FF1M returns this weekend with its first ever Live main series race on Sunday.
The new season promises an exciting closely fought battle between current drivers champion Fernando Alonso who moves to newcomers Willows, Lewis Hamilton his replacement at TornadoF1 and Shake n Bake’s Sebastian Vettel.
FF1M.com polled the team owners to find out their predictions for the forthcoming season whilst FF1M commentator Brickles gives his thoughts.
11th : HorizonF1
20. Sam Bird
21. Robert Wickens
Newcomers Horizon will face a difficult task in their first season and admit that they are “taking a risk” by employing two rookie drivers. Whilst both have shown promise in junior formulae it will be a whole other story in the big leagues.
Brickles says: “Two very unknown drivers combined with so-and-so testing results may put this team somewhere near the back.”
10th : GR Motorsports – Renault
18. Sebastien Buemi
19. Jean-Eric Vergne
GRM welcome Sebastien Buemi to the team alongside exciting young driver Jean-Eric Vergne but without a Works engine and poor testing form they will struggle/
Brickles says: “The team didn’t perform well in testing, but the disadvantage of being a customer team may expose them even more.”
9th : Andrew Racing – Renault
16. Adrian Sutil
17. Robert Kubica
AndrewF1 may have changed its team’s name but not its sense of loyalty as the team retains Adrian Sutil for a fifth season whilst Robert Kubica makes his return from injury and will want to prove that he still has the talent that made him a race winner in previous seasons.
Brickles says: “A team likely to end up in ‘no man’s land’ with a customer Renault, and a powerful loyalty towards Adrian Sutil”
8th : Mitchell – Toyota
9. Nico Hulkenburg
10. Jaime Alguersuari
A dreadful testing performance means that the team is unlikely to repeat its race winning performance of previous seasons but in retaining Nico Hulkenberg they can be sure that the car will be driven to its potential. Hulkenburg is joined by World Series champion Jaime Alguersuari.
Brickles says: “Poor testing results means the team will struggle to make the most of their Works status.”
7th : Ajay Motorsports – Cosworth
14. Mark Webber
15. Jenson Button
Ajay Motorsports come into an FF1M season with two race winning drivers for the first time in their history and will be hoping to challenge for podiums and race wins this season. Success or failure will depend on their engine and whether Cosworth’s single team customer operation can keep up with the development of the bigger Works teams.
Brickles says: “Despite being the only Cosworth runner, strong testing could make this team the surprise package.”
6th : Sean Connery Motorschhh – Ferrari
22. Nico Rosberg
23. Lucas Di Grassi
The new team from the remnants of Gui Racing have certainly been making a lot of noise ahead of the new season. The teams hopes of a winning start will rest on the shoulders of Nico Rosberg who will be looking for a return to form after a disappointing 2011 at Shake n Bake. Rosberg is joined at the team by Brazilian Lucas Di Grassi who struggled for pace at GRM last term.
Brickles says: “Testing hasn’t been strong and Rosberg is a man out of form but the Ferrari Works engine could save their season”
5th : Pedersen – BMW
3. Kamui Kobayashi
4. Bruno Senna
Pedersen were in top form towards the end of 2011 but the loss of their leading driver means that Kamui Kobayashi will have to make a step forward if the team is race at the front whilst Bruno Senna joins after a poor season with Gui Racing.
Brickles says: “A rather unknown quantity with indifferent testing results, but two promising drivers and Works status could help them.”
4th : FJR – Honda
11. Kimi Raikkonen
12. Romain Grosjean
FJR could be an outside bet on the championship this season. Whilst their driver lineup isn’t spectacular both drivers are capable of winning races which is something you cannot say about most teams on the grid. Indeed the only thing that could hold them back is the team’s customer engine deal with Honda.
Brickles says: “Honda customer, with rounded and dependable driver line-up, plus strong test results.”
3rd : Shake n Bake – Honda
7. Sebastian Vettel
8. Sergio Perez
Shake n Bake started 2011 brightly but fell behind in development as the season went on. It could be the same story this time around with their customer Honda engine. Sebastian Vettel remains with the team for another season and will comfortably beat team mate Sergio Perez who has struggled in FF1M since his debut with Shannon two seasons ago.
Brickles says: “One of three Honda customers in the field, and also a driver determined to make up for lost time.”
2nd : Willows Racing – Mercedes
1. Fernando Alonso
2. Pastor Maldonado
Newcomers Willows are tipped to find themselves with the big boys from the start thanks to their coup signing of reigning world champion Fernando Alonso. The team will also enjoy Works Mercedes engines which could make the difference against their rivals. Alonso is supported by Pastor Maldonado who makes the step back up to FF1M despite a winless campaign in World Series last year.
Brickles says: “Full works status plus decent testing make this team potential favourites”
1st : TornadoF1 – Ferrari
5. Lewis Hamilton
6. Daniel Ricciardo
TornadoF1 are rightly favourites for the coming season. Lewis Hamilton won six of the last seven races in 2011 and pretty much won Pedersen the Constructors Championship on his own. The team also had a phenomenal pre season testing topping the time sheets in all but one session. They do have a customer engine which could hurt them later in the season and whilst Daniel Ricciardo has potential he lacks the consistency of his illustrious team mate.
Brickles says : “TornadoF1 have arguably the best driver in the field which they will need as a Ferrari customer”