With all testing now complete, the Formula 1 racing teams head to Australia for the season opener on 18 March at Albert Park. Who will be ready to fight for the top honor? Who will wear the crown at the end of the 2007 Formula 1 season?
Let us start by looking at the Formula 1 racing teams that performed well during winter testing. The last week of testing certainly belonged to the scarlet Ferrari at the hands of Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen. Ferrari topped the time sheets in most sessions in the last week of testing in Bahrain where most teams were in action and some comparisons can be made. Mclaren was a close second with both Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton doing well. Other teams showing promise was Renault and BMW. Is this an accurate reflection of the strength of the teams?
Winter testing in the past has very seldom been a very good barometer to establish the leaders of the field. This year however we have something more to help us. Since the engines used for the last two races of last year, are the engines that must be used for the next four years. In the final round at Brazil the Ferrari power plant certainly had the pace to keep ahead. Renault on the other hand had no pressure, therefore not using all the grunt available. Kimi Raikkonen was a contender as well and finished among the front runners. And who knows what can happen if Honda actually finishes a race.
The word in the paddock is that Ferrari should have the advantage over most other teams as a result of their long-term relationship with the sole tire supplier, Bridgestone. Is there more than meets the eye with this relationship? Why would Ferrari opt for a longer wheelbase in the 2007 car when most, if not all other teams, are opting for a shorter wheelbase?
Traditionally the Australian Grand Prix, or the first Grand Prix of the season for that matter, was not the best outing for Ferrari. Renault has performed much better at the season opener in the last few seasons and Mclaren frankly disappointed at the start of the last few seasons. Will Renault continue with another good start to the season? The question however remains, do they have a driver capable of winning a championship.
So let us turn to the drivers for the 2007 Formula 1 racing season. Let us start with the current world champion, Fernando Alonso. Will he be able to outgun his renowned, but much less experienced team mate Lewis Hamilton? During winter testing Alonso seemed to have an edge, when he was at a session that is.
At the Ferrari camp it was Felipe Masse who dominated the testing sessions. Massa has been a part of the Ferrari team a few years now and is ready to step up and make the most of his opportunities. Never underestimate the Flying Fin though. He is always faster at qualifying sessions and during the race, saving the best when it is needed.
Renault probably has one of the best cars for the season, but their driver line up will have to prove themselves. Giancarlo Fisichella has not been able to keep up with Alonso in the last few seasons, and starting his twelfth season in Formula 1, has not lived up to his reputation. His team mate Heikki Kovalainen will have to at least beat Fisichella to assure a future in Formula1 racing.
Now that we have covered the big three for the 2007 Formula 1 racing Season, are there any other drivers that have a chance. Robert Kubica must be one of the drivers that stand an outside chance of getting a few points from the big guns. BMW has shown promise during the winter program, and Kubica impressed a few team managers last season.
Jenson Button was lucky to get his first win last year, but can the taste of victory improve his run. Both the Japanese car maker teams must see this season as the make or break season. Both Toyota and Honda need to score well this season to justify the backing from the East.
From the rest of the teams I don’t expect too much competition. Both Red Bull teams need another year or two to settle in.
So who will win the 2007 Formula 1 racing championship? I think Massa will be the chosen one, but only time will tell… only time will tell.