The New Year is upon us and in just over two months time the 2008 F1 season will be revving up on the grid in Melbourne, so let's take a look at how the teams will line up. Currently only Super Aguri and Force India have question marks over their...
The New Year is upon us and in just over two months time the 2008 F1 season will be revving up on the grid in Melbourne, so let's take a look at how the teams will line up. Currently only Super Aguri and Force India have question marks over their drivers but the rest are done deals -- or at least as far as anything is ever a done deal in F1.
Many people believed the combination of Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari was a championship certainty and so it proved in 2007, even if he did leave it until the very last moment. The Finn will no doubt be one of the favourites again for 2008 but teammate Felipe Massa can't be counted out, presuming the Scuderia lets them race as it did last season.
McLaren's policy of equality between Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton was, arguably, one of the causes of its downfall in 2007 so it will be interesting to see what new addition Heikki Kovalainen's position is. Kovalainen is no slouch but you'd have to think that being teammate to McLaren prot?g? Hamilton is going to make life complicated.
BMW Sauber made good headway in 2007 and, given a comparable rate of improvement, could well score the maiden victory it's aiming for in the new season. Nick Heidfeld is quick and consistent and Robert Kubica, although still a little erratic, is a tough competitor and given a good car they will surely be ones to watch.
Alonso returns to Renault and will be partnered by Nelson A. Piquet. Renault's 2007 campaign was underwhelming and it's unlikely, as he's well aware, that Alonso will return to title glory in 2008, but the reunion of the two should be interesting. Piquet is promising but untried in F1 competition -- but the first thing he and Alonso need is a decent car.
Williams started to climb out of its slump in 2007 and Nico Rosberg put in some noteworthy performances, which bodes well if the team can keep its upward trend. How Kazuki Nakajima will fare is debatable; basically an F1 rookie, despite racing in Brazil, Nakajima was a capable test driver but some feel he is not ready for a full time race seat.
Red Bull suffered yet again with unreliability last season but still managed a fairly respectable fifth overall in the constructors' standings. David Coulthard and Mark Webber continue to race for the energy drink team and former Honda man Geoff Willis joined Adrian Newey on the technical side in 2007, so it looks promising.
Toyota had another fairly unremarkable season and parted company with Ralf Schumacher at the end of it. At the moment it looks unlikely that Schumacher will be on the grid in 2008 and former BMW tester Timo Glock joins Jarno Trulli at the Cologne-based outfit -- presuming there's nothing in those Adrian Sutil rumours…
Toro Rosso battled around near the back of the field until a surprising double-points finish in China promoted it to seventh overall. New addition Sebastian Vettel, who replaced Scott Speed, was fourth and Tonio Liuzzi was sixth. In 2008 Vettel is joined by four-time Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais, whose F1 debut is highly anticipated.
To say Honda struggled last season would be putting it mildly. In, quite frankly, a pig of a car, Jenson Button managed a paltry six points and Rubens Barrichello had to suffer not scoring any at all for the first time in his F1 career. But both stay with the team and the addition of ex-Ferrari technical chief Ross Brawn as team principal has given Honda new optimism.
Super Aguri was only two points behind big brother Honda but rumours abound of the team being in financial difficulty and facing an uncertain future. Whatever the case, Super Aguri has been mostly silent in regard to its driver line up for 2008 and currently Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson appear likely to stay.
Force India tried out so many drivers in the early winter tests that it's hardly surprising a decision is taking time. Ralf Schumacher dropped out of the picture almost immediately, while Giancarlo Fisichella, Christian Klien, Liuzzi and team tester Roldan Rodriguez all seem to be still in it. An announcement is expected in early January.
Whoever gets the race seat will be teammate to Sutil -- probably. Despite Toyota signing Glock and having Trulli under contract, Sutil has persistently been linked to the team as a replacement for Trulli. However, Sutil's manager, unsurprisingly, has denied the rumours and said the German driver will honour his contract with Force India.