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2010 Bahrain GP Preview: A Brave New Era Begins

Ravikumar RajagopalCorrespondent IMarch 10, 2010

BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 26:  (EDITORS NOTE: THIS BLACK AND WHITE IMAGE WAS CREATED FROM ORIGINAL COLOUR FILE)  Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing poses for a photograph following Formula One winter testing at the Circuit De Catalunya on February 26, 2010 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

This weekend the 2010 Formula One World Championship begins and for the first time in the history of the sport, there will be four teams going into the season with nearly six drivers favorites to win the driver’s championship. The traditional power teams like Ferrari and McLaren will be joined by Red Bull and the rebirth of the Mercedes Grand Prix team will lead to the most unpredictable season ever.

Mercedes is not the only iconic name which is returning to the sport but the greatest driver of our era and maybe the sport as well is returning but not with Ferrari but Michael Schumacher will make his dramatic comeback with the Silver Arrow Mercedes team where he will team up with Ross Brawn once again and this was the combination which resulted him all of his seven Championships, five with Ferrari and two with Benetton.

Names like Schumacher and Mercedes will overshadow others but then Cosworth is back after a disastrous 2006 season while the Senna names returns to the grid in the form of Bruno Senna, the nephew of the legendary Ayrton Senna a former three-team World Champion who died in a crash during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.  

Though the Lotus name returns, this outfit has no connection to the Colin Chapman led outfit. The only connection is that the group which owns the current Lotus team also owns Lotus Cars.

Though last season Brawn surprised everyone and won the Championship largely due to a loophole in the regulations and had it not been for the double diffuser, then Red Bull may have won it but this season Brawn which is Mercedes now will face a very stiff challenge from Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren.

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Mercedes may not go into the season as hot favorites, and though the team does not expect to win right away and would take time, but if Schumacher comes out of retirement, then he is in for wins only.

Though publicly the team may deny it will take time, Mercedes and Schumacher could be on track for wins right from the first race while teammate Rosberg after polishing his skills in the under-powered and under-funded Williams, he finally can prove his potential and show that he can win races.

Red Bull last season’s runner-up is tipped to have the fastest car and with Vettel & Webber behind the wheel, they the only top team to have the same lineup and Vettel is tipped for greater things while Webber who is 33 now may have him last chance at going for the Championship and he could be the dark horse for this season.

Ferrari after a disastrous 2009 did stop work on their 2009 car and started work on their 2010 car before everyone else and with Alonso joining the team, the Latin era begins for Ferrari with Massa coming back after his injuries, this season if both Alonso and Massa can work as a team, Ferrari will be challenging for the titles this season right from the first race.

McLaren has a British super team with Hamilton and Button but with what happened when Hamilton teamed up with Alonso, things may not be as smooth as it seems as Button will take sometime getting used to the car and crew while by then Hamilton will have a good enough lead over him to relegate Button to the No. 2 driver status. Also the ruling on the wing will play a part at their campaign early on this season.

Williams has a strong lineup with the experienced Barrichello along with the GP2 Champion Hulkenberg and with Cosworth proving to be consistent maybe not be far off behind the top four while Sauber after taking buying back the team from BMW may not pull off a Brawn but could be the surprise package of the season as they have a car which has the best tire management so far.

Renault will be led by the mercurial Kubica who given the right car can go wheel to wheel with anyone while Vitaly Petrov has to prove that he is in more for his talent rather then the money he brings with him. Force India is looking forward to 2010 as the break through season for the team while Toro Rosso building a car for the first time on their own since the Minardi days may provide the biggest surprise of this lot.

Though Lotus and Virgin managed to run the car on the tracks but Hispanic will be running the car for the first time during the race weekend and if the car is slow it may prove to be dangerous for all the other teams who are not far off from each other in terms of speed.

The Bahrain Grand Prix will be the first of many exciting races we will have this season and the return of marquee names will provide more excitement to the season.

Bahrain GP Top 10 Predictions

1. Sebastien Vettel
2. Fernando Alonso
3. Mark Webber
4. Felipe Massa
5. Lewis Hamilton
6. Michael Schumacher
7. Nico Rosberg
8. Jenson Button

9. Kamui Kobayashi

10. Nico Hulkenberg

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