It’s time for the third and final part of our Formula One season preview. With the examination of the teams, drivers, and new rules out of the way, it’s time to put all of the information we have together for predictions for the 2012 season. Of course, the combination of the new rules and testing times is not necessarily an accurate portrayal of who’s fast which makes predicting the season a difficult proposition. Especially since most teams and drivers are saying they expect a mixed up grid at least until we get the first major car updates at the start of the European portion of the season.
World Drivers’ Championship
- Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
- Jenson Button (McLaren)
- Mark Webber (Red Bull)
- Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
- Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
- Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus)
- Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
- Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
- Michael Schumacher (Mercedes)
- Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso)
Well, it really is hard to bet against Sebastian Vettel. The man quietly fought through to his first WDC and then crushed the competition mercilessly en route to his second title last season. It’s hard not to see him pulling off back-to-back-to-back championships, or as the Americans like to call it, a three-peat. I predict that his chief rival this season will be Jenson Button. The Brit is probably the best driver on the grid at nursing his tyres which benefitted him in races with changing conditions and anywhere with very high tyre degradation. But with the gap in tyre performance being shrunk by Pirelli, it’s entirely possible that Button’s advantage has decreased in that regard.
Elsewhere in my top ten, I don’t think Lewis will have renewed his focus on F1 enough to get past 5th in the standings. His management team at XIX Entertainment won’t help him focus and concentrate on racing as much as Lewis’ father did which will continue to be to Lewis’ detriment. Lotus’ early season pace will keep Raikkonen right on Hamilton’s tail for that last Top 5 spot until the end of the year. I also like Daniel Ricciardo as the best of the midfield drivers ahead of Paul di Resta and Kamui Kobayashi. The STR07 has looked strong in testing and with a little Red Bull help kicked their way, I don’t think they’ll lose too much pace to the rest of the midfield.
World Constructors’ Championship
- Red Bull – Renault
- McLaren – Mercedes
- Mercedes AMG
- Lotus – Renault
And when you have Vettel and Webber as your twice defending World Constructors’ Championship drivers, it’s hard to bet against them too. Above, I have Red Bull as the only team with both drivers in the top five of WDC points so I kind have to give Red Bull Racing this year’s WCC so I don’t contradict myself. It’s hard to give McLaren the benefit of the doubt with their un-stepped nose design because the only team with that same design is Marussia (who just happen to have a technical partnership with Macca). Even HRT’s nose has a small step in it.
That all being said, I don’t expect any change in the WCC standings from last season to this year. I know how highly ranked I had Raikkonen in the Drivers’ standings but I just dont’ quite have the faith in Grosjean yet. I’m probably biased after an unimpressive run in 2009 with Renault. He did well in GP2 but Formula One is a completely different animal. You can actually pass cars without using DRS in GP2. If Grosjean finds his footing as a regular points scorer, Lotus can easily vault Mercedes for 4th in the Constructors’ Championship.