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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

hi to all at i thought i had sent this newyears eve but it didnt send so i have sent it again all things good for the new year to you all

– gentas


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

From Alonso Fan!!!


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

Alonso is force to be reckoned with if Ferrari can improve their car a little more.

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

peter neil


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


Predictions for the season.

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

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

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


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


My predictions for the Season of 2011:

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



Lewis Hamilton to win the Championship.













There once was an Aussie called Mark,

He’s quick, as fast as a lark.

He’ll finish fifth in the game,

Which is kind of a shame,

I love the guy, he drives with a spark!

Young Lewis – he’s one complex guy,

With that new manager, he’s sure gonna fly.

He’s at McLaren for life,

He’ll have a Pussycat wife,

But only fourth this year, I do cry.

Young Nico, now isn’t he cute,

To third, this German will shoot.

All sorts of trouble he’ll bring,

To Michael the king,

Mr Schumi – he’ll give you the boot!

It’s our Spanish favourite at two,

Mr Alonso, but give him his due.

What happened last year,

Pit call a pig’s ear,

But boy, his talent shone through!

In these limericks, I talk of the four,

Behind Vettel, he’ll give us some more.

He’s chasing his fate

He’s becoming a great,

Young Seba, champion again, I’m sure!


2012 USA Grand Prix to be held in Tripoli !


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


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


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


nick heidfeld will finally win a race.


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


Good morning James,

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

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

1. Red Bull has a rocketship and will be even more dominant than last year. Ferrari best of the rest followed by Mercedes, McLaren, Williams, Renault, Sauber, Toro Rosso, Force India, Lotus, Virgin and HRT.

2. Weight distribution and minimum weight regulations to play in Mark Webber’s favour and he takes the driver’s title by season’s end. Vettel second, Alonso third, Button fourth, Schumacher fifth and Rosberg sixth.

3. The impredictability of the Pirelli tyres will give us more race winners. I predict Heidfeld, Schumacher and Rosberg to win.

4. Jenson and Fernando will be again the kindest to their tyres and will win races on strategy rather than pure pace.

5. Team Lotus to be renamed Team AirAsia F1 by season’s end.

6. HRT will not see the end of the season and will fold a la Super Aguri fashion.

7. ‘James Allen on F1: 2011 – a Season to Remember’ is published in December both as hard copy and audiobook.

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


My predictions

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

Nostradamus wasn’t that accurate 😉


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


1. Franz Beckenbauer

2. Mika Haekkinen

3. Michael Schumacher

Funny mercedes tv-spot in germany.

Haekkinen calling Schumacher a sunday driver and Beckenbauer both of them old-age pensioner

making of the tv-adv with some background stuff

And there is a funny video of Rosberg how he prepares for all the buttons he would have to look on the stearing wheel while on same time concentrating on driving.

I think if he retires at formula1 he could easily start at a circus:

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


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

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

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


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




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

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

My prediction for the championship:











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


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


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

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

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

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

Bring on Australia!



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


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