Frantic’s top 10 for 09

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Andrew Middlemore
Whilst the dust has yet to settle on 2008 completely, we still have to go to the FIA awards where Lewis will pick his trophy up for the championship then onto the Autosport awards where he will probably pick up…everything including best rookie. Probably.

But there is plenty to look forward to even before the cars start winter testing. Without a clue of what 2009 really holds.

10. No more Alonso to Ferrari talk.

Ok I do start this list off on an optimistic note I know. Hear me out however when I say this. With Renault agreeing to a 2 year deal not 1 that means we wont have to hear where he may or may not be going like the past 2 years. For example.

Alonso unhappy at Mclaren, could go to Ferrari, wait could go to Red Bull with Newey there no it’s going to be Honda because Ross Brawn, he had a secret seat fitting at Honda. No he is at Renault. But he isn’t staying there he’s going to Ferrari. No Ferrari doesn’t want him; he is going to Honda because Ross Brawn is there. No he is replacing Heidfeld at BMW. No he could still go to Ferrari. Wait Alonso hasn’t ruled out a return to Mclaren! No Honda still wants him. No he could go to STR now they’re winning races and build the team around him. Honda will get him. No wait he’s going to Moto Gp. Because Ross Brawn is going to, Wait he is going to Latvia where he will set up a clog making factory make cuddly toys and teach salsa and flamingo dance lessons- with Ross Brawn.

Ok I might have made the last 2 up but the rest have been headlines or stories that have ran over the past 2 years. And every time it’s been the disappointing if not anti-climatic decision of Renault. Might sound harsh to say that but when you look at the other possibilities his decision make sense. Valencia this year looked exciting. Now it’s not Alonso’s fault it’s mostly media outlets that probably needed to fill some space on a slow week. But seriously if we are going to have any more Alonso other team talk next year can we see a signed contract and proof first?

9. What Livery will Honda go for this time?

Let’s not forget Honda say they will make a big leap in performance next year so they better look the part. Its handy in a way that they have run sponsor free the past 2 seasons because with performances they have had would you want your name on that car (apart from you Raithrover) So are we going to see the whole planet back on it or just bits with the dull white and “Earth Dreams?” Personally I think they should stop dreaming and start winning. But hey Nick Fry knows best right?

8. Who is actually going to run KERS?

For me KERS is starting to become a bit of a joke. When it’s not electrocuting mechanics or trying to burn down team’s factories no one is exactly sure it seems that it will actually gain anything. With Webbers recent comments that if you like the odd burger or 2nd helpings at meal times that KERS will hinder you somewhat is not exactly a good advert for it. With it not being made mandatory next year the teams have been rumored to run 1 car with and the other without due to the weight of the technology negating any real advantage of it.

I will add that this is embarrassing for F1. In a time where it is being argued that engine and aero performance are being standardized cracking this technology could be the modern day “ground effect” the teams are looking for. Instead we have teams whining its not ready or wanting to delay it. Guys you’re the pinnacle of motor sport. Meaning you lap up the challenge and make it look amazing. It is also meant to try and enhance a green image in F1. But to me marketing F1 and green together that’s like trying to market a serial killer as “cuddly“.

7. How much will the Force India look like a Mclaren.

It seems after the entire anti customer car lobbying FI has sold its soul and decided its better to have someone else make most of the car. Now I know Mclaren aren’t actually making the car just the engine KERS gearbox and hydraulic systems and giving access to McLaren’s network of parts suppliers but you don’t do all that and then design something quite different do you? For example you don’t take a Lamborghini engine and ECU and stick it in a KIA. (Ok you might if you’re an idiot but still) With Mike Gascoyne and Colin Kolles the dentist/former team manager who was completely against customer cars leaving the team it adds fuel to the fire we may see a VJ0mp-24. And if that’s the case can they do a Toro Rosso and beat the A team. Highly unlikely but then FI expect to win in 2010 so we will see.

6. Is the Vodka rig charged?
No doubt one of the big questions is, Will Kimi Raikkonen be back up to speed again next season? He only ever did 23 races on slick tyres before he joined F1 so will that upset his rhythm more? With 9000 kilometres testing planed which translates to 30 grand prix distances over the winter if Kimi doesn’t find the answers there will he ever?

5. How will Silverstone bow out?
The British GP will race for the last time at Silverstone next year and it will no doubt be an emotional occasion. For me it’s already knowing that Herman Tilke has his hands on Donington but back to Silverstone and one has to wonder what they will do to mark the occasion. Hopefully it will give us a race to remember as well. And if I was the BRDC I’d be a little devil may care and pay the red arrows to do a special display in the sky that says “Screw you Bernie”

4. Will Jr. last all of 09?

I still haven’t got my head around how he managed to keep his drive for 2009 but I feel that if Flavio and the boys really are going for the titles next year then there will be some kind of heavy performance clauses in Nelson Piquet Jr’s contract. Ill give it until he has smashed up his 4th R-29 before he finds himself washing Flavio’s Mankini. If Renault really haven’t lost there marbles that is.

3. Will Barrichello and Le Seb still be driving?

As I write this its 3 days before winter testing kicks in and with Honda and Toro Rosso testing everyone and there grandma we will see whether or not Barrichello can add on to his record of being there and will Sebastian Bourdais get his 2nd crack at F1. For Toro Rosso it would make perfect sence to keep Bourdais in terms of continuality and that Bourdais could really impress back on slick tyres. As for Rubens its not so rosé. There are many reasons to drop the brazilian. New blood did there rivals Toyota good in Glock and fired up the team and Trulli perhaps the same for Honda would work wonders too. Many may argue that Rubens is a good developmental driver that will work well with Brawn. To that I reply since he joined we have seen the RA-107 and the RA-108 not totally his fault I know but he hasn’t boosted the team ether like his former team mate did. On Rubens defense would Honda want to swap him for a rookie and unknown driver in what will be a crucial season. And its also fair to add that Button hasn’t exactly been blowing Rubens away and may not be that comfortable himself.

2. Who will be the new DC?

Part of this question I already have answered which is the new DC is Hekki Kovalainen over at Mclaren. You know the good old conversation over the radio that reads “Lewis is behind you and he is faster nudge nudge wink wink” What I.‘m actually after is the new driver who doesn’t use his mirrors. My money is on Jr or Nakajima. But Nakajima who collided with DC at Monza has actually impressed me this year. Jr. would be the most sensible bet. Barrichello will be the oldest driver on the grid next season if he makes it (see no.3) If not that honor will fall to Fisichella. But there is also hope for Jr. not to get this honor if Toro Rosso go with Sato…

1. What will those cars look like.

The clear thing I’m looking forward to is the look of those cars. Williams are the only team to of been seen running with new front and rear wings but that still isn’t a full representation as it was on the FW 30 with all its sidepod winglets bardgeboards etc. Some have said they look ugly but once the cars are fully in spec and with its flowing look we may be able to admire them more. Also is my personal favorite.

SLICK TYRES!

Because it’s good riddance to grooves. Finally the cars will have fully smooth tyres again. The teams are happy too as the theory is graining a big bug bear of drivers and teams will be a thing of the past. But is it a case of in 1 hand and out the other because will we see the return of blistering on tyres like in 97? Admittedly the circumstances are different than then with no Goodyear/Bridgestone tyre war so no need to push the rubber to the development limits. But if the temperature catches them out or the wring 2 compounds are brought to an event as we have seen then you never know. One thing is for sure its going to be a mixed bag for 2009. Bring it on!

~Sir Andrew Middlemore of the Shire

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