F1 Winter Break
JA on F1 readers vote Hamilton as favourite for championship
JA on F1 readers vote Hamilton as favourite for championship
Posted By: James Allen  |  30 Jan 2010   |  11:48 pm GMT  |  131 comments

It’s only early days and we have yet to see how fast the new cars are from each team. We have seen only the new Ferrari and McLaren cars, inert on a stage.

On Monday in Valencia, when most of the serious teams hit the track, we will start to see the picture forming of who is where and that picture will become clearer over the following three tests.

But the readers of JA on F1 have been voting on who they think is the man to beat at this stage of the game.

Picture 44
Just under 5,000 votes have been cast in the last 48 hours and Lewis Hamilton is the overwhelming favourite with 41% of the vote.

It’s a tight battle between Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso for second favourite; Schumacher has 20% of the vote, with Alonso on 18%.

Sebastian Vettel on 8% and Jenson Button on 6% are next up, with Mark Webber on 3%.

Hamilton said at yesterday’s McLaren launch that he felt Alonso was a more significant championship threat than Schumacher. There are plenty of worrying rumours this weekend about the aero figures of the Ferrari, but Ferrari themselves seem to be laughing the stories off.

No-one is talking about Vettel at this stage. The new Red Bull car will not be seen until the second test at Jerez.

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I think nobody's talking about Vettel primarily because if anyone was guilty of being at the top by virtue of the fastest car more than skill displayed, it was him. He was comprehensively beaten by a man who was half full of metal and was borderline not in fit condition to race before the season started, on more than one occasion. He's a good prospect for the future but still has much to learn, as has Hamilton over the past season or two (like why you shouldn't bin your car in the barrier for no good reason).


He wasn't comprehensively beaten, as the points totals show, but the points totals don't reflect how good Webber actually was (qualifying aside).


beaten by webber?

deluded, you are would yoda say.

vettels first year in a team webber was in for years and vettel won the first race ever for red bull and a few more while his engine kept blowing up.

in every way, vettel drove circles around webber.

he was the only one with hamilton who showed real racing spirit, in every race...instead of button who drove around like a scared mouse.

vettel deserved the championship last year.


AH but a muture driver would not have blown so many engines now would he.


Not sure he had much to do with it


"vettel deserved the championship last year."

Like Clint Eastwood said in his film "Unforgiven" :

"Deserve's got nothing to do with it".

Button drove in an intelligent way ( you seem to confuse intelligence with being scared ) and as a result he won

the championship. The championship is based on points,

perhaps you didn't know that ?

Having said that, I agree with you on the matter of Vettel vs. Webber. Vettel is one of the most promising new

drivers to come along in years. Webber is like Coulthard, in that he's had plenty of time to show what he has got, but

somehow things just never reached the top level.


Webber's victories last year were quite emphatic, and he showed far more grit, determination, and ability to overtake than Vettel. While Vettel was fast, and won from pole, he didn't show anything like the steel that Webber showed in the races, and he had nothing close to Button's ability to make the hard, and decisive overtaking moves. Button pushed him into a mistake in Turkey and sailed past. Webber fought hard (sometimes too hard) with everyone no matter what position he was in, in every race. Far too many times we saw Vettel stuck behind a slower car, going nowhere and showing no signs of getting past. A good point about Vettel's engine blowing up - why did he go through so many of them when the other Renault drivers had no issues? Although Red Bull's reliability overall was not good compared to the others.

At no time in the whole season was Webber race fit. Coming into the first race, it wasn't even certain he'd be able to operate the throttle. Martin Brundle believed his career was over, when he saw him in January.


Interestingly, when both Webber and Vettel were classified (12 races), it was 6-6 between the drivers.


Thats funny because I can recall several crucial overtaking manoeuvres by Button throughout the season, where as I can recall none by Vettel.

It's easier to be the hunter, its alot harder to be the hunted.


Webber did have similar problems. The Red Bull definitely struggled behind other cars.

That said, Vettel often got caught up in carbon fibre fights when stuck in the field, so he clearly needs to improve in that area.


and I think he should be the clear favorite. With his ability Mclaren can afford to not have the best car on the track, but with his 110% effort, determination and raw speed that 10% extra can make up the car...

I think Vettel should not be ruled out though, RB could have a stormer of a car this year based on what they knew last year, on the other hand maybe everyone has caught up and RB have already peaked, either way I think Vettal could be strong

But then so will Schumacher, and for sure Alonso... so who knows...!

What about a POLL on who has the strongest driver pairing... in other words what team is likely to win the constructors championship??


Strongest pairing, to me, has to be Alonso and Massa. How Massa is still so under-rated is beyond me, and I see no reason why he will come back slower after his accident.

That said, that doesn't mean Ferrari will win the Constructors' Championship. I'd pick Red Bull or McLaren to be fighting for that.


I agree, Massa started out rather like Hammilton, a little imature and pushed to much making silly mistakes, however like Lewis the past year, Massa has matured greatly the pst few years with Ferrai, and with his drive to prove himself after his horrific crash, Massa could be a real threat to the Top 3 also.

I believe it is between Ferrai and Maclaren again this year


And THIS, I want to see. Ferrari v. McLaren. Its going to be a great year!


Funnily enough, soon as i saw the Ferrari i thought it looked like it was going to lack downforce, surmising they had gone for low drag to save fuel.

Time will tell.


It is too soon to come up with possible winners and losers for the 2010 championship...however i can foresee a dark horses in the williams/red bull teams....and for me the 2020 champion is most likely to come from either the red bulls or the williams teams.

The mclarens and Feraris will find that there cars may not be what they think they are....AND HamiltonS driving style does not suit the 2010 cars specifications..


correction i meant the 2010 champion ....but not 2020.....please pardon my typing error...


I guess we'll soon find out about Ferrari's aero when the test starts. I guess they won't publish the fuel levels for each run? James, will you be doing the math for us ;-)?


Hi James,

To help us put some of the testing times in context - approximately how much time will there be between a car that is full on fuel vs the same car that is on a quali fuel load at valencia?


I'll get onto that when the test starts


Should be about 3 secs or more a lap depending on the lap length/venue, that is in a race, from start to fumes. However that assumes that tyres and brakes are still usable at the end, which may very well not be the case. As I have mentioned before, brakes could be a huge issue this season.


Why the low percentage for Vettel?? Personally I think he's going to nail it in 2010.... just.


I know they're not going to be championship contenders... but what's the 2010 position with Force India?

Have they still got Mercedes power and the potential to mix it in the top 6 at some tracks (and therefore disrupting the chase/challenge from some of the names listed above)? I've heard nothing about them or am I missing something?


Yes they have and I think they have a good chance to score plenty of points this year and even the odd podium


Can you remember another season that had so much potential?

We've got Hamilton, Button, Schumi & Alonso all tipped for glory, Massa & Vettel more than knocking on the door, Webber & Rosberg determined to not be left out AND no doubt Rubens, Kubica and the Force India guys determined to grab points from all the above whenever half a chance comes their way.

And that's before Kamikaze Kobiyashi gets in the mix (not forgetting of course the disruption to race strategy 26 cars and new teams/drivers can cause on full tanks if the "front runners" screw up quali, get a puncture or lose a nose in turn 1).

Unless one driver/car combo has a very clear advantage I can't see anyone running away with it this year. A single point will never have been so valuable.

Or am I hoping for too much?!


Is it just me who thinks it's odd Button seems to have been discounted as a contender? Vettel to who has been sited man times as the new Schumacher! I having nothing against Hamilton winning but I saw watch out for the 2 supposed "underdogs". Redbull will be stronger than Ferrari this year I think


I like Button, but I'd say his title hopes ended with his new team-mate.

Although this I will concede, Hamilton is no match for Button in the passing stakes.

Stuart the old geezer

Red Bull came to the front at the end of last season.
They have the best designer in F1.
Seb Vettel has the talent and will to win.
Surely he will push the old hands.
At 6:1 he must be worth a punt.
My money is on him.


No one is talking about Vettel when they darned well should be. In my view, he's the favorite going into the season. I see Red Bull as logically having the advantage technically, and Vettel is arguably the best driver around now who is ready to fight for a championship full-on.

Everything will depend on how the cars turn out, though.

James, what do you think about the possibility of the Cosworth teams- particularly Williams- maybe having a surprise for us all? They still have not sent a homologation to the FIA, correct? I know that they don't have to do so for a bit, so that they can keep developing it. Williams showed some promise last year, and with a noted car developer in Barrichello on board and the potential for this year's "double-diffuser" coming in the Cozzie, they could be the shock to us.


I think the thing will be powerful, but fuel efficiency will not be as good. They have worked very hard on that area though. They'll have a way of running lean, but some teams might underfuel to save weight (ie not have enough fuel in the tank for the race) and run lean for periods of the race. Will be intriguing


Interested to hear you view on this. I believed the optimum point of their engine was above the new limit of 18000 rpm, so I am wondering if any of this still applies? I am struggling to see the Cosworth being anything other than the bottom of the pile initially!


Ironically, I bet the same survey one year ago probably produced the same result!


You'd have had to be a pretty manic fan to have voted Schumi last year...


Your votes are entirely emotionally driven. Who won the championship last year? Mercedes - NOT McLaren. Who were second (more interestingly)? Red Bull - NOT McLaren. I don't understand why Red Bull are being written out of the equation after their excellent performance last year. Adrian Newey is not an idiot. They are launching their car later than the others. Expect some surprises and a Red Bull World Championship...


Because the beauty of F1 is you never can tell.

McLaren and Ferrari were way ahead of Red Bull and Honda/Brawn/Mercedes the season before and look where that ended up.

Saying that, I do agree with you. Pretty pointless reply really...


In my opinion everybody is talking about RBR and Vettel - it's as hyped as "Twilight" IMO. But for me it is normal that they are not considered to be favorites. They pushed a lot into 2009, because they knew that 2010 will be unpredictable. They likely started development later than Brawn Mercedes and Ferrari and do not have the resources of McLaren Mercedes. Their driver wins only from Pole, unlike Lewis, Fernando and Michael, who are experienced champions. IMO Button and Massa will be in front of Vettel as well, unless Newey truly produces a masterpiece. But he didn't seem so uber in the 2000s, IMO. He made some awful cars as well. So who knows what will happen? When you don't know, you bet on proven champions IMO.


'There are plenty of worrying rumours this weekend about the aero figures of the Ferrari, but Ferrari themselves seem to be laughing the stories off'

worrying for Ferrari or for the rest of the field and thus the fans?

I really hope one team doesn't do a massively better job than everyone else, I want extremely tight contest from race 1.


It seemed to be on the low side from what i read. There are rumours that some of the teams may have triple diffusers or more exotic interpretations of the rules. Ferrari's dont seemed to have pushed as hard in that area from the impression they are giving. This could all be mind games though. Tomorrow will tell.


I support Lewis but I'm surprised Vettel didn't get more votes. I think the Red Bull is going to be something special this season, and when we see it it'll probably look even more extreme than the McLaren. Vettel will definitely be a threat.


Your reader base is typically British. So I'm not surprised by the result.


well... then why didnt they vote for button?


Only 40% British. And Germany is number three..


But dont let facts get in the way of a good argument Schumista 😉


Only 40% British, the rest is spread throughout the world. Germany is number three..


Am not sure you can notice this in your statistics but you must have noticed an increasing number of readers from France as far as I can see or at least of French readers living in different countries. If that grows even more do you see JA on F1 multilingual at some point James?


France is growing quite quickly, but not as quickly as Germany. I've thought about other languages, not least Italian as I do some work with RAI TV, but there are other content things I want to do first before I get into that.


And 41% voted for Hamilton, uncanny....


British people are fantastic at doing dowe their own though. Neither Button, nor Hamilton, are universally popular. That said, I love them both!


These sort of things are always a popularity contest. I will say this...Hamilton will be lucky if he can get 3rd place overall this year.


Hi James,

What do you mean by aero figures and how do they impact a cars performance?



The downforce and drag figures. Downforce is measured in points and poor aero figures means that the lack lacks downforce. An efficient car is one which has plenty of downforce but not at the expense of creating drag


An interesting poll would be to ask "who do you WANT to win he championship this year?"


I've put my money on Vettel already, while the odds are good!


Yes the 7/1 I managed to find is looking even sweeter now!



We need an "Ask James" section where I can post unrelated questions for you to answer.

In the McLaren launch pictures, Bridgestone appears nice and bright and white on the tyres. In the Ferrari photos it looks a lot darker and harder to read.

Is there a reason for this?


Didn't notice, will review


Unfortunately Alonso (see ITV-F1) is correct.

With the teams having to test on both full and near empty fuel tanks, the times will be all over the place an we will NOT have clue until qualifying starts at Bagrain, sigh...




Long runs should be informative as ever. Qualy pace my be harder to gauge though


The fastest times will still be the fastest times.

We'll at least get an idea for the best qualifyers.


Yes and the long run times will be revealing in terms of how a car is treating its tyres


Interesting....Similar percentages to the Italian poll and the bookies odds


Similar sample size too, around 5,000


Berlusconi won! (Again)

Tom in Australia

I'm surprised that Vettel is so low. He finished second last year and rumours suggest the 2010 Red Bull is going to be a cracking car.

I've got $100 on him at 8:1.

But yes, I can't argue about Hamilton being favourite at this point.


I am too, At this stage, before the cars run, he's the favourite for me.


I think Vettel actually starting the season in championship mode should be a blessing for him. Last year, for some reason, it appeared like he was more interested naming his car something silly than driving it. Granted you've got to have fun, but he did appear to be very weak in that area. I still can't get my head round what happened at the first round with Kubica. Had he started 2009 knowing he had the best car on the grid he would have won the championship.

In terms of championship chances Vettel is favourite, he has to be, he has Newey backing him.

Hamilton is the better package I believe. Had he been driving the redbull last year the championship would've been a very different story.

Either way but the BS stops when the green flag drops as they say!


"In terms of championship chances Vettel is favourite, he has to be, he has Newey backing him. "

And Michael has Brawn. These two have trashed Newey before.


I would put all my money on Vettel too but his lack of consistency is what separates him from the champs.


Consistency will come. He's young. He just needs to learn to tame his speed a bit more.

Hamilton has similar traits, but he's learned to tame it a little more, and he's already a champion.


I'll put some money down with the Aussie bookies for ya. I'm sure you're good for it 😉

Not doing it for Legard though...


I think Adrian Newey has an ace up his sleeve and does not want to show it to the rest of the world hence the delay in the RBR launch. While everybody seems to be copying the 2009 Red Bull car, Newey has probably redefined his 2010 car. Time will tell but RBR should be mighty competitive in 2010.

Writing Schumi off before the season starts is a folly few would make. He is THE standard against which everybody is judged. I am sure that he will be in the thick of things. The fact that Mercedes unveiled it's 2010 livery but not the 2010 car should tell us that they will have a formidable challenger this year - one they want to keep under wraps as long as possible.

The rumors of Ferrari already having a B-spec car in the works should be worrying to the tifosi.

February testing should clear up the picture for all of us. Can't wait for the testing to start.........


OK, everyone knows Hamilton can drive a car, but so can everyone in F1! My belief is that if you put any currant F1 driver, (with the exception of the brand new drivers who havent had time and oportunity to adjust to F1 cars yet, and hone their skills), into a good car they will win races.

If I was voting on who was going to be the most sucessful competitor this season, I'd be voting on the teams!

Out of interest, my guess will include Force India, Red Bull, McLaren, Mercedes, and Williams.

And I have a sneeking suspician that Button might surprise some of us!



I hope the mclaren is fast enough.. i'll go with the underdog... i think Massa will surprise us again this season.


Ferrari are lagging behind, and they are hiding behind the pessimistic press.in much the same way as was the case back in 1996 they have followed the wrong develpomental path and it will be 2011 before they are back on level terms in my opinion. they have no michael shumacher to rescue them this time around and barring a couple of exceptional results this year, i reckon they will be totally anonymous


And your basis for saying that?


I'd guess that he's basing it on the poor fuel efficiency of the Ferrari engine?

I don't know much about that - are Ferrari really up the creek in that regard?


I am going to have a good laugh when Schumacher puts the whole F1 grid in their place starting at Bahrain ... Not surprised one bit that LH got 40% of votes since most (if not all) votes came from British F1 fans ....


so from james comments above you rekon 100% of British fans voted for hamilton?


Yes, but when you consider the Italians said the same thing.


James, do you know off any truth behind the Ferrari rumours? Is it another team just mixing it up do you know? Alonso/Hammy and Schey in competitive cars will all be a serious threat.


James, can you expand a little more on the details of the Ferrari rumours. The reports in the UK (in the Times) are a little light. How far off are the Italian media suggesting the car is?

The Times states they are developing a "B" spec car - any idea when this willl come in. As usually that sort of thing is not available until the European races.

Or do you think this is justr smoke and mirrors on the back of Alonso's comments about the tests being impossible to read with different fuel loads disguising true pace (which of course is true but do you think this is a pre season campaign to take the heat of them during testing?)


I'm not sure at the moment whether this is to do with the general aero numbers or specifically to do with interpretations of the diffuser, with Ferrari possibly being left behind there. I've heard McLaren rumours about aero numbers too, but this is normal for this time of year and you only really find out the truth when the cars hit the track, there's no point asking the team at this stage!


Hi James, this is my first post so hoping for a response! You mentioned above that you've heard rumours about MacLaren aero figures, were they good or bad? Thanx


Not great, but as I've said, it well could be smoke and mirrors. It's a phoney war at the moment before the cars run


Today I read that Ferrari are raising doubts about the legality of the new McLaren (related to, what else, how far the design of the double diffuser can be taken). If they have to resort to such a play already at this stage of the season, it doesn't paint a good picture about their competitiveness.


With little concrete info around at the moment, it's clear us fans are out to cling to whatever morsel or nugget of information around. What were the rumours about the Mclaren aero figures? Impressive or disappointing?


Disappointing, but it could be smoke and mirrors, we've seen it before. Last year it turned out to be true, however


Something I think that should not be discounted is what Ross Brawn said here -http://www.formula1.com/news/interviews/2010/1/10367.html - " We have two stages with the car. The one you will see in Valencia and a different car that you will see in Bahrain... or at least all the most serious teams, will arrive with their new cars to the tests and then they will bring a major update to Bahrain"

Predicting who will win this year now is just guess work, the testing probably won't give us an accurate idea of which cars are truly going to be fast this year - though they may give us an idea if a particular team is really going to struggle. With the expected evolution of cars between now and Bahrain, I am expecting a whole deal of complaining if Ferrari were to turn up in Bahrain with a shark fin.

Only Bahrain is over will we have a real idea how the rest of the season will shape up - until that point we wont know how the cars will cope with a full race distance: for example, last season Red Bull struggled with high break ware at several races (eg. Webber in Singapore), until we see how the cars cope, its going to be impossible to have any real idea of how the season will shape up.

I am hoping that Ferrari with Massa, Red Bull and Schumacher at Mercedes all do well. But I also know it would be wrong for me to discount McLaren, or Alonso.

James, you say that Germans are the 3rd biggest readers or your blog, out of interest, who is second?


In the past, Ferrari were masters of sandbagging before the season, presumably in the hope of dissuading people from being too interested in their solutions.

Then again, I was convinced that's what McLaren were up to last year...

Still, not long to go till when we should find out.


We know virtually nothing so far, but the noises from Maranello do not sound great. By this I mean the Engineering side, not the drivers PR game of Charades.

Much though I love Lewis and believe him to be a talent head and shoulders above all the others, I do worry about the Brawn/Mercedes car and the team's one driver...

What exactly did go on last year and will it translate into a car significantly faster than it's rivals this year ? Were the "Tyre warming issues" due to all development effort being transferred to 2010 for Schumacher ? Would Brawn take such a risk and possibly loose the opportunity of getting Jenson his WDC and Brawn his only emponymous title ?

Last years Brawn car was good, but the others caught up, this year they can design the car for it's engine, but the rules have shifted again and they may loose all advantage...

Added to this, as you pointed out elsewhere James, the Teams will be testing with some very varied Fuel loads, so we may well not know much till Bahrain.


These 'rumours' have surprised me. First of all: how did people figure out the aero figures were not adding up? And where did they get these figures in the first place. That Ferrari has a B spec isn't neccesarily a problem, Brawn has announced that the new Merc that comes to Valencia will have a completely new aero package when it gets to Bahrain. So I guess that's pretty normal. But the pressure on Ferrari is massive, and if they fail again this year heads are gonna roll... It's all very emotional and we'll see in Bahrain where they will be. I have a bit of an iffy feeling about the car, and the McLaren does look much more spectacular (but it was the same story last year and it didn't get McLaren very far)

At the moment my money is on Vettel. Hamilton will probably be up there, and I'm dead certain Schumi will be too. And I for one hope that Ferrari will be in the mix as well. And if williams builds a halfway decent car this year my secret tip will be Hülkenberg, not for the championship, but I think he could be on the podium sometimes.


Fair enough. I agree - assuming his car is up to
it, Lewis is the benchmark. And I also agree with Hamilton that his stalking horse is Fernando Alonso. All apendages crossed in the hope that the key players have cars that do them
justice. Schumacher will certainly be in the mix, but Alonso/Hamilton is the defining rivalry of this era and we need to see them both in competitive cars at their absolute limit. Let us pray...


Of course the poll results have nothing to do with the fact that the readership of this site is composed primarily of Brits of the McLaren supporting, Hamilton worshiping type. 🙂


The majority of people reading this forum are not British!

Over on the Autosport.com forum, a British organization, 28% of those voting declared themselves British in the favourite drivers poll.


I'm British and I went for Schumacher. It's not who you WANT to win, it's who you think WILL. Oh, maybe I went for Schumacher because my great-great-great-great grandfather was German. Why do some people think nationalism comes into a question like this? If it did then why is Button not right up there with Hamilton, he's British as well.


-Why do some people think nationalism comes into a question like this?

Because it does. If you think everyone F1 fan (or of any sport for that matter) is objective and unbiased in their views you are immensely naïve.


I just thought on a simple, hypothetical question on who do you THINK will win, people wouldn't just plump for their nationality every time. Is my swiss friend really going to put Buemi as someone he THINKS will win the title next year? NO, because that's unrealistic. But he would say that he WANTS Buemi to win, and thats fair enough.

You didn't answer why Button didn't recieve loads of votes as well? He's British too. Not all fans are blinded by nationality I actually wanted Vettel to beat Button last year and again, I'm British not German.

Obviously following teams, players, drivers of your nationality above others is normal, but I don't see why it should totally colour results in this particular question.

Did the mass of Americans who read this site not vote because they don't have a top driver to go for? No, they went for an educated guess and I expect there was a range of answers, which is why the preamble to this season is so exciting, because it could potentially be any one of 8 drivers from 4 teams who walks away with the 2010 crown.


Secret of most traders:

"The majority is normally wrong."


I am gobsmacked Michael is not favourite in the poll. He's driving for a team which last year won both the world titles and.. HE'S MICHAEL SCHUMACHER!


3 years out is a lot. It may take him a few races to get back into it, and that could be crucial. Or he could blitz the field. Or he could find out he's lost it.

He's a bit of an unknown quanity. That's why people didn't pick him.


I think its too soon to predict who is going to be fast.

Nobody expected McLaren to be so far off the pace in the first half of last year, or indeed that Brawn would deliver so emphatically

I'm no expert, but usually when Adrian Newey releases a car late he has done so to get it absolutely right before release, meaning he is confident its a good one.

The McLaren paint job looks as brilliant as ever!


I for one cant wait for the first tests! Its been a long winter, but made all the better by your dailly articles. Thanks, and keep up the good work.

Any movement on appearing on BBC TV next year again?


I think Vettel still imrpoving faster and more than any other driver. So, he can make bigger step that many would think.


Regardless - there is not as much national bias amongst British fans as you might think. During the Hill/Schumacher era in the mid nineties I encountered as many Schumi fans as Hill fans.

These days Raikkonen has a huge fan base - Hamilton has a lot if detractors in the Uk because he doesn't fill the typical British sports star, which usually involves bring over modest and with a gap in their talent that has to be made up by pure hard work (see Tim Henman the tennis player)

Hamilton is more in the 'bred to win' category of sportsperson; ie he has been groomed for his success since day one (a concept in F1 that was pioneered by the way Schumacher started out although Schumacher's path was not as deliberate) - it is more akin to how the great tennis players get to be so great.

I meet many British people who are put off by him because the perceive him as being arrogant (or because they are British members of the Tifosi) - however even most of the detractors I have spoken to (including those outside the UK) usually end up their tirade detailing why they dislike him by adding the comment: "but boy can he drive"


There was a time in the distant past when English footballers didn't dive either. The times are a-changing and so are the paragons of sportsmanship.


The Lewis Hamilton this season will be the finished article. Added maturity and that drive to beat a fellow world champion in Jenson Button. He needs to improve when the pressure is on, make less mistakes and not crash. He could be in for a vintage season, a one where he wins about 8 races.


Can't count Hamilton out, but based on their speed in the latter half of last season, it's clear Red Bull gives you wins. Vettel should be the favorite.


But in the latter half of last season, who scored the most points? Hamilton. So maybe he should be favourite?


Don't forget that Vettel had engine problems, forcing him to nurse the last remaining ones. And speaking of engines, I think James wrote sometime last year that the Renault engine was the most efficient on the grid last year, which could be a big advantage without refuelling. Anyways, like I said you can't count Hamilton (or McLaren) out, but based solely on their overall speed from last year, I think Red Bull has the edge. Po-tay-toe, Poe-tah-toe, time will tell.


I think although Vettel is certainly a very mature driver, a very professional driver and able to extract a great deal of speed in his car, people are all to aware he has only won from pole (except Abu Dhabi where Pole had to retire) Even Monza 08, for all the 'Minardi DNA' was a rapidly improving Newey chassis/aero package with a Ferrari engine. Until we see him take a take a win that had had another driver's name on it, or do a critical overtake to secure a vital position he will not have demonstrated he is the complete package.

Don't get me wrong - what he does does well, he excels at; but if he was a top trump card he would be full of 95% - 100% stats in a lot of categories with some 50% - 60% results in areas he has still yet to shine in.

People are all to aware of this, and whilst the probability is that RB6 will be the car of the field, their faith in Vettel has a big question mark over the gaps in his skillset that he has failed to demonstrate to people that he is truly great in.

Also, depending on which Mark Webber shows up this season could be most significant of all. Red Bull potentially have the closest driver pairing after Ferrari (although both Massa and Webber have question marks over them)

Vettel should certainly be favourite for Bahrain though, assuming he has a car that can qualify on pole.


I voted for Lewis, personally i hope that Felipe will win the title but Lewis and Mclaren seems to be the safest bet.

Vettel would be a safe choice also but the Red Bull ,Renault engine on the Red Bull,reliability it´s a question mark.

Can´t wait for the teams to start showing there diffusers!!!


I would love to see Felipe win it too, by beating Schumacher in Brazil. That would be the fairytale of fairytales. I think even Michael himself might shed a tear at his protege doing that...


Show good wishe of most British fans , anyway, in this coming race, the result is more dependent on the cars teams would provide. Those drivers have nothing needs to prove, only their cars.


McLaren have already taken their new "megafuser" and had it approved by the FIA. They had a cover over it at the launch, this may just be gamesmanship, but it seems to be having the desired effect on the media.

We are about due for another radical media grabbing pronouncement by Bernie. (He has time to think one up, now that he has let Saab off the hook)

However any speculation as to the championships is meaningless until all teams have shown their mettle. As we know, even the very best driver cannot win in a mediocre car, thus all bets are off untill all the testing is done and even then Campos may turn up on the dat and blow everyone away. (Admittedly unlikely, but a lot of premature chicken counting is above)


Give the guy a break. He is only going into his 3rd full season afterall and his peak performances last year was the highest from anybody


I'm surprised that Hamilton is favored so much over Button, who looked awfully confident at the launch the other day. I wouldn't mind placing a bet on a couple of drivers - does anyone know where an American like me can place a bet online?


I read your article in the early hours of this morning, in Spain, when there were no replies.

I nearly put a remark but didn't. Having read all the above, I will post the same comment I was going to make many hours ago!

I voted M. Shumacher, not Hamilton. I would however state that I need to see how the cars perform before a balanced judgement can be made. Which is what amuses me about many of these posts. Yes- I am not an expert, but I have followed F1 since 1950.


What are your thoughts on McLaren cooling James? and others. Looking at the small side pods makes me wonder how they will cope. Add that to the strain of extra fuel and perhaps having to run lean in the race. Lets hope they don't fall to pieces in the hot weather like some teams did last year.


The sidepods are certainly being worn tight this season!


Voted for Lewis thinking he's the man to beat by the other drivers but I'm really going for Alonso, Massa and Schumy.

That said I'm a bit pessimistic about Ferrari. From the looks of it it might be bad but we might be able to tell tomorrow there are still chances of catching up after a couple races anyway. The thing is, a team knows it will do good and from this point they can say we know 100% we'll have a competitive car but Ferrari has been saying "we'll see" and "we'll try our best".


Lots of people on these post are shouting about vettel and red bull..... 1st, webber done an outstanding job bearing in mind he wasn't totally fit for most of the season, and didn't really loose touch with his team mate. We haven't seen vettel 'race' yet. By that I mean fight wheel to wheel and overtake. His best races have been from pole with little pressure from anyone. 2nd, why is it everyone seems to think the red bull will be any good. Newey done a very good job on last years car, but let's face it, he made some mistakes at mclaren and designed cars that were too clever and just didn't work. With all the rumours going around on areo figures, it's just as likely they aren't happy with something and that's why the delayed their launch? Anything in f1 is possible, that's one of the reasons we all love it.


Does someone know what song was playing right before the launch of the McLaren on Friday?

It was a very subdued song with a heartbroken beat. Very nice and emotional intro to a stunning car.


Subdued and heartbroken? Coldplay??!


Something from the playlist of McLaren press officer Steve Cooper, a real muso


I was very much intrigued by the music. Modern, yet elegant. Not the usual flashy house music. It feels like the car is the warriors armory. A broken hearted warrior who is going back to the battlefield … it's very poetic.

If this car were to be a movie, it definitely would be "the House of Flying daggers". Such a sharpness & precision:



Have to say I voted for Hamilton but quite surprised that Vettel was well behind. For me he is quite comfortably 2nd favourite and should have been within a couple % of Hamilton!


James i know you were there at the launch of the Mp4-25, Lewis seemed to get quite angry at some of the questions he was being asked and didn't seem himself at the launch. Did you notice anything different about Lewis? One question was about Lewis always getting parts before Kovi did. I actually thought some of the questions were stupid like Lewis being paid more than Jenson.


Not at all. He seemed very calm and normal. Button was asked a provocative question about not being paid as much as Hamilton and he tried to deal with it, Hamilton effectively told the questioner to have more respect for the world champion, but neither of them were angry.



Sod the aero, can you tell us what is the output of the Cosworth? That, I think, is the elephant in the room, the great unknown.

It was planned under the guiding hand of Mosley and I have to say that, given his attitude to the factory teams, I have my doubts as to fairness.

In a Williams it could be class of the field. Good as we might think the various drivers are, against raw bhp they are powerless.

FW and PH are amongst the shrewdest of team managers. If they've gone for the Cossie it has to be either carrot or stick.

Gon one, James. Tell us all which it is.



Well I am Brirish and I voted for MSC.


I really hope the Ferrari aero figures aren't as bad as they're being made to be, they have, alongside McLaren in 2007, the most exciting driver line-up since Prost and Senna. It'd be a shame if it was wasted.

Hamilton has to be favourite though. In recent history, McLaren have often been hit and miss...but the year after a miss, it's always been a hit. McLaren don't fail twice, and good though Jenson is, Hamilton's raw speed is too good.

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