F1 Season 2011 Predictions

Following on from my review of last years predictions, I thought I’d better get this year’s out of the way before the season kicks off (as that’s just cheating).

1) Alonso will be champion.

The Red Bull looks fastest again, but you can never write of Alonso if he has a half decent car, and the Ferrari looks to be almost up there.  A few bad finishes by Red Bull or some inter team rivalry between Webber and Vettel is all it’ll take for Alonso to sneak in.  Plus there’s the spectre of team orders hovering over Massa again.

2) HRT will be last

There have been virtually no driver changes this year, but one team that’s got a new look is HRT.  Surprising many by actually turning up last year and making it onto the grid in Bahrain, they managed to work miracles through the year and even beat Virgin Racing in the championship table.What’s more surprising is that with virtually no car development through the year, they were closer to Lotus and Virgin at the end of the year than the beginnnig although that could be attributed to the former teams focusing on their 2011 efforts.

Again surprising many by actually appearing at the Barcelona preseason test this year with a real car and not just a CGI model on the internet flaunting a funky paint job, perhaps there is some hope? 

No, I don’t think so.  By all accounts they have zero budget and a couple of average drivers.

3) Williams will be fast but unreliable.

Of all the new car designs (and there are many interesting efforts), Williams and it’s tiny pert rear end looks to me to be the simplest and best option.  The retro Rothmans-esque colour scheme won’t hurt them either because as everyone knows, if it looks fugly, it’ll be slow

However I think their lack of experience with a battery powered KERS is going to cost them and prevent any meaningful championship charge.  I expect Rubens will be up in Q3 most of the time and at the front in quite a few races mixing it with the big boys.

4) Quite a few races will end up with a comical number of pitstops. 

The limited numbers allowed per weekend and the much decreaased durability of the new Pirelli tyres will mean that teams will start to run out during the race, much like Williams did during the 1993 Donnington Grand Prix when then used all their new sets of Wets and had to start re-using old ones.

The one upside is that the forced tyre change rule is probably going to be irrelevant (hopefully they’ll just quietly drop it next year).  “The show” will be more interesting certainly, but there’s a limit and I think we’ll find it this year. Personally I just want to see drivers free to choose whatever they like, and Pirelli just building a “durability cost” into their quickest tyres.

With a bit of luck though, we’ll see the return of the LAST 10 LAPS NEW TYRES MANSELL CHARGE!!!!

5) There will be alot of overtaking, and that’s bad m’kay?

Combining KERS, the new rear wing and the big differences in tyre performance between new and used tyres will make overtaking much too easy.  Whereas in the last couple of seasons, the top overtakers like KobayashiButton and Hamilton have shown they can make great passes, those who are slightly less adept *cough* Vettel *cough* will find they don’t need to worry any more.  Lets not forget Montoya seemed able to overtake anyone, anywhere (when they FIA didn’t hand him penalties for his efforts)

Yes overtaking is impossible at some circuits, but making it too easy doesn’t help either. If the cost of adding one overtake in Abu Dhabi is ending up with 500 overtakes at Interlagos, then count me out!

Overtaking should be hard but not impossible, and only track design changes will really make a difference.

6) Heidfeld or Rosburg will break their duck (or both).

I think of the two, Rosburg is most likely, but if the Renault trick exhausts are as good as they are hoping, they may steal a march on the other teams in the early season.  I suspect though the Red Bull will just be too quick for everyone.

7) Brundle will make an excellent commentator (but he’s still the wrong choice).

I wasn’t as offended by Jonathan Leggard as many people on the internet because I was just grateful James Allen was off our TV with his “I told you so” self congratulating screams (when Kimi’s wheel fell off at the Nurburging). The obvious candidate was David Croft from 5Live, who we got a glimpse of during the Japanese GP last year when the BBC feed went down.  Completely oblivious he quoted Leeroy Jenkins to cement his place as the best modern generation F1 commentator.

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