We are coming up to the 2012 season for most all racing series, and I will take some time to make my predictions for the upcoming 2012 season for Formula One. Once all rides have been filled (still an opening in Williams and HRT as of 1/15), I will go over my predictions for the drivers.
12. HRT - Let's face it. These guys were the furthest behind. Even with any reorganizations and such, it will still take a while, short of a demo derby happening, for these guys to touch any points positions.
11. Marussia - Not as bad a spot as HRT, but still a year away from scoring any points, short of a demo derby.
10. Williams - Maldonado is only worth a few points, and I'm sure Sir Frank Williams would LOVE to have even a sliver of the glory days this team once seen, but short of some boost, Williams will fall even further back.
9. Catherham - Of the three new teams, this team has always seemed to have its stuff straight, and this year, it will really start to show. If Catherham somehow does NOT score any points this year, it will be a shock. They won't score points every race, but they won't need a demo derby for a shot at points now, especially with reasonable talents like Kovalainen and Trulli piloting the cars.
8. Toro Rosso - I was tempted to put Catherham ahead of these guys due to the fact of putting some rookies in their rides (and I can see this happening if Catherham really made some huge leaps and bounds), but I think Ricciardo will be a reasonable enough talent to keep the B-Team ahead of the likes of Catherham and Williams.
7. Lotus - If there has been anything we have learned about drivers making returns to F1 (from Nigel Mansell to Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost being one of the few exceptions), it's that you shouldn't expect too much. It would not surprise me if Kimi Raikkonen would do well, but you have that, and add in a guy who has never done too much in the few F1 races he has participated in (Romain Grosjean), and I think Lotus will not see many highs, at least compared to last season.
6. Sauber - I think Kamui Kobayashi has his break out season. With the right luck, it would not surprise me if he becomes the first Asian driver to win a F1 race. The guy has it, from the driving talent, to the brass pair of balls needed to be a top driver. I hope Sergio Perez though has a better (and luckier) 2nd season than he had for his 1st.
5. Force India - If we learned something from Sebastian Vettel, it's that once he got a 2nd go around on certain tracks, he improved considerably, especially with a lousy team like Toro Rosso. If Paul di Resta is as talented, if not more so, than Vettel, with a mid-field team like Force India, the top of the podium for a race shouldn't be too far fetched a prediction. Nico Hulkenberg is a reasonable talent as well, so Force India being a Top 5 constructor is most definitely not a far fetched prediction as well. I think even 4th place isn't that crazy a prediction.
4. Mercedes - Michael Schumacher is a year older, and Nico Rosberg is not going to do any better than he already has. If Schumacher retires after this year, I say it would be in their best interest to snatch a good young driver, like Kobayashi.
3. McLaren - They are pretty much with my predictions 2B to Ferrari's 2A. Button is just about at the end of his prime, and Lewis Hamilton should be getting to the point where he is in his prime.
2. Ferrari - They will want to show they are a superpower, and with Alonso and Massa in their cars, they will still be very competitive, but...
1. Red Bull - It won't be even close. Vettel is just entering the prime of his career, Webber is a reasonable #2, and as long as they tie up some loose ends up with the car that they had last year (mainly, KERS problems), the trek to the title should be nothing more than ceremonial throughout the season. Vettel should be able to win double digit amount of races, Webber should be good for a win or two if something happens to Vettel, and races where you don't see any Red Bull representation on the podium should be very rare, if it happens at all.
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