The Mid-Field Battle: Who Will Adapt Best?

Daniel LamCorrespondent ISeptember 28, 2008

Teams such as Renault, Red Bull Racing, Toyota, Scuderia Toro Rosso, Williams and Honda will aim to join the big three of Ferrari, Mclarern, and BMW Sauber.

Renault: Little is known about there driver lineup for 2009, whether Fernando Alonso stays or leaves to one of the rivals and the future of Nelson Piquet. Little is known for their KERS programs also, but it would be almost certain they will be running a battery operated system by Magneti Marelli. Certainly Pat Symonds and Bob Bell who have had much experienced in the 90's with similar looking cars to the regulations will adapt well, but may struggle adapting.

Red Bull Racing: Red Bull Racing have already confirmed there driver lineup, with Mark Webber and Sebastien Vettel. This in my mind will be a strong lineup with Webber tormenting most of his teammates, how well will Sebastien Vettel do in reaching Webber's benchmark?

More so the design team will be one of the strongest. After resolving on reliability issues which plagued there 2007 campaign, the expertise of aero guru Adrian Newey and Geoff Willis will be used to the full of there abilities. The new regulations should happen to suit both Newey and Willis with them both designing race winning cars in the 90's. Possibly the main weakness in the RB5 will be the engine, with the Renault that powers the Red Bull's slightly weaker then that of its rivals.

Like Renault, Red Bull are most likely to run a Magneti Marelli KERS system, though have already had a set back with there KERS program, after a minor explosion in the factory, things will be looking good for the squad from Milton Keynes in 2009.

Toyota: With the money and so many promises, its a surprise Toyota have never won a Grand Prix. Toyota have been one of the biggest disappointments over the years with its potential. Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock are set to be retained as drivers for 2009, bring stability to the team which is good.

The design team could prove to be Toyota's weak spot, with there top designers relatively inexperienced with car similar to the 2009 regulations. None the less, Toyota should be a fore to be aware of with the TF109.

Scuderia Toro Rosso: After scoring there maiden win this year at Monza in a major upset, Scuderia Toro Rosso should be strong in 2009 providing the drivers can perform next year, though little is known of there driver lineup.

With Sebastien Vettell leaving for sister team Red Bull Racing, possibilities include retaining Sebastien Bourdais, this GP2 driver Bruno Senna, Red Bull Racing test driver Sebastien Buemi or even former Super Aguri drivers Takuma Sato and/or Anthorny Davidson. Like this season, STR should be running almost an identical car top RBR, just with slight differences with the engine mounting, due to its Ferrari engine.

The engine could be one of its strong points over the rest though, with its remarkably strong Ferrari engine.  The STR4 should match if not beat the performance of the RB5. With the team being sold at the end of 2009, the team will want to put in a strong show to find a buyer.

Williams: Williams possibly have invested the most into the 2009 campaign, buying a stake in a KERS specific company. Nico Roseberg is set to be retained along with Kazuki Nakajima, most notably for his ties with Toyota in which supply Williams with engines. With Australian designer Sam Michael, Williams should be considerably strong considering the amount of development done thus far on 2009.

Williams also are rumoured to be running a flywheel KERS system, as opposed to battery systems by its rivals. This may be the element which gives Williams a lead over the rest.

Honda: Honda could possibly produce one of the biggest upsets for next season. With Jenson Button being retained, the other seat has been rumoured to have Fernando Alonso joining replacing veteran Rubens Barrichello.

The designers who have switched their 2009 resources rather early should already have a front foot over the rest, but could also be the teams weak point especially in aerodynamics. The team have struggled since Geoff Willis left, but the input from team principal Ross Brawn should get the team back on track.

Prediction: Williams should certainly spring a surprise, but the teams to watch should be the Red Bull teams of Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso. The expertise of Adrian Newey along with Geoff Willis should be a strong combination providing reliability is good. Honda may spring a surprise, though this will be unlikely unless Fernando Alonso is signed. Renault may bounce back to there glory days of 2005 and 2006, but that is unlikely. Toyota though in my mind will be a big disappointment.