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Prospects for 2007

Ferrari grab the best times at the second session of testing at Barcelona and suddenly everyone thinks they are the team to beat again. It’s like Andy Warhol’s fifteen minutes of fame – first McLaren, then BMW and now Ferrari. Any bets on which team will be favorite next?

JS11

Ligier JS11

What it really means is that there is very little to choose between a lot of the teams. Alonso reckons there are five in with a chance of winning GPs: Ferrari, McLaren, Renault, BMW and, although still a little behind the best, Honda. To that list I would add Williams and Toyota. Red Bull has been disappointing to date and we can only presume that Toro Rosso will be more of the same since they will be running a very similar car. And Super Aguri and Spyker have their sights set a little lower than race wins this year at least.

That leaves a lot of teams in the running but of one thing we can be sure – the numbers will thin out once racing starts in earnest. Some of those who show well now will fade in the heat of competition and unexpected weaknesses will appear. The problem is in working out which of the contenders will maintain the challenge throughout the season.

The big three have an advantage in this through experience; we expect them to do well because they always do. Sooner or later the old order must change, however, and the chances of it happening this season are very high. BMW are looking like the team that could upset the apple cart. The car has been consistently good at all the circuits so far and the drivers and team members seem focused and quietly efficient. Their moment may have arrived rather earlier than Mario Theissen expected but, if they can build on early successes, they could be in with a chance of a championship.

We have seen a lot of change over this off season and big changes usually bring about re-shuffling of established orders. In 1979, the year ground effect spread to everyone, Lotus failed to capitalize on Chapman’s invention and were nowhere, while Williams emerged as top rank contenders for the first time. The fact that Ferrari managed to squeeze out a last gasp championship that year might be a good omen for them in 2007 but I doubt it. This time around, they are the team that has had more change than any other.

1979 was also the year that Ligier won the first two races with their JS11 and looked the team to beat, only to fade away as the season wore on. Could BMW be the Ligier of 2007?

4 Responses to “Prospects for 2007”

  1. This is the beauty of the prospect of this season. We’re not looking at another dominant year for Alonso or for Schumacher. It will be the most interesting year for the sport since the Schumie dominance started. It’s fantastic that there is no one team that stands out in testing; the prize is there for the taking by any one of five, maybe seven teams, and there are few sports that can boast that kind of close competition. Of course, if Alonso disappears off into the sunset in the McLaren, we’ll all be faced with a season long grind for second place. However, I have every hope for some variety on the top step this year and a close fight in the driver and constructor championship (if they’re all allowed to score points in the constructor’s of course!)

  2. Yep, it looks like being a good one, Rob. And about time too, I say!

  3. Hi

    My name is Marc Snyman and I am an avid F1 fan hailing from Sunny South Africa, but now living in Overcast England, and I have a question that I am holing you can help me out with

    There have been rumours going around about F1 returning to South Africa in the next 2/3 years, but despite my best efforts to confirm this on-line, I have not been able to do so.

    I have seen a few sites which are out of date which spoke, (in 2005), about a new circuit in Cape Town.

    Do you have any update on the progress, or lack there of, of that happening.

    I would really appreciate if you guys could help me answer this question as it is something that is of great interest to me

    Many thanks and kind regards

    Marc

  4. Hi Marc

    Strangely enough, although I was born in England, I spent the first ten years of my life in Cape Town and the next seventeen in Zimbabwe, so I understand your interest in the possibility of a South African GP in the future. Heck, I have even been to Kyalami when the GP was still being held there.

    Just recently I have seen mention of a possible new SA GP in statements from Bernie Ecclestone, although no details are given. It would make sense as Africa stands out as the continent without a GP at the moment. But whether it would be held on the old circuit or a new one in Cape Town, I just don’t know (and I don’t think anyone does yet). There are several new GPs signed up or proposed between now and 2010 so it is very unlikely that they would be able to add a SA GP before that date, the calendar being pretty full already and European GPs already feeling threatened as so many Asian GPs are added.

    It is a good sign that Bernie is talking about South Africa now, however – until recently it was never mentioned and this must mean that he has been contacted by someone, probably a consortium, about running a GP there. In time I’m sure we’ll hear more definite news and my bet is that a South African race will be added to the calendar in 2011 or 2012. Here’s hoping!

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