Ahh screw it, I doubt whoever will fill the 2nd ride at HRT will make much a difference, and since the 2nd seat got filled at Williams got filled, I will make my predictions on where the drivers will be (barring the inevitable driver changes)
24 - Charles Pic - Rookie driver who didn't didn't do a whole lot in GP2 (yes, he won some races, but he also had a ton of poor finishes), in a team whose only equal is HRT. Yeah... this is gonna end well.
23 - Whoever grabs the 2nd seat at HRT - If de la Rosa is the legit driver for the team that they are actually paying, then I would almost have to figure that this seat will get filled by a pay driver. No matter who sits in this seat, it will not score a damn thing.
22 - Timo Glock - Sad really. A decent talent, but stuck on a team like Marussia. Might do better than the next driver, but that's really about it.
21 - Pedro de la Rosa - Yeah, driving for a team that comes from his home country, and, with the exception of 2010 when he got booted out of a full time role at Sauber, his first full time season in F1 since racing for Jaguar in 2002. Someone with knowledge like he has will be a plus for HRT, but things won't be much better for the team, at least in the near future, even with him on board.
20 - Pastor Maldonado - How does Williams go from having drivers like Alan Jones, Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill, to THIS?!? Probably the best comparison I can think of is how Petty Enterprises in NASCAR went from team to be reckoned with at one time, to its low in the early 90's, without someone having a name to carry on... oh wait... I think I'll cover that part later...
19 - Jarno Trulli - Caterham SHOULD score some points this season here and there. Whether it's Trulli or Kovalainen, it's anybody guess. Showing that going with veteran drivers though will show that doing such was the right course of action.
18 - Bruno Senna - Like I said earlier. Bruno definitely AIN'T no Ayrton (but I think is marginally better than Maldonado).
17 - Heikki Kovalainen - My odds are, he will probably, if points are scored, Heikki will be the one to score the most points for Caterham. Would be a nice reward for him and Trulli for helping build the team up from where they started.
16 - Jean-Eric Vergne - Nearly won the Formula Renault 3.5 Series title last year, but going on Red Bull's B-team, plus he isn't nearly as hyped a talent as his team mate is. He will probably score a point or two here and there, but having two rookies on that team?!?
15 - Roman Grosjean - Being on a decent team should at least snag him points here and there, and granted, his first time racing some races in F1 was for when this team, as Renault, was having its difficulties with Crashgate and all, but in most major leagues and series, no matter the sport nowadays, if you don't make it by 26 (in Grosjean's case come April 17th), you probably don't have it. If Robert Kubica does get healthy, and he still is under contract by Lotus, expect Grosjean to get yanked from this ride.
14 - Sergio Perez - Last year, especially in late May-early June, he had to be one of the unluckiest drivers on the grid. After getting a top 10 starting spot at Monaco, he wrecked in practice, and got knocked out, unable to make the race. Then at Canada, he gets sick, and can't race. Hopefully for his sake, he gets luck on his side this season. Not as talented as his teammate, but should be able to get decent points finishes here and there.
13 - Daniel Riccardo - If the kid has some talent, he could be able to do better than this, but this is Red Bull's B-team... then again, the same could of been said about Sebastian Vettel going into this ride a few years back. He did get some runs in, albeit in a crappy HRT, so at least he did get his feet wet some.
12 - Nico Hulkenberg - Ok, now he is being given a reasonable ride, not a downward falling ride like Williams was. Force India has been a improving ride every year, and having a good young talent like Hulkenberg should help keep that trend going.
11 - Kimi Raikkonen - This one will be a tricky one to predict. Drivers who have come back from F1 after a short spell away from the sport usually don't fare too well (see Nigel Mansell and Michael Schumacher, though Alain Prost can argue otherwise). Lotus isn't a top team, so even if Raikkonen had never strayed from F1, expecting him to be a champion would probably be out of the question. But he still is reasonably aged (32), so in terms of his talent, he should be still in his peak, if just a little below his peak, so that alone should keep him in contention for good finishes. If he ends up finishing MUCH better than this, it will not surprise me though. I don't think he will win a race, but podiums shouldn't be out of the question, if he can get a hang of the cars again real quick. I think he could, by the end of the season, be anywhere from at least 6th in the points, if all goes well, to 13th or 14th, if setbacks abound.
10 - Kaumi Kobayashi - The guy has balls of steel, and racing talent. Imagine if you put him in a good ride. As long as he doesn't suffer any setbacks like he did in the 2nd half of last year, he should score points in most races as long as he can finish races, and podiums could be had if luck falls his way.
9 - Michael Schumacher - Mercedes is going to have to show some VAST improvement if he is to show a sliver of his glory days. The guy is 43, so unless he decides to pull a Mark Martin, and keep on racing, a 2nd retirement can't be that far off. He might podium if luck falls his way, but don't expect much of anything again.
8 - Nico Rosberg - I expect him to do better than his teammate again this season in the points, but I have no reason to suspect he will do any better than this.
7 - Paul di Resta - I have heard people say that he is more talented than Sebastian Vettel. If that is the case, and if we learned anything from Vettel's first go-round on tracks, and his 2nd go-round, di Resta could do VERY well in a mid-field car. If that is the case that di Resta is as talented, if not more so than Vettel... ooooh boy, we could be in for the rivalry of the 10's if di Resta can then land a good ride.
6 - Felipe Massa - Ok, I consider Ferrari and McLaren about equal, so with that being the case, the next thing to consider is talent. Massa hasn't been much of himself since getting pegged by a spring in Hungary a few years back. Then again, Ferrari has usually played nasty politics with it's 2nd drivers from time to time, so that probably doesn't help matters either.
5 - Lewis Hamilton - The guy is talented, the problem is, he doesn't seem to have his head screwed on straight at times. Not Kyle or Kurt Busch bad, of course, but there is times where he has pulled off certain moves on the track that make you wonder what the hell he was thinking (big example, see Canada last year). If he cuts out some of the stupid crap this season, a 5th place would be underestimating him.
4 - Jenson Button - It's amazing how one's career could look bleak, ready to be pitched aside, only to be saved by Ross Brawn's genius, and it getting parlayed into a ride at McLaren. He's 32, so he should still have a few good years left in him. Should do well this season.
3 - Fernando Alonso - I figure Ferrari will try to get a little extra oomph this season, do anything they can to try and close the gap between Red Bull and them. This should help Alonso out some. I will note though, if 3, 4, and 5 do finish in those areas, I won't disagree how you jumble up Alonso, Button, and Hamilton in the standings.
2 - Mark Webber - I say Webber finishes here not because of talent (I am not saying he isn't talented, I just think some like Alonso, Button and a couple of others are more talented), but because the Red Bull team just seems to be so damn good. As long as there isn't any minor hindrances that plagued this team like it did last year, this should be a VERY easy reality.
1 - Sebastian Vettel - Red Bull is that damn good. Now mix in a superb talent like Vettel. Unless something comes up, this years journey to the title should be nothing more than ceremonial. Isn't it amazing how a team can just go nuts when it's at it's peak, and they got such a great talent to go with it?!? If he can try and make an attempt to podium every race, with where he is, and with his talents, it could be very possible.
Predicted race winners - Vettel, Webber, Alonso, Button
Should have a shot at winning a race if luck goes their way, but probably wont - Hamilton, Massa, di Resta, Kobayashi, Rosberg, Raikkonen
And to go over it again, my rundown on team standings that I posted a couple of weeks back
12 - HRT
11 - Marussia
10 - Williams
9 - Caterham
8 - Toro Rosso
7 - Lotus
6 - Sauber
5 - Force India
4 - Mercedes
3 - McLaren
2 - Ferrari
1 - Red Bull
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