Since winning the Formula One Championship in 2008, Felipe Massa has been - to put it mildly - unstoppable. It makes you wonder: How different could things have been if Lewis Hamilton was just able to get past Timo Glock at the end of that dramatic Brazilian Grand Prix just over three years ago?
Some so-called experts have been keen to downplay the Brazilian driver's dominance, attributing his 2008 title to luck. Others say that Ferrari's shrewd re-appointment of Ross Brawn on the back of that triumph has given Massa a car which is unbeatable. The more cynical suggest that had Fernando Alonso - and not Michael Schumacher - replaced Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari in 2009, the Spaniard would have been able to out-perform Massa at most races and prevent him from taking at least one of his four titles.
|What's the secret?|
Lewis Hamilton, the man who so nearly snatched the title from the Brazilian driver in 2008 has been simply wretched ever since. Even before his horrendous accident at the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2009, Hamilton struggled with what was actually a decent car. After faltering when so close to glory in both 2007 and 2008, Hamilton's inherent confidence eluded him, as team-mate Heikki Kovalainen was able to consistently outperform the Stevenage driver. After the horrific accident in Hungary, Hamilton was replaced by the returning Schumacher and has never been the same since. The "Heikki is faster than you" message at the German Grand Prix in 2010 hasn't exactly helped the Brit's confidence.
Many in the paddock believe that Fernando Alonso could compete with Massa in the same car. Such a suggestion seems like folly as the tempestuous Alonso - still with Lotus (formerly Renault/Caterham/Lotus Renault/Lotus3000) - hasn't come close to adding to his two world titles in recent years. He has made it clear that he is struggling with the Pirelli super-super soft and super-super-super soft tyres, which were introduced by the FIA in 2011 as a way of making the racing more unpredictable. Alonso was rumoured to be close to joining Ferrari for the 2010 season, but was reportedly unhappy when told he would not be the team's number one driver. Who could argue with that? No-one could make Massa a number-two driver, his stubbornness, ruthlessness and race-craft would not allow it.
|Alonso? Number one? Hahahaha, go f*ck yourself.|
Red Bull are said to be in serious financial trouble after their woeful 2011 season. They are even rumoured to be prepared to take a punt on Jenson Button, the British driver who has been without a drive since Honda collapsed in 2008. Button has been something of a laughing stock in the motor sport community after his constant protestations that he would have won the 2009 title had Ross Brawn not defected to Ferrari. Although this blog aims to be speculative, even fanciful, Button's suggestion is simply too ludicrous for even yours truly to take seriously.
|I would have won I swear!|
Ten new venues, including Kazakhstan, Cambodia and Antarctica will join the already loaded calendar, taking the total to 54 races. The teams may struggle to overcome the difficulty of two race weekends in one weekend, with the Brazilan/Japanese Grand Prix weekend particularly taxing.
As the season approaches, it may be time to make some predictions. Here is what I expect to see:
Champion: Vettel. HAHA! Just kidding, Massa.
Runner-up: Schumacher. He may run team-mate Massa close, but even that would be a miracle.
New-comer of the year: Bruno Senna and the Scottish Grand Prix.
The great Ayrton Senna's nephew finally arrives in Formula One after numerous attempts to start a career in the sport. He could make the difference and improve on Hispania's impressive 2011 season, where the team picked up three podiums and didn't suffer a single retirement.
As for the Scottish Grand Prix - confirmed in the wake of Scotland's independence - I am expecting a great race. The quadruple chicane at turn 46 will challenge the drivers, while the grandstand, made entirely out of batter, looks magnificent.
Surprise of the year: Jenson Button returning to F1. It's a long-shot, but who knows!
|I'm sure this season will be just fascinating.|
So the season is nearly upon us. While the introduction of rocket boosters and trap-doors may make the racing more exciting, this blogger remains pessimistic.
Let's hope someone else wins a race this year.