Sunday, March 18, 2012

Get Your Engines Ready

The Formula 1 2012 season began this weekend in great fashion with Jenson Button’s victory at The Grand Prix of Australia. It was a great race full of excitement and disappointments, such as Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado’s crash in the final lap of the race when he was fighting over the fifth place against Fernando Alonso. Overall, the race reassured the prediction of many experts, who anticipated the superiority of the McLaren and Red Bull cars over the rest of the teams', based on the results and timings that all the different teams displayed in the pre-season.
However, the real story here does not really revolve around this first race, but around the fact that this 2012 season F1 is having -for the first time in its history- six champions racing each other for this year’s title. Current championship holder Sebastian Vettel (2-time World Champion) of Red Bull Racing, Fernando Alonso (2-time World Champion) of Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen (1-time World Champion) of Lotus, Jenson Button (1-time World Champion) of McLaren, Lewis Hamilton (1-time World Champion) also of McLaren, and the legendary Michael Schumacher (7-time World Champion and record holder) of Mercedes. And they are ready to show the world who is the champion of the champions this year.
This is definitely the most exciting feature of this 2012 season, as fans are eager to see where their favorite champion pilot stands on his chances to win it all, regardless of their previous accomplishments or age. Clearly, all six of them have the same desire of being proclaimed champions once again and coming out victorious of as many races as possible. Nonetheless, this sport does not only put the skills of the pilots to the test, but also the cars that the teams’ engineers design, develop and prepare with and for the pilots during the off/pre-season. Other factors to consider are the smartness of the pilots and engineers when choosing the strategies that they are going to be using for qualifying sessions and races, the ability to balance aggressiveness and carefulness when overtaking opponent pilots, and luck, of course.
This season, each one of these champions is going to have to be very thoughtful about every one of these factors, given that a simple mistake can be very costly and seal their fate in their pursuit for the championship. Particularly, for a couple of pilots this could be a delicate and serious matter, since it may well be their last chance to participate in the competition. For instance, well known German pilot, Michael Schumacher, came back from retirement a couple of years ago, mainly because he missed the competitiveness of the sport too much and wanted to give one more shot to win it all one last time. Though he is now 43 years of age, he should not be taken for granted as he is the only pilot with seven World Championships in the history of the sport, and his Mercedes car seems to be improving race by race.
Finnish pilot, Kimi Raikkonen, also came back to F1 this year after spending some time racing at the FIA World Rally Championship and NASCAR. This ex-McLaren and Ferrari pilot now races for Lotus and even though he may be a little rusty, he is definitely ready for the challenge. Spanish pilot, Fernando Alonso, is considered to be one of the most hardworking and dedicated pilots in the industry. But he is not getting any younger, and after so much hard work not paying off as well as he would like to for him and his Ferrari, there is a slight possibility that he may be getting frustrated and impatient with his team for not providing him the competitive car he has been waiting for.
The two English pilots of McLaren are always in the run for the championship. On one hand, Jenson Button is expected to deliver excellent results this season, since he beat teammate Hamilton last year. He just got his first win of the season, and McLaren truly hopes Button continues to deliver great performances and positions himself at the championship contingency this season as early as possible. The team spent a lot of time and money on the new McLaren car during the off season and (the car) is predicted to achieve the highest goals in the competition. On the other hand, Lewis Hamilton is a young talented pilot with a lot to offer as he has experience and potential, but his occasional bad decision making and unnecessary penalties during races tend to overshadow his great performances, sometimes. These negative characteristics must disappear from Hamilton this season, due to the fact that his contract with McLaren is expiring this year, and the team would probably be in the hunt for someone who could replace the strong charactered pilot for the 2013 season, if Hamilton does not show more maturity, display good results and handle the pressure well.
Without a doubt, the safest bet to win the 2012 championship is Sebastian Vettel. This 24 year old German pilot has already set records of his own for being the youngest pilot to win a F1 Championship (2010), and also for being the youngest double F1 World Champion (2010 and 2011). In addition to it, over the last couple of years, Vettel’s Red Bull Racing team has provided him the car with the best technology, suspension and aerodynamic, equipped with the famous French made-Renault engine. These efforts have evidently demonstrated the commitment that the team has for its pilot and vice versa, as the car proves to be very consistent and dominant year after year; and fortunately for the team, Vettel has taken great advantage of their efforts by showing incredibly positive and record-breaking results.
Folks, we are in here for a treat. This 2012 F1 season promises to be very exciting, competitive and full of emotions, so let´s just sit down and enjoy the battle for this year´s championship. And if I were you, I would not count out surprising results from unexpected championship contenders. Do not forget that it has been a very long off-season, in which teams have made big improvements to the cars, Pirelli gradual changes to its tires, and FIA interesting variations to its regulations in order to try to close the gap between the most competitive teams and the least competitive ones.

- Y gracias por no fumar!

Start of the Grand Prix of Australia. Picture from

The six champions. From left to right: Alonso, Raikkonen, Schumacher,
Button, Vettel and Hamilton. Picture from

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