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Thinking ahead to 2009

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Thinking ahead to 2009
Nov 4, 2008, 9:50 PM

Back in the UK after the long BA flight from Sao Paulo.

Back in the UK after the long BA flight from Sao Paulo. It was very quiet on the plane as almost everyone had a hangover and had had little or no sleep. The two parties were the big one thrown by Red Bull at a place called the Mausoleum and a McLaren celebratory bash, near the Hilton in Morumbi. There were probably 3,000 people at the Red Bull do, most of the paddock plus a lot of Brazilian lovelies.

It's what you expect F1 to be like, but the truth is that only really Red Bull has brought that kind of thing about, probably because it is Mateschitz's idea of what F1 should be all about!  But I hear that they are cutting back next year so no more £1 million parties. They had hired Gorillaz to play, the animated band which is a side project of Blur's Damon Albarn. I love their music, but they were rubbish live, lots of incoherent shouting into mikes and no sign of Albarn. The other party was worth looking in on.

Next season has already started. It will be very different with completely new-looking cars, slick tyres, driver-adjustable front wings and KERS. Ross Brawn told us on Saturday evening that you can use KERS at the start of the race, once the car has reached 100km/h, which is about 2 seconds after the lights go out. The driver will be able to hit the push to pass button and this will give 2-3 car lengths advantage compared with a car not using KERS. Toyota have said that they will not run their system until mid season, so they will be left behind at the race starts. [ more ]

It's early days for predictions, but I'm guessing that BMW will be the car to beat at the start of the season, because they put their effort into 2009 much earlier than McLaren and Ferrari, who continued developing their cars right to the last race, because of the title battle. The result will probably be that McLaren and Ferrari will be slow starting next year. But if you consider that their development in 2008 brought 2.5 seconds to the car from the first race to the last, I'm sure they will be contenders by the European season and certainly by June. It's an opportunity for Kubica and BMW if they can take the early points. BMW also seem to be pretty hot on the KERS, so we could be in for a bit of a shake up. Honda are also very optimistic about next year, but I'm not sure they'll be title contenders. They have saved up testing days and tyres so they'll be flat out this winter. When Jenson gets his hands on the new car, it will be a career defining moment, one way or the other..
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