I wrote this blog post as part of VivaF1’s Bloggers Swap Shop back in January, for the Northern Waffler whilst I hosted Matthew Turnbull who wrote about the 6 teams to watch in 2011. I also cheekily posted it on another blog I write for – developingengineers.com. At the moment I’m working on another post for that blog about the technical changes in 2011 and I thought it would be quite fitting to put this post in full here, so you can all see what I am looking forward to in F1 2011 style. And hopefully by tomorrow you can read about the technical changes! I won’t promise the day after you’ll get to read about the sporting regulation changes as it’ll probably take me another month to get around to writing about those 😉
1. Can anyone design a better car than Red Bull?
Over the past couple of seasons the Red Bull car has been pretty much the fastest car of the field, so I’m looking forward to seeing if any of the other teams can change that this season. [This still stands after pre-season testing, although that Red Bull looks very good, they didn’t even stretch her legs!]
2. Technical Regulation Changes
The new season is bringing with it some new (and not so new) regulations. Back after a year on the sideline, KERS should allow the drivers more chances to overtake, with the boost of power that the system brings. For me this is only worthwhile when the teams are at different stages of their development. When they all have KERS working, then it is almost back to a level playing field.
Totally new for 2011 is the adjustable flap on rear wing (with an aim similar to the FDuct, affecting the air flow over the rear wing on straights to lose drag and make the car faster). The adjustable rear wing should make it easy to overtake the car in front, but the tight regulations about its use could see confusion.
3. Lotus Renault GP
This should be at number 1 really but I’m trying not to be too biased! I can’t wait for the season to start to see how good the Renault car is compared to the other teams. It’s going to be great watching Kubica in action again and hopefully Petrov can improve on last year, and with two points scoring drivers, we can fight for 3rd place (at least!). [Get well soon Kubica 😦 Obviously a lot changed here, I am still looking forward to seeing how the R31 performs!]
New year, new rubber. For me the way the tyres hold up will make or break the season. Dramatic I know! The problem is tyre companies are in a difficult position. They want to look good by making durable tyres but as spectators we want the tyres to degrade quickly to make the racing more interesting. Pirelli are saying the right things about making the racing better so fingers crossed it doesn’t go too far the other way and the tyres fall apart too quickly causing accidents. [There is no chance that the Pirellis will make durable tyres in 2011, in fact I wouldn’t be all that surprised at 3 or 4 stop races!]
5. Media & the Lotus vs Lotus Saga
The whole Lotus Renault vs Team Lotus is going to drag and drag all season long and most F1 fans will have a strong opinion on this, as do I, but several fans are most definitely going to be confused. The media are vital in minimising this confusion, after all nobody gets confused with Red Bull and Torro Rosso. Obviously the Lotus situation is very different as they are entirely separate entities.
Lotus Renault GP is the full name of the rebranded Renault F1 Team and the important thing for me is that the car is still called Renault. Very few people called McLaren by their full Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, so I don’t see why the LRGP should be called anything other than Renault. I think it is clear that Group Lotus intend on being more than a title sponsor (after investing in the team), but I don’t think they should push the matter in this first year. Commentators and the media should call the team Renault so that the casual and confused fans can still see that the black and gold cars are Renault.
I think how the media portray this battle is going to be vital. Mouthing off in the press isn’t going to do anyone favours and building a good reputation will be important. Lots of fans see Team Lotus (Lotus Racing in 2010) as having the spirit of the original Lotus but all I see is a canny businessman trying to build a brand & a fan base very quickly, so bought a name thought would offer this. They are no more the ‘real’ Lotus than the Group Lotus backed Renault will be, so it is vital that nobody makes this claim.
I was never a Schumacher fan, I always happened to support his opposition (Hill, Hakkinen and then Raikkonen), but I realised that I missed him when I found myself cheering him on at a Race of Champions event. I was really excited for his comeback but unfortunately that hasn’t worked out as well as hoped. I’m interested to see what he can do next year – he will need all his experience to ensure that he gets on top of things very quickly this year or else I can see another dire year like 2010.
7. Can HRT make it to the grid?
I’m not so sure. Using the 2010 car in testing is not that unusual (remember we didn’t always get new cars till the European season kicked off a few years ago) but I can’t see how they will have a new car at all to race in 2011, never mind the resources to carry on as essentially a DTM team one week and an F1 team the next. [They’ve got 1 driver at least! But I’m still not sure...]
8. Will Wirth’s CFD approach work?
Wirth have used Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD for short) software to design extremely successful sports cars. I don’t think it’s the CFD approach that is hurting them so far (I think it is more the lack of current F1 knowledge – what works in sports cars doesn’t necessarily work in F1), so in 2011 it will be interesting to see how much they’ve improved. The difficulty will be whilst the Virgin car will be much better than the 2010 car, as always it’s the gap to the other teams that they will be judged on.
9. Hamilton vs Button
Last year I think everyone expected Hamilton to blow Button out the water, regardless of which is your preferred driver, because McLaren is built up around Hamilton at the moment & Hamilton is a great driver. Button more than held his own although he tailed off towards the end of year. This year I’d like to see him beating Hamilton all season!
Last year was a bad year for Massa. Not as bad as the year before of course but he really needs to show what he can do in 2011 and stand up to Alonso.
I love the politics of F1 & I am interested to see after a quiet 2010 what kicks off this year. There’s bound to be lots of it, with Lotus vs Lotus court cases, Ferrari threatening again to leave, 2013 rules to be agreed on and a new Concorde agreement. Still, with all this bubbling in the background I hope the majority of the action is on the track!
What are you looking forward to in Formula 1 in 2011?