F1 Season Preview: 2010

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F1 Season Preview: 2010
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

The sweeping rule changes of last year yielded nearly unexpected results and emergence of new heroes in Brawn Mercedes and Jenson Button. This year, the field is wider with 12 teams including new teams as well as return of old names. The season would run on 19 tracks; the last time a season saw as many tracks was in 2005. The new inclusions aimed at widening the global footprint of the pinnacle of motor-sport. 

The famed Michael Schumacher has come out of retirement to race again. Fans would now witness four world champions battling it wheel-to-wheel in Mercedes, McLaren and Ferrari with no refueling strategies to help them. Placing a higher premium on wins this year, the pointing system has been revised to 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 down to tenth.

Schumacher may be 41 now but is as fit as ever with regained focus. His decision to race for Mercedes was as if he were returning a favor for having helped him prior to his F1 days. Obviously, the Brawn factor had its biggest pull. With a fellow German, Nico Rosberg, Schumi would be leading a German line up for a German team. Surely, we would all miss seeing him in red and hearing the Italian anthem at the podiums. 

In what looks like another national theme, World Champion Jenson Button has taken the coveted No.1 to the British marque McLaren where he is joined by fellow Brit and former Champion Lewis Hamilton. After an uneventful Renault stint, the double World Champion Fernando Alonso is back in contention for the title as he joins Ferrari. Recovering from his Budapest accident, Felipe Massa returns to partner Alonso. 

After having tasted success last year, Red Bull too isn’t far behind in the title battle as Sebastien Vettel may stand a chance to the title in the Austrian team partnered by Webber. Old name Lotus returns to grid backed by Asian aviation ace Tony Fernandes and has old face Trulli who was out of a race seat after Toyota left and Kovalainen. 

New team HRT will feature our very own Indian driver Karun Chandhok who has seen reasonable success in GP2 and will be partnered by someone with the second most popular surname in F1, Bruno Senna, the late Ayrton Senna’s nephew. The other new team is Richard Branson’s Virgin that fields Timo Glock and Luca di Grassi. 

The saddest part probably will be lack of engine variety. 2010 would only hear roars of Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Cosworth engines. Imagine, a team called BMW Sauber will be powered by a Ferrari heart! Cosworth powers as many as four teams.

Rule changes have prompted teams to lengthen their cars to accommodate the extra fuel load, owing to the refueling ban. The two-tire compound use still mandatory, drivers must plan their tire degradation versus multiple stops. The races could get tad longer with every 10 kilos of fuel reportedly adding three tenths to a lap. 

On tires, teams get only 22 sets per weekend, 12 primes and 10 options. Q3 Drivers on Saturday must carry the same tires to the starting grid as they set their qualifying time on. And, engine changes now attract a 10-place penalty for two races. Learning from last year’s debacle where third drivers fumbled when pushed directly into a race, they can now drive on Fridays, provided they use the regular driver allocations.

The Korean GP is the fresh entrant this year as the Korean International Circuit at Yeongam prepares for its first F1 run in October. Returning into the calendar is the exciting Canadian Giles Villeneuve circuit. While it’s a relief that the historical Silverstone has got a new lease of life, this year would miss a piece of history as it doesn’t race on French soil. But, rejoice as the Japanese race returns to Suzuka.

The race schedule with Indian timings and an extract from the official entry list for 2010 is below. Mark it in your calendars and enjoy the show on Star or ESPN. While cricket and IPL3 is first priority in cricket loving countries, I’m sure that this year’s Formula One would be as exciting. Wear your seatbelts for the first race this Sunday! Cheers! 

Formula One Calendar 2010 Time in IST

1 Bahrain GP 14-Mar 17:30
2 Australian GP 28-Mar 11:30
3 Malaysian GP 4-Apr 13:30
4 Chinese GP 18-Apr 12:30
5 Spanish GP 9-May 17:30
6 Monaco GP 16-May 17:30
7 Turkish GP 30-May 17:30
8 Canadian GP 13-Jun 21:30
9 European GP 27-Jun 17:30
10 British GP 11-Jul 17:30
11 German GP 25-Jul 17:30
12 Hungarian GP 1-Aug 17:30
13 Belgian GP 29-Aug 17:30
14 Italian GP 12-Sep 17:30
15 Singapore GP 26-Sep 17:30
16 Japanese GP 10-Oct 11:30
17 Korean GP 24-Oct 11:30
18 Brazilian GP 7-Nov 21:30
19 Abu Dhabi GP 14-Nov 18:30

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