Saturday, March 15, 2008

Formula 1 - What To Watch For

Formula 1
Early Sunday morning will mark the start of the 2008 Formula 1 season. After an incredibly exciting championship battle last season which saw Kimi Raikonnen edge out both McLaren-Mercedes drivers in the last race to win the season, several changes to the rules and teams should keep this season entertaining. Here's what to watch for:

Traction Control
For the past few years, drivers have employed the use of electronic traction control to get their cars off of the line and out of the corners. Starting this season, traction control of any kind is banned, and should add quite a bit of spice to the races. Drivers who have previously just powered out of corners or through difficult sections will have to carefully modulate the throttles on their cars or lose control of the back end. Watch closely during wet races or on tracks with limited grip, like the season-opening Australian GP.

Fernando Alonso
After winning two consecutive world championships, Fernando Alonso left Renault for McLaren-Mercedes, where he placed third in 2007 and had a much-publicized feud with his rookie teammate. This season, Alonso is back at Renault where he is apparently much more comfortable. Unfortunately, Renault has lost their way and did not regularly compete for podiums in 2007. Watch for Alonso to try to right this listing ship in spectacular style.

Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton put together a sensational rookie season in 2007, very nearly becoming the first ever rookie world champion. Now the darling child of McLaren-Mercedes, look for him to try to prove that his success was not a fluke.

Sebastien Bourdais
Winning four consecutive Champ Car World Series championships finally scored Bourdais a Formula 1 ride. Driving for Scuderia Toro Rosso, Red Bull Racing's "little brother," Bourdais brings plenty of talent and open-wheel experience to the table. STR has had trouble scoring points, let alone fighting for podiums, so Bourdais will certainly have his work cut out for him. Ex-F1 backmarker Robert Doornbos had a moderate amount of success in Champ Car (winning Rookie of the Year in 2007), so few are expecting Bourdais to catapult STR to the front of the field. Like him or not, Bourdais is essentially representing the full might of American open-wheel racing, however ailing it might be, so it will be interesting to see how much success he finds in open-wheel's top tier series.

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