Without reservation, I can honestly go on the record that the 2012 Formula One championship was the best season I’ve ever followed.
Now the marketing vehicles, except for WilliamsF1, have had their covers pulled off, for what it’s worth.
These early launches are about marketing and business development. Anyone who thinks that here is anything on this car to give any developmental advantage to the competitors has not been paying too much attention to how this cycle is now working. Ferrari, said, before the launch of their F13-8, that the car in Melbourne will be quite different to the one that is presented to the public during their ‘launch’.
I expected the red car to be fast out of the blocks this year. After the first day of testing, I’m not so certain that is the case.
I was very interested in seeing the Mercedes, a wildcard, but their woes apparently continue; “call the fire brigade”. Speaking of the silver arrows, they are the most top-heavy organization of all time! If you’ve been paying attention over a few cycles of this game, then you’ll know, without doubt, that the Niki Lauda, Toto Wolfe equation is incompatible with Ross Bran remaining with the team; it ain’t gonna happen! That’s just the way it is, regardless of you stature. The achievements of Ross Brawn in Formula One racing are staggering! Yet, he’s on the way.
For whatever reason, maybe because of my bent endearment to the underdog, I like Sauber; not just Peter Sauber, but the entire Sauber culture and tradition. I like the car.
Of course, as mentioned above, the ‘launches’ are all about marketing, rather than actually displaying the focus of the teams’ fanatical developmental focus. I would personally discount any teams chances, if they were to bring any of their key hard earned ‘goodies’ to the table, for their VERY aggressive and active and capable of copying competitors to assess. Nonetheless, I find I like this car better than any launched so far. Despite the fact that it was a fantastic achievement scoring as well as they did last year, this season might even be better for Sauber; the car could in fact be genuinely competitive, not ‘somewhat competitive’ as it was last year. As far as incremental development of machinery, Sauber is bats way over it’s head, and has has for quite a few years. With this unusual period of stability in regulations, we enter a potentially optimum environment for Sauber. Notwithstanding the fact that the driver line up has a lot to do to demonstrate that it is as good as last year’s phenomenal line up, there is a very real possibility that it could be better yet! I believe that both of the 2012 Sauber drivers are world-champion potential; but Nico’s trajectory at the end of 2012 was the most impressive. While information for assessing the expected performance of Gutierrez is next to nothing, I yet remember while naming Sergio Perez to first drive for the team, the word on the street was that he was a placeholder for Gutierrez! Nico didn’t set the timesheets ablaze on this the first day of testing for the year, but there is a long way to go.
Did I mention that the Sauber looks good? The management structure at Sauber seems very solid; Kaltenborn has more than demonstrated top flight capabilities for someone in her role. I just hope they can remember, if your driver is currently experiencing the drive of his life, closing in on, and as certainly as anything in the circus, going to pass the legend in the Ferrari, to take the lead, with a few laps to go, then do NOT tell your driver to change anything! Best if you just don’t talk to him at all, except o tell him that you’re there for him, if he needs you, and that he’s doing a great job. We could have had another winner last year.
I expect teams to be establishing their baselines during the Jerez tests. Maybe we’ll start seeing some more ‘goodies’ bolted on during the next test, and a continuous development cycle across he year. The team that will be first across the finish line for the championship, will be the team that has the capability, and delivers the stream of upgrades in such an order that it will be most difficult for other teams to adapt and incorporate, like Red Bull did last year with their decisive final round of new goodies,starting with Singapore. Nobody could adapt and incorporate the concepts in time to catch them.
With the constancy of the rules, I expect the races to be very competitive, and multiple race winners to be the norm, as early as the fourth race. For a team to dominate, it will likely have to come with a unique innovation that nobody else has, and requires a significant time frame to develop by competitors. Who knows where that could come from in this year’s tight pack, Sauber, Williams, Force India. If there was a year that a previous year’s mid-pack team could win, this has got to be it.
It’s going to be good!