F1 Winter Break
Who is favourite for the F1 title?
Who is favourite for the F1 title?
Posted By: James Allen  |  19 Jan 2010   |  11:12 am GMT  |  153 comments

It’s pretty widely accepted now that this is the most exciting F1 season in prospect for a generation. The return of Michael Schumacher and the moves of Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg as well as the potent threat of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber at Red Bull, make this the best championship on paper anyone can remember.

F1 insiders are just as excited as F1 fans about the season ahead. It’s still early days yet and we don’t yet know who will have the fastest car, but the bookmakers are already giving odds on who will win the F1 world championship and it’s interesting to take a look at how things stand before the cars hit the track for testing, when things might change quite a bit. There could be some opportunities here.

Picture 12
They put Lewis Hamilton as favourite at 5/2, with team mate Jenson Button fifth at 7/1. Of course all predictions will be meaningless if the new McLaren tests as badly as last year’s model. I think at this stage though, the odds are probably fair. Hamilton had a great season in 2009 after a disastrous start. He’s matured a lot and is a match for anyone and if the car is right he will be very hard to beat. When the testing starts I will be watching his long runs very carefully to see how he manages the tyres. He will have to change his style a bit this year during races and that adaptability will be the key to his season.

Interestingly Michael Schumacher is joint second favourite at this stage on 4/1, based on his track record and the fact that he is driving for the team which won the world championship. Ross Brawn has said that he feels that once a few races have gone by and he’s settled back into racing, Schumacher can win the title in his first year back. The great man himself has said only that he wants to win it within three years with Mercedes.

The other driver at 4/1 is Fernando Alonso. He said last week that with a move to Ferrari and the adjustment to his new team, he would need three races to get up to speed. Today on the Ferrari website he made an interesting comment about his rivals for this season.

“The ideal would be if my fiercest competitor was Felipe: that would mean that we’re the best team, ” he said. But then he added, “Although I think that McLaren, Red Bull and Mercedes will be very competitive and hard to beat.”

Alonso is keeping expectations in check and he is right to do so, because until the Ferrari hits the track and we can see how it matches up to those three other cars, there is no point talking about championships. What will be crucial for Ferrari when the testing starts will be not just the pace of the car, but the performance over long runs. Ferrari used more fuel than it’s rivals to cover the same distance last season and they have been working hard to improve in that area so that they can carry a lighter load in races without compromising the ballast.

Sebastian Vettel is fourth favourite at 13/2 and this looks like a good bet to me. On paper he and Red Bull should be the team to beat. They finished 2009 the strongest and their car had plenty of scope for development. Vettel has already shown that he can lead from the front and isn’t afraid of anyone. If the car proves to be the class of the field when the testing starts, these odds will shorten a lot. Webber is even better value at 16/1. Consistency will be the key for him.

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Button celebrates his 30th birthday today. His odds at 7/1 reflect the widely held view that he will be overshadowed at McLaren by Hamilton, which is a good position for him to start from as he can prove his doubters wrong. If the front running cars are closely matched speed in qualifying will be critical and Button will need the car to be right to challenge the others, who are more able to drive around problems. Button will be more relaxed in 2010 having achieved his lifetime’s ambition. Now he can drive with passion and enjoy himself and he could spring some surprises. “If I was at Brawn still, I would go into the season positive, but not as positive as I am now,” he said at the weekend.

Massa at 9/1 looks good value too. He’s the great unknown, coming back as he is from injury. His duel with Alonso at Ferrari will be one of the highlights of the season. The difference between their odds is greater than the difference between their likely performance, in my view so at this stage, he might be worth a bet, especially if the Ferrari turns out to be quick.

Similarly Rosberg at 14/1 is hardly a vote of confidence in the young German in comparison with his legendary team mate and especially given the car he’s driving. These are more like odds he would have driving a Williams. Rosberg is 17 years younger than Schumacher and comes to Mercedes full of confidence after a decent season at Williams where he improved a lot, despite a couple of costly mistakes. I don’t see him winning the title, but I think he’s a lot more potent than the odds he’s been given.

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This is very hard to predict. If Ferrari have put their money where there mouth is and left the 2009 car for the 2010 car then I think Alonso is top of my list. I think the others listed above will win races and Hamilton (if the car is right) will fly off at the start of the season, but everyone else will catch up and strategise better to win.


Schumacher was never happier than when he was told to find 20 seconds in less than 20 laps - he was a terrific sprinter.

Anyone else think that this will work against him with the refuel ban?


One of the reasons Schumacher was so successful was that he was able to deliver on the brilliant tactical moves suggested by Ross Brawn. So he is very adaptable. With the refuelling ban, the only strategic factor at play is the number of pit stops and choice of tyres. As now stops will be shorter and tyres will heavily degrade at the beginning of the race, there is an option to do a long stint on hard vs short ones on soft. So there is still a bit of strategy left for Ross and Michael to play with.

I wish the FIA would make pit-stops optional and have 3 types of tyres, as to give more strategic options to the teams.


More likely it will work in favour of Schumacher. The best technical brain the sport has ever seen. Will probably be able to exploit the maximum speed from his car whilst still being able to conserve fuel.


Fast Fred Alonso and Flavor Flav taught Schumi and Brawn a few lessons on race tactics during 2005 and 2006, and beat them.

This should not be forgotten.

When confronted with Alonso face to face, The Kaiser blinked first.


wasnt it ross brawn himself who said that schumi can go faster for the same amount of fuel per lap?

im pretty sure i read it in James' book on schumacher...


Not at all. Best racing brain out there and his training was in endurance racing.


I believe Schumacher and Barricello are the only two drivers who have experience of non-refuelling F1, and MS is the ONLY driver to have won a race pre-refuelling..

So, no, I don't think that will work against him


Alonso will win it.


And how about Kubica's ratings? For me it's kind of suprise if Rosberg is marked as potential champion and Kubica's not.


Lets hope it's a good sign. Last year Kubica was a title contender and we know how it ended up... BMW Sauber was a total disappointment.


I don't ever think Kubica will ever be champion. If anything he's just a clone of Jean Alesi.


How did you get DNA of both?


I won't be surprised if Kubica is fighting for the title in 20011.


You mean he can't read pit signals to pit and refuel either. At least the refuelling bit won't be a problem this year. I think you're being a bit harsh on Robert. Read the Williams book and you'll get an insight on the BMW Management particulary Mario Theissen


Well, Kubica is simply not in a top team this year, not that he is not capable of challenging for the title as he showed in 2008. The poor guy must still be ruing BMW's bad decision to drop development of the 2008 car while he was still with a chance to challenge. He can only hope that the new investor will be able to bring the right people to the Renault team, but this will take time.


Cause Reno isn't Reno without the Banned Men and Alonso now at Ferrari... Reno were lets face it, a huge disappointment last season, and were within a boardroom meeting of not being in the championship this season coming up.

So Kubica at the moment is a HUGE unknown quantity, so probably worth a bet if you believe in him, cause you won't get better odds than now! Even betting on him getting on the podium you could get a very tasty return I'm sure!


This is rating not only for driver, the car is also important.


I would imagine the reason Kubica isn't marked as a potential champion - and Rosberg is - is due to the resepective teams they've found themselves in...


Have you seen the Renault lately? They haven't had a car capable of winning, much less contending for the championship, in years!


Do you realise which teams Kubica and Rosberg are driving?



I personally cannot wait for this season to get going, and want all cars to be competitive, from the outset, this season.

I think the bookies know it will be an explosive season.




If Ferrari provides a rock solid car that is fast and reliable, Alonso should be untouchable. On the other hand, McLaren are a clever team and in the past as the season goes, their cars prove to be fastest.

I think if Ferrari dont deliver, i think Lewis would win the championship by a mile. I think everyone would like to see the war between Ferrari and McLaren, these 2 have a great history of rivalry in F1, including drivers, as James said, it will be one of the best season if not ever, we might have Hamilton and Alonso going for a first corner. Lewis will like to even beat Michael too.

There will be lots of grin, eyes shifting and maybe see other teams going to court to protest, F1 is so unpredictable. Who knows, we might even see Michael squeezing Hamilton off the track, the tension for supremacy between Jenson and Lewis, what if Rosberg jumps and outperforms Schumi?

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

I think that the real pressure is on Alonso right now. He should be delivered the fastest car on the grid and has to win against a very fast team-mate and against a resurgent Hamilton.

He's already stating that it will take him a few races to get up to speed. If that's the case, then what are the expectations for Michael Schumacher?!

I think that this season may be the one in which Alonso creates his doubters.


I think Alonso will deliver and deliver big. He is under pressure, no doubt about that. But with the belief he is driving for one of the best teams out there, his motivation and focus will be renewed, and he will itching to deliver.


I have no doubts that Alonso will maximise the car but I have my doubts as to whether he will out-qualify Massa. This is where I believe the problems will arise. If Massa qualifies higher up the grid it will only serve to create friction within the team both strategy-wise and as we saw in 2007 with Fernando making uncharacteristic punts into the first corner.

This is not only what I believe but what I devilishly hope for, to add to the spice 🙂

What do you reckon mate?


To be honest I completely agree with you but I just think that on the occasions that Massa does qualify ahead of him (I'm thinking of Turkey, Bahrain as front-runners), that FA won't be so easygoing as Kimi and just 'get on with it'. Saying that I have a strong feeling that he will have established himself as a clear number one by midway - if not by proof on the track then with a few kind words to Luca!! 🙂

Can't wait for this season though. Just testing alone is getting me amped. Hope it lives up to expectation.


See the problem is we haven't seen a team-mate who has been able to match Alonso in the last 2 years. The basic benchmark of Renault's performance has been Alonso's driving and, as per F1 experts, he has always been punching above his weight in that car. So the memories we have are from 2007. In 2007, if we were to exclude France (Alonso's gearbox failure), Europe (Lewis' crash) and Hungary (we all know what happended there), Lewis outqualified FA 8-6, which I feel is reasonably fair given that Lewis was (and remains) a phenomal talent in 2007 and FA had just shifted teams. 2008 and 2009 are no basis to measure Alonso's qualifying ability as he completely decimated his team-mates. Given this data, my armchair analysis suggests that FA is as good as other top racer on the grid in qualifying.

My prediction is Alonso will be as strong as Massa in qualifying and be a shade higher as a racer over the year.


"Hamilton had a great season in 2010 after a disastrous start" Been looking in your crystal ball already? 🙂


I can easily see this being a season where the world champion only has two or three wins. So many guys out there have winning cars and a retirement will now be more devastating than ever. I think a tenner each way on Massa and Vettel is a good bet, but I wonder what the odds are on the world champion equalling Keke Rosberg's record of only winning one race this year and taking the title..?


High if the 25,18... version of the scoring comes in


I wonder if Hamilton's odds are shortened by an expectation that he will beat his team mate, whereas Alonso may face a stiffer challenge.

Pedant alert: I'm sure lots of others will point this out too, James, but there's an error above. Hamilton had a great season in 2009 after a disastrous start. Unless you've got a flux capacitor in your car...


Flux capacitors are still in development, there is a major problem with temporal displacement creating black holes, as you might expect.

Of course position of emergence is a major worry with the compound movement, comprising the earth surface rotation of 0.5Km/sec together with the sun orbit track moving at 30km/sec, Sol system within the Milky Way moving at 250km/sec and the Milky way moving within the "local" group at 300km/sec, after that it begins to get difficult to envisage.

If the artificially stretched differential in points is sanctioned, then after the first few races an event horizon will be created whereby the leaders will be out of sight of the rest of the field.

I say again, to make good competition all through the season the points gap needs to be reduced, preferably to 1 point per position; not increased to give those with an advantage an even bigger advantage.


Interesting article, I've been breaking my head over this for weeks (like anyone else out there) and I came up with roughly the same list. I only think Vettel is higher up... But James, where's Webber?


A lot will depend on the no refuelling and tyre stop rules. We may find that for some drivers they simply don't work!


i cant remember a time when f1 had so many great talents in the sport at the same time.

The emergence of guys like hamilton, vettel and kubica alongside established talent like alonso, massa and to some extent button plus the return of the legend michale shcumacher, this does make this season the most exciting ever..on paper.

My personal feeling is that it wont be as close as people hope i dont think there will be 4 teams battling for the tittle which means some pretty big names are going to be scrapping for the minor places!

My personal Hope is that Ferrari and mclaren return to form and we can see lewis and fernando head 2 head for the championship. I do think that over the season button and massa will beat their teamates on a few occasions but id expect that to be the exception no the norm.

I wouldnt mind if mercedes were challenign so we could see shcumacher up there too, i just think red bull have had 1 good season because of the massive rule change.

but we'll see and it will be fascinating to watch thats for sure


apologies for the dreadful spelling in that post.......

James who is your favourite for the championship at the moment? Hard to make an assesment before any team has turned a wheel but you didn't really shed any light on your thoughts in that article.


My money is on James'...erm...money being on Vettel for the title. My personal pocket money is on Lewis, with my hope that it is either him or the great man Schumacher.

Agree with you Hamilton2010champ tho that once the season kicks off, recent history suggests hoping for a 4 way team battle is unrealistic. 2 teams always emerge fastest - although I pray i'm wrong.


I feel James is backing Alonso. He is James' favourite driver on the grid.


Au contraire. I think James' money is on Vettel...


I am betting £10 on the Vettel as well.


I'm sure I saw James down the bookies the other day putting a bet on Micheal......


Rosberg's odds aren't a reflection on his driving, but a reflection on his teammate.

#1 If the Mercedes is competitive, Schumacher would be expected to beat any teammate on talent alone.

#2 Anyone partnering Schumacher will not be allowed to compete with him anyway, regardless of Mr. Brawn's noble intentions last year.


#1: Thats a fact.

#2: That's not. Mercedes is back to win. The faster driver will become the No 1. Simple.


What are Mark Webber's odds? I expect him to have a better season now that his injuries have healed.


1,000,000,000 to 1, he has no chance with the quality of the top drivers in F1 in 2010.

My Money's on Hamilton 8)


Me gustaria decir Alonso... pero creo que seran Lewis y Vettel.

Después se sumarán Fernando y Michael!







Hamilton had a great season in 2010 James! Wow? Now that's talent lol. Looking forward to the rush of more nonsense across all the forums when testing starts? I am not.


How did Lewis not have a great season? Ok so he only sinished fifth, but consider.

In testing his car was 2.5 seconds off the pace

In oz his car os 1.5 seconds off the pace

He outscored his team-mate more than 49-22

Hamilton 5th - Kovalinen 12th

2 Victories, only Button, and Vettel won more

5 podiums, only RedBull and Brawn drivers better.

I'd say thats a pretty good season really


In 2010?????? The article was originally worded that is when he had a good season! Overall, he did have a good season.


Good article again, James. Still using the dreaded apostrophe 'S' wrongly, I see ('it's' vs 'its') so only 9/10 for now..


Back to school with you, Goodwood7, it's all correct. Does James get his point back?


Sorry Rich, er.. Goodwood7 is correct. In James' sentence "Ferrari used more fuel than it’s rivals..." there should not be an apostrophe between the "it" and the "s". Just felt it was earth shatteringly important to correct you on this. Mind you my hat is off to James. Anyone who cranks all this out and still gets the odd book published has more than earned the right to the odd errant apostrophe. Usually these days I can't get through a complete sentence without at least one typo (had to ask the wife whether there is an "a" in sentence).


Gaaaah, I didn't see that one! I knew as soon as I left my comment that somebody would put me right. That's what you get trying to be a pedant instead of leaving insightful comments on the topic in hand...


Personally, I'd put my money on Schumacher or Vettel. They are both great drivers and they have the championships best tacticial and aerodynamicist between them. I do not believe either team will have dropped the ball with their fight at the end of last season.

Mclaren should be up there to this year, and I agree with the general consensus that Lewis will out perform Jenson. Lewis has the advantage of being McLaren's golden boy and knowing everyone, while Jenson has the advantageof being softer on the tyres with his style. Although I think McLaren moving their established engineers around just to stop people talking about favoritism could hurt their early season form.

Ferrari. I personally would bet on Massa rather than Alonso. He has the team behind him, and is practically joined at the hip with his engineer, having worked with him so well. If Massa does get the better of him in the first few races, then Alonso WILL throw his dummy out of the pram and start screaming about favoritism, I just hope that the management just tell him to shut up and do his job.

Red Bull, I still maintain Vettel will get the upper hand over Webber, but I think it will be a very similar story to last year, with Webber keeping in touch through consistency, when Seb is throwing the car off the road trying to beat MS, because that is where the pressure is going to be. Seb has been hailed as the new Schumacher, and now he has to prove it against the man himself... can he do it?? He has been fine competing with MS at the Race of Champions, winning the nations cup together in 08 and 09, but they were competing together, not against each other, so on track over 19 races can he do it?

My prediction for the top 8 of 2010...

Schumacher, Vettel, Hamilton, Massa, Button, Alonso, Webber, and Kubica

Anyone agree???


nope i dont agree.

My top 3 are:




But of course we are assuming everyones car is up to speed and competitive. 2009 testing ring any bells!

what ever happens its gonna be a cracker!!


I agree mainly, but I think Alonso and Massa will be close, although I expect Alonso to do a bit better than Massa.


You must be brave putting Massa ahead of Alonso...


Not brave at all, logical is a better word.


I like your top 8 prediction, Alex! But I'll have to admit it's because your list mirrors the order of my personal favorites and I'd put Felipe in front of Lewis purely for sentimental reasons. Like I posted on a previous thread, I think that coming back from a life threatening injury; Felipe out pacing Alonso would have a real feel-good ring to it! 🙂 ...everything else would be gravy. Cheers.


I think Rosberg will be on the top 8.


My own favourites:

1/ Schumacher, 12/4: because of Schumacher, Brawn (when is his last uncompetitive car?), Mercedes is the reigning team.

2/ Vettel, 13/4 (!): because of his natural talent and skils, Adrian Newey, Renault's low fuel consumption engine, and was the most efficient and advanced car last year (no doubt in my mind the 2010 car will be great too).

3/ Hamilton, 7/2: because he's an amazing driver, McLaren experience and ressources, Mercedes engine.

4/ Alonso, 6/1 "only", because I feel Ferrari will have some issues with fuel consumption, so car's efficiency and maybe tyres use/deterioration.

Button, Weber, Rosberg, Massa and any other cannot match these.

One question James: will Mercedes provide exactly the same engine (engine itself but also electronic/software) and developements to McLaren as for its own team? I can imagine they's provided McLaren some guarantees, but...


Don't forget McLaren does the ECUs for everyone.


I wonder how much the full fuel load will play a part. Tyre wear and therefore how well drivers look after the tyres will be important.

Can anyone answer:- How much of an impact on aerodynamics/balance will the fuel tank make on the cars?

I suspect we wont see another Brawn GP type team lead in the way it happened last year but will the new regulations have as much of an impact?



Will you be covering the testing with your expert analysis on the performance on the cars? you was bang on the money with the Brawn last season.


My 7 year old daugter won the local 2009 fantasy F1 league out of about 400 players, nearly all of them seasoned adult F1 fans.

This year she is predicting Vettel to win so i will take her advise and have a punt!


It's not often bookies get it wrong and I think they may well be on the mark in 2010.

Lewis Hamilton to win if McLaren give him an equal car to the other top drivers, Schumacher won't be in the top 3 8)


So much depends on the cars.

With Brawn's brains, Mercs' engine, and Schumi's driving/thinking abilities, they are going to be a tough package to beat. Much will depend on how the management team works. If Mercedes let Ross and Schumi get on with what they do best, then they will be formidable.

If all the cars are pretty much equal, it will be between Schumi and Alonso.


Hi there! I think we'll have a great season. Great drivers, great champs, etc.. I'll only miss Kimi (the best of Kimi ... 😉 )

Predictions? Well .. it's hard!

Shummi, will always be Shummi. Older, but smarter (I think)! In the beginning he'll struggle a bit, that's for sure!

Lewis, reminds me Senna ... "GET OUT OF MY WAY MAN!" And like Senna, he's just a driver that no matter if is not used to 200kg of fuel on board, narrow front tyres, bla, bla, bla! These kind of drivers just know how to drive everything and that's it!

Alonso, well, he's 2x champ, and that's not only luck! But I think that "in the land of Ferrari" some wars will happen! Two Latin boys? Peace will never happen ... ahahahahaha and I know what I'm talking about! 😉 It seems that he's a kind of person who cannot handle bad results ... and the past "speaks" for itself ...

Massa has been a good suprise all these years. If he's 100% recovered, he'll be a threat, firstly, to Alonso!

Vettel ... well, well, well .. Vettel is a future champ, no doubt about that, but he has to manage some "impetus"! Remember Australia 2009? Well, he could have grabbed 6 points couldn't he? But that's the way he is and that will be the way he is going to be champ some day, I hope sooner than later! (well, I hope it will be this year)

Rosberg? I think he's too "green", but definitely a good driver with lots of potential. And he can have a "Massa like" strategy (when Massa paired with Summi in 2006 and learned some things ...).

Button? Well, I never saw Button as a REAL number 1 in F1. Sorry folks! That's my feeling ... but since everybody says he's real "soft" with its cars, and helped by the refuel ban, he can really make a difference if McLaren has a good balanced car ... and those laps in Brazil 2009, overtaking almost everyone who came in front of him ... well, that was SOMETHING! 5* for Button.

But my favorites for 2010 are Lewis and Vettel (in this order).


"Vettel has already shown that he can lead from the front and isn’t afraid of anyone".

Apart from when pressured into mistakes. If he's learned from mistakes made in '09, and the Red Bull is the fastest car, and Webber still suffers from more than his fair share of misfortune...

I feel that the champion will ultimatly be whoever is consistant thoughout the year.


Let us wait and see what the new Brawn/Schumacher loophole will be before placing our bets on the obvious winner!!


In the final stages of last season the MCLaren and the Red Bull have been the best cars. Brawn have been far from the dominance of the beginning stages. So this could explain why Rosberg does not have the best odds.

My guess is that MClaren will have the best car closely followed by Red Bull. Ferrari and Mercedes are more difficult to assess. Ferrari have huge resources but did have problems since brawn and todt left. Mercedes are rather midfield wrt. the resources, but have Ross Brawn as a bonus. This guy certainly knows how to invest for the greatest benefit :).


Based on drivers i think Lewis will be the champion, as long as Mclaren provide him a fast and solid car, he will win.


The tricky aspect is more in determining which teams hit the ground running, and which are either complete disappointments or just slower to get up to speed.

So on that basis I'd have Vettel as favourite and then Schumacher next. Mainly because it's not exactly clear if Ferrari and Mclaren, who had caught up a lot of the ground lost at the start of 2009 but not all of it, have gotten back to the level of Brawn and Red Bull.

I suspect they will have, though. I'd say then it's really Hamilton, Alonso, Schumacher and Vettel for the title. However I think in championship terms the top 4 teams and those driver may all be very close and the real deciding factor is which ones of Massa, Button, Webber and Rosberg pressure their teammate the most and take points away from them, giving the team a headache about who to back.

From that respect I suspect Alonso and Hamilton may have harder jobs.

But it's a tremendous lineup and I think you can pick any one from 6. I find it harder to think Webber or Rosberg will be champ but if their car is best or one of the best they will still be there or thereabouts.


I'm going for Felipe Massa at 9/1. £10 should do it.


It is very hard to predict and I won't be surprised if we will head for the last race and will have three or maybe four drivers who will fight for the title.

I would say Schumacher has the highest chances simply based on the fact that Brawn will produce a good car. Will have to see how good McLaren and Ferrari will be before we can rate Hamilton and Alonso.

I don't think Button will be in the title fight this year and let's see if Red Bull can keep the momentum.


I'm pretty sure that this time last year, bookies had Hamilton favourite for the 2009 title as well, and I doubt Button even featured.

There's no doubting Hamilton's ability, but will the car be good enough. McLaren seemed to continue to push development on the 2009 car later into the season than others, so it will be interesting to see if that has again been to the detriment of their car for the following season.

Massa and Vettel look to be the best value at those odds though, and 16/1 for Webber seems extreme.

If McLaren start the season competitively, I think Hamilton will prevail, otherwise I think Vettel has a great chance.


I think your assessment of Massa as potentially a good bet is right on James. I fully expect him to outperform Alonso this season and finish the season ahead. If the car is good he has a real chance at the Championship. He has something to prove and has my full support. If it weren't for Ferrari's errors in the past he would be a world champion by now - and that would have simply improved his odds without any change having been required to his level of performance.

I was amused to see the results in the Wroom event this past week with Massa beating his team-mate in both the saloon and kart race. As you said in an earlier post there is nothing Alonso likes less than being beaten by his team-mate. I think we may see something of the Maclaren year all over again. Have to say though that I was gratified to see Nicky Hayden win the Wroom kart race ahead of all the F1 drivers! Good on you too Casey Stoner coming 3rd behind Massa. (Fernando? Wherefore art though Fernando?)


Incidentally James, would the Wroom event event not have warrented a post??



1 Vettel

2 Alonso

3 Massa

4 Hamilton

5 Webber

6 Button

7 Schumacher

7 Rosberg


1 Ferrari

2 Red Bull

3 McLaren

4 Mercedes


If your prediction is accurate and actually becomes a reality come the end of the season, I'll eat my hat... Hamilton 4th? Webber 5th?

What planet are you on?


Err..... No!!!!


As much as i would love Schumi to do it i just cant see him winning in his first season back. I wish i was a confident as Ross.

My money is on Lewis, i think he will win it with a few races to spare...you watch!


Whilst the odds are fair, it still doesn't tell us much more than... it's so incredibly open.

James how much do you think Mclaren's apparent focus on being equal will effect their performance? I mean is equality the only reason they've promoted Hamilton's engineer. I wonder how much their focus on treating their drivers equally will hamper them in their push for the title. I think they will obviously be up there, but it's little things like that, that can make the difference. Schumacher showed what everyone pulling in a single direction can achieve.


Great article, James; some nice analysis of the main protagonists and your thoughts on their chances.

What would be nice to know though is, if I was to give you twenty quid to pop down to the bookies and place a bet, what would be your gut feeling on where to place it at this early stage?


@ Goodwood, what the heck are you on about?!


I just love the prospect of this season, especially with Michael back on track. However, I'm pretty sure Massa will take it. This of course depending on his form after the accident and the speed of the Ferrari.

If Massa and the new Ferrari are both where they should be, I call him as the next world champion.


I'm interested in seeing how Schumacher copes with the exstream pressure he will undoubtedly be under this season. He hasn't coped with it that well in the past (94, 97) and as one of James previous articles mentioned he was prone to cracking. Will he have the desire to put people off the road this year. Only time will tell


I think Hamilton makes too many mistakes when the pressure is on, the question is to me how much has he matured. I would expect some surprises from Vettel he is still improving race by race and if he can make a step forward this year he can win it. I don`t think Ferrari as strong as a team as it was a few years back. However Alonso is still the strongest package. And I will miss Kimi from this group a lot, hope he will come back next year.







This has to be the hardest season to predict in a long time. James, maybe you could start a blog topic for predictions, so that 1 years from now we can all have a laugh at how wrong we were, or be amazed at the Nostradamus-like powers of those who called it correctly?

For what it's worth I'm going with:

1. Lewis

2. Vettel

3. Schumacher

4. Fernando


The way I see it, based purely on driver skills, in the first half of the season Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton will be fighting for the wins whilst Schumacher (taking time to hit form), Webber, Massa, Button and maybe Rosberg will be in the second bunch.

But by the 2nd half of the season Shumi should be back up there fighting for wins.

Big variable will be of course the cars. It is always possible that if either Ferrari, McLaren or Red Bull have done a 'Brawn' one of those top 3 drivers will dominate. Let's hope that's not the case.

The ideal scenario I would have is a very fast Mercedes, out of the blocks, which would instantly have Schumacher and possibly Rosberg fighting with Hamilton, Alonso and Vettel.

When you look at the 2010 cars and driver combos, it looks like there could possibly be 3 distinct divisions in the field; Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull fighting for wins and podiums, Renault, Williams, Torro Rosso, Sauber and Force India scrapping for minor points with the newbies bringing up the rear.

What will be especially interesting is who amongst them will exceed expectations and fight above their weight and who will disappoint and fall back into the next group.

Whichever way you slice it and dice it, it's going to be one hell of a season!


When you consider all the previous negative aspects, Briatore, FIA and the manufacturers leaving the sport, it looked one of the worst seasons to come. Then suddenly up pops Schumacher and it's completely turned round, with the moves of Alonso and Button giving it that added bit extra.

I hope it's not all going to come down to the car, but I expect some teams are going to get things wrong. Red Bull seems to have completely escaped the radar at the present, but they had such a good basis in drivers and chassis last year they have to be fancied.


If there was an equal playing field in cars, I think the order would still be difficult to predict, especially with the refuelling ban :

Hamilton - More pole positions and wins but this judgement is based on his sheer speed alone.

Schumacher - Best race strategy in the business but 99% of the speed. Wily race skills should enable him to see off Rosberg in the same car.

Alonso - race strategy not as good because he hasn't Ross Brawn on the pit wall. Speed to equal Schumacher, but not Hamilton.

Vettel, Button, Massa and Rosberg - in this order battling for Podiums if not outright race wins.

But, of course, what makes F1 so fascinating is that the cars will not be equal !


Alonso has to learn lessons from 2007, his major rival of next season is his teammate.


As long as he isn't overawed I wouldn't be at all suprised to see Rosberg beat Schumi. He's always demonstrated one lap pace and developed decent race consistancy. He should be in the prime of his career. If the Merc looks good in pre season testing I'll be putting some money on him.


This could be the most exciting F1 season in living memory! There are so many unknown factors that could lead to almost any result; at this time last year who would have predicted the Brawn/ Button championships? The Cosworth engine could sweep the board and one of the new teams could dominate the championships! It's clear who the favourites will be but will one of them win? Looking forward to the start.


1.- Alonso

2.- Hamilton

3.- Massa

4.- Vettel

5.- Webber

6.- Schumi

7.- Button

8.- Rosberg


No value anywhere there in my book. Far too early to be taking a punt on anyone, particularly at those prices. 6 drivers @ 10/1 or less is indicative of the bookies covering their backsides, and understandably so after the pounding they took at the hands of Brawn last season.

The only potential value at present is Kubica @ 40/1. He was said to be readily encouraged by Renault's progress following a recent visit to the factory, and if Renault develope a car of the 2005 vintage having focused early on their 2010 contender, Kubica has the pedigree to deliver. The Renault is also the most fuel efficient engine out there, and with refuelling banned, this might prove a more distinct advantage than you might think, perhaps offering a couple of tenths per lap in advantage.

Still early days, but Kubica's price is the only one that stands out as perhaps a little too generous.


Interesting comments.

But remember what happen last season at the beginning. it was all anout the car not too much about the driver.

It could be the same story once again and I think it will be between Red Bull, strong favourite, and McLaren and MercedesGP as contenders.

Red Bull finished the season with a better overall performance than the rest, McLaren and MercedesGP will be looking strong but not quick enough to catch the Red Bulls.

Webber could be the revelation of the beginning of the season with his experience while Vettel I think will need to adapt his driving style to the new regulations.

Hamilton and Button should be okay with the new regulation, both very smooth drivers like Schumacher.

Ferrari will be the at the front if they will get the design right from the start, Massa and Alonso will develop the car during the season, they have the capability and experince to do that.

If Ferrari comes out with an inferior car, because of the no refuelling, they will struggle.

As you can see from Sauber appointment, experience will be a vital part of the start of the new season and feeling the car and be able to get the maximum out of the car without trashing it arouond the circuits will be vital.

If I was a betting man my money will be on Hamilton !!!


Hiya James,

I also noticed the odds for Webber looking good. It would seem to me that given his slow start to the season with his injury it could be him who 'does a Jenson'.

He is a fast and very capable driver and it is fair to say that he will be in a quick car. How quick we will see but they must be kicking themselves over the chance that they had last season.

SV is also still young and if he makes mistakes like he did last season this may open the door for Webber.

Twenty quid on Webber for me and lets see how the testing goes.

For the record I see Lewis doing it and problems for Ferrari. Don't know why, maybe I'm bias but I can't see Massa & Alonso working well.

Can't wait.


Since the top drivers are all close to equal on talent it may come down to experience and ability to adjust to the new rule changes.

You don't have to look very far back to see that pre-season predictions mean little. Bahrain will undoubtedly see a number of surprises. By the time we get around to Brazil again in November I suspect we will have seen the top spot change hands a number of times. Perhaps we will get the championship showdown in Abu Dhabi we deserve.

There are a couple of drivers at least who need to make a mark early on in the season. Button and Schumacher will have a tough job to show they can still beat the younger generation. Alonso too has a lot to prove at Ferrari. Both Hamilton and Vettel have time on their sides. And in that respect they are under less pressure to perform. Although I expect to see them all as regular podium finishers.

And here’s a novel idea James, should the FIA look at increasing the number of podium steps to five?


We really have to wait to see who has got competitive kit.

I'd write off Macca if they were still ruled by Ron, but Martin might well be able to lead the team with a top car. We'll see.

Think it will be close between Button and Hamilton.

Expect we'll see a Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull WDC this year.


Lewis: Quite agressive, turns in hard etc. Jenson: silky smooth. Couple this with heavier cars, narrow fronts, Jenson has a good chance of beating Lewis. Yes/No?


No. Sorry, F1 is all about balls.


Mug's game!


If the Ferrari is quick I shall opt for Massa. He reminded me of Hakkinen in his recent interview on the BBC website. He seemed supremely determined. I imagine he will continue to be quick continuing where he left off in 2008 and 2009.


If massa has physically recovered in full, I do not see why not.

The accident itself, may have not left any psychological trace,considering he did not see it happening ( yes really) and he was not even aware it happened until few days later until he woke up and somebody told him.

those things, if they do not kill you, they make you stronger.

The only concern is, that having missed 7 races, he is not "race sharp" as the other fellows when the testing begin again this month. he may waste a bit of the first few days of testing on getting back to craft again, while the other guys can concentrate on other tasks that may progress them quicker in the preparation.


If Vettel isn't champion then there needs to be a serious inquest at Red Bull.

Alonso? No chance. The new car won't have the grip, and due to the engine homologation they'll be down on power and will be more thirsty.


I think all the fans would like to see the 4 main teams on equal performance. We have the names we need the cars on equal terms now. Assuming equal performance on each car (something impossible I know).


LH: It is well known how baldy LH treat his car, with full talk we smell trouble. If he adapts on the run.

JB not a chance

Red Bull

VE might be the big surprise.

MW not a chance


FM very inconsistent (especially on rainy days) he might win some races though

FA on the run


MS on the run

NR not a chance


It'll be pretty cool if Schuey does manage to win... it'll raise the bar for the new kids on the block heh.


how badly is Rubens regretting signing for Williams, given that he was supposedly offered a McLaren seat and could also have stayed at Mercedes?

Or, do you think Williams can do a Red Bull and jump up the pack unexpectedly?


I don't think he regrets moving from Brawn at all... can you imagine the look on his face if he was told who he was gonna be paired with?


That assumes Rosberg/Button wasn't 1st choice - I think Schumi was an afterthought: a great one, but an afterthought nonetheless. I simply can't imagine the circus of will he/won't he would have been permitted (by Ferrari) if the deal had already been done.


The winter is passing quickly :

Only 50 days to wait for first practice in Bahrain !!!!!!!!!!!!


If someone gives me a million bucks and asked to Put my Money on only one drive, I would put that on LEWIS HAMILTON.

IF they say I can BET on 2 folks I would do a 50-50 split between LEWIS HAMILTON and SEBASTIAN VETTEL

and if they give me 3 choices. I would do a

40-30-30 on LEWIS - VETTEL - SCHUMI.

Maybe I should check back 1 year from now. How it evolved.


I would also try to see how many different GP winners '10 season will produce. I am sure it would be more than '09.


Of course you would put them on LH, they would not be your money. LOL


this is a really hard one. we really can't say before testing cos as good as Hamilton is, if the new Mc is crap again then it's all over for him. Same for every driver.

i don't think that'll be the case tho, i believe the McLs and Fezzas will be very strong this year, and i think Massa will out score Alonso. He was runner up in '08 and he still finished 11th in '09 despite almost dying, out scoring half the field. seriously, give the man some credit!

My head says Hamilton, but my heart says Massa. How else are we gonna top last year?!?! lol


At this early stage you should really only be looking for value in the market rather than guessing who will win !

Vettel and to a lesser extent Massa are the obvious punts at present.

Back Vettel now and then lay him (on Betfair) if the odds drop during testing.Because your potential profit is greater than your liability you will make the difference between the two if he wins. If he loses you get your stake back.

In F1 it's very easy to make small returns on large bets by backing and laying because the season is long and the odds fluctuate so much.


Of course, no one actually knows who will win. One of the new teams might come along and shock everyone. USF1 seem to be shaking the cage, just with the approach they are taking, maybe they might be able to shake the cage on the track too.

Personally I'd like to see Mark Webber win. Last year I think he was easily as fast as Sebastian Vettel, but probably just a bit unlucky, or made a few critical mistakes at times - Japanese Grand Prix for example.


even if i was a multi multi millionaire i couldn't bring myself to put a quid on nico.


And that could be why you're not a multimillionaire. Gotta take risks to be successful.


I've just put $10 on Webber at 24/1!

That's value. Hard to imagine how his odds could be so high considering his performance last season despite his injuries and the Red Bull being class of the field in the last few races of 09. I expect him to start very strongly with his usual pre-season preparation.

Quali will be key for him...if he manages to regain his pre-09 season qualifying form he is in with a big chance.

This season is going to be a stormer!


This is the most open season in a decade; even more unpredictable than last year's.

1. We have some superb driver-pairings on the grid(I wish Kimi was there as well).

2. We have the emergence of Red Bull and Mercedes GP as the new power houses in F1.

3. We have proven winners in Williams and Renault, teams which I think are poised well for the future.

4. We have Force India with a great engine at its rear and a team well-suited for the new era of F1 as far as costs and efficieny are concerned.

5. We have the return of Cosworth as an engine supplier, another unknown quantity.

6. We have 4 new teams expected to join the grid in Bahrain.

And this list doesn't include the changes in the technical and sporting regulations.

Even if some of the cars are not as competitive as we might expect them to be, the team-mate competition should still be interesting to watch.


Hi James

This is provisional

1 - FA

2 - SV

3 - LH

4 - MS

5 - JB

I think it may change when we see Ferrari soon.



I think it will be Alonso but it wouldn't surprise me if Hamilton won it again. Losing Raikkonen was a waste take a look at his qualifying lap at Suzuka on the F1 DVD just a pity he couldn't get his head together for a whole season. It will be interesting to see how Red Bull go particularly if Webber is fully fit. Will be intrigued as to how much additional strength Mercedes will bring to Brawn particularly in relation to developing the car through the year. McLaren pulled off a remarkable coup last year while Brawn didn't seem able to develop the car as the year went by.


What are the odds on the FIA fixing the outcome, yet again...

For one year, I hope the FIA just take a back seat and let the drivers and teams battle it out on a fair racing platform...

All these utterly pointless WDC and WCC titles for the likes of Button just degrade F1...

Having missed a number of races before, due to boredom of the FIA intereference, I'm actually looking forward to this season in some hope...

Hopefully the removal of Max Mosely, will be the best thing that happened to F1 in 2010, after Schumacher's return...


Hi James,

If there was one thing missing from the blog last year, it was an element of sticking your neck out and making predictions. I know you have more at stake than most when making such predictions but is there a chance that, perhaps on the eve of the first race or qualifying, that you'll make your predictions for the season?


I don't see how you can say that. I predicted Button and Brawn to win before the season started....I also predicted in April that McLaren would win races and fight back..and plenty of others too.


I seem to remember James said that Hamilton might be an outside bet for the championship, which I would definitley say was sticking his neck out!


Apologies, I do read every entry but must have missed that one or forgotten. Good picks, comment retracted!


It could be 4 ways battle, Schumacher , Alonso, Vettel & Hamilton ( depending on car Competitiveness & fuel consumption , spot on strategy team & pit lane crew ). It will end up between Schumacher & Alonso with Schumacher becoming the champion ( specially with Ross Brown on his side & the refuelling ban in place ).

The Old Master Will Reign Again.


I just get this feeling that Webber will be a surprise, same car as Vettel but less pressure as fewer people are tipping him. Also he has the Aussie "no worries " temprament on his side.


I'm not so sure about that. The low-key Aussie aspect is there when he's out of the car, but on race day Webber has always struck me as a bit tightly wound, which I think may contribute to some of his mistakes. I thought the first win last year might relax him a bit, but it didn't really seem to.

He's fast, but I'm not sure he has the right temperament to win a tightly contested championship.

That said, if he's fully recovered from his injuries he should have a much better start to 2010 and is likely to push Vettel.


Oh come on, they won in Singapore 2008!

Oh wait!


Nobody's mentioning Kobayashi?


I have a question to ask James or anyone who watched F1 when no refueling was allowed. Did the cars have significantly different setups for qualifying and the race? if so will it be allowed for 2010?


Yes because it was in the days when you could work on the cars all night between quali and the race and there was a Sunday morning warm up too. Now with parc ferme rules you race the car exactly as it was in quali


It is also worth noting another factor in the way bookies calculate odds is the number of people who have already bet on a particular outcome. E.g. if many punters have already bet on Hamilton his odds will shorten, this is done to reduce the risk of bookies loosing out.

This being the UK one would expect Hamilton to be at shorter odds as he is likely to have more fans betting for him.

The odds will also change after a few tests have run. I was chatting to a Brawn engineer recently who described all of the mechanics rushing to ring the bookies following their first test last year !


Vettel will win.

Goodbye to all!


Red Bull has had the least upheaval in the off season and they were the strongest in the last half of 2009. I think that bodes well for them at least at the start of 2010.









Kubica (the best of the rest)


I can't believe Vettel is so undervalued! I also see that many people agree with me.

If I were a betting man I would be putting a wad on SV.

He was in the fastest car at the end of last season, they have great technical staff (AN etc.), he has been shown to be a winner, and but for Brawns lightning start to the season, would have been close to winning last year.

Although the Renault seems to be underpowered, it is also the most fuel efficient, which could almost compensate for the lack of power.

SV all the way, but good luck to Vettel and Webber (Go Australia!) too.


Aplogies for end of last post.

I meant Good luck to Lewis and Mark.


Fascinating topic for speculation, but I've lost count now of the number of promising seasons in which the promise leaked away once test results were published.

We were lucky last year because Brawn came back to the field over the season, and because McLaren and to a lesser extent Ferrari managed to make up a lot of performance after the half way point.

It's asking a lot for three teams to have cars capable of winning at round 1. Probably the most realistic hope is that different cars will suit different tracks, which may spread out the wins somewhat.

Of the expected front runners, RBR look good because of the continuity of team members and drivers - the "only" query is whether they've built a fast car. Everyone else has some kind of other question mark in addition to the raw car performance -

Massa - his recovery from injury.

Alonso - the move to Ferrari (whose car was clearly very tricky to drive last year), and the potential challenge from Massa

Button - the challenge of a new team, and of competing against Hamilton in the same machinery

Rosberg - stepping up to the big time, and being compared directly against a 7-time champion

Hamilton - new team mate that he is expected to beat, new engineer, change in status of team (from factory to customer)

Schumacher - returning after 3 years out of the sport

It's almost impossible to predict who will cope best with the challenges, let alone who will have the fastest car.

The biggest unknown is probably Schumacher - 3 years out of the sport is a long time, and the cars have changed quite a bit. However, a great part of his strength has always been that he was not just fast, but outstanding at every other aspect of being a race driver. A great test and setup driver, a great tactician, etc. One of the most impressive things about him was how many points he scored when things weren't going well. All of those things should still be there, even if there's a question about outright speed, at least initially. It will be very interesting - and I wouldn't be surprised if Rosberg is a bit quicker, especially early on, but Michael may have more points at the end of the season.


A lot of people are concerned about Ferrari that may not be up to the task of delivering a competitive car. But I hate to tell you my dears, the truth is.... any car can be a dog next season.

Included much hyped Mclaren, Brawn and Red Bull.


To misquote Eddie Irvine ‘betting opinions about are like a**e holes. Everyone has one’. It is my job to advise both bookies and punters as to the best bets in F1 and I am happy to keep my hands in my pockets for now.

My only suggestion at this stage would be to consider that last season was every unusual in that the regulations were massively different from preceding years. There was always the chance that someone would come up with a very clever solution to the changes, and they did. Three teams stole a march by coming up with the double deck diffuser and Red Bull came up with very quick car, despite not having thought of the DDD. Williams and Toyota, with the best will in the world, where never going to be able to win a Championship. One has forgotten how to win and the other hadn’t ever done it. That left Brawn vs. Red Bull, or Brawn vs. Newey, the two smartest cookies on the block, to fight it out.

This season the changes are not so big. The other teams will have learned from Newey’s design and will now all have well worked out DDD’s. The scope to pull a rabbit out of the hat has diminished. Budgets are being squeezed, so the ability to buy the title is not as big as it used to be. Engine designs are frozen and everyone has the same tyres. Refuelling is banned so even the brain power behind clever race strategies will be greatly reduced. It is hard to see who could have an edge at this stage unless you consider people as the most likely thing to make a difference, and people are funny things. They generally don’t like change and thrive in their ‘own’ environment. Effective change takes time.

As such, those teams and drivers that have managed to keep their key personnel in place should have an advantage. Continuity could be the key to finding the winner of this year’s Championship. That suggests that Hamilton, Vettel, Webber and Massa are the most likely contenders for the Drivers, and Red Bull for the Constructors. Webber struggled to handle Vettel last year and Vettel now has his feet under the table. Massa should be OK after his accident, but missing half a season is not ideal and putting up with Alonso will drive him nuts. Hamilton and Vettel will be my favourites, at least until we see any real hints from next month’s testing.


This year it looks more difficult than ever to make predictions. Have McLaren and Ferrari learned how to build cars with DDs? Will the Red Bull become more reliable and not lose speed? How much can Mercedes find after having a car actually meant to fit their engine?

And how close will the field be?

There was hardly anything over a second spliiting the field last season at Spa. Some years ago, some tenths would have meant 4 or 5 positions on the grid, now it lead to being pushed back 4 or 5 rows. If somehow things remains as close as they were, we might end up with the same picture from the second semester last season, the pecking ordered was a new one each race. People could hardly tell who was who from Turkey onwards.

Anyhow, if there was anyone who could have learned a lot last season, that was Hamilton. Provided the car is good enough and he keeps in mind how important it is to not commit mistakes, he's the title favourite.


I'm an ex f1 team owner ,pushing 80, and truly amazed and pleased at the depth and understanding of the complexity of F1 that a good number of your younger bloggers have! I assume the most of the people writing in may have little or no active racing experiance, which makes it even more impressive! This blog and Joe Saward's seem to attract the most intelligent readers and the most incisive blogs......


Your very welcome James, both Mike Doodson and Andrew Marriott suggested I take a good look at your website, glad did!


Ah! Great old friends. Thanks.

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