Posted by Carrot on March 24, 2011 | No Comments
With the delayed opening of the 2011 season only a few days away it is time for us to make our full season predictions once again. For a group of dedicated and opinionated fans we didn’t do too well last year. Only Mark and Carrot made predictions as Euan was yet to join the team and we managed to get exactly zero. Shall we see whether we can repeat that form this year? If the past is anything to go on, your bet shouldn’t include whoever we pick.
This year’s pre-season testing was wholly inconclusive. There’s no runaway leader of the pack as there was with Brawn in 2009, instead the story of testing is the rise of the midfield. Team Lotus are already looking massively improved from their 2010 form (though that’s not hard) and Toro Rosso and Sauber could be dark horses. Williams’ innovative flywheel KERS will also appear this year and could make or break their fortunes. McLaren came away from the drawing board with a radical car, so radical that it breaks down and isn’t that fast. They’re reverting to a more conservative design for some areas of the car for the opening race.
- Formula One World Champion, Driver, 2011 – Mark Webber. The second year in a row that I’m going to make Webber my pick for the laurels. I was so nearly right last year with the Aussie leading the championship for so long, but it all fell apart in the last three races. Webber was on top form when he considered himself the number two driver at Red Bull, as his performances in Spain, Monaco and Britain proved. This year he will be reminded that he’s the number two driver as that’s his car number due to Sebastian Vettel being the World Champion. Provided he stays off his push bike and doesn’t break any more bits of his body, I expect good things from Webber this year.
- Formula One World Champion, Constructor, 2011 – Red Bull Racing. With Adrian Newey behind the development and two drivers that proved in 2010 that they can consistently deliver the points I think it’d be daft to place money anywhere else. McLaren will suffer for their early season lack of pace while they dial in this new radical machine and Ferrari only have a single driver that can deliver high points finishes on a regular basis unless Felipe Massa has a sudden and unexpected burst of form to put Fernando Alonso on equal terms.
- Best Rookie, 2011 – Paul di Resta. With a choice of four, well six if you want to count Narain Karthikeyan due to his time away and Daniel Ricciardo’s inevitable takeover of one of the Toro Rosso cockpits, I think di Resta is easily the stand-out pick. Reigning DTM Champion as well as experience with the team and F1 cars due to his Friday running in 2010, there’ll have to be a severe car performance advantage to allow any of the other rookies to get close to him.
- Number of teams that will win a Grand Prix in 2011 – 4. Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren (when they finally develop their car) and one other team. The other team is likely to be Mercedes, but I wouldn’t rule out Force India or a lucky break for one of the midfield in a rain affected race of attrition.
- Formula One World Champion, Driver, 2011 – Sebastian Vettel. With five world champions in four different teams it is likely to be the tight battle for the drivers crown. Red Bull’s pre season preparation couldn’t have gone better and I fancy Sebastian Vettel to become the youngest ever double world champion.
- Formula One World Champion, Constructor, 2011 – McLaren. I have gone with McLaren purely because of their driver line up of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. They should both deliver consistent points and as we have seen in previous seasons McLaren’s ability to develop a car and find time is second to none.
- Best Rookie, 2011 - Pastor Maldonado. I hope Williams can give him a car which allows him to shine as he did in GP2.
- Number of teams that will win a Grand Prix in 2011 – 4. Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes.
Something that could be key this season is how teams would handle the new Pirelli tyres. With these new tyres being purposely designed to be much more degradable than the Bridgestones, so how well the drivers and their cars look after tyres could have a significant impact on the season. The effectiveness of teams’ KERS system could also be important, with only Ferrari and McLaren having large amounts of experience working with KERS.
- Formula One World Champion, Driver, 2011 – The Drivers Championship will doubtlessly be hugely competitive and tight as in 2010, with five world champions on the grid. The 2010 Champion Sebastian Vettel will certainly be strong again, but for me Fernando Alonso will take the 2011 title. Alonso will surely be desperate to be victorious this season after missing out by such a tight margin in his début season at Ferrari. The former Renault and McLaren driver definitely has both the experience, talent, and motivation necessary to win the drivers’ crown. The Red Bull, Ferrari, and McLaren drivers, with perhaps the addition of Nico Rosberg since Robert Kubica will be absent, will challenge for the title; but I can see Fernando Alonso coming out on top.
- Formula One World Champion, Constructor, 2011 – I can’t look past Red Bull to retain the constructors title in 2011. Testing sessions have suggested that once again Red Bull have the fastest car, and with the strong line-up of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel they are sure to have another successful season. However, I doubt Red Bull will completely run away with it, expect Ferrari and McLaren to be not too far behind them.
- Best Rookie, 2011 – Once again there is a promising crop of young drivers, but from my point of view Pastor Maldonado is the stand out driver. The Venezuelan should have a decent car at Williams, and will hope to succeed where is former GP2 team-mate Nico Hulkenburg failed. Maldonado certainly knows how to win races, earning a record six consecutive wins on his way to becoming the 2010 GP2 Champion.
- Number of teams that will win a Grand Prix in 2011 – 5. Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, and Williams emerging from the midfield.