Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Was Shanghai a sign of what's to come in 2011?

Well, I don't think you need me to tell you that last weekend's Chinese Grand Prix was an absolute corker. Whether it was one of the best Grands Prix we've ever seen is subject to debate, but it was certainly one of the greatest from recent times. But can we expect the same from the remaining 16 races in 2011?

In short, and it's a bit of a cop-out, it's almost impossible to tell. Just three or four short seasons ago we could have quite easily predicted the final championship positions. But that's a luxury that 2011 doesn't permit us. With the new DRS, the return of KERS and tyres which last about as long as chewing gum, the first three races were some of the most exciting from the last few seasons. The main question to ask which will influence the rest of the season is that which asks if Red Bull can continue their dominating form. Sebastian Vettel has taken pole at all three races so far, and has won two races - a win rate of 66.6% which, if carried through the season, means he'll win 12 0r 13 of the 19 races. If Shanghai was anything to go by, that's unlikely. That's because McLaren, after a dismal month of testing, arrived at Australia and were the second fastest team. Come Malaysia, they were even closer to the Red Bulls - Hamilton only one tenth off of the weltmeister. And then...well, we all know what happened in China.

Could we see the silver cars at the front even more for the rest of 2011?
But who will be able to carry their early season form through into the European season? There's no denying that the RB7 is fast. It's not quite the class of the field like its predecessor, but it's certainly no Minardi. It looks unlikely that it won't be fast come Turkey. However, McLaren's development team have recently worked for every penny of their (deservedly large) salary. Their car was one of the slowest in pre-season testing and now it's already racked up a win on merit alone. The pace of their development does not look to be slowing - if anything, expect them to be even faster in Istanbul Park, where they took a one-two last year. And then there's a notable mention for the next three teams; Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari. Ross Brawn revealed that the W02 had chronic overheating problems, which they hope to fix for Turkey, with their aerodynamic fixes coming in Barcelona. With Nico Rosberg leading a chunk of the last Grand Prix, a win in the European part of the season is not out of the question. Renault have also looked fast, and their cars really have flown - (I'm looking at you, Vitaly Petrov). Renault were one of the fastest developing teams last year, and they don't look to be standing still this year either. And then there's Ferrari - Luca di Montezemelo is expecting great things from his red cars for the rest of the year. Let's hope Fernando Alonso and a rejuvenated Felipe Massa can deliver in Turkey. Let the three week break commence!

Image (c) Pirelli, F1Fanatic

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