With just over six weeks until the start of the 2012 F1 season kicking off in Melbourne on the March 16, the excitement, preparations and tension is mounting. The season is going to be intense with an array of first class talent set to span the drivers’ standings and the globe over the next eight months.
Many of the teams will be staying the same, hoping to build on the experiences, victories and battles that satiated the 2011 season. Red Bull will be aiming to repeat their domination of the drivers’ and constructors titles, presenting a strong duo of defending world champion Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber. Last season Vettel won 11 races, including the season debut in Australia so he will definitely be looking to establish himself firmly at the top from the very first green light.
McLaren’s Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton will also be aiming for a formidable start to the season, having had what the BBC’s Eddie Jordan described as a ‘topsy-turvy’ season in 2011. Although with six wins and a lot of podium finishes, they have set their bar high and it will be interesting to see how they get on in Melbourne mid-March.
Ferrari will also be hoping for a better performance this year from drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa who failed to meet expectations last year. Despite being an experienced and talented duo, Alonso, who hasn’t won the championship for five years, only made the top step of the podium once in 2011 – a statistic he will be burning to quickly surpass this year.
All eyes will be paying extra attention to Kimi Raikkonen and Bruno Senna this season. Raikkonen’s return to the circuit, after a two year break, is highly anticipated. Competing for Lotus (formerly Renault), Raikkonen will be hoping to make a big impression in Melbourne. Having completed a test weekend in Valencia, the Finnish racer is looking forward to what he predicts will be an “interesting season”, back amongst the first-class talent who saturated the top of the 2011 standings.
Alongside Raikkonen’s return to the circuit, attention will be on Bruno Senna whose signing for Williams has a double resonance: bridging echoes of the past and the legacy of his uncle with the hopes and aspirations for his own future racing career. In 2011, Senna only raced in the second half of the season, competing eight times for Renault with a best finish of ninth place. However, in interview Senna has said that in this new season for a new team he hopes to “demonstrate what I can do, not only for the team, but for myself. It’s going to be interesting to see what we can achieve together.”
The countdown to race day has now officially started. The next few weeks will see the final adjustments made to cars, drivers heading into intense training periods and the fans preparing for what is undoubtedly going to be an unforgettable F1 season.