Silencing The Critics: F1 Drivers With Something To Prove at The Spanish GP

Mark TaylorCorrespondent IApril 24, 2008

It's been almost three weeks now since Round three of the 2008 Formula 1 World Championship was put in the record books. Since then, every team (with the exception of cash-strapped Super Aguri) has been working around the clock to try and look for breakthroughs in the design of their racing machines.

For most teams, the philosophy heading into Barcelona is probably, "Well, everyone else has improved since Bahrain. So we just have to make sure we improved more then they did."

This mantra can be applied not just to the cars, but perhaps some of the drivers as well. Drivers that, whether through poor reliability, errors in judgment, or just plain bad luck, have not gotten off to the start they anticipated heading into the new season.

One of the drivers I speak of is F1's wonder boy himself, Lewis Hamilton. Lewis currently sits third place in the championship, five points adrift of defending champ Kimi Räikkönen. Put into perspective, Lewis is doing alright. In fact, more than a few of F1's current crop of drivers (as well as myself), would sell their grandmothers to be in his position right now.

But, coming off arguably the worst performance of his 20 career grands prix, as well as being beaten by teammate Heikki Kovalainen in the last two races, Lewis must be mildly pissed. With BMW-Sauber seemingly emerging as F1's third force, Hamilton and the boys at McLaren are going to have to bring their A-game to Barca if they want to avoid falling behind in the title race.

Switching from young to old, we now turn our attention to F1's resident greybeard, David Coulthard. There is no doubt in my mind that DC still has what it takes to win grands prix, if he has the right car under him. But following two "racing incidents" in three races to kick off the season, some must be wondering if he is even capable of finishing races, much less winning them.

I'm sure you are all aware of the incidents I am referring to; the collision with Felipe Massa at Oz, and a similar crash with Jenson Button at Bahrain. We could argue all day about who was at fault in those collisions, personally I haven't got a clue, but in my view, both accidents were preventable. Given Red Bull's position in a very tight midfield, they can't afford their drivers to rack up retirements when there is precious points to be had. It's now or never, DC.

Returning to the other end of the age spectrum, there is Toro Rosso's Sebastien Vettel. The 20-year-old has only recorded 40 race laps this season, following a first-lap collision at Albert Park, as well as engine failures in Malaysia and Bahrain that have added to the German's frustration. Really, there isn't much to be said about a driver's performances when he has done so little, er, performing. So I'm not going to pass judgment on Vettel's racing right now. On the plus side though, he has out-qualified the other Seb, Monsieur Bourdais, in two of three races. Let's see what happens this weekend.

Certainly these aren't the only drivers looking to step up their game heading into this weekend's race, (I'm looking at you, Adrian Sutil) but there is no doubt that the pressure is on. Personally, I'm predicting at least a podium for Lewis, a couple of points for DC, and a gutsy race from Vettel. For their sakes, I hope I'm right.

Well, that's all I have to say for my first article on this website. Hope you enjoyed it, and all compliments and/or criticisms are welcome, so don't hesitate to tell me what you think.