Failure to Launch: McLaren Mercedes' 2009 Campaign Preview

Bob KasperContributor IMarch 27, 2009

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 27:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren Mercedes drives during practice for the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at the Albert Park Circuit on March 27, 2009 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

At the 2007 Australian Grand Prix, the racing world was shocked by the outstanding performance that the newest driver in Formula One gave. Finishing in fourth, Lewis Hamilton secured himself and his team a strong following.

Fast forward now two years. Hamilton is a World Champion. McLaren had a good season overall after being severely penalized in 2007. Sweeping rule changes have taken place in the World Championship, and the 2009 season looks to be the most competitive in a while.

Though the actual racing hasn't begun, the test results from the Silver Arrows have been dismal. Finishing behind almost everyone in the preseason tests, this season looks to be off to a horrible start.

Hamilton on Friday went 16th and 18th in Friday Practice one and two, respectively. Teammate Heikki Kovalainen went fifth and 17th.

Will McLaren Mercedes survive this first Grand Prix and be able to salvage a decent season after all. Ferrari was able to come back from what seemed to be an abominable start to last season to put a driver, Felipe Massa, into serious contention for the title.

Prediction: Three or four wins for the Silver Arrows this season. These wins will more than likely be late in the season, but don't rule out Monaco as a possible site for a victory.