And the winner of the F1 2010 World Championship is…

March 8, 2010

Will Williams win their first Grand Prix since 2004 in 2010?

Following on from the Oscars last night, I thought I would engage in a bit of fiction and make some predictions as to how I think the 2010 World Championship will end up. It’s a good time to make a prediction as after Bahrain on the 14th March we will get a far truer picture of the form of the cars and drivers. At the moment we really don’t know – so I can have a guess and plead any false predictions on the lack of real data we currently have on the performance of drivers and cars!

My prediction is that the F1 2010 Drivers’ World Championship will be won by Michael Schumacher in a Mercedes, closely followed by Fernando Alonso in a Ferrari and then his team mate Filipe Massa, meaning the the F1 2010 Constructors’ World Championship will be won by Ferrari. I make this prediction based on the fact that for 2010 the removal of refuelling will move the focus away from a series of short pre-planned sprints on fresh tyres and optimal fuel loads, to a long distance race where the performance of the cars at the start will be very different from that at the end of the race. Where performance will be based on a drivers’ ability to conserve all the critical aspects of the car – particularly tyres and brakes through the race and also their ability to respond and adapt to changing conditions and competition – in other words, in Mintzberg’s terminology: strategy will be far less deliberate and planned and become far more emergent and adaptive. Given this, my view is that Michael Schumacher will be at less of a disadvantage, as the experience the other drivers have of the last two or three years will count for a lot less due to these changes. I also believe he will win because of his partnership with master strategist Ross Brawn, which will give them the edge in terms of reading and adapting to changing situations. The confidence they have in one another is second to none and their major competitors will be feeling their way in largely new driver/team relationships. Also Schumacher and Brawn have significant experience in sportscars and endurance racing, experience which will be relevant in the new F1 of 2010. OK so why Ferrari runner up and not McLaren and Red Bull? I think that the impact of Alonso at Ferrari and the return of Massa will be a powerful stimulant for the Maranello based team whose form in testing looked strong, insofar as this can be taken as a predictor of performance. I am clearly assuming that the collective potential of two world champions at McLaren and the stability of the driver line up at Red Bull will fail to overtake the Mercedes of Schumacher and the Ferrari’s of Alsono and Massa, so in all likelihood I will be totally wrong – such is the nature of pre-season predictions!

And what of the other teams? Well I will also throw in a couple more predictions, which perhaps come more from the heart than the head. I predict that Williams will win a race in 2010 – their first since 2004 – this is because I believe that Williams and Rubens Barrichello, along with Hulkenberg are a great fit, although the Cosworth engine is likely to be a bit thirstier than its rivals I think if we have changing conditions such as wet to dry or dry to wet, Rubens can be a formidable force. If the weather falls right this could be Williams’ chance.  I also predict that Virgin will be the best of the newcomers, I make this prediction, not because I don’t wish to see Richard Branson in an Air Asia hostess uniform (or Tony Fernandes in a Virgin one for that matter), but because I’d like to see the innovative approach of the 100% CFD design approach build up some credibility, I’m sure that at some point, in the not-too-distant future, the wind tunnel will be consigned to the history books, and given Virgin’s commitment to non-windtunnel approach I think the sooner they start to show promise, the better.

So will it happen as I predict? Probably not, and if you have any predictions of your own, please send them in. By next Sunday evening we’ll have a better idea as to who is on the right track.

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