F1 2012 - What To Expect
Updated: Mar 17, 2018
Having six world champions on the grid for the opening Grand Prix of the 2012 season represents an unprecedented display of talent for Formula One, yet few would count on anything other than Sebastian Vettel winning another title this season.
F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone is worried that Vettel may dominate the way he did last season.
“We don’t want what happened last year, which was not too good,” Ecclestone said. “We perhaps need a change. The only person that would say no to that would be Sebastian, but everybody else would agree with it.”
It was not just that Vettel clinched last year’s title with four races to spare, it was the manner in which he did it — regularly taking the pole position, turning it into a good lead in the first few laps then simply maintaining that position until crossing the finish line.
In F1, a driver can only be as good as the car he sits in and in Vettel’s case, the chance of a third straight title relies largely on how Red Bull and its genius designer Adrian Newey can adapt the car to the latest slew of new regulations.
The biggest change from last year is the banning of the “blown diffuser,” which channeled exhaust fumes under the car to enhance down force in cornering.
The diffuser had been the key to F1 design ever since the Brawn GP team got a jump on everyone in 2009 and surprisingly won the title in its debut season.
The arcane world of undercar design could again prove to be decisive, but for F1 fans the most noticeable difference in the design of the cars this season will be much more visible: new rules on front nose height means all teams bar McLaren and HRT have a two-tiered front section, staying high from cockpit to front axle, then stepped down sharply in the section to the front wing.
Currently the maximum height of the chassis’s front bulkhead is 625 mm, but it must now drop to 550mm at the very front over a distance of just 150mm, hence the unsightly step that all but the McLaren and Marussia cars feature.
Drivers may now only move once while defending their position in corners, while under safety-car deployments lapped cars may un-lap themselves so race leaders to do not get artificial cushions to their immediate challengers.
The use of helium in wheelguns has been banned, which will make pit stops slightly slower, and there will also be a test session mid-season – in Mugello in Italy in May – after three years in which all in-season testing was banned.
McLaren’s decision to go it alone among the leading teams and retain a smooth front section is a bold one that could prove pivotal.
Who To Look Out For
McLaren has had a much less frantic offseason leading into 2012 than it did the previous year, when it struggled to incorporate an elaborate exhaust system onto the car, and the bullish comments coming out of the team suggest Hamilton and Button will be Vettel’s most immediate rivals in the early part of the season, but in no way should Mark Webber be ruled out of the rivalry.
On his hopes for the March 18 race, Lewis Hamilton said:
“It’s a realistic aim: to score some useful points and use the race to kick-start our challenge for the world championship. That might sound like we’re aiming low – we’re not – but, at this time of year, it’s good to remember that it’s going to be a very long season. There’s no point putting all your eggs in one basket – I’d love to win in Melbourne, sure, but there are 19 races afterwards, so it’ll be important to get some points on the board.”
Kimi Raikkonen’s return from a year away in rally racing has added another world champion to the F1 ranks, with the Finn joining Vettel, Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button on the starting grid.
Raikkonen will be driving for Lotus this season — that is, the team formerly known as Renault, not the team that used to be called Lotus, which is now Caterham (slightly confusing). He will definitely be in contention and will prove a hard competitor as he makes his return to F1.
Coming sixth in the 2011 constructors championship, Force India are hoping to make an impact in the 2012 F1 Championship. Managed by Lewis Hamilton’s father; Paul Di Resta is looking to make an impression on the standings this year. He will be joined by Nico Hulkenburg as Adrian Sutil steps aside to allow the test and reserve driver to take his place on the starting grid.
It’s also worth keeping an eye on the Sauber duo Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi. Following his terrifying crash in Monaco, Perez is looking to make a name for himself racing as opposed to crashing. Kobayashi showed unbelievable potential last year as proving to be one of the best over takers the sport has seen in a very long time. The two of them together are a force to be reckoned with.
Other notable drives like;
Nico Rosberg & Michael Schumacher (Mercedes)
Fernando Alonso & Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
Timo Glock & Charles Pic (Marussia)
Bruno Senna & Pastor Maldonado(Williams)
are all set to push their cars to the limit for 2012. Other teams include;
Pedro de la Rosa & Narain Karthikeyan (HRT)
Daniel Ricciardo & Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso)
Who do you want to win the 2012 F1 Championship?