With the opening race of the 2012 Formula 1 season just a few days away, now’s a good a time as ever to take a look ahead at what could be an almighty set of races. With six world champions on the grid, including the returning Kimi Räikkönen, 2012 could see Sebastian Vettel’s dominance of Formula 1 finally end.
The biggest change you’ll notice this season is the noses. Some say they look like duck bills, others will argue they’re more like the platypus. Whatever you argue, pretty much everyone will agree they’re pretty ugly. The big step is due to new restrictions regarding safety, requiring cars to have lower noses. Everyone but Mclaren have chosen to go with the step, some more aesthetically pleasing than others- Red Bull in particular have put in an air vent to make it look just a little bit less ugly. Ferrari however have built what they claim to be an “aggressive” car, and it certainly looks it. Unfortunately, it also means it looks like the automotive equivalent of a big bruiser- effective, but not good looking in the slightest.
Mclaren come up trumps in the visual department then, with one of their most beautiful cars yet- the long, sloped nose contrasts completely with the rest of the teams’ efforts and looks great. It does lead to questions however- if all the other teams have gone with a stepped nose, why have the men from Woking chosen such a different design? They say it’s because they’ve been developing it for a long time and the new restriction did not apply to their 2012 design, but questions are still raised- will this design make Mclaren faster than their nearest rivals, or drastically slower? Maybe it will make no difference at all, in which case it’s a win-win: We get good Formula 1 racing, and it doesn’t hurt our eyes all the time.
Exhausts can no longer be directed under the car in F1, meaning cornering will go back to the roller-coaster ride of slipping and sliding as drivers push their cars to the edge. Pirelli have made some slight changes too, bringing the tyre compounds together to hopefully make racing closer and strategy even more important.
This year we welcome some new (and old) drivers back to the Formula 1 grid. Kimi Räikkönen returns in a Lotus which by the looks of it will challenge the front runners a bit more, or at the very least boss the midfield. It will be great to see the ‘Ice Man’ back and hopefully performing better than Michael Schumacher did last year. Romain Grosjean also gets a seat in the all-new Lotus line-up. Niko Hulkenburg also returns, starting next to Paul di Resta in the Force India.
Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne will appear in the Torro Rosso seats, and Vitaly Petrov starts in the newly named Team Caterham (formerly Lotus-Renault). Williams welcome back another Senna, this time Ayrton’s nephew Bruno Senna. Karthikeyan this year is joined by Pedro de la Rosa. Finally, team Marussia (newly named from Virgin Racing) great Charles Pic to the race seat.
Judging from the pre-season testing Lotus are looking good, and Mercedes claiming they’re more competitive. This, along with the new restrictions and the new drivers, means the 2012 Formula 1 season should be a great one. Personally I can’t wait.