Formula 1 2007 Preview: The Australian Grand Prix
After five months of anxious anticipation, the day is nearly here for the start of 2007 Formula 1 season. And what a season it is going to be! But first, a small recap of all that has happened in last five months.
The biggest change this year - No Michael Schumacher on the starting grid. Juan Pablo Montoya and Jacques Villeneuve will also be absent. Some big names have switched teams - Fernando Alonso's move to McLaren Mercedes and Kimi Raikkonen's move to Ferrari are the most talked about. Mark Webber also moved to Red Bull Racing from Williams.
Then there are a whole lot of rookies who will be racing for some great teams, notably Lewis Hamilton debuting for McLaren Mercedes and Heikki Kovalainen debuting for Renault. Also debuting this year are Anthony Davidson for Super Aguri and Adrian Sutil for Spyker. Alexander Wurz will be driving for Williams after switching from McLaren last year and testing for Williams the whole last season.
On the other hand, Toyota [Ralf Schumacher & Jarno Trulli], Honda Racing [Jenson Button & Reubens Barrichello], BMW-Sauber [Nick Heidfeld & Robert Kubica] & Scuderia Toro Rosso [Vitantonio Liuzzi & Scott Speed] will be retaining their last years lineup.
There will be no Michelin with Bridgestone becoming the sole provider for tyres starting this season. And no Cosworth, since Williams will be getting their engines from Toyota. Scuderia Toro Rosso will be getting Ferrari Engines, where as big brother Red Bull Racing will be using Renault engines. Spyker will be using Ferrari engines.
All the teams have been busy for past two months testing their 2007 contenders. And a whole lot of speculation has been going around. Mainly about whether McLaren can do a turn around from last year's paltry performance with Fernando Alonso & Lewis Hamilton. And whether Kimi Raikkonen can step into the large shoes of Michael Schumacher and help Ferrari regain the constructor’s title this year. And not to forget, who is the better driver between Felipe Massa & Kimi Raikkonen. Then there is a lot of talk about how Renault’s performance has been lagging when compared to the previous two years.
And how can we forget the good old Bernie Ecclestone. After announcing the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to be held from 2009, he is also trying to have a F1 Grand Prix race in night [ongoing talks with Australia & Singapore authorities]. And also that he is going to change the points system for driver’s championship next year.
Then there were rumours' floating around that Michael Schumacher is contemplating buying Scuderia Toro Rosso next year. Also that Ross Braun will be joining hands with Mercedes as team chief next year.
This pretty much sums up what happened in last 5 months. Now there's just one more day to go before the 2007’s first Qualifying session starts for ING Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park, Melbourne.
So what’s my prediction for the Australian Grand Prix?
For qualifying, I think Ferrari will occupy the 1st & 3rd spot on the grid, with Alonso’s McLaren taking 2nd spot, followed by Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren. First spot being Felipe Massa with Kimi Raikkonen in third.
For the winner of the Australian Grand Prix, I’ll put my money on Kimi Raikkonen.
Enjoy the first Grand Prix of 2007.