F1: Just Who Is the Title Favorite?

Paul MurtaghCorrespondent IMarch 19, 2009

Just who is this season's favourite to take the F1 crown? Hamilton? Alonso? Raikkonen? Kubica? Massa?

It seems as though the odds with the bookies are changing every day. I have even seen Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello installed as favourites at one bookie, after their sensational testing pace at Barcelona!

The first driver that seems to come to people's minds is Lewis Hamilton. As the reigning champion, the British driver is on a wave of high confidence and goes into this season desperate to become Britain's first-ever back-to-back champion.

But it hasn't looked good in preseason testing, with McLaren having come out and said that their new car isn't as fast as they expected, and the team has been working hard to make it fast.

We won't know until Melbourne whether they have done enough to get Hamilton's title defence off to a winning start.

The Ferrari drivers naturally come as the next favourites for the crown. Felipe Massa was world champion for 20 seconds last season, until Hamilton passed Glock for that crucial fifth place at Interlagos, and the Brazilian will be wanting to bounce back from that disappointment in the best way possible by taking the title.

His teammate Raikkonen had a disappointing season in 2008, only taking two wins and appearing to be accident-prone when he was under pressure, most notably at Monaco and Singapore.

But his record-matching 10 fastest laps showed that he still has the speed to deliver and needs to match his 2007 form to take the title.

However, despite Ferrari stating that they have a fast car, they are worried about their reliability, and you can't win titles if you can't finish races.

Next in the firing line seems to be Robert Kubica. The Pole took his first career win last season, and he had a chance at the title right up to the penultimate race in China, but the lack of development at BMW ultimately cost him any realistic title chance.

However, the lack of development was due to the team shifting their focus to their 2009 car early, and Robert should reap the reward of their efforts this season.

But the team refused to shift to a one-car team last season when Heidfeld was struggling with his qualifying, and with the team splitting their resources evenly between both drivers, it could frustrate Robert as the season goes on.

The team will want the constructor's title and will make sure they are in with a chance to take it. Will this affect Kubica's driving ambitions? Only time will tell.

And finally, we move onto Alonso. The field's only double champion showed, at the end of last season, that his bad season at McLaren is behind him, and he is ready to challenge for the title once again.

But is the team ready for the title?

They seemed to struggle to understand their new car after its initial launch but seemed to be moving in the right direction as testing went on. But have they done enough to get them to the front of the grid?

The whole of Spain will be praying that they have and so will Renault's hierarchy if they are to have any chance to keep their superstar in the long-term.

So who will take the title? As you can see all the drivers have their plus and minus points, and we won't know until the first practice sessions in Australia who has taken the first steps in the right direction, and who has got the right ingredients to make a realistic title charge.


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