HELLO FORMULA 1 FANS... Welcome back to the 2008 season, finally we can put that three-week hell behind us, everyone still with us? Griff, Shak, Billy, Mark, Mr. Stones, Ryan, Heff, Long, Alex... Alex... ALEX! Has anyone seen Alex? Oh and anyone else I have missed, WE ARE BACK!
* * * IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT * * * *
Just before I crack on with my article as the old Formula 1 Community Leader with Sheiban Shakeri, we are announcing some changes that have already taken place within our community and what changes you need to make to get back to business as usual.
Okay, we’re going to try featuring Auto Racing on the front page (rather than F1 & NASCAR separately).
We still want the F1 and NASCAR Communities to thrive independently, but we're hoping that this way people will know that we have a Craftsman Truck Series / IRL page as well, etc.
It is my duty of letting the F1 writers know that going forward you should tag any articles you write with BOTH F1 AND Auto Racing?
In addition if you want to crack into the Top Writers list for Auto Racing, you will need to go back into your old articles and add the "Auto Racing" tag, I have just done all of mine and I am sitting pretty back up top.
Onwards we go… So finally we can blow the dust of our team caps and don them once again as the Formula 1 showboat steams into port in Valencia.
Not only are we getting excited as the season calendar is negotiating the last few turns of the year, but we have two new circuits to face and this is the first of them.
Valencia is a purpose-built masterpiece that should be a street circuit but it just doesn’t seem to be. When someone says street circuit you think tight, twisting, bumpy tracks that are narrow and not much overtaking can go on...
Can the same be said for Valencia? No, it has been likened to Monza rather than Monaco. It’s a fast circuit where the average speed is set to be roughly 225km/h, so it’s going to be tough on the brakes. The top speed predicted on the track is just short of 324km/h and the low point is just over 90km/h.
As well as the brakes, the engines should get a thorough workout with some very high highs and some very low lows to really push the limits.
So if teams are on their third engines, it could be a short race. If they are on their first engine, then it could be a case of just hoping that you're reliable enough to last the race anyway.
Will this circuit have any effect on the Ferrari’s after their DNF in Hungary? Maybe they will be slightly worried over reliability issues?
Another key point to think about is that back straight, the engines will be at full throttle for 13 seconds, when an F1 car is at full throttle the pistons in the engine are moving up to 300 times a second, can you imagine that for 13 seconds, go on... I dare you to touch the engine to see how hot it is!
Let’s have some facts:
Built in - 2008
Laps – 57
Distance – 3.380 Miles (5.440 Kilometres)
Corners – 25
Lap Record – Not Applicable (Predicted – 1:37:00 ish)
Drivers are differing in their preparations for the race. Fernando Alonso is in a confident mood after extensively watching footage of the previous F3 race that was held there in the last few weeks.
Jensen Button has been preparing on a specially made simulation of the track. While it doesn’t give you the actual feel it certainly helps with braking points and turning points.
Lewis Hamilton: “I’ve had a look at some sections of the track and am going to spend this rest period to prepare the race with the rest of the team. Looking at the images, the track seems incredible. I like street circuits, but there seem to be some very quick, and very unforgiving, stretches.
"As a driver, it’s always fun arriving at a new circuit. I like driving in new places and am confident in my ability to get to know them rapidly. It looks like an amazing circuit.”
Lewis Hamilton in an optimistic mood, and with good reason I would think, see why I think this later on in the article.
So with no history to go on, there isn’t much we can write about: “Oh, I remember this one time when I was 10 and I was watching the European Grand Prix at the new street circuit and then... Oh no that didn’t really happen”
So what do we think will happen? Well I wrote two articles over the summer detailing how I thought certain teams would be going into this weekend.
The impetus seemed to be with Ferrari as they are well and truly on the back foot and still have to get both drivers back to the form at which they were not two months ago. On the flip side, the momentum lies firmly with McLaren after three wins back to back.
The championships are currently showing with Ferrari only just having a lead in the constructors, now only 11 points, and I still wouldn’t write off the Saubers.
The driver’s standings are equally as close, with Hamilton on top closely followed by all the usual suspects. So with only seven races to go, things are still wide open and it could go any way. Only a fool would bet on this one.
On to the actual predictions, I feel that the confidence should be with everyone’s favourite new driver Lewis Hamilton. He is the one carrying the form into this race.
A slight hiccup, through no fault of his own, didn’t really hinder him. He still sits at the top of the drivers’ championship.
The reason I think he will do so well in this race is because Lewis tends to have a gung-ho feeling when he is approaching a circuit he has never driven on before. He drives with a very aggressive nature, and I feel that a lot of the more cautious drivers will just fall in his wake.
We just have to look back to last year at how he dealt with new circuit after new circuit in such an emphatic flair in which he managed to break all kinds of records.
So for these reasons I predict it will be a very good weekend for McLaren. Of course, we can’t be too sure just how it will pan out until Friday’s practice session.
Practice session will be a tough period with a lot of cars not being on a track for nearly three weeks now, so this will be a time to get the car back to working standard and only then will they be able to tweak certain variables to get on the pace.
The usual suspects will be better at doing this and the time sheets will show this, so expect a lot of laps put in the practice sessions by all midfield and lower teams.
Qualifying could be an interesting one. Fernando Alonso is in a confident mood. On home turf, he could run light and certainly cause an upset to get on the front row. Lewis will be fast, as will Heikki Kovalainen in the sister McLaren, and let's not forget the two Ferraris.
Felipe Massa will have a point to prove after his engine blew three laps from glory in Hungary and Kimi, well… Kimi has got to get his driving gloves on and fast because the front runners will start to leave him behind if he doesn’t start to drive like the champion we know he can be.
BMW, I don’t know what they will be like, with development of the F1.08 being slowed down to concentrate on the 09 KERS version, they will still be fast but I don’t expect too much from them on race weekend.
On race day, how will the drivers finish?
Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes)
Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren-Mercedes)
Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
Fernando Alonso (Renault)
Nick Heidfeld (BMW-Sauber)
Not a very controversial pick from me this week, I just see McLaren being strong and Ferrari still in their slipstream but it won’t be for long. Wait until Belgium, and you can be sure the F2008 will be on fire and McLaren will have a fight on their hands.
Kimi loves his Spa days and will relish getting one over the old enemy on his favoured turf.
So what do you guys think? Do you agree with my pick and my reasons for it? Let me know in the usual way, comments all greatly received. If you have missed it please refer back to the top of the article and read the important announcement about our beloved community.
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Anyway I have gone on for long enough now, I will let you guys get on with your busy lives and I can get on with mine.
Enjoy the race, oh and don’t forget, WATCH IT LOUD, PUT A DONK ON IT!
Ben, Over and Out!