2010 Season Preview (Part 1) - 25/02/10

Mercedes GP

The Deutsche Dream Team, the reigning constructors’ champions Brawn GP have sold a majority stake holding to Mercedes and have successfully drawn 7-times world champion Michael Schumacher out of retirement, complete with a healthy neck. For first signing Nico Rosberg, this move was always going to be the defining of his career and legacy, either he would be current champion Button’s teammate, former champion Raikkonen’s partner or legend Schumacher’s fellow Merc driver. Despite Barrichello’s open statement of warning to Rosberg, one fails to see how Felipe Massa has suffered from his time as Schumacher’s teammate. However, whether Nico forms a similar bond with a newer, hungrier, recharged Schumi and endears himself to the Brackley squad, this key moment and period in Rosberg’s career could be the beginning of the end of it. Rosberg will be hoping to steal a march on his teammate as Schumacher gets up to speed, this is a real opportunity for Nico and must be taken advantage of.

This team last year started off with the best equipment and were still capable of race wins by the end of 2009 despite a relatively tame pace of development, a credit to the racing nous of Ross Brawn and his men. If their 2010 offering has had anything like the input of the BGP-001, and Mercedes have contributed healthily to the budget, there is true potential here. Although it should be remembered that one of the main reasons Mercedes bought into Brawn GP was their ability to succeed on a tighter budget than McLaren.

Red Bull Racing

Having tasted the sweetness of a championship battle as a constructor, having had Adrian Newey’s modern and ambitious design philosophy vindicated, having a blistering talent such as Sebastian Vettel mature into a serious and intense championship prospect and multiple race winner, having Mark Webber returning to full fitness and fresh with race winning confidence, Red Bull have just had the season BMW-Sauber dreamed of. However, with the shifting of expectations and the transitory nature of F1’s hierarchy, RBR can only be aiming to have a season that Brawn GP enjoyed in 2009.

Another season consisting of race victories may be the Promised Land for most of the grid, but Dietrich Mateschitz will expect a serious championship challenge unhampered by unreliability and costly mistakes on the racetrack. There is no reason to believe that Red Bull should not be able to build another superb car, without the need to incorporate a double diffuser mid-season resulting in compromised packaging or design. Without the car advantage RBR enjoyed last year over most teams, Mark Webber may find it hard to win races this season but Vettel is now an accepted title challenger and most likely will be for years to come.


In the Latin corner, weighing in mere milligrams above the (non-vetoed) regulation minimum weight, Ferrari poise themselves for what could be a serious title fight. Double world champion Fernando Alonso joins his third team in four years in a bid to add to his drivers’ titles. Once again Alonso is joining a huge team where his teammate has already firmly established roots. Fernando will be hoping the leadership, speed, focused desire and consistency of top form for which he has become renowned will swing Maranello favour in his direction. The Tifosi will take to him with ease and he will be expected to deliver immediately. If the Ferrari F10 is born a winner, Alonso’s unquestionable duty is to make it a champion.

It will be Felipe Massa’s job to stop him. The new era of no team orders at Ferrari means the boy from Brazil will be given every opportunity to use his team knowledge and hard-earned status within Maranello to give Alonso a repeat of 2007. There appear to be no lasting effects from Massa’s Hungaroring horror, but maybe that can only truly be assessed throughout a Grand Prix weekend. If indeed he is fully recovered and Ferrari have delivered a gem, then this is a huge year for Felipe. Once again partnering a multiple world champion, Massa has enough on his side, and no excuse behind which to hide.


Once again McLaren will carry the #1 on their car, this time as a result of hiring current world champion Jenson Button to drive alongside the team talisman, Lewis Hamilton. The creation of this British F1 super-team allowed Mercedes to form Team Germany GP with Schumacher, in the process making McLaren a customer instead of a partner. Like Ferrari, it is expected that the removal of KERS systems on the McLaren will allow for a much less compromised design and rediscovered form, even though McLaren were at the sharp end again towards the latter part of 2009.

Much has been made of Jenson Button’s move to McLaren with just about every nuance of its conception drawing criticism. He’s moved for more money, but Ross Brawn would have paid him more. He’s stupid to take on Hamilton in his own back yard, but Button has said it was time for a new challenge. Unlike the situation in 2007 where Alonso partnered Hamilton, Lewis will be expected to beat Jenson convincingly this year, such is the predominant opinion on their respective talents. Button however has a marvellous opportunity to augment his reputation as a world champion who lucked into a brilliant car. If he doesn’t match Hamilton everywhere, he will have the excuse of new surroundings. If he beats Hamilton as much as he gets beaten, his stock will rise even further. Jenson’s kindness to tyres is expected to serve him well in a season where cars will run the whole race without refuelling. Lewis is expected to step up from a character-building year and use more of his newfound maturity to become world champion again.

No comments: