The stage is set for one of the most maverick and eagerly anticipated Formula One seasons of the past decade. Yes, the 2011 season will be kick-started with the Australian GP and this time around, though we don’t have the relatively ‘new’ entrants like Brawn GP or Red Bull racing, there are some virgin outfits.
Needless to say, all eyes would be on the newly christened Mercedes team with the ever so formidable Michael Schumacher at the helm. Schumi is back on the race track and, as a surprise to many, the demon racer would not be donning the red colours that have been synonymous with him during his legendary reign of the asphalt. Instead, this time, he’d be racing against his beloved Ferrari F1 team that has signed up Fernando Alonso to do the damage to the F1 Champions’ hopes. One must note that the last time Mercedes was in the sport, way back in 1955, they ended on a victorious note.
Apart from these two former Champions, there are Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber who’d be breathing down the necks of all the racers, breezing past the rear-view mirrors of the competition.
The 2009 season was talked about for the new rule changes and it is often said that the difference between the winners and the close runners-up was the understanding of the newer nuances. This time however, there is only one significant clause, the one that bars refuelling during the race. It is quite an important change, as now the strategies would have to be based around using the last drop of fuel to the fullest. This will test the skill of the driver more as the pile-driver like bursts of acceleration would be absent.
The Bahrain race track is a marvel in itself, sitting pretty in the middle of the desert. Of course, there is some talk about the sand coming onto the track and affecting the traction and visibility. The organisers have deployed the use of a special adhesive on the sand a few kilometres in the vicinity of the race track, but we all have our fingers crossed for any untoward incident, especially after Felipe Massa’s fatal accident last year.
A new points system is also in place, giving points to teams as low as 10th on the grid (the point system is: 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1). Red Bull have sounded a warning to the opposition with their new RB6 car and it will be matched by an impressive Ferrari F10.
With so much going to the wire, and a resurgent Force India promising a few surprises as well, we’re all set to get our hormones pumping with the action this season!