F1 2012 Preview

THE 2012 FORMULA one season is about to begin, get the lowdown with our season preview.

Early tomorrow morning the 2012 F1 season will officially start as the 24 cars hit the track for the first practice session in Melbourne, here’s everything you need to know about the year ahead.

The Teams

It’s status quo at the front with the Red Bull pairing of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, the McLaren pairing of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, the Ferrari pairing of Fernando Alsono and Felipe Massa and the Mercedes pairing of Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg staying put for 2012. Sauber also keep their driver line-up of Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez.

Elsewhere on the grid it’s all change with Lotus sporting the all-new line-up of 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen and rookie Romain Grosjean; Toro Rosso also feature two new drivers in the shape of Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo. At Force India, Briton Paul Di Resta becomes number one with Nico Hulkenberg alongside. At Williams, veteran Rubens Barrichello is replaced by Bruno Senna. Heikki Kovalainen stays as number one at Caterham but Jarno Trulli has been replaced by Vitaly Petrov. There’s a similar situation at Marussia too with Timo Glock remaining as number one driver and Charles Pic coming in as number two. Finally, HRT sport the oldest driver line-up on the grid with 41-year-old Pedro De La Rosa making yet another comeback alongside 35-year-old Narain Karthikayan.

The Cars

Platypus, boxer’s nose, droop nose, step nose. Whatever you want to call it, thanks to the new safety regulations which require a lower nose section, the cars don’t look good this year. Actually, that’s a bit unfair because the Lotus E20 (above) has a somewhat elegant ‘step’ and the McLaren MP4-27 aviods it altogether by simply sloping, but the rest have faces only a mother could love. At the other end, the exhaust-blown diffusers have been banned which should, in theory, bring the grid a little closer together.

The Races

There will be some changes to the races this year. Firstly, under a safety car, lapped cars will be able to overtake and rejoin the back of the train, thus ensuring out of place cars don’t interfere with battles at the front of the grid on restarts. Following Michael Schumacher’s antics last year the FIA have clarified the rules regarding defending; cars who move offline to defend and then move back to take the racing line into corners must leave at least one car’s width between themselves and the edge of the track. Other changes include the Pirelli tyres, the compounds have been moved closer together to provide closer racing. There will also be a new race added to the calendar in Austin, Texas towards the end of the year.

Summary

The cars might not be pretty but hopefully the racing will be so exciting we won’t notice. Can anyone finally topple Red Bull? McLaren are the early favourites to take the fight to them while Mercedes could spring a surprise. Ferrari seem to have had troubles in testing and could find themselves behind Lotus, especially if Kimi Raikkonen is on form, on more than one occasion. There’ll be a big fight in the midfield as Force India, Toro Rosso, Williams and Sauber fight it out. Marussia and HRT appear to be struggling to simply make it to the grid again but Caterham might be able to break through into the midfield in what will be their third year on the grid. Of course all of this is just conjecture because, as Sebastian Vettel said: “You never know where you are until you get to Melbourne and everyone pulls their pants down. Then you can see what they have got and you show what you have got.” Indeed, here’s to 2012.

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