Welcome to "The Formula One Times," the first issue of the new year.
Now, we know a few people don’t like "The F1 Times;" however there are a lot that do. Our articles have always been about giving you the news first, and rounding up news from the week, in a way which allows people with very little time to catch up on the weeks musings.
Nonetheless, we have decided to make some radical changes which will take place on Monday, March 30 after the first (sure to be exciting) Australian GP. These changes will include the F1 Times Power 20, a ranking system based on how drivers performed in previous races, reviews of other top Motorsports and a simple way to keep track of points standings.
So we begin. First up we have Michael Griffin’s brief look back at Winter Testing and some of the changes facing 2009.
The 2009 season has provided one of the most radical shake-ups in recent years, perhaps decades, and in this edition of the re-launched Formula One Times, Michael Griffin analyses the testing form and attempts to draw a conclusion from the past three months.
The purpose of the shake-up in the regulations was to broaden the performance horizon between all of the teams, to make sure that competition and overtaking would be easier, but instead, we now have the consensus that overtaking will be far easier, and that the competition will actually be closer than ever before...now, is the latter part of that sentence going to be the deciding factor this season?
The Overtaking Working Group said that under the previous regulations, and performance advantage of two seconds per lap was required to pass another car and that this season, it would be halved to one...yet if this season the competition is closer, will that one second be just as hard to find as the previous two seconds?
Maybe the all-new, incredibly expensive Kinetic Energy Recovery System can help us somewhat. Erm, perhaps not...very few teams fully understand the system, and even fewer say they will run it this season, and none are expected to take the risk and use it in Australia.
We saw Ferrari launch first, with their incredibly beautiful car setting the standard for other launches. Then a flurry came along, BMW Sauber, Renault, Toyota, McLaren and Williams all then launched, followed later on by Red Bull, Brawn GP, Force India and Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Brawn GP is the main talking point of this article. When we last brought you F1 news, the team was still in limbo. Since then Virgin and Prodrive have come and gone, Bernie Ecclestone complained about not helping the team financially, and then the eventual management buyout, which was the only one that ever looked likely.
So, we now have the all-new Brawn GP team preparing for Melbourne, headed by Ross Brawn, hence the name, as arrogant as it sounds, and the drivers are Jenson Button (hooray!) and Rubens Barrichello (double hooray!).
In Barcelona, the team have been on the pace; whether it is qualifying runs or race simulations. The team did a full race weekend over the testing period at the Circuit de Catalunya, and were faster than Ferrari and BMW on almost all occasions.
Almost more terrifying is the fact that Ferrari, and every other team are adamant that Brawn GP are on the real pace and not running deliberately underweight to attract sponsors and funding.
McLaren-Mercedes have been consistently poor all winter, and have now admitted that they cannot be expected to win races at the start of this season...they said exactly the same thing in 1994, 1995, 1996, 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2006.
All of the cars that featured in those years were largely uncompetitive and failed to secure titles. Things do not look good for defending champion Lewis Hamilton.
So now we move onto a brief news recap from the off-season:
Honda become Brawn GP...powered by Mercedes.
The official announcement was made on March 6, Honda sold their F1 team to current team principal Ross Brawn. As mentioned in the above article, Brawn GP, as it has been renamed, has topped the time sheets in pre-season testing. Glory laps or pure pace its been an incredible surprise.
France propose plans for new F1 track.
France have put forward plans to get F1 back. The new circuit will be built from scratch at an estimated cost of €144 million. The circuit will be situated west of Paris in Yvelines with the capacity for 120,000 spectators.
McLaren admit to begin slow or should I say, they have a "performance shortfall."
Martin Whitmarsh, team principal at McLaren stated that "A performance shortfall has been identified, that we are working hard to resolve."
"The MP4-24 is certainly not quick enough yet, and certainly not by our teams extremely high standards."
McLaren still have a few days of testing this week, however they spent Sunday waiting for parts whilst Brawn, Williams and Renault tested at Jerez, however Alonso completed only a handful of laps after crashing heavily within the minutes of the start.
Toyota almost left F1 this season.
First we had Honda leave, then Toyota revealed they were close to quitting F1 after a poor 2008 season. 2009 has been hailed at the make or break year for Toyota; if they don’t win a race, we may see another Japanese company fall at the feet of F1.