Naturally, all twenty-two drivers in the paddock on Sunday will be dreaming of getting off to a winning start. What looks set to make the imminent 2010 season unique, though, is that so many of them have a realistic chance of doing so.
Lewis Hamilton has said that he thinks 2010 will be the finest season in F1’s recent history and Jenson Button is predicting an “epic”. With so many characters and egos, sub-plots and rivalries, it is difficult to disagree with the British duo.
The five questions TSR can’t wait to see answered:
Ã‚Â· Will Button be able to hold his own against Hamilton in the team that Lewis has been with since he was 14 years old?
Ã‚Â· Will Michael Schumacher be anywhere close to his former glory?
Ã‚Â· How will the 41-year-old react if his young German teammate Nico Rosberg outfoxes him?
Ã‚Â· Has Fernando Alonso learnt his lesson from McLaren or will he fall foul of favouritism at Ferrari with Felipe Massa coming back after months away from the sport?
Ã‚Â· How will Lotus fare on their return to the grid and will the remaining new teams be able to overcome their myriad of problems and maintain a competitive car where USF1 have already failed?
Whilst these questions wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be fully answered by Sunday evening, the weekendÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s events should, at the very least, provide some indication of what’s to come.
Even in terms of constructors, where an advantage is normally more evident at this stage, there are no real hints from pre-season testing as to who will have the edge going into the season.
For once the FIA have decided not to radically change the structure of the cars, making only one major change to the format: banning fuel refilling which was deemed to be too dangerous. What effect this will have on the season is yet to be seen, with many of the tests being interrupted by rain and the big teams not really having competed head-to-head on the same day.
But if there’s one thing that’s for certain, it’s that McLaren, Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes will all start Q3 of Saturday’s qualifying believing that they can be the team to claim the championship in eight months time when F1 returns to the middle east for the final race in Abu Dhabi.
TSR’s prediction? Well, we couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t possibly second guess the likes of Martin Brundle, Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard, whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve gone for Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel respectively. But if pushed, we’d put our money on either driver from Red Bull, who are the only major team to stick with same cockpit pairing. They should be able to capitalise on this where others may be distracted by new faces.
Bahrain Grand Prix
Friday 12 Mar: Practice 1 0700-0830; Practice 2 1100-1230
Sat 13 Mar: Practice 3 0800-0900; Qualifying 1100
Sun 14 Mar: Race 1200
(All times UK)
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BIOGRAPHY: Hector Bellerin
BIOGRAPHY: Nemanja Matic