Getting excited about the 2007 F1 season yet?

Well I’m really looking forward to the start of the 2007 F1 season in Melbourne, I think it’s likely to be an interesting year, with a lot of changes to watch. Perhaps the most important thing for me is to be able to have a season to watch and enjoy without the presence of Michael Schumacher. Don’t get me wrong, I do think that he was a truly talented driver, and even though he occasionally employed questionable tactics, he was deserving of the great success he achieved. Like the success of Lance Armstrong winning 7 TdF, I feel privileged to of been around to watch Schumacher’s rise through the sport and success with an astounding 7 championships (Something about that number isn’t there?), and indeed wonder if I will get to see something quite like that again? However, during his time with Ferrari, there was somewhat of a dominance of the sport. Yes, Alonso has taken the crown for the last 2 years, but now he has changed team, how will that shake things up?

So far McLaren are showing brilliant form in pre-season testing, but then that is not unusual. Before they have had the fastest car on the track (In the opinion of the paddock as well), but lacked the reliability to convert that to wins/points on the track, which of course makes it difficult to string together a championship challenge! Alonso seemed to be settling in well, but now Hamilton seems to be taking the bull by the horns – will this turn into anything? I’d like to think so with him being a Brit, and it would make for a great story, but in recent years we’ve seen rookies come in early, start well, and then fade to the sidelines. Let’s hope that McLaren’s confidence doesn’t prove to be unjustified, I certainly expect to see a win from him in his first year – sufficiently so in fact that I might just have a little flutter on it. If the car proves it’s worth, and Alonso shows his real form then this really could be the team to watch in 2007.

But they aren’t the only team to watch.

Williams had an abysmal 2006, coming 8th in the championship, despite the initial strength shown by Nico Rosberg. But then sometimes a big failure is what you really need for a shake-up, and so far initial testing is showing that might just be what has happened. Nico has learnt after a difficult year, and now he’s joined by Alex Wurz, who showed just what he was worth on many Friday sessions – now he has a chance to really show what he can do again, let’s hope he does. I think that Williams may have a package that surprises and Wurz will use his experience and get some good results, will Rosberg be able to catch up and match his form?

Then there is the BMW team, what of them? Are they now going to start emerging as a real team to be reckoned with? They’ve had the odd impressive moment, and so far the new car is looking reliable, maybe not impressive on speed, but certainly quick enough. I’ve always felt Nick Heidfeld could do better – will this be the year that he does?

Personally I think that there has been too much upheaval at both Ferrari and Renault, they will of both suffered a bit. For sure Kimi Raikkonen is a great driver, someone that I expect to be a champion at some point, but he’s fitting into a new team, that was really molded around one man before – can’t be easy, and with the possibility of Schumacher on the scene as an advisor, that must be somewhat odd, and demoralising. Surprisingly Massa has shined, after a rather erratic driving style in the past, his demons seem to of been tamed – maybe he will emerge as Schumacher’s successor? I think Renault will struggle, whilst the car may well turn out to be good, Giancarlo Fisichella has never really shone and yet will really be the ‘senior’ driver in the team. There’s always a lot of talk of what he is capable of, but he never quite seems to be able to deliver, and I’d be surprised if this year is any different. Heikki Kovalainen is a bit of an unknown, again as a rookie it will be interesting to see how he performs. This is one area where Renault have been good in the past, dragging a rookie up and showing that they can deliver – but I don’ know.

Then what of Honda? Finally racing as a pure Honda team, which has a race winning past. Button still has not truly delivered. As a team they were amazing in 2004 when they managed to come second behind the dominant Ferrari. They should of followed this up in 2005 with wins, but the wheels seemed to come off! I think Jenson is a great driver who just hasn’t quite delivered yet, but with so much other talent out there – has he missed his chance? I certainly hope not, but this really is the year that he must prove himself now, and early testing isn’t showing the car to be that great, but hopefully that will change. Let’s just hope they have some race performance, and don’t keep qualifying well only to slip backwards in the race. Come on Jenson, you showed what you could do under difficult circumstances in Hungary, now show us what you are really made of! And whislt I’m at it, why couldn’t they stick with the black testing colours for actual race trim? I think it looks fab.

Well, I’m not going to go through all of the teams, so just one more. Red Bull Racing. I met Christian Horner at Silverstone, what a nice bloke! But that’s got nothing to do with it… I expected more of the team and was disappointed when they gave up part way through the year to concentrate on the 2007 challenger, but then doesn’t that give a fantastic sense of expectation for the new car? The first Adrian Newey design (And can’t you just see his influence in the nose?) and 2 drivers I really like. Coulthard has always been somewhat overshadowed, which is a shame as he is a great driver himself. I think he is a key element of the Red Bull team, helping to guide them forward with his wealth of experience, and now with Schumacher gone he is the oldest driver, and I think that’s kind of cool. Then there’s Mark Webber. He’s really shined in the past with some under performing equipment. If the RB3 turns out to be as good as it should be, will this be his opportunity to finally produce what has been expected of him for so long? He’s a great bloke, well respected in the paddock, and he rides MTB too, can’t knock that can you? 😉 I’d like the RB3 to be good, because if it is, I think RBR could get some good results and really shock some people in 2007.

So in my opinion there are a lot of potentially good teams and drivers in the line-up this year, and that’s why I’m really excited, it could really prove to be a good year with plenty of surprises. I’m hoping it’s not going to be just one driver/team running away with the championships either. With so many that have the potential for results, I’m hoping for a tight season with it going down to the wire between 3 or 4 drivers.

Some of my predictions?

Hamilton to win a race
Button to finish regularly in the points
Webber to win a race
Williams to come back fighting
Podiums for BMW
McLaren to be the early leaders

Let’s see how it really turns out? 5 weeks to go!


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