August 21, 2009
The F1 break that went forever is finally over. I once again have a reason to live on Sunday other than shopping for fresh produce at the right price at the South Melbourne Market (located right near the Albert Park track by the way, try the Dim Sims).
For the second time this year, the Formula 1 circus heads to Spain although this time it's Valencia for the European Grand Prix.
Much has taken place during the break; most importantly the short-lived return of Michael Schumacher. I can't help but feel Michael's return would have made 2009 the mother of all F1 seasons. We've missed out on something special here and it's never coming back...not ever.
Michael's neck was apparently not up to it, due in most part to his unsuccessful foray into the world of superbikes. He spent more time on the asphalt than the bike. Enough said.
Nelson Piquet was finally ousted from Renault. Not a moment to soon in my book. Piquet was outdriven anytime and all the time by big brother Fernando. Bring on some healthy competition in the form of Romain Grosjean. It's just plain unhealthy to consistently beat your teammate like that.
The self-satisfied go no further, and I can't help but wonder how much better Fern's driving could be with some healthy competition in Renault stable No. 2.
Looking ahead to Spain, It will be interesting to see if Lewis can repeat his winning Hungarian performance. Valencia is a relatively slow circuit with tight, twisty parts and as such is similar to the Hungaroring.
Given the enforced "tools down" holiday period, few updates are expected for the coming race, hence one could expect a similar order or success.
The Brawn team would've undertaken their fair share of mental visualisation in the break; no doubt praying that time away from the golf course will result in an improved showing. Tyres seem to be their key issue and warmer temperatures aren't playing into their hands as initially predicted.
The late charging Red Bull team are probably quietly confident about their chances. Mark's race could have been a lot better had he not made a bad middle stint tyre choice. Sebastian will be out for blood after another DNF which saw him lose a significant number of points to Mark.
The big threat for Red Bull is once again the KERS cars which are now dominating starts and doing much better in races, in particular Ferrari and McLaren.
Ferrari has been the quiet achiever in all this. Kimi's 2nd in Hungary has likely encouraged the fiery Italians. Fill-in man Luca Badoer is at this stage, a mystery bag and only time will provide us with an understanding of his racing constitution.
In relation to the best of the rest, expect to see Fernando overachieving in an under performing car and Nico Rosberg trying to improve his racing CV in the hope of landing a gig at McLaren.
I get the feeling Nico looks better than he is at the moment. Kazuki Nakajima is not a strong teammate and the Williams could be a better package than perceived. One thing's for sure, Lewis will make him look bad whatever team he's at!
My very safe prediction is that we'll see a couple of Red Bull's and a McLaren on the podium failing a messy start. Can't wait—enjoy the race!