin and HRT haven’t even hit the track! Could this scupper their chances with the reintroduction of the 107% rule?

    All in all, I’m expecting another great season where the quickest cars won’t be the same from one race to the next.

    Race on!

  9. goferet says:

    WOW nice thoughts there.

    First off, Formula 1 is never trivial EVER! Even though an asteroid were heading for planet Earth you can bet, we would still look forward to the race.

    Amazing that this is your 22 season meh, I guess we’re all done in for because it seems there’s no cure.

    Now for my predictions for this season, am going with… Hammy to totally dominate the 2011 season from Melbourne to Interglos Schumi-style.

    Jenson with smoothness as a strong point will finish second & act as a rear gunner for the Mclaren outfit

    In third place I would say will be Alonso.

    Save journey mate, we shall see you on track. Have fun!

  10. Conor Bevan says:

    Nigel Mansel makes a shock return to F1 and wins the title with an Arrows.

    1. Chris Hobbs says:

      With Damon Hill changing the front right all season!

  11. Andrew Dobb says:

    I predict Hekki Kovalainen will throw the championship by his DRS being stuck open as he approaches Mark Webber during the race at Abu Dhabi. With a massive difference in closing speed he’ll be forced to smash into the back of MW.

    Every action makes an equal and opposite reaction and this has been coming since Valencia last year!

    1. James Draper says:

      Yeah that was frightening, I hope nobody gets hurt!

  12. Heath says:

    JA, no prediction here, but just wanted to say your reflections in the article above show someone with deep passion and commitment to this wonderful sport. Your insights through twitter and your blog are a great read. Along with other commentators, notably Peter Windsor, as well as the drivers embracing social media, F1 has never felt more accessible and the off season has thankfully been so much less tortuous!
    So, thank you for bringing it to us all, bring on F1 2011, and I wait three more sleeps here in Melbourne for the cars to get out on Albert Park’s bitumen!

  13. Dave Lowery says:

    I think your prediction about Lewis Hamilton is correct. If you read his twitter feed, he’s talking like a west coast rapper.

    He’s a McLaren lad through and through but with Fuller’s influence, I hope he doesn’t just chase the cash.

    Red Bull would be a good fit as he grows personally and he’d help sell drinks in the US but I hope if he does end up there it’s for the right reason.

    And after Webber bags his first championship this year too!

    I’d love for Mark to really shine this year and think all the ingredients are there.

    1. Donald, Edinburgh. says:

      I would be curious to see what Fuller offered that other management teams could not. It does have a bit of a Don King “I’ll make you a God” about it…

    2. Yomi says:

      A west coast rapper who also happens to be Britain’s youngest F1 Champion!

      Lewis is half Afro/Caribbean, logic dictates he will be influenced by MTV culture. What do you expect…some kid from Surrey listening to Blur and Radiohead??? Get real.

      I do agree with James though…this Fulher gig smells of David Beckham.

    3. Matt Devenish says:

      I think LH has struggled for an identity since arriving in F1. The nice kid from the good family was alright, but it didn’t really enthral the masses and it obviously didn’t fit in with what the Hamilton’s wanted. I think it all started to change when the hangers-on began to appear. I still remember Puff Daddy desperately reaching out to grab a piece of Lewis after his Monaco ’08 win, like some overly obsessed 14 year old Justin Bieber fan. But this is nothing new, talented young black stars tends to attract this type of attention from conniving fame and money obsessed vultures, all out for what they can get by a way of association. This is more or less when the naff gansta-speak (do ya get me, blood?) began to appear. Which is strange as for years McLaren were known not to tolerate anything but a respectable corporate image, whatever Whitmarsh now says.

      There’s no doubt the PR side of things have been rather tricky since entering F1. First the falling out with Alonso that led to Spy-gate. The accusations of deliberately causing a collision in Fuji (which for the record I think was total BS), the disastrous mismanagement of lie-gate in Australia ‘09 and 12 months later while in the same country, being caught by local plod “hooning”. Then the mysterious parting of company with his father-manager. All very damaging, especially for one of the highest paid and regarded sportsmen in the world. The day after Lewis won the World Championship, BBC Radio 5 Live ran a phone in, asking about the popularity of the new Champ. By far the largest number of comments were negative, why? Certainly a few people I know involved at the BRDC and had met the Hamiltons had always said what lovely people they are. Quite shy, but determined to set out and achieve the goals they had set for themselves.

      Lewis mentions quite a bit how he wants to emulate Senna’s accomplishments. He’s got the talent, there’s no doubting that. However, Senna endured some quite negative publicity in his career, but his manager had experience in motorsport and not TV talent shows. Perhaps Lewis is thinking beyond F1, which is worrying if at the age of 26 he’s already planning for retirement. However if Fuller (or what will inevitably be a subordinate of Fuller) can help LH avoid some of the previous clangers that McLaren, Anthony and Lewis failed to avoid, then this perhaps might give Lewis the help he needs to realise his full potential. Even if he does release a rap CD in the middle of all of it…

  14. Nathan Bradley says:

    Hi James,

    Interesting thoughts as always.

    Here are mine: I expect Lotus to be pushing the established order (at least in some races)

    I agree with regard to a title battle between Vettel and Alonso, and I am just giving it to Alonso. I think he will have a slightly weaker car, but I think his experience will win out over Sebastian.

    I am also predicting Michael Schumacher to be fighting for the podium at some point in the season, perhaps even the top step.

    McLaren, hmmm…. If Mr. Whitmarsh is correct, and they have made the car that much quicker in the interim, then they could be up there. Not quickest, but fighting for high points. And if they haven’t it could be a difficult season for them, unless their development department gets back to its 2009 form.

    I can’t see the Bahrain GP being rescheduled for this season either, far too much political friction I think.

    Anyway, enjoy the season, should be a good one, and thanks for the wealth of great information on the site!

    Regards,

    Nathan

  15. Andrew says:

    James,

    I think it’s cruel to write such a tantalising preview when we’ve still got three days to wait until FP1!

    Very nicely sets the tone…

    As a Hamilton fan (amongst others), I am a bit worried about his choice of management team. I’m now half expecting his career path to be played out like a Premiership footballer’s with his agent chirping in his ear constantly about how he deserves more. Hope I’m wrong. I’d rather he’d chosen one of the specialist F1 management crews though.

  16. Danny says:

    Schumacher to win the title, dare I say quite comfortably, I have this feeling Schumacher is going to do something special.

    Massa to run Alonso close

    Button and Hamilton to fall out

    1. ZF1 says:

      I like your prediction mate! To add on to that, by the end of the season there will be no team names Lotus! lol

  17. Steve Dalby says:

    Predictions….

    Politics WILL be a part of F1 this year Lotus at the beginning, Tyres and drivers in the middle and Bernie stirring the teams and venues for the new (anti)Concorde discussions due to start shortly.

    Will this overshadow the racing? …no chance it will compliment what looks to be a awesome season nicely thank you.

    … This is Formula One.

  18. Jo Torrent says:

    Vettel/Webber/Alonso/Hamilton/Massa/Button

    Whitmarsh will be sacked

    1. Red5 says:

      And Ron returns…

    2. Galapago555 says:

      Jo, you are supposed to be a Ferrari supporter. I can not admit your predictions.

      Here are mine:
      - Alonso
      - Vettel
      - Massa
      - Webber
      - Schuey
      - Button
      Hamilton will find his way up to somewhere between Alonso and Schuey, not sure exactly where…

      1. Jo Torrent says:

        I’ve made an extensive prediction below. I’m still a Ferrari fan but I’m a pragmatic and I think that RedBull is far ahead and Vettel has gained momentum and confidence. I hardly see him loose this year byt you never know.

        I think that what I said is more likely but I hope that what you predict turns right

  19. Arnie S says:

    Dear James,
    DRS will be a flop – until everyone sees that you actually can overtake more cars than before, then everybody will say “This is the best F1 season ever”
    KERS will be a flop. full stop. Because no one understands it and it will be used as a defense.
    Vettel will be the star, until Ferrari sorts out their car.
    Alonso will be pissed, until he sorts out the car and wins.
    Someone will start winning, that you never thought of – could be Jenson, could be Rosberg, but, in the end – I think that Vettel will be the star.

  20. Dylan says:

    Predictions for the season that’s in store for us? This could be nigh on impossible, apart from the prediction of unpredictability over the next 40 weeks!

    This winters/summers testing (depending on your hemisphere of existence) has seen more smoke and mirrors than I can remember. It has been truly fascinating reading, and I’m not even sure one bit where everyone is going to stand come qualifying this Saturday, let alone over the course of the entire season! Although I may be tempted to slap a fiver down on Alonso to come out on top,though I’m not going to right off the Mercedes chaps either.
    I’m just really looking forward to an ultra-competitive, closely fought, nail-biting championship, much like last year, but with the added component of (copious amounts most likey) on track overtaking action, due to the three new fandangled components this year.

    A classic year in store for us, and imho all predictions may simply go out the door, down the road, and into the tip.

  21. Stevie P says:

    Predictions for the season!?!? Good grief James… care to be more specific :-)

    Err, ahem, right… ok, from a UK perspective I’ll wager\suggest that Messrs Coulthard and Brundle have a disagreement in the commentary booth and as such don’t commentate on the race, but more squabble over who is “right”. Not really a prediction… more an aside :-)

    Alonso to win Drivers title (he is soooooo fired up!); Red Bull constructors. Merc to win 1 GP w/ Rosberg at the wheel (a fuming Schumi comes in, in 2nd); Macca no GP wins (yes, none! And I like Macca!) and HRT to use more than five drivers as the season progresses. Team Lotus will get renamed Tyrell and Lotus Renault will become Matra (or Ligier or Prost, ok maybe not!). Bernie will retire and hand the “rains” (can you see what I did there?) over to Flav. And the FIA will be flicking switches on rear-wings here, there and everywhere if and when we have a bore-fest of a race (NB, I like the bore-fests too, I know it’s insane, but even a boring race floats my F1 boat).

    And there you have it… :-)

    1. Stevie P says:

      Roll on Friday… :-)

      1. marco pizzuti says:

        Rolllllllll Onnnnnnnnnn baby !!!!

        Forza Ferrari !!!
        Forza Alonso !!!

  22. Rob says:

    I think is going to be a great season and possibly the best I ever witnessed since I got into F1 back in 1994. Im really happy Bridgestone got out of the way as their very good tyres were very bad for the sport in last 10 years. Pirelli made great effort with the tyres they made and the racing side of F1 will be brilliant this year. Add to that KERS and DRS and bunch of hungy guys like Hamilton with his recent comments and Fernando Alonso in particular. I cant wait to see him in action and how Massa will cope with him this year. What about Michael Schumacher? I think he might be back this year, personally Id love to see him at the top step of the podium.

    Its a great shame Robert Kubica wont be there as I was expecting some exceptional drivers from him this year and possibly race wins in races like Monaco, hopefuly he comes back before the end of the season.

    Its first time since I started watching Formula 1almost 20 years ago the testing gave us absolutely no answer, yeah everybody thinks Red Bull will be the pace setters but what about Mercedes’ time in last (dry) day of the testing and McLaren claim they found a second a lap.

    My prediction for the season is: expect unpredicted. With so many factors playing a role this year I think we will have more crazy races and maybe some unexpected winners.
    Overall I think Fernando Alonso in his second year in Ferrari will be immense, wild but controlled and so hungry after so many years without the crown and I think this is his year after long battle with Hamilton, Vettel and occasionally Massa, Webber and Button

  23. Akshara says:

    Merc 1-2.

    1.MSC
    2.Nico
    3.Alonso

    1. richy says:

      hahahahahaha

      ^ this deserves the shirt just for comedy value

      I reckon that Mclaren are sandbagging a little, but still don’t have the raw pace they expected to have.
      Torro Rosso could be a bit of a surprise this season (I hope anyway, would be great to see a ‘small’ team shock some of the big boys.)
      Red Bull are gonna romp the manufacturers title, but drivers is gonna be between at least 6.
      2 Mclaren, 2 red bull, nico, and Alonso.

      I’ll probably completely have changed my mind come the end of Quali Saturday though :o)

  24. Nathan says:

    Got me all excited James!

    Like you I worry about Lewis’ choice in management, but as long as he continues to be a committed racer on the track I don’t really care what he does off it, I’m not interested in the lives of celebrities away from what they do for a job.

    This year I see a season of radical change, as you would expect from the moves the FIA have made to make passing easier and to bring the strategy back to F1, which was sadly missing last year I felt, although I did sometimes enjoy the full-blooded battles we saw at races like Turkey, where it was great to watch 3 or 4 guys at the front in full attack mode for the entire race, without the interruption of too many pit stops.

    Those teams with the ability to call a pit stop at the right time will be at a premium I think, and the drivers who can make it work will be best placed to surprise. I think the likes of Rubens Barrichello and Nick Heidfeld could be two of the best in that regard. Their experience will become invaluable.

    There are others like Kamui Kobayashi and Nico Rosberg who are known to make interesting strategies work, and that could be a lot of fun.

    I’m not entirely sure where I stand on the rear wings but I am willing to give them a chance. For me their success will come down to two things :

    a) Getting the balance right so that there is a useful impact, but not so much that people can get by easily. I want the rear wings to work in a way where they get you just that little bit closer, to give drivers an opportunity, a chance, and a reason to overtake. It may only be a matter of that extra 10-20 metres, but hopefully it will make people at least ‘have a go’

    b) Whether or not it confuses people. We can’t have a system that, say, my mum can’t understand, when she watches the races on occasion. F1 needs to be understandable to the casual fan but not dumbed down to a point where it abandons it’s hardcore following. Make it clear through TV what is happening, why it’s happening, and whether or not it’s working.

    I am excited about the tyres, because I think it offers a good opportunity for strategy to return to F1. But again it is about striking a balance, they need to be durable enough in some situations to make it a plausible strategy, but degradable enough to offer a wider range of strategies and ideas. I will be looking forward to seeing how this plays out.

    Bit of a long post sorry!

  25. Tom Visser says:

    Hello James, I hope we’ll see a lot of surprises but am afraid it’s not to be. I don’t believe the moveable rear-wing and Pirelli tires will have much effect in terms of strength/performance/differences between cars. I would like to see Heidfeld take a win home this season and Sutil finally breaking through with a podiumfinish. Both deserve that for there stamina and hard work the previous seasons. Furthermore it will be a predictable outcome; Vettel or Alonso. My sympathy lies with Button and Webber too because they seem like nice blokes and good drivers, so I hope they will perform better than expected. Than I like it to be good weather during the Monaco GP, because I’m visiting that. Greetings and enjoy this season.

  26. Richard says:

    Not sure if its a prediction, but I’m worried about a dangerous mix of factors causing problems in the pitlane this season (to be honest, I expected this last season as well, and thankfully I was wrong).

    Without refuelling, the limiting factor on the stops is how quickly 4 wheels can be taken off and 4 new ones put on. There is zero margin for error and the pressure on the jack operators must be colossal given how crucial tenths of a second can be to race results during the ‘overlap’ of a pitstop.

    With so many more stops expected this year due to the tyre degradation, the pitlane will be busier (both cars and crews), and the number of wheels being changed will increase enormously, and at the same time a quick stop will be no less crucial to the outcome of a race.

    4 Wheels per stop, ~3 stops per car, 24 cars per race, 19 races in a season… there are likely to be 5000 opportunities to eke out a tenth on the opposition this season with a lightning fast tyre change, and 5000 possibilities for a wheel nut to be not-quite-tight-enough with potentially tragic consequences.

  27. Paul Mc says:

    Im hoping Melbourne delivers a fantastic race and hopefully not the Red Bull domination that appears to be inevitable to some F1 commentators. It’s going to be quite fascinating to see the relationship of the drivers develop over the coming season. From the PR friendly launch photos to ramming each other off the road in Istanbul, I think all eyes will be on Red Bull again with Mark and Seb. They have said in the press that they have put the troubles of last season behind them but I really don’t think Mark Webber has. He wants a WDC title and im sure at his home race he will want to put down a marker and let Seb know that he is no number two driver.

    Ferrari will no doubt be strong as always. Alonso will want to start the season as strongly as he did last year. After a winter of licking their wounds, Alonso will want to dominate Massa and lead the Prancing Horse to glory for his third title. Pressure is on at Ferrari after the management reshuffle, coupled with a car named with Italian pride and history, the Scuderia will see anything other than first place as a failure.

    Elsewhere James I feel this could be a defining year in Lewis Hamilton’s career. If he is not in contention this year I cannot see him sticking around at McLaren. Red Bull will most likely pounce with Mark going to McLaren. Lewis wants multiple WDC’s and im sure he will park nostalgia for McLaren to achieve that goal.

    But the team im most intrigued about is Mercedes. After a poor 2010 campaign all eyes will be on the seven times world champion. I think it was easier for Schumacher last year in the fact that nobody thought the Mercedes could win a race so the pressure to perform in my opinion was not as great as it is this season. If the Mercedes looks like a race winner then Schumacher must perform. Everyone has had their say about Schumacher in the press and whether his comeback is a failure and that he is too old for modern day F1. Its time for Schumacher to answer his critics. A lot of people were surprised by his laid back attitude last season but I can’t see the same Michael this year. I expect to see the ruthless Schumacher return and better performances against Nico.

    Overall I see Red Bull vs Ferrari for the title and McLaren, Mercedes and Renault battling for third place. My prediction is Alonso to be WDC and Red Bull as constructors champions again.

    1. Phil C says:

      Taking up your point with Mercedes, I don’t think everyone thought they wouldn’t win. Let’s not forget, this was the team that won the 2009 driver and constructor titles, just with a different name. The same people were still in charge, and the ‘greatest’ ever F1 driver was back.

      Mercedes were the flop of the season for me. I maybe didn’t expect them to dominate, after all, Ferrari and McLaren would have caught up after a disasterous 2009. But I expected Red Bull to fall back, and Mercedes to be in contention for a couple of wins.

      How wrong was I?!!!

  28. Andrew Brookes says:

    My prediction is for Hispania Racing to surprise a few people with its Geoff Willis designed car. Okay, they have little money, the car is a re-worked 2010 Dallara chassis and they haven’t tested. Therefore the odds aren’t in their favour. But bear in mind Luizzi went reasonably quickly in the Barcelona test with the 2010 car, quicker than the new Virgin. People have critised the HRT team but have these people ever ran an F1 team? I really hope they have a good season and score a couple of points. Who would have thought Minardi would beat BAR in 1999 for example (apart maybe from Giancarlo himeself). Let’s hope for a great season and thanks for your updates James.

    1. Don M. says:

      The odds to surprise are probably in their favour. If they get to the end of a race, or even get into a race, a lot of people will be surprised. Considering what they had last year I think they embarrassed the other new teams by getting so close. I hope they can establish themselves – the more teams the better. I also hope Virgin and Lotus can get nearer the pace and get a few points this year. Everyone should remember that these teams were lured into F1 under false pretenses and it would be an achievement for any of them to survive in the sport.

  29. Ralf F says:

    I also hope for and foresee more exiting racing by the new Pirellis. However It won’t be without it’s detractors, specially those in the leading teams who will eventually fall into the grasp of the midfield teams who can afford more riskier strategies by not having to fight for a championship.

    I also expect controversy around the KERS/DRS systems and how busy the drivers will be, though in this regard, like James said, the strongest drivers will still prevail, and it’s from the rookies and the less experienced where I expect the negative comments from.

    Unlike others, I’m quite sure that Webber will have a part to play and a genuine claim to the championship. He has proved us wrong in the last two seasons by matching and sometimes outperforming Vettel against all expectations, and after having smelled the title last year and what he went through personally in his relationship with the team, I expect him to be the most improved top driver.

    I foresee a hard year for McLaren, akin to their 2009 and 2006 campaigns. They will win races and will improve their car, but consistency in their inconsistency seems to be their characteristic. Hamilton will probably get the most out of the car in terms of pace, but Button’s calmed and precise approach will wield equal if not bigger fruit. Also in his relationship with the team. I really cannot understand what’s going on in Hamilton’s head. He seems so committed when he is driving, yet he acts like a star outside of it. I believe it began to show last year in the mistakes he had that the latter behaviour is also influencing the former. He will be more focused on track this year, though he will be more critical of the team if they don’t improve as expected, and I cannot blame him for it.

    Out of the midfield, the veterans will definitely prevail. Barrichello, Heidfield and even Schumacher have the most to gain this year. Though I expect at least one of the stablished names to struggle. I’m also quite sure we won’t have the same 24 drivers, though I don’t see why we won’t have 24 cars.

    Tony Fernandes’ team will sometimes be racing with the midfield guys, particularly with Force India or the rookies. However I don’t see them getting points in such a competitive field. I think it will prove a mistake for him to have invested so much in the Lotus name, regardless of if he keeps it or not.

    Above all, with all the new regulations, HDTV, and the ever improving coverage we get of the sport through all the existing media, I expect this to be a very exciting season. If not as close in competitiveness as the last one, it will certainly be just as entertaining, if not more. I am really looking forward to it.

    Cheers James and all and enjoy!

  30. Gibbo1 says:

    Looking forward to the new season.

    1. Red Bull, Webber will accept a role as second to Vettel who will win the Championship. Although not in Webbers nature it will be due to results.

    2. Ferrari, Alonso to become upset by every little thing, but will still be fast. Massa to sit behind him in most races.

    3. McLaren, Hamilton to race hard but make some errors which will cost him in a car playing catch up. Button will be steady but is not going to set the world a light.

    4. Mercedes, Schumacher will make a small improvement but will still be beaten by Roseberg. Mercedes will also be pushing hard this year and on a par with Mclaren.

    5. Renault, the loss of Kubica will be huge. Heidfeld will be consistent. Petrov will make too many errors.

    6. Williams, have an aggressive car and will have a good showing with Barrichelo performing consistently throughout the year. Maldonando will struggle.

    7. Force India, the car is a step behind and the team will be playing catch up. Di Resta will be decent in a slower car. Sutil will out perform Di Resta but not by much.

    8.Sauber, progress throughout the year with Mr Key. Two young drivers will be a TV directors dream when the race up front becomes a precession.

    9. Torro Roso, Both drivers will have to step this year with a decent looking chassis. One will find himself looking for a new job by the end of the year with Ricciardo given a chance.

    10. Lotus, improving but not overtaking Torro Roso.

    11. Virgin, CFD only will not help them catch either Lotus or Torro Roso.

    12. HRT, the only certain thing about this season is they will be running dead last.

    Two other things to add

    Tyres to be a constant source of complaint from the drivers and the teams, but great for the fans.

    Adjustable rear wings, who knows what they will bring to the party.

    A great season ahead.

  31. Sebee says:

    James,

    This is enjoyable season intro insight and the personal journal format is fantastic. I think many of us would really enjoy if your access and knowledge was shared more with your readers in this format. An recap of what you saw and did today in your weekend day by day. After all, for results we can go anywhere. But that personal window is something few outlets can offer us with depth.

  32. ash says:

    Great post. It’s interesting to read a less analytical stream of thought from you, James. It’s also fascinating to learn a little of how the ‘media circus’ operates around/within the sport itself!

    I agree, f1 seems to have lost its significance when cast against current world events. However, as you say, sport is inherently political. To me, therefore, f1 has great potential to make positive contributions to help those who are struggling.

    Good luck for the season, I’m hoping it’s a cracker!!

    1. Lockster says:

      Yes, I agree.

      James, I would be interested to also hear more about how members of the F1 circus (both yourself and others that work in that environment)manage to juggle the rigours of the constant travel and how it impacts on having a family etc; a “day in the life of…” type of thing.

      While I feel a little like Oliver Twist asking for “More”, I would definitely be interested in getting more of these personal snapshots, particularly since that is an area that most of the general F1 Fans just don’t get an insight into.

      I personally believe that your analytical offerings are the best out there, and the ability to ask specific questions is fantastic, but I also really enjoy these more random thoughts too.

      Thanks again for taking us all on the journey!!

  33. ade says:

    By mid-season, tired of the increasingly ludicrous public appearances enforced on him by his new manager, Lewis will be on the ‘phone to his dad asking him to come back.

  34. Lee says:

    Personally i think it will be Ferrari and Alonso’s year i just think they might have covered all the bases and they are looking strong plus very very reliable. Plus Alonso is very determined and i think he has had time now to shroud himself in the team and have them firing on all cylinders just like Schumi did when he was there, looks like there KERS and DRS are well integrated and from what i hear they and McLaren have the easier system to use with it being operated from paddles behind the wheel as opposed to on the wheel as in RB’s case so i think they will benefit from that.
    Anyway should be a close fight and a good year.

  35. Pete Dyer says:

    Melbourne GP will be a complete mess. HRT will fail to qualify. Drivers who’ve never experienced KERS, or the adjustable rear wing will be flying off the circuit everywhere. More laps will be done under the safety car than in free running. Massive tyre wear will mean only 12 cars finish as the others will have run out of tyres.

    Bernie Ecclestone will announce his retirement on the eve of the British GP.

    Mines an XX Large :-)

    1. azac21 says:

      Forgot to say that due to tyre wear the F1 cars will not be able to keep up with the safety car… while Bernie will be hosing down the track to achieve even more excitement!

  36. Mr Squiggle says:

    James, I’m looking forward to this season very much after last year’s close struggle.

    I live in Melbourne and work in a building on the edge of Albert Park.

    The planes have been practicing overhead all week and the counter-terrorist squad has gone through some dry runs over in the city of Melbourne.

    For some reason, over the years, I’ve grown to appreciate the way commentators and TV coverage makes the ‘at home’ experience more informative than the ‘at the track’ experience.
    I haven’t made an effort to get to the track yet.

    I’ll be watching to see if Webber can keep on his upward trajectory of the last two years and challenge Vettel. Its a long shot, but people forget that he has only been a winner for the last 24 months, and is still adapting to being a front runner.

    Anyway, hope you enjoy the trip to Melbourne!!

  37. Richie says:

    Interesting comment on Hamilton there James.

    From the outside looking in, it seemed that the McLaren / Lewis love affair ended at the 2009 Australian GP. Since then, although still fast he has appeared to lose focus.

    I feel that his closeness to the McLaren team has painted his career into a bit of a corner. He can’t go to Red Bull as that would undermine their junior race program and Ferrari look to be Team Alonso for the forseeable future.

    It’s hard to imagine anyone lower down the grid stumping up his fee, and I’m sure Hamilton would have no interest in racing in the mid-field.

    Anyone dare to predict what may happen to him if McLaren contine this run of producing semi-competitive cars?

    1. Sossoliso says:

      Sounds fair, but remember RB are not in F1 because they like racing/racers or Driver programs. They are here because they want to sell drinks (i.e. Redbull). That is where that new LH fellow comes in. He can have them flogging booze to americans by having LH playing it up in Califonia when not driving and maybe even learning a few chords on the guitar.. It will be ShowBiz at RB if LH and his management went there. I so not somehow see Dr M (up in the Austrian Hills) passing that up

      1. **Paul** says:

        LH has just dismissed Red Bull Racing as just a drinks company. Burning bridges isn’t the wisest move by him IMO.

    2. Red5 says:

      Think McLaren will turn around the performance of the car during the season.

      However, the younger generation are more difficult to please and it will be difficult for Lewis to avoid talking to other teams if he’s unable to fight at the front.

      So will he take over from Schumi or will he be Alonso’s replacement at Ferrari?

    3. **Paul** says:

      Prior to this season Lewis has had one un-competitive car (which also had KERS). One, and by the middle of that season it was reasonably competitive. He could have won numerous WDC by now if his driver errors hadn’t cost him points. He should have won in his first year (think China & Brazil errors), and probably last year too, but driver errors kept costing him points. Be it ramming Kimi in the Canadian pit exit, binning it at Monza two years running, a rather presumptious attempt to pass Webber or whatever else, the guy is very quick but he’s also rather error prone.

      People seem happy for him to crash out as long as he drives hard, but the skill he’s yet to learn from the likes of Schumacher and Alonso is driving a little below absolute flat out to ensure you finish. If he had that skill he’d be a 3 time WDC. He doesn’t and it’s not something Fuller’s Branding and Advertisement Specialists can teach Lewis.

    4. James Draper says:

      A couple of possibilities. Although I think that there is at most a 5% chance he moves.

      MS retires and LH roles over to Mercedes.
      RK cannot return to F1 fitness and LH moves to Renault.

  38. RGV says:

    1. Sebastian (6 wins, 9 poles) 290 pt
    2. Fernando (4 wins, 4 poles) 275 pt
    3. Mark (4 wins, 5 poles) 250 pt
    4. Shummi, Michael! (0 wins, 0 poles) 210 pt
    5. Felipe (1 win, 1 pole) 190 pt
    6. Lewis (2 win, 0 poles) 180 pt
    7. Jenson (2 wins, 0 poles) 170 pt
    8. Niko (0 wins, 0 poles) 150 pt
    9. Rubens (0 wins, 0 poles) 120 pt
    10. Nick (0 wins, 0 poles) 100 pt

    * – if Bahrain is on calendar again, 1 win to Alonso and pole to Vettel and 300 pt for Alonso and 310 for Vettel in the end.
    ** – I bet Massa will do its 1/1 in Turkey!
    *** – Button’ll win both if his races in TREMENDOUS races for the Pirellis and he’ll pit less than all the others.
    **** – Shummi’ll surprise a lot of people.
    ***** – Barrichelo’ll be a master in inferior machinery.
    ****** – Lots of “break downs” between Hamilton and his team.

    1. RGV says:

      Oh dear, my math is not so good! ;-) Vettel, if Bahrain will exist, then Vettel, if second in the race, will not have 310 pt, would he? ihihihih

    2. Sebee says:

      Looks like MIT has had some engineering students design a simulator and RGV has run the 2011 season a few thousand times, reporting the final data.

      However, there is a flaw here. Schumi doesn’t win a race? I think you ran this on a Mac, time to recompile the software on a PC and get the proper Schumi data with 2 wins minimum! :-)

    3. Nando says:

      There aren’t that many points available in the whole season and you’re missing more than half the drivers :).

      1. Rui Vale says:

        ;-)
        I was certain someone will do all the maths for me! Damm! You got me! ;-)

        OK, all the other drivers will have 0 points! Bad luck for them! ahahahahah

        It wasn’t a Mac nor a windows! It was an iPhone! ahahahah Just kidding!

        Shummi: 0 wins! Yes, now you all know I don’t like Shummi, but everything points to a more reasonable season for him! ;-)

        About the total points. Well, last year we add 1919 points in total. I had a bug in my software (ahahahah) and my total points for 2011 was 1935.
        Since I expect Bahrain to be relocated in the calendar then we have a total of 2020 plus points. Bug fixed! ;-)

        RGV

  39. JohnBt says:

    Finally it’s here. Most importantly, as fans let’s enjoy ourselves!

  40. JohnBt says:

    And all the best to you too James. Thanks again for your great website.

  41. Adam Taylor says:

    Predictions for the season:
    Driver Championship: Seb Vettel
    Team Championship: Red Bull
    Best New Team: “Team” Lotus
    Best Rookie: Pastor Maldonado
    Surprise Result: Sauber/Toro Rosso getting a podium
    Best Race: Montreal (not because of tyre degradation but it will be interesting to see how the teams and drivers have adapted to the new rules)

  42. Sasquatsch says:

    I hope I am wrong, but my feeling tells me F1 is going to take a few steps back as opposed to last year, which was (imho) the best season in over a decade.

    One of the reasons is that I don’t like the Pirelli tyres. As you say it makes strategy more important, but imho I think we’re going to see more action (and overtaking) in the pits than on the racetrack, as it was with refuelling. Formula One is about the best drivers in the best cars and where else than on the track can this be shown.
    Besides, what I read in a lot of comments from the drivers, the tyres grain too fast, causing a lot of marbles on the track, which makes overtaking harder, not easier (even with the DRS and KERS).

    With the Bridgestone tyres last year we saw a lot of action at the end of the race because of people driving on different compounds of tyres (starting on hard, ending on soft or the other way around) and because of the ban on refuelling (and less pitstops), we saw a lot of action during the whole race. More than in the previous decade.

    As a Formula One fan for over 30 years, I can’t wait to see ground-effect back on the cars, as I still think that era had the best action on track. These days the cars are too dependent on the airflow which makes it harder to overtake.

    As my predictions for the coming race, I think it will be Red Bull before Ferrari, with Renault and Mercedes close behind. Maybe McLaren can catch up (I hope so), so we will have a close battle between Vettel, Webber, Alonso, Heidfeld, Schumacher, Rosberg and Hamilton.

    Williams and Toro Rosso will be next, followed by Sauber, Force India and Lotus. Both Virgin and HRT will tail the field, and I doubt that HRT will finish the season if the rumours about their financial troubles are true.

  43. Fausto Cunha says:

    I´m expecting everything even chaos sometimes, there´s a lot of unknowns specially in terms of tyre and strategy.

    I´m trying to write this comment with my 4 mouths old niece in my lap and she seems to like the Red Bull Car that i have on the banner of the browser, maybe because it´s the colours that caught her attention or because she knows how quick it is.

    My predictions are a very fast Red Bull car specially on Quali and on fresh tyres with Sebastian beating Webber on most of the weekends.
    Red Bull will be closed followed by Ferrari, very much on the same pace specially with Fernando, he will be very strong on race days specially on used tyres and that´s why he´s my favourite to win the championship, it´s looming up to be Fernando´s year i hope not.

    Lewis and Michael will be trailing this two in the fight for the championship.

    So:

    Champion : Alonso
    Constructors: Red Bull
    Most poles: Vettel
    Most reliable: Ferrari

  44. Helen Dixon says:

    I will put some predictions later (when not at work…) but just wanted to say that I misread a part of your blog and thought that Simon Fuller wanted to make Hamilton into a band….. now that would be an interesting prediction!!

    Fantastic insight yet again and a great read.

    Out of interest James, do you have any idea what the readership numbers are like for your website?

  45. James, wasn’t it Simon Fuller who helps Honda come up with the Earth Dreams concept…and we all know how that one worked out..!!

  46. Richard Marsh says:

    HRT to pick up points, seriously.

  47. barmyf1 says:

    hamilton has been playing a waiting game since splitting from his dad’s guiding hand. His choice of manager along with some of his recent comments now clearly spells his intention. He is a racer and for him it’s all about winning. whilst there are words of support for the Mclaren stable make no mistake he will not sit there and wait until they can get their act together and once again become a winning team. They may have continuity of drivers but the other key team members still tend to change each year. This has noticable affect on the car design. ( come back Adrian!!!) it has not gone unoticed that this is thier biggest weakness. So watch out McLaren! Lewis and his manager are looking for a stable that can provide inovation and a new approach to beign a modern F1 racing team, drinks company or not………

  48. Jo Torrent says:

    This year standings
    *******************
    Vettel
    Webber
    Alonso
    Hamilton
    Rosberg
    Massa
    Button
    Schumacher
    Heidfeld (Kubica won’t be back this year)
    Barrichello
    Alguersuari
    Kobayashi
    Buemi(if not sacked)
    Petrov
    Maldonado
    Perez
    Kovalainen
    Trulli
    Sutil
    Di Resta
    Glock
    d’Ambrosio
    *
    *
    *
    Liuzzi
    Karthikeyan

    This year observations
    **********************

    Dominicali or Whitmarsh will be sacked before 2013. The Italian is favourite.

    Luca di Montezemolo will call the 2012 Ferrari F1 contender the “Ferrari 151 voglio/devo essere presidente del consiglio” (Ferrari 151 I want/have to be president of the counsil”). He still hesitates between voglio and devo.
    If he gets the counsil presidency, the next Ferrari road hypercar will be called the Ferrari Montezemolo.

    McLaren will produce carbon fibre bicycles, bikes, skate boards, rollers and anything on wheels where you can put carbon fibre. Their motto will be “WE DON’T HAVE THE SPEED BUT WE HAVE IDEAS”.
    Lewis Hamilton choice of Simon Fuller matches his own motto “SUCCESS WITHOUT GLAMOR IS NOTHING”

    RedBull will try to keep the
    Williams & Sauber will disappoint. Williams because that’s what they do best and Sauber because of the driver line up.

    ToroRosso will sack one of its drivers : I’ll go for Buemi. Dr Marko is already thrilled at the idea of throwing someone out mid-season.

    ForceIndia will go back to where Jordan left. Mr Mallaya might contemplate becoming a pundit too.

    HRT will try to qualify once in a while (107%). Not too many times, they don’t have enough money to buy spare parts.

    Virgin will remain that way. Virgin from success, virgin from victories and more worrying virgin from points.

    Bernie Ecclestone will loose yet a few more dictators. He’ll miss the good old times.

  49. Thomas says:

    First I miss seeing you on the TV James, so if possible could you either link us or post your video interviews?

    Predictions:

    Australia:
    - Vettel and Webber locks out the front row, but at the start the Ferraris gets mixed in. Felipe takes the lead and drives away, but his tyres are destroyed and he pits first while Webber and Alonso is left to battle it out. Vettel comes to a halt with something silly broken on his car. Schumacker is up there with some kind of crazy strategy but in the end loses 5 places on very worn tyres. Rosberg comes thru and takes runner-up spot behind Webber and in front of Fernando, who just edged out Heidfeld.

    Malaysia:
    - There is no stopping Alonso as he takes a dominant pole, followed by Heidfeld and the Red Bulls. Hamilton is up there and overtakes everyone at the start, but his tyres are gone by the end of lap two. Crazyness happens all around, but in the end Barrichello keeps a calm head and wins.

    China:
    - In a very wet Chinese GP everybody struggles with grip except Petrov and Heidfeld, who doiminates. Schumacer comes home third, with Algersuari spinning out at the last corner and Vettel thus taking 4th.

    Turkey:
    - Felipe dominates practice, but is nicked to pole by Mark Webber. In the race we see the two Toro Rossos battle among the Ferraris and Red Bulls, with Bumi claiming 3rd behind Webber and Massa. Nick Heidfeld finishes forth after a late stop and 5 overtakings in the last 5 laps. Nick Heidfeld now leads the drivers championship with everybody else a long way behind.

    Spain:
    - Red Bull is utterly, devastatingly dominant, and as Massa tangles with Heidfeld at the start and Alonso had a fuel pick-up problem in quali they take a joint lead at the had of the standings. Barrichello battles out Schumacher for the last podium place. Schumacer is penalised for trying to push Rubens into a wall. He is later overheard on the radio complaining about the lack of walls.

    Monaco:
    - Robert Kubica is still unable to use his hand, but despite this is drafted in for Monaco. Petrov sits out, and Kubica stuns everybody by qualifying two seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton. In the race Kubica streaks away, with Hamilton trying to repeat his strategy call from 08 by smashing his McLaren into a wall. However Schumacer has at the same time parked his car at Rascasse, so Lewis finds himself last. Rosberg is left to chase Kubica, but finds himself overtaken by Sutil to finish third.

    Candada:
    - Michael Schumacer takes a crushing victory with an innovative 11-stop strategy, finding time to update his blog before Lewis Hamilton comes home second after only 6 stops. Adrian Sutil is a surprise third with only 5 stops and his tyres are down to the canavas.

    Europe:
    - Race is red-flagged because of rain and several disgruntled Force India personell on the track. Rubens was leading on slicks in torrential rain, with Mallaya taking his team to cort bcause the dare to demant wages.

    Great Britain:
    - Lewis Hamilton takes a surprise pole position with Vettel and Heidfeld hot on his heals. In the race Lewis drives away by several seconds a lap, before coming to a halt at the end of lap 11, out of fuel. He is later overheard talking optimisticly about the improved reliability of his McLaren. Heidfeld takes back championship lead with his runner-up place.

    Germany:
    - Fans are out in force to cheer for all the germans, but they are all judged to have overtaken under yellows and have to start last. Heikki Kovalainen finds himself first, but takes a wrong turn, laving a bevildered Liuzzi leading. Tonio keeps a calm head and takes the win, with both Force India drivers crashing out.

    Hungary:
    - The Lotus name row rears its ugly head, and with Todt taking a sick leave Max Mosley is back at the helm. He quickly bans similar names from the grid, eliminating Lotuses left and right, before giving everybody born in the 60′s 50% more points, and talking about how we should all respect our elders. Vettel wins but is judged to have overtaken several germans and receives a two-race ban.

    Belgium:
    - Adrian Sutil stars at a soaked Spa, taking pole ahead of Lewis Hamilton, Vettel and Massa, who spun three times on his best lap. At the start Mark Webber shots past everyone, keeping his fot planted up Eau Rouge and sail into the distance. Jaime Algersuari takes second after a gritted drive who saw several of the usual front-runners fall away. Nick Heidfeld protects his championship lead with a 3rd ahead of Rosberg.

    Italy:
    - Everybody with Mercedes engines qualifies ahead of everybody with Ferrari engines, and finishes in that order.

    Singapore:
    - Fernando Alonso reignites his championship with a close win ahead of his teammate. The Red Bulls comes home 3rd and 4th, finally making some sense of this so-far crazy season.

    Japan:
    - The Renault are the class of the field around this figure-of-eight, and with Kubica back in Petrov’s seat takes a one-two. Kubica plays the team game and lets Nick thru to help his championship lead.

    Korea:
    - Fernando, Vettel and Webber entertains us with an epic battle for the lead, with old-school slipstreaming being the word of the day. In the end Webber comes home first ahead of his teammate and Nico Rosberg, who overtook six cars on the last lap after a lucky pitstop and a safety car.

    India:
    - Force India’s promise of a podium at their first home GP seems a long way off as the usual suspects flies into the distance. Michael Schumacer takes the lead after a brilliant tyre call and leads home Alonso and the Red Bulls. Nick Heidfeld is still championship leader, thanks to his solid points-gathering.

    Abu Dhabi:
    - Vettel wins in front of Webber, setting up for a five-way final with Heidfeld, Alonso, Schumacer and Webber.

    Interlagos:
    - Hamilton dominates qualifying, but the all-important championship battle goes down to the last lap, when Vettel makes an ill-concieved overtaking attempt on Alonso, leaving Nick Heidfeld as the champion.

    1. Chapor says:

      This is gold! :-D Especially Monaco and Germany.

    2. Dren says:

      Oh how entertaining the season would be if this was the case! I couldn’t hold the laughing back! Love it!

  50. andrew says:

    A great season ahead, TBC after a few races, but lots too look forward to already (new tyres, DRS, a host of ex world champs and some young guns)
    Predictions? how about Webber to lead his team mate and the stress to cause some kind of boil over, or Schui to be challenging for the championship. Might not be too likely, but both would add some excitement to the season.

    PS. James your site is THE F1 site on the web by far. Thanks heaps, keep it up.

  51. James D says:

    Completely agree with you on Hamilton.

    I’m no Lewis Hamilton fan, but do not at all like his decision to sign Fuller as his manager. I worry that his mind will wander from racing to other matters…

  52. Benson Jutton says:

    1) Tyres to be the biggest technological factor. KERS / DRS secondary.

    2) Blown exhasusts this years arms race.

    3) Vettel v Alonso for the title.

    4) Rosberg to outscore Schumi.

    5) Mercedes to be 3rd in Championship.

    6) Williams to have their best season in a decade.

    7) Green Lotus to secure position as best of the new teams

    8) Heidfeld to secure a drive for next year.

    9) Massa out of Ferrari

    10) Webber retires

    11) Kobayashi to execute the best overtake of the season

  53. melvin bowman says:

    James. Wish I was on that flight but after 25 yrs of watching am getting to my first gp Barcelona.! Predictions for season have to be a strong red bull team, ferrari, then mclaren. As your book on last years season showed its was all so close and I believe will be same this year. I feel alonso will emerge as champion with vettel and Hamilton for second. This hurts as I’m a Hamilton die hard.! By the way that shirt would be nice for me to wear to catalunya! Please.

  54. jmv says:

    Have a Good Year James!

    I was wondering can you share with us your number of airmiles to date?

    :-)

  55. Joe says:

    I believe that Mark Webber is finally going to silence all the doubters to claim motorsport’s ultimate prize-the F1 World Championship!

    It was the same last year but no one really believes he has it in him to take the title, but that’s okay, it will just make it all the more satisfying when he proves he could do it. I believe in WEBBER; he’s got the MARK of a champion :)

  56. Adrian Setterfield says:

    Hi James,

    Great to hear you have a couple of paying gigs with UBS and Australian TV. Hopefully that means you can personally afford to continue to spend time on this blog providing insight into F1 for all true fans throughout this and future seasons. Also, the fact that UBS have signed you up to promote awareness of F1 in the American market is some very welcome news.

    This season promises to be a very dynamic and unique championship. The drivers are looking strong – with five ex-champions, a handful of other very competitive drivers, the new generation of competitive drivers and a few pay drivers in the mix to spice things up. New rules, technologies, regulations and the Indian GP, we are in for a treat.

    I imagine that we will see the usual suspects vying for the championship in 2011 but this season may throw up some interesting results in some races. WIth the DRS, we may see a few of the front runners (and novices) coming together, leading to some of the solid drivers achieving success. Without knowing the true competitiveness of each team, I’d suggest that Mercedes, Renault and Williams (maybe Toro Rosso) will form the mid-pack. Some of these drivers may find themselves on the podium a few times – I’m thinking of drivers like Heidfeld, Rosberg, Barrichello etc. Additionally, with the re-introduction of KERS, we may see some mechanical failures throwing up some unexpected results. Think about if one of the front runners has a KERS failure and has to deactivate it and try to get a good result lugging around the extra 30kg.

    Aside from performance on track, I think we may see a few changes to driver lineups along the way. Karun seems to be lining himself up to replace Trulli – not that he is comparable but Trulli seems to have lost some of his passion as a result of driving around the back of the pack. Also, I think Red Bull would like to give their latest addition, Daniel Ricciardo, a run or two in a Toro Rosso. Potentially Buemi may be demoted for a couple of races… I wouldn’t count on Narain driving in every race. He’ll have the Indian GP firmly locked into his contract but based no HRT’s need for cash they may sell a couple of drives.

    I’m really looking forward to this season – I’ll be going to Spa, Monza and Suzuka (if all is well in Japan). The current era of Formula 1 is turning out to be something special and I hope I’ll be looking back at this period and be thankful I got to see our modern day heroes battle it out in the flesh.

    Have fun in Melbourne James!

  57. Dave says:

    I predict a riot.

    Webber will push hard against the team looking for equal rights.

    Massa will rise up but will be crushed by forces greater than himself.

    Lewis will be on the sidelines – oblivious to the chaos around him, like a McDonald’s during a street protest.

    Fernando will be the one with the riot shield the force that all will be trying to topple.

    Vettel the martyr, he will fight but loose.

  58. jonrob says:

    Very much looking forward to your race strategy pages James.
    Also noting that UBS has become a “Global Partner” of F1, a term which could mean any different things, some of which may have relevance to CVC wishing to unload some or all of it’s investment in F1. If Bernie or one of his people, gets a seat on the UBS board, then my suspicions will be confirmed.

    Meanwhile it bears repeating that this season’s races will be won and lost in the pits, in the strategy software and in one or two brilliant minds.

  59. Raja Sen says:

    f1 ’11. My, it’s going to be quite a year.

    Drivers will get all excited about that bright red ‘boost’ button on their steerings but for the first part of the season it’ll be employed overenthusiastically, working like an ejector-seat button in a Bondcar, as far as the driver’s place in the race is concerned. By the time anyone gets used to it (the smart money’s on Alonso), the rest will have given it up and the middle of the season will belong to this man. And at some point Schumacher, having led a race from the front, will rightfully complain that a pro-overtaking system is disadvantageous to the man with nobody ahead of him.

    All respect to the McLaren boys, they might have to stand and watch and battle for 4th and 5th places in the championship because this one’s going to be a slugfest between Vettel, Alonso and Schumacher. Yes, Schumacher. The old spidersense is buzzing and he’s raring to prove detractors wrong. One taste of the podium champagne and the bubbly will rejuvenate him like the taste of warm blood when a tiger gets his first kill. It’s a good thing, then, that we begin with Mumm’s-friendly Australia rather than fruitjuice Bahrain.

    It will be a season that polarises the fans, the made-to-degrade-tyres and KERS-led overtaking already finding eager new followers and disapproving purists in equal measure. They will bring forth immense spectacle — and Bernie will try hard to fit garden sprinklers and make it rain — but the drivers are going to be the ones paying for it. There will be three fluke victories this season because of this, otherwise credible circuits behaving like a wet Monaco simply because some bloke pressed the button at a fortuitous moment. (The f1 2011 video game will come with cheatcodes, which will ensure Hamilton’s fightback in the 2012 season.)

    Yet it shall be a close, lovely season. With a very deserving winner.

    Legacies are at stake. Either young Vettel or Hamilton or not-so-young Button will become the first of this generation’s two-time champions. Or that ridiculously talented Alonso will equal Senna’s three titles. Or Michael Schumacher will do the impossible and make us gasp like only he can.

    Come on 2011. Thrill us. We can’t wait.

  60. Vinola says:

    James~
    Thank you for your thoughtful, beautifully written prose. I haven’t agreed with some of your perspectives on Hamilton in the past year (especially vis a vis Button- and I like them both as Mclaren fan), however, I think your assessment here is spot on. Looking forward to your writings from Australia and the season in general.

  61. Red5 says:

    I’ll stick with 3 predictions that have served me well in the past and 1 new for this season;
    • More focus on driver’s facial hair
    • More talk about babies/girlfriends/wives
    • More talk about Webber, Massa and Schumacher retiring
    • Plus Alonso to launch his own aftershave ‘the sweet smell of success’

  62. Richard D says:

    I think at least two races this year will see shock winners, and I’m not just talking about Kubica in a BMW at Montreal, I mean Panis in a Ligier at Monaco. So Kobayashi to win a rain and error strewn Chinese Grand Prix and Barrichello to win either in Valencia or Budapest.

    Apart from that fantasy, I think Massa may surprise everyone with his early season form, keeping in touch with Alonso, who is too far behind Vettel and Webber to ever mount a serious title challenge. The Red Bull will have wrapped up the constructors by Suzuka and Vettel will be double champion in India.

    Hamilton will storm through at the end and the real intrigue will be to see who can get third, him or Alonso?

    Team Lotus will score a few points, Lotus Renault will disappoint, Ricciardo will be driving by Monza doing his best to catch the eye of the senior Bulls and Schumacher will be leading a race before a technical glitch sees him saunter into third (maybe at the race Barrichello’s going to win – just to make it all the sweeter for the Brazilian).

    Abu Dhabi to have bizarre upward rain seemingly coming out of the ground which Bernie claims he knows nothing about. Still the race is turgid.

    And HRT end the season with Esteban Tuero and Ricardo Rosset.

  63. Ben G says:

    Great post – thanks. Congrats on the UBS gig.

    Agree re Lewis – I really hope he can keep his head.

  64. Marcus in Canada says:

    I think tires will be by far the biggest story swamping “tight rear ends”, tiny gearboxes, blown diffusers, forward facing exhausts, adjustable wings, etc. All of that only has effect through the tires, and the changes there are the biggest we’ve seen in years (decades?). I suspect most engineers would argue that tires are the biggest factor every year…

  65. **Paul** says:

    My Predicitions for this season:

    The rear wing system will have little effect on the top teams due to setup comprimises.

    The public will love the new tyres, the drivers will not.

    Vettel and Alonso will show their class.

    Hamilton will become ‘Hamilton the Brand’ and his performances will effected as such.

    Lotus will be Lotus except when they’re a Reanult in disguise and no-one outside of hardcore F1 fans will understand or care.

    We’ll get some close racing and the Schumacher of old may make a return!

    PS – Size Large pls James ;-)

  66. Saju Kesavan says:

    I appreciate all comments from ex-drivers to commentators to those who have followed the sport for a long time. One thing i have realised is that there is a tendancy for some to follow previous form (drivers & team). For instance, Jensons smoother driving style usually ensures that the tyres are in better condition, but he does not have experience of KERS and no-one has experience of DRS. I think its a case of the drivers/f1 followers using the first 3 or 4 races to get used to DRS/KERS/TYRES/PITSTOPS, before we can eventually see who has all these covered the best. Usually the fastest car should win, but with these variables this will not be the case all the time. I predict that Lewis will outperform Jenson and be there or thereabouts by the 5th or 6th race of the season. Lewis and Fernando have the ability to drive cars that are not frontrunner ad still be up there. Vettel (yes he is WC) but we have not seen him drive from the mid/back of the field without making mistakes and taking people off the road. Massa will be closer to Alonson but the will still be a difference. I expect Webber to be consistent and maybe edge Vettel first half of the season as he has nothing to lose and time is not on his side. Hamilton signing to Simon Fuller i dont think will have a bad effect on his driving, hes used to the celebrity life and being in the spotlight and still won in 2008 with his popstar girlfriend present. I dont think anything will distract him from his driving, it just means someone else manages his world outside F1 and family. Hopefully Schumacher will be fighting for wins so we could see how he races when he has real competition (although there is a chance the dirty tricks may emerge again). Too early to write off Mclaren and i think there will be a few suprise thrown up. Renault will also be in the mix. My predictions for WC’11: Hamilton,Alonso,Vettel,Rosberg,Webber,Button,Massa,Schumacher.

  67. Tom says:

    Hmm, predictions… Hamilton to go to Mercedes next year, Kobayashi to take his place at Mclaren! And maybe Massa to get closer to Alonso this year, close enough to ruffle the Spaniard’s feathers. And HRT to beat Virgin.

  68. akuma says:

    Im going to be brave, my predictions for the Aussie GP
    1) Alonso
    2) Schumy
    3) Massa
    ..
    5) Webber
    ..
    9) Vettel
    10)Hamilton
    Button = Retired

  69. Erik says:

    I see fast cars getting stuck behind slow cars. Due to the graining of the new tires there will be so many marbles of the racing line that it will become impossible to pass. That means that the pitstop strategy will become one of the deciding factors in the race. I can hear the moaning already!

  70. 2011 is the most anticipated season ever. Since last year everyone saw the battle going to the end, this year everything seems to be even better. I expect the top 4 teams to challenge for victories, from time to time, and even Renault to come up with quite a few podiums.

    At the end it won’t matter who will get the crown, if it’s gonna be the second for Vettel, Lewis or Button, third for Alondo or the maiden one for Webber. Because all the changes (new tyres, movable wings, KERS) as well as all teams getting upgrades and messing with the order guarantees a special one this year.

    Roll on 2011! :)

  71. John S says:

    Some predictions:

    Fernando to win the drivers championship, with Vettel second and quick Nick Heidfeld to suprise everyone and come third.

    Red Bull will clinch the constructors championship, ahead of Ferrari, with Mercedes in third.

    McLaren will have a shocking season, though moments of individual brilliance will see them pick up a couple of podiums.

    Massa will announce his retirement, as will Mark Webber, leading to a feeding frenzy for the two imminently available seats. Lewis’ head will be turned by promises of massive contracts, but an intervention by Ron Dennis will see Hamilton stay at McLaren, and Dennis step back in as team principal. Whitmarsh will be quietly moved to something McLaren road cars.

    The threat of a breakaway championship will resurface, over the little turbo engine idea. Ferrari will again be the instigators, with Luca Colajanni banging on about racing heritage. The FIA will compromise on 2.5 litre turbocharged engines.

    Bernie will continue to promote his sprinkler system idea, and sprinklers will be designed into the Moscow circuit. Russia will be announced as a new GP, with Barcelona set to lose out.

    Tony fernandes will quit running an F1 team, after the various court cases go against him. HRT will stop racing after the Italian GP; and Jaques Villeneuve will announce a return to racing in a team run by Zoran Stefanovic and Ken Anderson. They’ll never appear in the sport.

  72. Mike says:

    My prediction or predictions? that Vettel will probably take a back to back crown with Alonso pushing him hard all the way. That Button will finish ahead of Hamilton as top Mclaren driver. Schumacher will take a victory, that the DRS will be dropped before mid season, and finally the resurgence of Williams leading to change in who expect to be in the Top 3 teams by the end of the season.

    There you go James, stick a tenner on all that, and the T shirts a medium please :)

  73. I’ve a feeling you’re asking us to predict the unpredictable here, James! With new, fragile tyres and some complicated and bold new designs I think the front half of the grid will find itself reshuffled almost from race to race.

    It looks clear to me that Ferrari and Red Bull will set the early pace, with Mercedes a little adrift of them and McLaren scrapping with Renault, both of whom I expect to make strides in car development as the season progresses. By the time we’re back at Monaco, I suspect we’ll see Red Bull slightly ahead with a Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes and Renault free-for-all not far behind them. If Red Bull can keep their cool and cut their unreliability, then they’ll saunter to both titles.

    I predict Williams will be the best of the rest, a small step ahead of both Sauber and Toro Rosso while Force India look to be lagging behind a little. Lotus have made a good step and while not quite enough to elevate them into the midfield proper, they’ll certainly get the opportunity to dice with any slower midfield runners suffering an off weekend. Virgin and HRT will once again be in a class of their own, but Hispania are growing into a tight, effective outfit and I think they could have the measure of Virgin in 2011.

  74. unoc vII says:

    @ James!
    Great Interview for Aussie TV (rpm one one) with Mark Webber… was watching it earlier tonight, highlight of the program. Lowlight started with N and ends with ASCAR. Anyway, great interview, just wanted ot say well done.

    Precitions:
    - Lewis and Jenson will be happy friends for until McLaren starts to get to challenging for races. They will have only one part/s and that will go to Hamilton as he is further ahead. Button will say it was ‘ok and understandable’ with a smile but will probably cry himself to sleep that night. THe relationship will be soured by that experience and McLaren will be from that point on Lewis’ team with Jenson seen atleast by most avid F1 followers as a top rate 2nd driver rather than a true equal drive in the team
    - Felipe will start challenging for events some of the time but Alonso will have alreayd dug his heels in and will still be ahead, but not by as much. Felipe will outqualify Alonso occasionally aswell but will do slightly worse in the race compared to his poll score (Alsonso vs Massa)
    - Vettel and Webber will burn again. Not as much as previous years. this year it will be centered around how RBR makes it’s stratergies and why Vettel benefited while Webbber was ahead in places like Turkey and Monaco last year while Vettel will benifit while being ahead in certain races this year.
    - RBR Will be the fastest car for most of the season
    - Kubica will have scored about 150% of whatever Hidfeld scores. Atleast in peoples minds. Some (like me) will think they would have done similiar but every missed opportunity will have be something that clearly Kubica would have taken. This will be a theme when discussing Renault
    - Petrov will improve overall with a few stand out performances. His overall improvement will be put down to Hidfeld being slow rather than Petrov being overall getting better in a Formula 1 car.
    - People will be impressed that Tilke didn’t massively screw up the Indian circuit. They will wonder why he didn’t do it before before realising that it wasn’t brilliant anyway, we have just lowered our expectations
    - Bernie will announce another new GP which will overcourse be in the middle a blank canvas ready for Tilke to destroy
    - David Coulthard will work Red Bull into a topic that has no direct relevance to Red Bull atleast once each race
    - Alguasuarie will do better than Buemi who will borderline be facing the axe for Ricciardo. Ricciardo will be quite fast but wont always be following the same fuel and tyres as his team mate and hence no one will know if he is faster
    - HRT will dissapoint again and will laughed at but then people will realise that they are part of F1 and they feel sad for F1 for having them.
    - Virgin’s CFD designs won’t be a success again yet they will push on with that path
    - De Resta will be pretty good out of the box and will be pushing Sutil by mid season. Most will reason because Sutil is slow, some will link to Di Resta’s past and show that Resta is quite fast.
    - It wont matter because Force India wont exactly be that fast
    - Lotus will be much in the midfield
    - Renault will have a few tracks were they are great and lots of mediaocraty.
    - Schumacher will get better while Rosberg will still do better
    - Perez wont be that bad. The Sauber wont be that good but it will be ok until the drivers bang it a bit on track when it will crash.
    - The Williams will be pretty good and near the front of the midfield. Maldonao will suprise some but wont be that good. Everyone will (unfairly in some circumstances) say that Hulkenberg could have dne that, and could have done that better and would have beaten Barrichello here etc…
    - Barichello will be be near the front but no podiums
    - Vettel will crash due to his fault
    - Vettel will have a bad weekened
    - Vettels fingure wont get sore no matter how much he waves it around
    - Webber will beat Vettel at some tracks
    - Vettel will beat Webber at some tracks

    - The KERS will be the cause of problems several times at several teams inclding Williams.
    - The KERS will taken better by the public than the wing
    - THe wing wont work well enough in some races
    - The wing will work to well and let everyone pass just by hitting it at some tracks
    - Most wont like it
    - Commentators will muck up by calling Reanult Lotus Renault atleast once and it probably be Brundle and then confuse everyone while trying to explain it. Coulthard will decided to call Renault Renault and Lotus Lotus. They will then make a point of this several times while Brundle will subnote that this is just a contructors name it doesn’t mean which team is the real team. Brundle will change his view form Renault being the real Lotus to their is no real Lotus
    - Button wont be as good with his tyres as some think. The heat wont be as much of an issue
    - The tyres will be over thought but will provide some interesting races. Some will complain about people doing different stratergies and hence not wheel to wheel racing in their opinion
    - People will think HRT wont qualify a few times, turns out they will qualify for all events
    - Webber/Vettel/Alonso for the title. Hamilton to be too far behind with Button too far off. Massa will be not too far behind but then Ferrari will be Ferrari and slap Massa in the face for being too fast again

    I think that’s enough :)

    1. unoc vII says:

      Welcome to Australia James!

  75. Declan says:

    ==Prediction==

    “The Brittleness of Alonso”

    The F1 paddock loves and loathes Fernando Alonso in equal measure. What we all agree on though is that he is the complete package in terms of having the potent mix of God-given ability and cerebral nous to maximize race strategy, motivate a team and lead the car development. He is the ultimate F1 warrior – who juggles all variables in his control to reach its full potential.

    What is also very clear in his emotional makeup is the lack of apathy and brutal willingness to walk across all grey areas to fulfil his ambition to become a world champion. My prediction is that this year will shatter his ‘completeness’ reputation and there will be a disproportionate focus on his psychological flaws as a competitor.

    A few scenarios which will aid this:

    - Team mate: Given the Pirelli structure, Massa should be able to work to his strengths and be a challenge to Alonso. Having also revealed his selfish intentions in 2010, it is difficult to see how Alonso could turn around and now convince his team mate to work together with him – when this will be critical in 2011 with new tyres and limited track time. There are light years between what is a Contractual Obligation and Inspired Motivation.

    - Competitiveness of Car: There will be tenths separating the front-runners. This will mute any advantage Alonso has of a ‘car-advantage’ and disable one of his core strengths.

    - DRS: If he is the hunter, he will cast dispersions on other drivers who defend aggressively. If he is the hunted, he will bend the unspoken rules that dictate acceptable behaviour. However, this will not be a ‘Schumacher-Hill’ mis-match. The talent pool of 2011 will mean accusations and accepting blame is not in Alonso’s vocabulary.

    -Time: Alonso must know and privately acknowledge that he is now at his sporting peak. The last time he was world champion was 5 years ago. I think that rather than be a powerful motivator, the actual effect of pressure on Alonso (particularly in areas he has no control over) detracts from his performance and sees him make ill choices.

    - Expectations: My sense is that Alonso performs at his best when his expectations are in check. When they don’t, he has a history of lashing out for minute gains which actually have asymmetric consequences (I won’t go into details). Unfortunately, coming second in his first year at Ferrari only draws a natural expectation for the second. It will be fascinating to see if Alonso can cope – but my prediction is that all the above combined will actually see a clear changing of the guards in F1.

  76. Darren S says:

    Predictions for the year. Well, at some point Bernie will put his foot in his mouth again! ASlmost worth running a sweepstack as to what round it will happen at!
    More seriously, i think the biggest story of the year will be Lewis leaving McLaren. The rumblings are going on and i can see Jenson getting the upper hand, if tyre management works out to be as important as it appears. His new management will be looking for ways to make him cash, and could there be a seat at Ferrari next year??!!? From silverstone on that will rumble.
    All in all should be a great years racing and i love all the politicing that goes on! Gives me something to read about while waiting the 2 weeks for the next race. Have a good trip James.

  77. Kishan says:

    The cream rises to the top…………

    1)Alonso
    2)Vettle
    3)Webber
    4)Schumacher
    5)Hamilton
    6)massa
    7)Button
    8)Heidfelt

    This year Team Lotus will challenge the likes of force india at times.

    HRT will not make the 107% cut on a few races.

    Rubbens will get at least one pole position.

    Schumacher will reignite the sport by his driving and not his antics.

    This year we will all love pirelli and the drivers will all hate pirelli.

    Dare i say it (god willing) the whole team/group lotus discussion will be decided in court. My money is on Tony H.

  78. Jamie says:

    Prediction:
    Red Bull will be the car of the season speedwise, but reliability issues and a frayed relationship between drivers will result in them not winning the drivers championship.
    Massa will be quite improved (due his tires bugbear being removed) and will challenge Alonso at the start of the season, but soon Alonso will edge it and get “team orders” support by June and Massa will become demoralised. Schumacher will be improved and get more podiums, but will not get a win. He will make at least 3 big errors which will make people look down on him, but he will eventually impress all and earn a new respect. Heidfeld rejuvenated by his last moment career save and buoyed on by a good car will impress all with frequent podiums and 1 win – this will inspire new confidence making his second half of the season even better than the first. Hamilton will not be on the same level as the last few years, and Button will improve leaving them level or Button slightly ahead, which will leave Hamilton frustrated and there will be rumours of him leaving. He won’t leave though. Lotus and Renault will be the most improved teams in the mid field, Renault winning 1 race and Lotus becoming a lead mid-fielder. Kobayashi will continue to impress despite the Sauber not making much ground on last year’s level.

    Drivers championship Prediction:
    1 – Alonso
    2 – Vettel
    3 – Webber
    4 – Massa
    5 – Button
    6 – Heidfeld
    7 – Hamilton
    8 – Schumacher
    9 – Rosberg

  79. . says:

    - It will be the most silly season to date, with too many changes to ‘spice up’ the action. Some accidents will happen because of these and maybe a few will even get hurt badly.

    - Racing won’t be the focus anymore (in a racing sport, go figure), meaning going as fast as you can but going just fast enough to not have to make 4 stops and beat the other in endurance.

    - Vettel will be double champion after 14 races tops.

    - The season will definitely not live up to the hype, thanks to the new regulations which tried to fix something that wasn’t broken. Last season was the best season in decades. What do they do? Change it all. Nice one FIA.

    I will still watch of course, but everytime someone ‘overtakes’ by pushing a button, gaining a mechanical advantage the one in front doesn’t have, I will smirk patronizingly.

  80. Glory K says:

    This season is going to suprise a lot of us and make nonsense of the predictions by the pundits so far.

  81. michael blane says:

    alonso to take the title in a titanic battle with vettel, hamilton button massa rosberg webber shumacher will score decent points and good races. james do you believe massa knows he is just the support act to alonso and do you believe the ferrari was designed with alonso driving style and all upgrades to suit alonso style?

  82. Aaron James says:

    Hi James..

    Predictions-

    Red Bull and Ferrari look strong in pre season-that said Ferrari have struggled the past two seasons early on so it will be interesting to see how they cope this time round.

    Red Bull have the magic of Adrian Newey- and the car looks quick- but I do not believe that just because he’s designed the car, means it will work well- It’s not like McLaren stopped winning constructors titles as soon as he left given their last one was in 1998.

    Talking of McLaren, I’m not *totally* sure they’ve gained a second by magic. If it was that easy, how come Lotus Racing didn’t even consider trying it last season. However- if anyone can develop a car over a season McLaren can so I envisage them doing well later on in the season- the question is this- will it be too little too late and will it take everything their driver pairing has to make a horse drink from the water?

    Mercedes likewise feel they have to gain a second and I am a bit confused by their pre-season. Schumacher has now been quoted as saying he can win races, but to catch up means it’s like an 800 meter race. You’ll only pass the guy in front if he slows down significantly and I can’t see them catching up development wise so quickly.

    Then you have tier two- most likely headed up by Renault. Question is how much Kubicas accident really affected them? It’s clear they have a pretty nifty car and I’ve got no doubt Heidfeld can do a job of it- but to make a tasty cup of tea you need both milk and a teabag to go with the water- so Petrov must be on his game or Renault’s cup of tea will taste bad. I believe they will be joined in “Tier 2″ with Sauber, Williams, Toro Rosso and Team Lotus.

    Force India are going to struggle this season. Most of their brains went to Team Lotus during last season, and things never seem quite plain sailing there whether its Gierdo Van Der Garde having to call in the bailiffs to get his owed money, or a high court appearance. Then there is the usual culprits of Virgin and HRT. Neither of which I envisage doing terribly well.

    My tip for the season is Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull. A bit less of a grouchy Schumacher. However for a surprise of the season? Tip your hats for Sauber.

  83. Seth says:

    Hi James – great blog as usual.

    I reckon it will be wacky races for most of the season – adjustable rear wings and kers will ensure plenty of accidents (I’m thinking there will be multiple instances of both Hamilton and Alonso getting frustrated and crashing as result!)

    Meanwhile if the Pirelli tyres fall away as much as everyone says they will the pits even more chaotic – races will be decided through pit fumbles and strategy mistakes as often as not.

    Vettel will dominate the qualifying all season and probably win the championship unless reliability problems strike. Webber will be competing with Alonso for second. Mclaren will be better in Melbourne than they’ve shown in testing + catch up to the Ferarri within a couple of races, but Alonso will best them mostly. Button’s performance will ironically flip-flop between benefiting from preserving his tyres longer and suffering because he cant control a car on destroyed tyres.

    Rosberg will beat Schumi again unless Mercedes try to favour Michael through strategy. Barichello will do reallywell. Heidfeld will do ok but underperform compared to his car quality for the 1st half of the season, then Renault will abandon development to concentrate on next year.

    Midfield will a close fight and probably vary track to track. Hispania will probably fall foul of the 107% rule once or twice…

    All guesswork really – the best thing about the season will be how mixed-up and close it all is! Ayone who correctly predicts the top eight in any race is either a time-traveller or exceptionally lucky!

  84. Scotty says:

    This is lining up to be one of the most interesting racing years in recent memory for F1. There are more race-winning capable drivers, and more determined teams fighting for podiums then I can think of. Predictions I have seen thus far are far-ranging and varied to be sure. To throw my two cents into the pile I would predict Hamilton taking the title, although I see a struggle through the season first, with Button second and Schumacher kicking and fighting for third, (the way we all remember him fighting…..nasty!) Thats my two cents, and about all its worth too! Thanks James!

  85. Dainha says:

    It is going to be a tough long season. I second all of you guys talking about Alonso & Vettel. Sadly I believe I won’t see that Felipe Massa with those skills shown before his so well known accident, and Mark Webber, he will stick to the front rows again, but I don’t think he will outperform SV, or even sign with Red Bull for another season.

    I believe my McLarens are not going to have a strong start of the season, and I can see this year Button outperforming Hamilton, if LH doesn’t get back to racing and continue with the hollywood lifestyle. I believe Button is going to have better chances with the new Pirellis. Somehow I don’t see the MP4-26 as a strong competitor.

    I can bet my shirt that Di Resta, Heidfeld, Perez, and Rosberg are the ones to put the show this season. I’m wondering hows going to be the rivalry Rosberg vs Schumacher this year; as I can clearly see a hungry Schumacher comeback from that disastrous last season.
    What about Perez and Kobayashi? this two talented drivers are going to be the teammate challenge to follow. Very talented, very fast, and in a reconstructed team.
    I don’t see Petrov doing much this season, as I don’t see the Lotus, MVirgins and Hispanias going anyway further than last year.
    Force India is going to show some improvements, as Williams will do the same with their rookie Maldonado, and their all timer Rubinho. I certainly can see Williams getting a bunch of extra points this season.

  86. Born 1950 says:

    I note on the BBC F1 website there are reports of Bernie banging on about sprinklers again.

    Seems to me he’s nutty. If his idea is to reduce grip — I’m assuming it’s that rather than reduce visibility — then there are much easier ways, such as reducing the size of aerodynamic appendages.

    At the moment rain only falls when the sky goes dark and the sun goes in. Can’t he see see the dangerous madness of wetting the track while to sun’s shining?

  87. Mr Anderson says:

    The new Williams turns out to be an absolute flyer, and Rubens finishes an already glittering career with a World Championship.

  88. Vbarroso says:

    Waiting has been so long… Efforts have been done to succeed this year… the teams have employed the top engineers, who, as magicians in their secret laboratories, have been designing and planing the war, so smoothly, so detailed…
    The sun will rise once again this 27th… but it won’t ever be the same. The battle will have begun, and two drivers, dominating their bull and horse respectively, will place themselves over the rest of the competitors, struggling and handling their beasts, in order to remain one over the other…
    The second line of soldiers will also fight, sweat running all across their chest, to surrender, in the end, to the Spanish King that will return to the place he should never has left…
    An history of passion, love, glory… anger and betrayel… Welcome to the 2011 F1 World Championship

  89. Christian Hepworth says:

    I predict that the Pirelli tyres will be so fragile that Hamilton will struggle to finish the race on them at Istanbul.

  90. Ruppert says:

    It’s been years since any of the drivers have been given the machinary to truly race in, and demonstrate their raw driving skills – I don’t expect much to change, as F1 has been stale for a number of years.

    If there was a big shake up in the management of F1, I might have more faith in the potential for a great season.

    As they say, once bitten twice shy. We’ve been bitten about 7 times, at least…

  91. Jeroen says:

    Robert Kubica makes it onto the grid before the end of season and Bernie is already dreaming about his sensational win that weekend.

    Get well soon Robert and to all a wonderful F1 season!

  92. Tom Lewis says:

    By the end of this season, everybody will be talking about Nico Rosberg being the next big name in F1

  93. Joe says:

    Lewis Hamilton will confirm that he is actually American; Jake Humphrey will interview Stefano Domenicali in the Ferrari motorhome after quali; Martin Brudle will turn up to the commentary box late after taking too long on his grid walk, due to being polite and waiting for the Sky Germany lady to speak 1st, leaving DC to do 1st few laps on his own; FIA make amendments to the rule book and ban drivers from using the phrase ‘for sure’.

  94. Marlon says:

    This season I can see team orders playing a massive part in each grand prix if the tyres require 3, 4 or even 5 stops.

    This will hand the advantage to Alonso and Ferrari (whom have already got a pretty clear hierarchy structure)

    The car that deals with the tyres best will win the championship and that is pretty inconclusive yet (we may be in 4 a surprise)

  95. Tim. says:

    “Formula 1 seems trivial in comparison to the seismic events going on in the world”

    Words never spoken truer !!!!!!!!!

  96. Andrew Woodruff says:

    Some predictions.

    - Bernie to suffer a concussion (after slipping over on his randomly watered marble floor) and give a radio interview calling for more green technology in the sport. He gives the example of more green buttons on the steering wheel.

    - Red Bull Silverstone aero update package to include feathered wings.

    - McLaren Applied Technologies to unveil pedal powered time travel device, enabling Whitmarsh et al to recover all those lost seconds.

    - The Stig to be named as Hamilton’s replacement after huge fall out with Nicole.

    And finally, out of genuine hope:

    - Robert Kubica to return at Monza and finish on the podium.

  97. Johnny87 says:

    Vitaly Petrov will lose his super-license after starting the Australian GP BEFORE the first red light would go on, so Renault will need a quick replacement. As all their reserves are young and inexperienced, they will want someone who’s been in f1 for a long long time – and suprisingly, they’ll give the second seat to none other than James Allen! With the front-exhaust system and the R31 being kind on it’s tyres, combined with Heidfeld’s experience and ‘safe hands’ approach, he will win the title (after he thought he wouldn’t even have a seat). James Allen will prove to be the wrong choice by Renault, as he’ll be 2 seconds a lap off Heidfeld’s pace in every race (Badoer esque). He’ll still be pleased by the pace, and in the crazy Monaco GP, with lots of rain and crashes, in a race won by Maldonado from Perez with Glock joining on the podium, James Allen will score two points for 9th position.

    With Heidfeld’s title secure with two races to go, then-ready-and-fit Kubica will take the seat for the last two races, winning the Brazilian GP. Petrov will take Allen’s job for the season, writing articles, interviewing drivers (mostly Heidfeld, Alguersuari and Petrov), and sending T-shirts to people with too much imagination, only to be eaten by an overweight racoon who likes fishing. But he’ll come back to win his first GP in 2012 and clinch the title in 2015 with Marussia-Virgin-Mercedes-Ferrari-Cosworth-Palmolive, after a long season battling his team-mate Lilly Allen.

  98. Tom says:

    Hi James,

    Good post and echoing a lot of the real fans thoughts.

    My predictions for the season ahead are:

    - Alonso and Vettel to engage in a championship war on track and a psychological war off it. To which Alonso will emerge the victor.

    - McLaren and Mercedes will struggle in the early races leading to rumours over Hamilton’s and Schumacher’s futures.

    - Torro Rosso will emerge as an early season threat to the top 10 and may even sneak a podium. One driver will not make it to Silverstone and we’ll see Ricciardo make an impressive debut.

    - Mark Webber will hang up his helmet at the end of the year and the impressive Ricciardo will take his seat, despite rumours linking half of the grid, including Hamilton, to the drive.

    - The adjustable wings will largely have little impact on the racing, but it’s likely to be masked by the tyres anyway. There will be at least one sizeable Webber-style crash due to the wing and there will be calls from the drivers to abandon them on safety.

    - At the back of the grid HRT will do their usual act and scrape onto the grid, but neither drivers will see out the year. Virgin will remain somewhere between HRT and Lotus, the latter of which will challenge the midfield on occasion and take a point at a wet Monaco.

    - Finally, and this is more a wish than anything, Kubica will make his comeback before the season end and take a dramatic and emotional victory.

    Oh and the engine regs for 2013 will create more breakaway threats from FOTA.

  99. Kam says:

    I expect Bernie and Ron to realise they are pretty much exactly the same at heart, and following on from that Ron to take over F1 when Bernie retires and returns to his used car dealership in Dartford.

  100. Charlie B says:

    My 10 predictions:

    1. Red Bull to dominate in the early stages, with Ferrari catching up throughout the year. Even a heroic effort from Alonso cannot prevent a second world title going to Vettel.

    2. A dry-wet race won from midfield by Schumacher after a poor qualifying session.

    3. Kobayashi giving the whole field passing lessons after a poor first race.

    4. Points for Lotus on at least 2 occasions.

    5. Mark Webber having the same season as last year, (good, but not good enough).

    6. Massa beating Alonso on pure pace in Turkey and Brazil but the pressure builds on him from last year to prove he can perform every two weeks.

    7. Hamilton and Button having to be content with podiums in a season like Kimi’s 2009, (Performing well but little to show for it)

    8. HRT not making the 107% rule.

    9. Sauber making good progress after not being where they wanted in Australia.

    10. Petrov outperforming Heidfeld on a number of occasions.

  101. Esteban says:

    I predict a three way title battle between Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton.

    Lewis will pick up the points, and odd victories when he can, driving the McLaren that will for the most part be behind the RBR and Ferrari this year. His skill to promote the car higher than it should will create a larger gap this year between JB and himself. Ultimately, Lewis finishes third.

    The real battle at the front will be between Alonso and Vettel. Both will make fewer mistakes this year, however the early teething problems with KERs which were not shown in early testing will be slow Vettel’s early charges. Ultimately the reliability, experience, and resources of the Ferrari/Alonso combination proves to great, and Alonso wins his third WDC.

    Further down the grid, Massa gets back up to speed, but is plagued by inconsistency. Webber, following an epic year in 2010, is worn down, and does not have the pace to keep up with his teammate.

    JB cannot extract the maximum out of his McLaren, and is a regular points scorer, but generally a non contender.

    The Renault is significantly quicker than it’s predecessor, but the lack of Kubica clearly hurts the team, and the team starts to lose the development race. They lose out to a surging Mercedes team that also made a good leap forward from last year. Both Schumi and Nico have podium appearances, but fail to score a race win. The Merc’s are primed for wins and title contention in 2012.

    The Williams/STR/Force India scrap continues into 2011, with the odd scuffle with Team Lotus.

    Richard Branson continues to smile, but his team is stuck at the back with the HRTs. Both teams fail to qualify with the reintroduction of the 107% rule more than once this season.

    BRING ON 2011!

  102. Mario says:

    I predict Fernando Alonso and Ferrari will take the initiative right from the start. They will go all guns blazing to show the events of the past are truly behind them in an effort to reinstate the prancing horse where they believe it belongs. All that is obviously anticipated in the RBR camp, so they too, are to start their season with their foot firmly on the accelerator, letting their opponents know they are afraid of nothing.

    The battle between those two will drive the season forward making other teams strive to get into the mix. We are going to hear the usual talk of those slightly behind about their upgrades in the pipeline and all the hard work being put in. Teams like Mercedes, McLaren, Renault, Williams and perhaps few others will be breathing down the neck of the leading two with the inevitable occasional success.

    As the drivers learn to feel their new cars with their all new tyres and new tech bits we will see a lot of the unpredictable, like rookies finishing in the points displacing some unlucky big names in one race and the very same rookies spinning out of control and taking out some unlucky big names in the other.

    Every driver on the grid, without exeption has something to prove. Mark Webber, Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, just to name a few; how will their seasons unfold? Every one of them has got questions about themselves that need to be answered.
    We too, have a lot of questions we want urgent answers to. With each curtain raised as the season rolls we will get some of the answers, inevitably though they will give birth to the new ones, but that is just the way the F1 is.

  103. Conrad M. Sathirweth says:

    Predictions:

    * The Pirelli tyres will be a success.
    * Drivers will moan a lot about ‘how much they have to do in the cockpit’ and tyres.
    * HRT will only qualify for 2 races the entire year.
    * There will be a massive amount of overtaking and strategies will be so varied that you will only know positions of the drivers until the last few laps of a race.
    * Red Bull will get accused of cheating.
    * People will get irked about Ferrari using team orders.
    * India will be a rousing success.
    * Alonso will not go back on the rollacoster at Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi.
    * Lewis Hamilton will appear in a Nicole Scherzinger music video.
    * There will be titanic battles within the front runners (Red Bull/Ferrari/Mclaren/Mercedes) and the midfield (Renault/Williams/Toro Rosso/Sauber) but there will also be crossover between the two groups.
    * In the penultimate race Vettel, Webber, Alonso, Hamilton, Button and Rosberg will all still be in contention for the WDC but by the last race it will be a head to head between Alonso and Vettel.
    * There will be a summer saga over 2013 engine regs.
    * Silly season will return.
    * 2011 season will be better than 2010.

  104. MR says:

    WDC winner? = Alonso
    WCC winner? = Mclaren
    Which constructor will finish last? = HRT
    Who will win out of Vettel/Webber? = Vettel
    Who will win out of Button/Hamilton? = Depends how the tyres go.
    Who will win out of Alonso/Massa? = Alonso
    Who will win out of Rosberg/Schumacher? = Rosberg
    Best rookie driver? = Sergio Pérez
    Will another team brake into the Mclaren/Red Bull/Ferrari triumvirate? = Mercedes
    Which sophomore team will be first to get a point if at all? = Lotus
    What will have the biggest effect on racing out of KERS, ARW or Pirelli tyres? = Pirelli tyres
    Will ARW make it the entire year? = Yes
    Who will be the first driver dropped, if any? = Narain Karthikeyan
    Will the WDC go to the last race again? = Yes
    Which will be the best driver pairing? = Button/Hamilton
    Will a team outside of Mclaren/Red Bull/Ferrari win a race? = Mercedes (Rosberg)
    Will there be another high profile team mate crash? = Red Bull
    Will Kubica be back before the end of the season? = Yes
    How many teams will use team orders by the end of the season? = Ferrari, Red Bull (will try), Mercedes
    Will the new BBC commentary team be a successs? = Yes
    Will the 2011 season be better than the 2010 season? = Yes

  105. Difficult to predict anything this season. I have a gut feeling that McLaren’s DRS will prove to be the most effective by far. I remember Martin Whitmarsh was extremely quick to jump to it’s defense last year with plenty of “lets give it a chance” speeches. If this gut feeling (and it is just that!) does turn out to be correct, and Whitmarsh’s predictions about the speed increases coming are anywhere near accurate, then we could be in for a very interesting situation of a car that’s not quite on the pace but has excellent overtaking potential. And we all know how well McLaren’s KERS system worked in 2009, so defending should be well covered to. I predict, however, the FOTA teams will push for a gentleman’s agreement mid season not to use the device any more, and we’ll be back to some real racing!

    1. (that’s the DRS device of course, not KERS which I recon will be here to stay)

  106. devilsadvocate says:

    Doubt you’re gonna like this one too much James but here I go:
    -gonna be a two horse race with Vettel and Alonso, the former will have fewer reliability issues from his brain and car so Webber will take a back seat this year like he did in ’09 while still challenging for podiums along with Massa.
    -unless pirelli suddeny builds some durability into their tires the house of cards at mclaren is going to come crashing down as Hamilton overdrives the underperforming car in qualifying only to get dusted in the race because he has no tires left button will finish on top of the two but probably outside of the top five unless mclaren sort their issues a la 2009 and find some pace. I predict this being quite heady depending on the extent that button gets a leg up on Lewis
    -Schumacher and rosberg will certainly take the fight to mclaren and have a strong bid for 3rd in my mind, unsure who fo the two will get MGPs first win but probably Schumacher based on nothing more than being a huge fan of his
    -lotus will win their court case and possibly some races breaking quick nicks dry spell. Barring a brawn type advantage though I dint see them fighting for more than 4th with mclaren.
    -I thoroughly predict the midfield beig the most interest part of the season as Alonso and vetted drive off the front, I fully expect sauber torro Rosso Williams F1 ad whatever Tony getsgorced toxall Team lotus will all enjoy sniping points from the top teams a they pick off Massa Petrov and some of the other number 2s from the front runners I even predict seeing Toro Rosso snagging a race win, they did it before with vettel when they had a good car and I would say that podium goes to alguersuari as he seems hungriest of the two.
    -HRT will struggle to make the 107% rule and drop out leaving Virgin as the only backmarker, unless they have been completely revolutionary I don’t see any points for them barring attrition.
    -I predict the championship winner to be Vettel at the last race after slugging it out with Alonso the whole way, the RB and Ferrari are both fast but I think RB still has something to give and were still fast or at their slowest dead even with Ferrari, Alonso will be there on merit of being a smarter racer than vettel

  107. Edward Valentine says:

    James,

    There are so many variables to consider for this season so perhaps it’s more a case of guess work.

    Out of the championship contenders I think Jenson Button will come out on top. The tyre situation is too great a factor in the war of attrition. If 2 or more stops are guaranteed then his smooth driving style will play to his advantage significantly and driving flat out is not going to be the fastest way to get to the end of each race.

    Vettel and Alonso obviously won’t be too far behind and they will share the headlines where the pole position fight is concerned due to their raw 1 lap pace. But I feel that on Sundays they will drive each other to 3 pitstops. This is why I think Jenson will come out on top (Webber and Hamilton I think will be the 4th and 5th best drivers this season).

    Best new driver – I think Maldonado will be the best of the new racers. He will learn more from Rubens and the Williams team than the other new drivers will learn from their respective teammates. Also he is in a Williams which shouldn’t be too shabby. I’d say a solid top 8 performer.

    Lotus should claim their first points by at least the midway point of the season and will outshine Virgin again. They will even take the fight to STR on a regular basis.

    Star of the season – Nico Rosberg. He will be a regular champagne sprayer (podium finisher) and will chalk up at least 2 victories this season.

    Good luck with the season James. I look forward to checking back everyday for reports and debate.

    1. Edward Valentine says:

      WDC Jenson Button
      WCC Ferrari

  108. Dren says:

    Nico wins the title in the last race. Schumacher will win again. Button beats Hamilton in points. Alonso comes in second, Vettel third. Virgin will be in last place.

    1. Marcin says:

      Heh, I have the same feeling. Nico seems to be a good bet. If Merc sorted out main problems with the car they can be title contenders. They have resources, money and Ross. Plus – last year there were many races where they outsmarted others and strategy seems to be the key to win this year.
      As for Shumi- he is not going to improve and ends his career after this season.

  109. Nulla says:

    I look forward to your interviews on aussie TV James. Its just a shame though that you could not have made it out a few days earlier. Then you could have taken a trip out to Bathurst to watch Jenson Button and Craig Lowndes doing a few laps in a McLaren of the Mt.Panorama circuit. I predict that Mebourne will give up the rights to host the Australia GP and Mt.Panorama will make a comeback for 2012 after a 53 year break (If only Bernie had any idea of the crowds that Mt.Panoramo and F1 could pull).

    Anyway back to reality. I think that due to new rules the most interesting part of the racing will be between the bottom 3 teams.

  110. Casimir says:

    Basing an entire season’s prediction on the basis of testing alone is impossible – needless to say I am not willing to wager a fiver on any of the outcomes I hypothesise taking place.

    On a constructor’s level, it is important to note who has taken a risk with their 2011 car. The most revolutionary ideas have been introduced by the McLaren (side-pods), Renault (exhaust), Williams (rear drive-train geometry) and Toro Rosso (double floor).

    Historically, having a vastly different car to everyone else more often than not ends badly. Truly innovative designs are the exception, not the rule, and the introduction of such devices (aerodynamic or mechanical) implies the team is chasing the game.

    In the case of Toro Rosso and Williams, the innovations appear well established (previous F1 cars have used the TR concept) and well tested (Williams). I doubt they will yield seconds per lap, but they should improve both teams’ relative performances. More importantly, the Williams innovation is a long-lead project, so don’t expect other teams mimicking this design even if it proves beneficial.

    From what has been said, the Renault exhaust concept is fundamentally a winning idea. It is also difficult to reproduce and I expect it to have some influence over their final position in the standings.

    The McLaren side-pods don’t impress me. I am inclined to think that the car will suffer from inherent balance issues as a result of its shape, and result in poor tyre wear. This will in turn negate any aero-efficiency yielded.

    Red Bull and Ferrari have adopted more conservative packages, evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Either this implies that they have run out of ideas, or their packages are inherently good and kind to tyres. I am inclined to believe the latter.

    Tyre wear has the potential to dominate the entire season. If any car/driver pairing has the ability to consistently be kind to their tyres, they have a great opportunity this year. Drivers that spring to mind in this regard include Jenson Button and Nick Heidfeld. Similarly, Lewis Hamilton could be at a disadvantage.

    It seems difficult to look far beyond Red Bull and Ferrari for the World Champion. Ferrari have shown great long run potential over the winter, and appear bulletproof (watch them both blow up in Melbourne!), and Vettel in a Red Bull seems like a winning package.

    Alonso will outclass Felipe again, although by a narrower margin than last year, while Vettel will stamp his authority on Mark. I wouldn’t wager a great deal on Mark’s contract being renewed either.

    McLaren and Mercedes will most likely end up fighting for victory occasionally too, although I suspect they will end the championship in third and fourth place. They should be challenged strongly by Renault this year, but without Kubica (and retaining Petrov) I can’t see them regularly challenging for anything other than the lower ends of the podium.

    Thereafter come a clutch of cars dreaming of more. Williams, Toro Rosso and Sauber have shown promise at various stages of testing and could surprise everyone. I’ll stick my neck out and punt for a 2nd place race finish from one of these cars during the course of the year.

    Force India could well find themselves fighting with Lotus this year. Were it not for their Mercedes KERS system and engine I would disregard them entirely. But, watch them surprise me and vault into the Williams bracket as they have done for the past year or two.

    Lotus will emerge as the best of the rest, and score points. Barring major accidents or unreliability, I find it difficult to imagine the Virgin or HRT cars scoring any points. HRT may be struggling to make the 107% rule in Melbourne.

    Beyond this, the introduction of Pirelli, KERS (reintroduced) and moveable rear wings should provide more interesting, and more complicated, viewing. In an era when Formula 1 is trying to expand its reach, beyond fanatics like myself, I am not sure complicating an already difficult to comprehend sport is necessarily the correct strategy. Do not be surprised if the current rear wing regulations are simplified come year end.

  111. Luke Robbins says:

    Here is my crack at this t-shirt….

    Aus – After sandbagging through free practise, the Red Bull’s of Vettel and Webber lock out the front row, 0.5s ahead of the chasing Ferrari of Alonso who is partnered by Rosberg on the second row.

    Mclaren’s ‘we’ve gained 1s’ chat is looking even more amusing as Lewis starts 8th, with Button missing out on Q3.

    The race begins, Vettel leads Webber and they quickly set on building a comfortable gap to Alonso in 3rd (they finish 1-3), Brundle and Coulthard cannot hide their excitement as Lewis battles Schumacher for 5th, making excellent use of the KERS to make a risky pass at turn 1. Lewis is hard on his tyres however, and has to pit 4 times allowing Schumi back through.

    The surprise of the day is Buemi, who makes the top 6 with a fine drive the beautifully designed Torro Rosso and picks up the envied award of ‘driver of the day’ – Coulthard wants to know why this decision doesn’t fall to him as co-com, Brundle remarks ‘You’ve got a lot to learn son’.

    Other than that, I haven’t given it much thought….

  112. Alan Li says:

    My prediction for the new seasion will be:

    Australian GP itself: Alonso wins with Vettel second, either Nico or Schuey in third.
    Driver’s Championship 2011: Alonso as World Champion, again with Vettel as runner-up.
    Constructor’s Championship 2011: Ferrari as Constructor Champion, with Red Bull or Mercedes as runner-up.

  113. Biggles209 says:

    Michael will win one race late in the season, and then retire again.

  114. Dino 642 says:

    Nice site, keep it up, James.

    Read all the comments but the majority are making a BIG mistake if they write off Mark Webber.

    Remember he can go up Vettel down and nothing is going to beat experience this year.

    You read it here first!

  115. Henrik says:

    Vettel v Alonso for WDC seems most likely, but if Ferrari indeed is the best car in tyre management, Alonso may well win it in the end this time. Webber will fight as strongly as usual, but won’t get as close to WDC as last year. Massa confirms his fisichellasque status compared to Alonso.

    Rosberg will surprise everyone and with Brawn’s strategies actually has a long shot at the title in the third fastest car like Kubica 2008 – in the end fights for WDC P3 with Webber. But curiously it is Schumacher, who takes Merc’s only win of the year in a messy wet race, much like Herbert was the Stewart’s winner in ’99 despite Barrichello finishing ahead over a full season.

    McLaren will endure a 2004. Awful reliability in the beginning, they improve in the end and Hamilton snatces a win somewhere… Let’s say Monza (that should suit them). Also rumours about Hamilton going to Mercedes gather pace. Button struggles in qualis, failing to make it into Q3 most of the time, but rises in races with strategies.

    Heidfeld is a solid points-collector all year, Petrov can’t match his consistency. WCC P5. Barrichello has some impressive performances in the first half of the season, but Williams fades later on. They have a tough battle with Sauber for WCC P6 and it’s hard to say, who comes out on top. Like Heidfeld, Kobayashi is also a consistent solid points scorer. Toro Rosso starts well by getting points on merit early season, but fades. Buemi gets replaced by Ricciardo in mid-season. Force India and Lotus are neck-and-neck. Both improve over the season, get some points, and threaten STR for P8 in the end. Maldonado, Perez, di Resta – all show some promise in the second half of the season and get a contract extension for 2012 as a reward.

    Glock gets frustrated with Virgin/Marussia and retires after 2011.

  116. Marc Schreiber says:

    Paul di Resta will shock the world! Schumi will silence his critics and Vettel will get a wake-up call. Alonso will 3-peat. Can’t wait to FINALLY get the season started!!!

  117. Eamonn Mc Cauley says:

    Alonso drivers and Mercedes constructors.

  118. Richard says:

    The safe prediction would be to go with the favourite of a Vettel/ Alonso battle for the title. However, I think that with all the changes this year there will be someting unexpected. A bit like the Brawn running away with everything a couple of years ago. One of the teams will luck out with a combination of driver, aero gizmo, strategy etc that will dominate the early races with the rest of the season everyone else playing catch up.

    Working out the lucky team is difficult. It’s got to be from one of the teams expected to be mid-field, which would include Renault, Williams and McLaren. Maybe this will be Force India’s year!

  119. Seth Williams says:

    James, great article! I could not be more excited for the start of the season. The only bummer is that I just moved and will not be able to catch the first race on TV like I always do. Do you know of any way to watch the race online for free? I would hate to miss this!

    Thanks!

  120. Andy Smith says:

    Dunno about predictions but heres what I hope happens:
    * Team Lotus to pick up some point, will be well deserved for a team that seems to be working hard and being open.

    * Webber to get the title, be great to have another champion and seems like a really good bloke.

    * Rosberg to get a win, long overdue.

    * Kubica to make a return before the end of the season.

    * Button to have the edge on Hamilton due to experience and feel of the changing conditions.

    * Massa to make a good showing and even if he doesn’t beat Alonso, show he is still good.

  121. Lilla My says:

    My predictions:
    * Alonso becoming the champion (me saying that – not really surprising ) with Vettel runner up
    * Massa and Schumacher doing much better than last year
    * Lewis losing his head in the heat at least once
    * Rosberg finally winning his first GP
    * some rain in Spa, Brazil and China. Oh… and Malaysia too
    * boring processions in Abu Dhabi and Valencia
    * at least one surprising pole sitter (a bit of a tradition now: 2008 – Vettel, 2009 – Fisichella, 2010 – Hulkenberg)
    * at least one or two strategic/pit stop blunders from Ferrari
    * McLaren saying at some point that Red Bull/Ferrari/Mercedes (whoever is on top) car is illegal
    * Alonso doing something that will make the media jump to his throat (even if it’s something really small that wouldn’t cause any interest if it was associated with any other driver. Something simply must happen that will make the haters and fanboys start their traditional war)
    * lots of moaning about the tyres
    * lots of crashes with DRS
    * HRT sitting out some races due to 107% rule
    * Vettel crashing with Alonso and Hamilton (I have nothing against any of them, but Vettel crashed with Button and Webber last year, so now it’s Alonso and Hamilton’s turn – out of the last season’s front runners)
    * Hamilton and Webber crashing into each other at least once (they managed to do it twice last season, so they seem quite keen on that)
    * lots of Nicole Scherzinger in the paddock and even more Jessica Michibata
    * some cool team radio transmissions to remember for years
    * last but not least: suspense, excitement, at least 3 championship contenders and the title fight taken down to the wire.

    For Polish fans: our commentator being even more confused than ever with the colours of the tyres, KERS, DRS and problems with telling drivers apart.

    I simply can’t wait for the weekend!

    1. Lilla My says:

      P.S. James, why not come back to this post before/after Brazil and send a present to anybody who was closest with their predictions (in case more than one person was right – awarding the one whose wildest/craziest/strangest prediction came true)? :)

    2. Lilla My says:

      I forgot about:
      * Jenson having no grip
      * never ending saga of Lewis Hamilton/Nicole Scherzinger splitting up/coming back together
      * the “for sure” phrase disease still spreading over the paddock (it really seems contagious)

  122. JohnT says:

    My prediction for this years championship is Virgin and HRT will be fighting it out at the front! Only kidding.

    On a more serious note. I feel Lewis is becoming greedy and fame hungry, IMO he needs his old man back asap to keep his mind on the racing.
    I think he is easily the fastest driver out there on his day. He is also paid an enormous ammount of money to do that.
    I work seven days a week so i can afford to dabble with tarmac rallying once or twice a year, I would drop everything to be in his position. my feeling is that he is living the high life too much and needs to appreciate the opertunity that has been given to him, he needs to get his head down and get on with his racing.

  123. conal houston says:

    My prediction is that the smaller, “look outside to see is it raining” teams will steal a march over the first few races and perhaps the trickier races where an accident or weather calls for a quick, “nothing to lose” change in strategy. Perhaps these will be Toro Roso, Williams, and I’m still a little unsure of Lotus Renaults driver line-up quality.

    The problem for the bigger teams is that they will over rely on their fancy programes and strategists over gut instinct especially earlier on as they have (over) invested financially heavily in them. I think it may a year for a agile team with a devil may care attitude a la Jordan gp.

    James, I’ll take a medium!

  124. Tim Brailli says:

    My prediction:

    Pole – Massa
    2nd – Alonso
    3rd – Vettel
    4th – Webber

    Alonso bullies Massa into Turn 1 and leads the race.

    Massa though has much faster race pace than Alonso

    Alonso refuses to let Massa past. Alonso’s new race engineer dare not radio to Alonso that ” Massa is faster than you”

    Webber pits early, leads the race till the end.

    Result – 1st Webber – Red Bull
    2nd Massa – Ferrari Ford Pickup 150
    3rd Vettel – Red Bull
    4th Alonso. – Ferrari Ford Pickup 150
    5th ????? – Lotus
    6th ????? – Lotus
    7th ????? – Lotus
    8th ????? – Lotus

    Messrs Domenicali and Horner chew wasps.

    Helmut Marko kicks Webbers front wing

    McLaren issue a press release saying their car will go a second per lap quicker next race ( but for only one lap )

  125. Hello James!
    My predictions are that we going to have a great championship.Mercedes might do the trick with a great Shumacher and a very fast Roserberg.Alonso and Vettel is the clasic fight for the championship and Massa is going to have a great come back with headaches for the others.I think Heidfeld is going to have his first win and Maldonaldo the surprice of the new faces.Lotus is going to be in front of Virgin ,Hrt,and Williams.
    Many wishes for a good trip from Greece !

  126. Andy C says:

    I really like Lewis and his ability to ring the neck out of a race car, and hes definitely one of the two top drivers in F1 today imho.

    I saw his move into the Fuller stable in the same way, about building a brand, not about ultimate success in racing.

    I’m not for one moment implying he isnt interested in F1 and winning titles. And he’s supremely talented.

    But he has to remember who brought him into F1 (and paid for quite a lot of his apprenticeship).

    There is no loyalty in business, but I did not hear suggestions of him being asked to find another team when he made mistakes or crashed last year so there has to be an element of give and take in my view
    Of course Lewis is welcome to go to the highest bidder when his contract comes up for renewal. But while hes still at McL, I’m sure he’ll be pushing as hard as he can.

    For my part, I think he’s got Redbull written all over his thoughts.

    I’m really excited about the new season. And don’t rule out Lewis for the WDC :-)

    1. Jo Torrent says:

      Andy my friend there’s an interview of Hamilton where he talks of RedBull as Soda company which doesn’t have the history of FERRARI & MCLAREN (something that shocked me, how dare he compare FERRARI & MCLAREN) and it won’t be there for the long term. He was quite agressive with Red Bull I thought and so I don’t imagine him going there after what he said.

      The second hurdle regarding RedBull is that Vettel is their long term bet besides all the junior drivers from their stable.

      Hence, I imagine him targeting Ferrari in the long term something he said he wasn’t contemplating at all before. I see in that the hand of Fuller in a bid to strengthen the Hamilton brand.

      1. Andy c says:

        Indeed, saw that today. I imagine it’s a Tongue in cheek comment. Doesn’t say much for McL and Ferrari does it if they’re being comprehensively outpaced by a drinks co. ;-)

        I can’t see Fernando going anywhere for a long time, and Lewis would not want to go there with Fernando there I’m sure.

  127. Nando says:

    Hamilton is already doing a huge amount of advertising work for Mclaren. Increasing his profile will only be beneficial for Mclaren in the long-term, afterall they do seem to be the team where image is everything.

  128. Skanda says:

    My expectations:

    1. MS to win a few races
    2. LH will stop once more than JB
    3. Massa will lead FA in the initial races
    4. Kubica to replace NH for the last 4 races

  129. Jez K says:

    Great build-up James……it feels like we’ve been waiting for this season to start forever!

    I predict serious friction between Michael and Nico at mercedes because this years car will be far more competitive, resulting in pressure from the mercedes bigwigs to have Michael lead the way in fine tuning the car, and rightfully so in my opinion with his proven experience.With the proven history between Michael and Ross Brawn and the strategy being so critical with the new pirellis, I think the pressure will be on Nico rather than Michael this season.

    I also predict red bull will have a headache again with their drivers having to share the spoils through the season, meaning the other teams (especially those who have a clear No.1 driver – stated or otherwise)will be able to stay in contention to the end of the season again.

    I reckon Alonso for the drivers and Red Bull or Mercedes for the Constructors, Button to outscore Hamilton, Massa to retire and Webber to move to ferrari, leaving Hamilton free to move to red bull alongside vettel in time for 2013 rule changes! Crazy….but maybe?

  130. Olivier says:

    I so much hope for at least one fierce battle between Schumacher and Alonso …

    Here’s my 2011 top 10 prediction (subject to change):

    1. Alonso (World Champion)
    2. Vettel
    3. Schumacher (the resurrection of Der Kaiser)
    4. Webber
    5. Rosberg (and his first win)
    6. = Massa (level on points with Rosberg)
    7. Heidfeld
    8. Hamilton (another character building year)
    9. Barrichello
    10. = Button (level on points with Rubens)

    The constructor’s championship will go to Red Bull. Mercedes springs a surprise.

  131. Markin Brundell says:

    My prediction( usually very vrroong):
    1)Red Bull
    Vettel wins this time in a slightly more convincing stile, but with greater points lead. “Slightly more convincing”, because his many wins this season would seem all too easy. Red Bull dominates
    Webber falls behind, 2010 was his last chance.
    2)Ferrari
    Alonso becomes Alonso again(less errors this year). Massa is still Massa, miles behind his teammate and more offs.
    3)McLaren
    A positive surprise after horror stories. Lewis makes a “Schuey 96/97″,impresses everyone, but fails to take title. He also takes Jenson´s reputation as a tactical genius/tyre master whatever…
    4)Mercedes
    A win or two are possible, Rosberg takes them. Schumacher is closer to him speedwise than last year, but is less perfect and generally gets beaten.

    5)Renault(the black Lotus)
    Weaker season this time. Rare podiums( for both, Nick and Vitali) is best I can think of.

    Now this is 5 teams, with 10 cars already. Im ready to see these teams occupy point scoring places almost every race. Even if some of the remaining teams(Sauber, Williams, Force India- the strongest ones) show some great speed, in the end, reliability or hard luck lifts usual faces on top again.
    Oh, and Williams paints its cars pink and wants to name his team “Brabham”…I think this season is going to be very difficult for low budget teams.

    What else?

    ARW – season is long enough to have some “unfair” results, mixed with races when nobody feels the difference and few good battles too.

    And last but not least,
    To make races credible, the first premise is mentally sane jury and regulations not conflicting each other. Therefore Im afraid of the expanded power for the stewards, not so much about the rear wing failing to close.

    And whatever the new technical regulations bring, I hope for no costly, rushed modifications. Let them drive what they have worked on.

    All in all, happy 2011 everybody! The first race was already a success( not going there). Looking forward to Melbourne!

  132. Simon Lord says:

    Prediction: All the work done by the OWG will be undone when it is found that Mercedes have produced a fast enough car for Michael Schumacher to start from the front row alongside Weber. Whether he is in first or second place, no one will be then able to overtake MS thanks to the combination of start-line weaving and sheer thuggery that won him seven titles. The FIA will take no action because he has won seven world titles.

    Alonso will take MS on but will ultimately always back off because of the risk of serious injury. MS will not fall for the overtaking at the pit entrance trick, so Alonso will have to find a new stunt – perhaps locking him in his motorhome a la Robbie Williams/Jackie Stewart. MS, like Robbie Williams, won’t think of breaking a window to get out.

    The all-English dream team of Hamilton and Button will emulate the feats of the all-English dream teams in cricket, soccer and most other sports you care to name. The English tabloid press won’t notice that McLaren win a single grand prix this year and continue to splash the dynamic duo all over their pages, pausing only to jeer at Alonso and boo at Schumacher. 1918, 1945 and 1966 will be irrelevantly mentioned at least once every time Schumacher’s name comes up.

    The Scottish press will only cover Paul di Resta and will relevantly mention Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart, Colin McRae and Dario Franchitti in every article. di Resta will emulate the feats of the all-Scottish dream teams in soccer, cricket and most other sports you care to name and will fail to qualify.

    1. Simon Lord says:

      What was I on yesterday? I wrote ‘..the front row alongside Weber’ instead of ‘Webber’ and anyway I meant VETTEL. Wishful thinking.

      And then I wrote ‘The English tabloid press won’t notice that McLaren win a single grand prix…’ instead of ‘The English tabloid press won’t notice that McLaren DON’T win a single grand prix…’

      The Australian GP is one of very few grands prix in the year to be on at a reasonable time for New Zealand viewers – 7pm. So imagine my dismay to discover that my wife has accepted a dinner invitation for Sunday night on my behalf. Ah well, here’s to time-shifting TV.

  133. Galapago555 says:

    “I’ve started a content strand, kindly supported by F1 sponsor UBS, where I will do a deep dive into the race strategy and how the decisions get taken, with inputs from insiders.”

    Wow, this sounds great. I’m looking forward to see your first comments. I’m sure it will help us to have a better understanding of the competition. Especially this season, when strategy is expected to be much more important than in recent years.

    As a side note, you say this section will be supported by UBS. No more sponsorship by LG to your site?

    And wildly off-topic, may I remind you that you promised us a screen saver with all the banners of the last season… ;-)

  134. Grody says:

    I predict RK is back on the grid before the end of the year!

  135. andyb says:

    Michael Schumacher will win 8th championship in the dying stages of the season thanks to cunning Ross Brawn strategies. And then he will retire.

  136. Tamar says:

    Formula 1 is my religion and Schumacher is my God ;)

    But serious: I think Schumi is going to surprise a lot of people and challenge for the podium. He has this magic with Ross Brawn and I think the new tires suit him well. Last year was just an extensive warmup.

    Ferrari will be the favourite this year for the title, followed by Red Bull. McLaren will develop their car but not enough to challenge for wins until mid-season.

    In general what I wish for is a great season where the best drivers show their quality :D.

    Let the game begin!

  137. Curro says:

    James your words wonderfully capture the excitement that all of us feel at this time of the year, just a few hours away from the big start. Thank you. Another season full of unknowns. I would say, what about the top 4 cars being nicely matched, on most of the tracks. Have a good one everyone.

  138. Paul says:

    James,

    Would you consider doing a little piece on your access / work at race weekends?

    Also, a little off topic but I’d an insight into the logistics involved in going to a race weekend from a teams perspective

    cheers

  139. Martin P says:

    My predictions are these:

    1. Bernie announces plans for a grand prix around Loch Ness.

    2. Two teams become embroiled in a High Court case over the use of the “Reliant” name.

    3. Lewis Hamilton faces so many accusations that he’s distracted by other interests that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as he tells Jake Humphrey “you know what, I let other people say what they want. I know what I have to do and I’m focused on it”.

    4. Eddie Jordan wears white jeans so tight that any chance of 3D broadcasts are banned by the United Nations on public health grounds.

  140. Nick Hipkin says:

    Here are my predictions, including Lewis!

    Red Bull to battle Ferrari all season long with Webber showing Vettel the way until later in the season when the pressure hits home. Massa to suprise Alonso early season but Fernando to get on top by the summer to steal the title from Red Bull at the death.
    Think Mercedes will be much improved, Schumy will be closer but Nico will still have the edge and may sneak his first win.
    As for Mclaren, think Button will struggle heavily with this years regs opposed to most peoples opinions. I see him scoring a couple of podiums but no more. Unless the car is consistent he struggles badly and these tyres will be anything but consistent.
    Lewis will battle but the car will frustrate him too much leading to the following.
    My big story prediction is I think Red Bull will sign Hamilton this summer for the 2013 season and then force Mclarens hand into releasing him for 2012.
    For some reason I feel almost 100% certain this will happen. Hamilton wouldnt need a high profile manager if he wanted to stay at Mclaren his whole career and I dont buy for one second that Red Bull dont want him due to their young driver scheme.
    Now they have had a taste for it all they will care about is having the strongest line up possible and I believe they have already tapped up Hamiltons new management. Something is definitely going on there.
    One last thing, HRT wont last the season!

  141. Paul H says:

    I think this season is going to play out in several different phases. The first flyaway races will be largely unpredictable with teams getting used to new cars, reliability issues, KERS, DRS, tyre wear and braking distances (full fuel load, DRS, KERS and tyres which fall off quickly could seriously alter a cars brake point as the race progresses). I think the experienced drivers will show their worth here with the rookies having a particularly difficult time. Red Bull and Ferrari fastest, with McL and Merc close behind. Torro Rosso to be the surprise package with a couple of the new teams getting some points as others break or crash.

    Once the teams get back to Europe I predict things to become closer as update packages on the front runners even things out and the midfield make some good steps up and improve reliability. Midway through there will be a big furore as people complain about a new part that everyone says is illegal and then furiously try to copy.

    As they head to the final third of the season, midfield teams performance will drop off as they concentrate on next year, the bottom teams will gain ground as they bid to outperform each other and the top end of the table will have surges and lulls as they concentrate on the tracks which best suit their package.

    Vettel and Webber to be close, Alonso to be the expected champion through consistency, Button and Hamilton to be evenly matched with Rosberg leading the chasing pack. Yet another season will go down to the wire with several drivers in it till the end. Rosberg and Schumacher to both win a race. Chandhok to be in the car for practice in India : ) A fluke win due to weather conditions leads Bernie to demand fake rain at all tracks. Lotus to finish top of the new teams but be called something else. Neither Renault or Team Lotus to win the court case. Renault to gain yet another car manufacturer sponsor or maybe JCB. HRT to pick up some very random sponsors.

    I’ll also predict lots of talk of a breakaway series as they teams prepare their case for the new Concorde agreement. The DRS rules will change several times over the season to try and make it work in an organic way. KERS will possibly be dropped again. New rules on aerodynamics will be brought in to slow the cars. HRT and Torro Rosso to finish the season with different drivers than they start the season.

    Think that’s all the bases covered. If it all came true I’d be annoyed, F1 is at its’ best when it’s unpredictable. I think it will be a great season once it gets going, so glad beginning in Australia, how it always should be to my mind. Looking forward to another season following your pages James, for your insights, informative reports and also for the comments of others which so are so often high quality and provide good discussion.

  142. MrExasperated says:

    I predict we are going to have a cracker of a season! Not to wish away a few days of my life but cant wait for free practice 1 to see what the real pecking order is!!

  143. D. says:

    “I gave you one, now you give me one”. It will be Alonso. He is at the peak of his career, in the 2nd fastest and probably most reliable car on the grid, he is ‘hungry’ after 4 years w/out a title … and he is owed the title his team gave away last year. My surprise driver of the year: Nico – if the Mercedes is as fast as it showed in the late tests, then I think he can have a top-3 finish. Vettel will have many more years to win more titles, Alonso needs a 3rd title now. If the Scudderia fails to deliver it for him (not if he fails to deliver it for them), w/ all the new brainpower imported from RBR and McLaren, then shame on them.

  144. Bill Day says:

    Webber vs. Vettel will be very intense and hard fought, as will Alonso vs. the world.

    McLaren will not get their car working and (as someone else said above) Whitmarsh will be gone.

    All the new variables (the fancy rear wing, the tires, KERS) will shake things up in the midfield, adding lots of interesting subplots to the season.

    Political unrest will cause at least one more Grand Prix (in addition to Bahrain) to disappear.

  145. Jeff in Melbourne says:

    It’s a grey, relatively chilly Wednesday morning in Melbourne today, just so you and the rest of the Brits arriving today feel at home James!

    1. Chris Hobbs says:

      And we have glorious sunshine here in Southern England!

  146. Rob Dugdale says:

    Uproar in Melbourne as the stewards rule that both Alonso and Vettel move twice and block a fast charging Lotus (the black ones) off the line. With new found discretion in the stewards room, they disqualify both cars. Michael Schumacher very critical of their reckless driving in an article in F1 magazine. The green Lotus team lose their court case and change their name mid season to ‘the team formally known as Lotus’. Simon Fuller and Bernie devise a reality tv show to attract more US fans to the sport, Lewis will co-host after being relieved of his racing seat at McLaren. Team bosses deny the reason was solely based on him being unable to get more than 5 laps out of any compound of Pirelli tyres. Murray Walker seen talking to Martin Brundle offering him commentary tips after fans poll suggest he and David ‘get on too well’

  147. Richard says:

    I think Lewis has got the wherewithall to make an excellent brand. It’s called looking at the wider picture. Sure he needs to stay extremely focused on racing, but he also needs a good car which McLaren have failed to deliver the last three years. Actually I suspect McLaren cars have been lacking downforce relative to front runners (Ferrari and now Red Bull) for some time just in recent years it has been more evident. I don’t think for one minute that Vettel and Alonso will have it all their way by any means with Mercedes making up ground, and if McLaren genuinely have added pace as they suggest then it really is anyones championship. If McLaren can force muster then my money is on Lewis Hamilton, otherwise I think Alonso will get the better of Vettel with a car that seems on a par with Red Bull. All this of course is pure conjecture as we will see in a few days time just how the teams relative performance pans out.

  148. Chris E says:

    Expecting Alonso to be mighty this year. Think his patchy form at the start of last season was due to

    1) An over-eagerness to get results in the bag after a relatively barren spell and

    2) A desire to test the limits of, and so to see if he could benefit from, the perceived pro-Ferrari biased of race stewards/governing body (e.g the illegal move on Kubica at Silverstone when he should’ve let him re-pass him).

    In the second half of the season he was starting to get results in the bag like in 05/06/07. Car willing, I think that will continue.

    Also expecting Schumacher to put in a more impressive showing.

    1. Lilla My says:

      I would add: 3) the awareness of driving THE Ferrari and (as a result) putting himself under pressure to bring the results. After all, liking Ferrari or not, you “have to” win when you’re driving for this team.

      Re your point 2) and Silverstone incident with Kubica – I see it differently: in Silverstone Alonso was (if I remember it right) 4th in the standings and he had this need to get as many points as possible in order to get back to the WDC fight. 2 weeks earlier (in Valencia) Hamilton passed the safety car and despite the penalty, he still managed to finish 2nd in that race. Ferrari (and Alonso) felt cheated then as Alonso obeyed the rules and lost many points (in comparison with Hamilton who broke the rules), so it seemed to me, that 2 weeks after Valencia (in UK) Alonso didn’t try to benefit from any pro-Ferrari policy (or whatever you call it), but rather he thought that “o.k. Lewis cheated and he’s now leading the standings. So it pays off to bend the rules from time to time. Hopefully it will work with me as well.”

      Anyway, no matter what reason caused Alonso to make all these uncharacteristic mistakes, he’s now over it and (hopefully) he will start from where he finished in 2010. And as he was pretty flawless in the second part of last season, I expect him to be extremly dangerous for his competitors this year. And I’m not sorry about that ;-).

  149. Dazzler says:

    Mercedes to outsmart a lot of people with their race tactics. Think it will be closer than last year with both constructors and drivers championships going to the wire at the last race weekend. Would like Schumi to grab the drivers as I got some cracking odds on him to do so !

  150. Dave Roberts says:

    James, I’m afraid I see parallels between Lewis and David Beckham where celebrity and ‘the brand’ took over the sporting genius. In Beckham’s case English football was robbed of a hero and Beckham gave up on his real career prematurely. I suspect this is the reason why Hamilton split with his father. I only hope Lewis fulfills his potential as a multi world champion and not allows his racing career to be overshadowed by other interests.

  151. Steve Selasky says:

    Actually, I predict that Jenson Button will win the World Title this year due in part to his – “Prost Like” driving style that will be easier on the tyres.

    As a result the Mclaren team will be his and Hamilton will be looking to move on. I would venture a guess that he would move to Red Bull to replace Mark Weber…..

  152. garyp says:

    Button – Massive over/understeer, no grip
    Hamilton – The tyres man, the tyres
    Alonso – I will win this championship, definately
    Massa – It was a team decision, tyres were to hot (shrug)
    Webber – Well mate number two driver couldn’t win could he
    Vettel – Yes, it was good (big grin)

    Vettel will be the star in the UNreasonably priced car and win it whilst trying to throw it away..

  153. madjon88 says:

    Im expecting it to be quite a good year for Mercedes, with maybe a win or two for Schumacher, but think Bernd Mayländer will do even better, and will have a strategic advantage as his tyres will be alot more durable than the pirellis. Im also expecting that the Bahrain gp will be rescheduled to take place over the summer, with a sell out crowd at the top gear test track. Further down the grid im expecting that HRT will be auctioning off their race seats throughout the year.

  154. Speed-Wiz says:

    I think Nico Rosberg is going to have a great season this year while Schumacher too much attention.

  155. I predict Lewis Hamilton will release a pop single by the end of the year. I also predict that it won’t trouble the top 10, but might put him in with a shout of a MOBO.

      1. Rich C says:

        He’ll do a cover of the Eagles “Already Gone”.

        My fav driving song. Visualize you’re at the last stoplight in town, nothing but miles of road ahead. The top’s off on a perfect night, you crank up the volume, the light changes, and suddenly your new 944 is winding up through the gears, screaming off into the night.
        (ok, so it was a long time ago, big deal!)

      2. Lilla My says:

        I think he’ll do the cover of Sugababes “Push the Button” ;-)

      3. Tim. says:

        The way we were!

      4. Andy c says:

        Perhaps an oasis cover of “my big mouth” or “you’ll never forget my name”

      5. After pole, fastest lap and race win in Melbourne, during which the TV director decides to show Nicole Scherzinger in the pits every 30 seconds it’ll have to be a cover of The Rod Stewart/Chris Farlowe classic, Sandbags and mad wags.

        GO BABY GO BABY GO BABY GO BABY GO BABY

  156. I’M SO EXCITED FOR THE NEW SEASON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  157. auski says:

    looking foward to your work on onehd in Ausralia. Are going to contine your roll with them for the season James.
    Going on Saturday see you there.

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, I’ll be doing the same as last season, plus I’ll be doing items for RPM.

  158. JunarSports says:

    We have set up a dashboard with all the F1 statistics here: http://bit.ly/hjoZPo . Check it for standings,calendar, special statistics and also historical facts and rankings that will be updated as the seasons goes underway.

  159. Andrew says:

    Hi James,

    If you want someone to show you the best hangouts in Melbourne after Quali Saturday me and my F1 fanatic mates would be happy to.

    Enjoy Melbs

  160. MatthewF1 says:

    Red Bull is so fast no other teams get within 107%. All forced to form a breakaway league, held in various locations around Bernie’s garden as he dashes round with a hose. Back in the real F1, Webber is repeatedly forced to give in to team orders, even being made to retire in several races rather than finish second and be in danger of having more points than Vettel. Safety car deployed at Spanish Grand Prix after Webber accident caused by stingers strewn across part of track where Christian Horner was recently seen. Vettel disqualified for falling too far behind safety car after stopping in Casino Square for a flutter. Given ten race ban. Webber becomes 2011 champion. ‘Not bad for a number two driver’, he claims. Meanwhile, back in Bernie’s garden, Schumi wins appeal and is reinstated as champion following earlier disqualification for barging Rubens into some nettles. Lewis Hamilton’s fails in new music career, as duet with girlfriend Nicole fails to record a single sale.

    1. MatthewF1 says:

      That should of course be the Monaco Grand Prix. Blast.

  161. Eric Weinraub says:

    What will we all say should Michael do what he almost did in the F310B and F399? Do any of you even remember those cars? Anyways, I think Vettel is the front runner, Alonso keeping him honest, and Michael making them all think there is such a thing as the fountain of youth!

  162. Rich C says:

    Tires, their management and care will totally dominate all other concerns.

    Nothing else will prove to matter in the slightest. Not wings, not funny exhausts, not KERS, not horsepower, not even aero.

    Button wins it all.

  163. RickeeBoy says:

    2011 Prediction – Alonso will battle with Vettel and will win, pushing him off the circuit.

    2010 Prediction – Alonso will battle with his team mate and will win, pushing him off the circuit.

  164. Merlinghnd says:

    Not having a go at Pirelli who I think will produce lots of moans from drivers but good and interesting racing for the fans but my prediction is;

    during one race this season there will be a team which will need to use their hard tyres followed by soft tyres followed by intermediate followed by their wet tyres just to finish the race even though it is dry throughout.

    That would be interesting!!

  165. J B Welch says:

    James, my predictions for the coming season should be divided into three distinct periods.

    1) Tyres will fully consume the first 1/3 of the season with driver tyre management the key, with significant increase in pit stops. Unlikely combinations of strategy and innate driver feel of when the tyres are about to “fall-off” will produce wildly changing results. Advantage; Webber, Vettel, Button, Sauber?

    2) Massive re-engineering toward rebalancing the cars and adjusted strategies will produce another set of winning drivers. Also Pirelli will begin to realize what Bridgestone learned; degradable tyres degrade the BRAND. Look for gradually closer uniformity in tyre performance and more durability starting within the first third of the season. Advantage Alonso, Rosberg, Massa

    3) Pirelli’s third upgrade produces a very consistent tyre. Red Bull, Ferrari, and especially McLaren dial in their chassis to the new tyre specs and the F 1 fans receive a Fall Classic of a Championship. Advantage; Hamilton, Vettel, Alonso.

    The new WDC will be the master of feel, strategy, and luck!

    The new Manufactures Champion will be the “tactical engineering masters”, and true Champions!

    J B Welch, Chicago

  166. MrNed says:

    My predictions…

    1) Kobayashi will win the crown. Think about it: add KERS and DRS to his banzai overtaking style and he’ll be at the front by the third corner at every race.
    2) Christian Horner will learn how to start a sentence without saying “yeah-no”.
    3) At the post-race press conference the top three drivers will no longer wear the special super-stiff sponsor-logo-loaded jackets that they have done previously; rather, they will stand behind man-sized billboards covered in sponsor logos with a small hole cut-out for their head to peep through.
    4) Having seen Schumacher and Rosberg crash into each other from a race-winning one-two position, Ross Brawn looks slightly miffed. But only for a moment.
    5) A major incident unfolds when Christian Horner’s nervous foot-jiggling hits the sympathetic resonant frequency of the pit wall itself.
    6) Vettel pulls off his first competitive overtake (come on – with KERS and DRS he must be able to!). Unfortunately, he is so taken aback by his achievement that he completley misses the next breaking point and ends his race in the tyre-barrier.
    7) Still unable to decide whose money they prefer, Hispania adopt a policy of changing drivers at the same time as the tyres. The drivers will be colour-coded so the fans know which one is piloting the car.
    8) Rubens announces that, sadly, this is to be his last season. At the very end of his last race, and as his last action in F1, he saunters down to the Mercedes garage, walks up to Schumacher and calmly punches him on the nose. On leaving the garage he does his comedy trip-up, just for old times’ sake.
    9) The non-Red Bull teams complain to the FIA that, by utilising an Adrian Newey, Red Bull have an unfair competitive advantage. The FIA agree and set up a working group tasked with homolgating Newey and making this standardised designer available to all teams.

    And finally one serious one…

    10) Robert Kubica to make a full recovery and be back in his car before the end of the season.

    Thanks for the great site James.

  167. S K Anand says:

    The likely prediction for 2011 is the following :

    Seb Vettel

    F Alonso

    Mark Webber

    Michael Schumacher

    Rosberg

    Hamilton

    Button

    Petrov

    Barachello

    Heidfeld

  168. For Sure says:

    Hi James,

    A couple of weeks ago you mentioned that you will talk to some engineers in order to access Schumacher’s latest form. I was wandering if you have any further update regarding the matter.

    Many thanks in advance.

  169. Simon Donald says:

    Thanks for a wonderful off-season of posts James and best wishes for the 2011 season.

    Also welcome to Australia, pretty much the only race those of us down here get to see without staying up to midnight. Shame the race is down in that little rural village of Melbourne and not blasting around the streets of Sydney, but you can’t have everything! :-)

    As for predictions, my predictions for 2011 are:

    Red Bull – Vettel bouyed by confidence from 2010 takes the title after a more comfortable season. Webber wins several races but cannot reproduce the consistency of Vettel. Another cracker of a car from Adrian Newey.

    Ferrari – Alonso wins races but cannot get a championship challenge going due to Ferrari dropping the ball tactically and developmentally. Massa is nowhere compared to his teammate.

    McLaren – Outpaced by Red Bull and Ferrari during the first half of the year, their car development comes on strong and by the last few races are the fastest team. Button is able to make the Pirellis last longer than most and has as strong a season as Hamilton. They finish 2nd and 3rd in the championship.

    Mercedes – a much stronger year. Both drivers challenge for podiums consistently and both take a win each when unpredictable conditions intervene.

    Renault – equal with Mercedes in pace, Heidfeld also wins in an unpredictable race and challenges for podiums at many races. Petrov is again frustratingly inconsistent.

    Williams – the best of the midfield by the end of the season, William struggle to maximise their package earlier on. Barrichello puts Maldonado in the shade.

    Force India – struggle to get their car in to the top 10 all season. Sutil and di Resta both perform well in these circumstances, but both make errors that loose the team points.

    Sauber – the strongest of the midfield at the start of the season, Kobayashi and, season surprise, Perez both score well all season especially early on. Kobayashi takes his maiden podium.

    Lotus – establish themselves as the front runner of the new teams with several points finishes by both drivers.

    Virgin – no points but both drivers qualify for every race.

    HRT – no points and Karthikeyan fails to qualify for several races

  170. Simon Donald says:

    I almost forgot…

    Toro Rossi – better than last year, they take regular points finishes, but Riccardo still ends up in a race seat by the end of the seaosn

  171. Chapor says:

    My 3 cents worth of predictions:

    Drivers Title:
    Rosberg, simply since he has kept his head down and gotten on with the job. The rivalry between Vettel and Webber takes both of them out at the end. Alonso comes close though, very close.

    HRT will score a point. (At least I cannot help but support them as the underdog.)

    Jaime will get his first podium and Kamui will win one race.

    Pirellis will perform better than initially expected and DRS will not be the push to pass scenario everyone will expect.It will make for a few exciting moments though.

    Lewis Hamilton has a fallout with Martin Whitmarsh for failing to provide him with a proper car. Him and Jenson will stay friends in the paddock though.

    Ferrari will provide some controversy with a untimely placed team order which will disappoint fans of F1 again.

    Team Lotus will score points and mix it with the midfield runners. Virgin Racing will not see it through the season and will fail to qualify within the 107% a couple of times.

    Renault and McLaren will end up fighting for the 4th spot in the constructors table closely followed by Williams and Torro Rosso. Sauber will however be close behind. Force India will be the disappointment of the season as they are frequently overtaken by Lotus.

    Red Bull will win the constructors title and the 2nd spot will be very tightly contested between Mercedes and Ferrari but the Ferrari will loose out since Massa will be the weak driver that fails to score consistently enough for Ferrari to take it.

    Kubica will recover enough to do some testing towards the end of the season but will not be strong enough to race.

    This will be the last time that Malaysia will host a race. Schumacher will win it.

    This season will be remembered in the future as a very memorable one… But in a good way. :-)

  172. dingbat says:

    Alonso put on his Matador costume and will lead Ferrari in taming the Bulls while the McLaren boys act as the decoys :-)

  173. Johnty says:

    Predictions

    1) In 2011 they will move the AGP to a date that is not my wedding day, my daughter being born or her 1st Birthday and I’ll be there cheering on Mark Webber as he goes for his 2nd Australian Grand Prix win!

    2) Based on 1, Mark Webber will win this year beating his AGP best of 5th

    3) People will whine about the BBC commentators (even if they are good)

    4) Alonso and his wife will adopt a child called Felipe and he will follow Alonso, always behind never in front

    5) I won’t win the T Shirt from James but James will comment that he hopes Webber will win

    6) We will have 37 safety cars this year (more accidents from drivers not paying attention while using their wings and trying to get more out of the tyres

  174. boulay says:

    prediction – there will still be legal battles around the name lotus by the end of the season and i still will not have a clue what it is all about and who is who!

  175. Alex says:

    I predict that James Allens content on One HD will be the most interesting part of the Australian Broadcast team. Thanks for your great pre race work.

    1 Webber (new total weights/tyres to help just enough to match Vettel)
    2,3 Alonso or Vettel (Alonso to get full support while Vettels chances partially split with Webber)
    4,5,6 Hamilton, Button, or Heidfeld (new tyres and foward exhaust to bring Button and heidfeld to Hamiltons level.

  176. Martin says:

    My Predictions:

    Lotus Renault vs Renault Lotus the courtroom drama. The judge will not know who is who, is Lotus Green and Yellow or Black and Gold? What will the decision do to tyre choice? Fortunately, an agreement will be reached by the parties that clarifies everything. Lotus Renault will become Renault Lotus and Renault Lotus will become Lotus Renault, everyone wins (bar the punter!).

    Which Rookie will go for ridiculous facial hair first? My bet – Di Resta.

    Red Bull will give its drivers wings but they won’t be able to use them because everyone else is behind them.

    Hamilton is spotted in the paddock arguing with Stuart Baggs over who can be “the brand”.

    Button fails to find the right balance in qualifying, but has a good race due to jumping people when they come in for new tyres, not enough to put him in the championship hunt though.

    Hamilton blitzes qualifying but is forced to run bald near the end of races as he has run out of tyres. Maybe the reason so many drivers like facial hair?

    Vettel, Webber and Horner to release a DVD giving advice on being a Happy Family.

    Schumacher to finally realise that he should have stayed retired after being regularly upstaged by Rosberg. Ralf to take over the drive.

    Bernie starts to talk about the benefits of taking the calendar to Alaska. Ice will spice up the racing!

    Brundle to take the commentary world by storm, Coulthard to reminisce too much about the good times with EJ.

    Electronics firms to finally admit “no room for any more buttons on the steering wheel”.

    1. Rich C says:

      >>Electronics firms to finally admit “no room for any more buttons on the steering wheel”.<<

      No Never! It aint so! There's always room for one more! Still plenty of room on the back!

  177. Dufus says:

    Hi James,
    Ive been in Melbourne for a week now but for business.
    I have loved motorsport for years and appreciate the technology side of it being an engineer myself.
    I cant wait for practice, qualifying and the race.
    Ive never seen a real F1 car in person but have spent nights over the years watching in awe of this show that is F1.
    I have tickets for saturday and sunday and cant wait.
    Im like a kid in a cnady store.
    Lets hope the fickle Melbourne waether gives us a dry qualy and race.

  178. RDJH says:

    James,

    I’m sitting in down town Melbourne after going for a run with Lewis Hamilton this morning, desperately waiting for tomorrow’s breakfast, driver interviews and pit walk at Albert Park. I want to thank you for your insight last year and the service you provide with this great website. Looking forward to this year and reading everything you have to offer.

    Cheers.

  179. Paul J says:

    My prediction for this season unfortunately involve politics getting
    in the way of at least one more Grand Prix this year – there is too
    much going on in the world for F1 to just breeze though unhindered.

    On the race track, I’m expecting a closer battle between Ferrari and
    Red Bull, with Mclaren fighting Mercedes and Renault off for third
    spot. Closely behind them, Williams will be beginning their long
    awaited resurgence, with Rubens sneaking onto the podium a couple of
    times with some fortunate but hard-fought drives. Torro Rosso will be
    engaged in a fight with Force India – which will please TR and dismay
    FI, and Sauber will rattle around somewhere just outside of the
    points, although Kamui will make a few illustrious overtake moves -
    one of which will end quite badly, raising speculation over the safety
    of his on-track maneuvers.

    Oh, there are some other teams too, aren’t there? I expect the other
    Renault (to be renamed mid-season) to be ‘best of the rest’ and will
    score their first point at a rain-soaked Monza (courtesy of Trulli,
    who will then announce his retirement from the sport). Virgin will
    strongly consider a pull-out, HRT actually WILL pull out, and the US
    will have another optimistic but ill-guided attempt to create a
    Formula One team – possibly hoping for a link-up with the ailing
    Virgin squad, and a once-in-a-lifetime price on chevy engines!

    As far as the first race goes – it’s Massa to take an unexpected win,
    after Alonso collides with Hamilton after their 5th pitstop (lap 8!!). Alonso will be WDC, and Red Bull will win the Constructors.

    Bring on Australia!

  180. Thebe says:

    Let me first beginning by saying that this year’s championship looks very promising in terms of entertainment,controversies I mean you have very strong drivers all very determined to win, we also have KERS , adjustable rear wings which I expect will also make for very interesting viewing.

    I think Vettel will be very hard to beat if the car is still what it was last year and from what everyone is saying ,it looks to be better than last year. I think he will find it a bit difficult to beat Webber and Alonso though.

    My prediction for the championship:
    1.Vettel
    2.Alonso
    3.Webber
    4.Schumacher
    5.Rosberg
    6.Massa
    7.Button
    8.Barrichelo
    9.Heidefeld
    10.Petrov

    I think we are going to see a stronger Schumacher this year, I cant imagine him to be happy about last year.I suspect he wants to prove most people wrong, he is also going to be involved in some form of controversy especially considering the idea that overtaking may not be as cut and dry as everyone expects it to be. Drivers have a section on the track they are allowed to use the adjustable wing to overtake,I foresee Schumacher making a pass where he is not allowed to or something of that sort and the other drivers labelling him unsporting.

    1. wayne says:

      How can you possibly not include Hamilton in this top ten? Do you know something we do not or do you just not like him?

  181. Craigy J says:

    Following the boost from his recent advertising campaign I think Jenson Button will be “Head and Shoulders” above the competition.

    1. David says:

      Embracing!

  182. AdrianP says:

    The most interesting thing about pre-season for me is how vocal Hamilton has been about the new tyres, not losing any opportunity to tell the world that he hates them (e.g. in the BBC’s build-up clip, he says he’s driving around like a granny and he has previously said that the only fun’s going to be in qually). Suggests to me that Hamilton does feel that he has a serious problem with these tyres (perhaps in comparison to Button in the simulator… who knows?). It’s pretty remarkable to hear this level of petulance *before* even the first season and Hamilton’s apparent frustration will only have been exacerbated by the problems Mclaren have had in testing. Couple this with the his vague suggestions that he’s not wedded to Mclaren for all time, one gets the impression that his head’s not in the right place at all at the start of this season.

    In terms of the wider picture, it looks as if race strategy / quick-thinking is going to be a big factor this season – perhaps that plays into the hands of old hands like Brawn and Schumacher and cool heads like Button and, on occasion, Alonso. Clear communication between driver and pitwall will be critical, when the difference between new and old tyres could be as much as 8s per lap.

    Another big question mark is the extent to which the driver can make the difference in preserving these tyres. The suggestion seems to be that they degrade significantly no matter what the driver is doing (an exaggeration), although there might be some tricks in e.g. using scrubbed tyres and/or bedding new tyres by taking it super-easy for a couple of laps. So the *easy* style of an e.g. Button may actually be no real advantage.

  183. seifenkistler says:

    1. Franz Beckenbauer
    2. Mika Haekkinen
    3. Michael Schumacher

    Funny mercedes tv-spot in germany.
    Haekkinen calling Schumacher a sunday driver and Beckenbauer both of them old-age pensioner

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UftWjmOFKwQ
    making of the tv-adv with some background stuff
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldowSKKD9A8

    And there is a funny video of Rosberg how he prepares for all the buttons he would have to look on the stearing wheel while on same time concentrating on driving.
    I think if he retires at formula1 he could easily start at a circus:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifY-Nin5-Os

    Funny to watch him driving an unicycle while at the same timejuggling 3 balls: 3:57 in the video

  184. Craig says:

    The courts will ban either team from using the Lotus name. Green team will be known as Air Asia Racing and black team will simply be Proton. Proton will crash in to AAR numerous times trying to lap them, during which the green car will take off like an A320 and the black car will simply break down.

  185. Andy c says:

    My predictions

    Fernando for the wdc
    Mclaren for the wcc
    Schumacher to win at Monaco
    Heidfeld wins first gp
    Di resta rookie of year
    Team lotus to get a podium
    Williams to win a race
    Hulkenburg in race seat by end of year

    Nostradamus wasn’t that accurate ;-)

  186. Good morning James,

    Welcome back to Australia. I look forward to seeing you on One HD again. Last year’s coverage of the Australian GP, I feel was better thana previous years.

    I can’t see my reply from yesterday so here are my predictions again:

    1. Red Bull has a rocketship and will be even more dominant than last year. Ferrari best of the rest followed by Mercedes, McLaren, Williams, Renault, Sauber, Toro Rosso, Force India, Lotus, Virgin and HRT.
    2. Weight distribution and minimum weight regulations to play in Mark Webber’s favour and he takes the driver’s title by season’s end. Vettel second, Alonso third, Button fourth, Schumacher fifth and Rosberg sixth.
    3. The impredictability of the Pirelli tyres will give us more race winners. I predict Heidfeld, Schumacher and Rosberg to win.
    4. Jenson and Fernando will be again the kindest to their tyres and will win races on strategy rather than pure pace.
    5. Team Lotus to be renamed Team AirAsia F1 by season’s end.
    6. HRT will not see the end of the season and will fold a la Super Aguri fashion.
    7. ‘James Allen on F1: 2011 – a Season to Remember’ is published in December both as hard copy and audiobook.

    I think this is about it. I can’t wait to see you in High Definition this year. ;-)

  187. David says:

    There will be a surprise race winner this season – not one of the regular front runners – possibly Koboyashi. (If he doesn’t win a race then he will get a podium.)

  188. tarun luthra says:

    nick heidfeld will finally win a race.

  189. Alberto Dietz says:

    MS, FM, SV, LH, KK, NH and VP will no doubt be the top seven in 2011 though not necessarily in that order.

  190. RickeeBoy says:

    Johnny Herbert ( a man who knows all about safety and the repercussions ) gets groomed for taking over from Charlie Whiting.

  191. RickeeBoy says:

    Coultard will be cr*p .. about as exciting as wet tofu – The Beeb should have used the Radio Boys – Brundle will be his usual self -

  192. RickeeBoy says:

    2012 USA Grand Prix to be held in Tripoli !

  193. Elliot says:

    There once was an Aussie called Mark,
    He’s quick, as fast as a lark.
    He’ll finish fifth in the game,
    Which is kind of a shame,
    I love the guy, he drives with a spark!

    Young Lewis – he’s one complex guy,
    With that new manager, he’s sure gonna fly.
    He’s at McLaren for life,
    He’ll have a Pussycat wife,
    But only fourth this year, I do cry.

    Young Nico, now isn’t he cute,
    To third, this German will shoot.
    All sorts of trouble he’ll bring,
    To Michael the king,
    Mr Schumi – he’ll give you the boot!

    It’s our Spanish favourite at two,
    Mr Alonso, but give him his due.
    What happened last year,
    Pit call a pig’s ear,
    But boy, his talent shone through!

    In these limericks, I talk of the four,
    Behind Vettel, he’ll give us some more.
    He’s chasing his fate
    He’s becoming a great,
    Young Seba, champion again, I’m sure!

  194. ALO
    VET
    HAM
    WEB
    BUT
    MSC
    MAS
    ROS
    HEI
    PET

  195. Derek Lorimer says:

    Lewis Hamilton to win the Championship.

  196. Vic says:

    My predictions for the Season of 2011:

    I predict anticipation, insomnia, I predict hearts racing when the lights start turning, I predict exciting racing, crazy results, I predict tyres falling away, I predict racers falling off the track, was it the tyres? was it the wrong button on the steering wheel? I predict overtaking where the overtaker might be forgiven for even a little wave at the overtakee, I predict happiness, I predict tears, I predict happiness for the some drivers at the time I predict tears from the sky. I predict listening to the German national anthem, but for who? I predict a stubborn spaniard fighting everyone to get to the top, but last and certainly not least, I predict that the 2011 World Driver Champion to be…….. The Champion of Champions.

    Vic

  197. Wetcoaster says:

    Prediction: By the end of the year all teams will be called Lotus.

  198. Born 1950 says:

    Predictions for the season.

    A McLaren driver will win the championship — probably Hamilton, though if Jenson is as good with his tyres as we think, it could be him.

    Both Red Bull drivers will do well and so will both Alonso and Schumacher — but MSC will be beaten by his team mate again, probably.

    Racing this year will be characterised by drivers swapping positions with much greater frequency than before. After a few races Hamilton and Button will work out that if they work together they’ll be able to make up ground or pull out a greater lead by using the DRS rule to allow them to leapfrog each other repeatedly lap after lap. None of the other leading drivers like each other enough to agree to this.

  199. RickeeBoy says:

    End of Sunday – everyone will be talking about …. …….. ……. Perez ….. Yes the Rookie … (so long as his car keeps going)

  200. peter neil says:

    hi James enjoyed your commentary today Saturday 26th The F1 2011 season will be very interesting due to the new pirreli tyres and the adjustable wing. red bull appear to have retained and built on their engineering and management skills from last year. Vettel has obvious natural talent and his quick young mind may give him another world championship title however i think Mclaren look very quick and Button is smooth focused driver Their cars look great too LOL.
    Alonso is force to be reckoned with if Ferrari can improve their car a little more.

    I have just finished reading the “the edge of greatness”really enjoyed it thanks for giving me an insight into an amazing person who could use his mind to manage his life so well and have the self discipline to achieve probably more than another driver ever will. i have studied psychology and worked with mental health professionals and we are, as you know, complex beings. Micheal was able to use his brain as you explained to focus on his career and be inspirational to the Ferrari team and be wonderful father husband etc -balanced
    peter neil

  201. Chios Hotel says:

    We believe in Alonso!!! Try to not miss any Formula 1!!!
    From Alonso Fan!!!

  202. mattgenton says:

    hi to all at http://www.jamesallenonf1.com i thought i had sent this newyears eve but it didnt send so i have sent it again all things good for the new year to you all
    – gentas

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