Once again we'll soon be admiring F1 drivers at the front of the field, or wondering what in the hell is wrong with them. Of course we know for a certainty how some of these gentlemen will perform. Men such as Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel will not disappoint - lots of smiling for the cameras, and respect from those within the industry. Kamui Kobayashi will continue to amaze with his audacity. Kimi Raikkonen will be Kimi Raikkonen. Others, however, such as Felipe Massa, Vitaly Petrov, Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne etc, etc will be fighting to keep their seats - and for some it will be a losing battle.
This coming season in particular has a little of everything to keep us interested. We'll be exposed to the affects of politics, technology, money, and girlfriends, as well as the obligatory complaints about tyres. Fun times are ahead. There are five drivers this year I will personally be watching closely for various reasons. They are...
After a confusing (let's be charitable) year, the famous girlfriend is back and surely love is in the air. The McLaren garage will now be a happier and even, more photogenic place. Having been publicly affected in his personal life, as well as suffering heavy criticism for his over the top driving, Lewis has developed a thicker skin - hopefully. One year wiser (again, hopefully) and with a competitive machine at his disposal (if test results can be believed), I expect huge things from him this season. A key factor will be if the tyre dilemma works in his favour with the new Pirelli's holding up under his raw pace. It would be for the best, also, if Lewis would refrain from contact with the hiring departments at Ferrari and Red Bull during the season. This could very well be the best we've seen yet from the young man. I hope so.
Forget about improving on his driving. Can he maintain his excellent race weekend performances from last year? Jenson amazed many this past season with his aggression and speed. For some, however, questions remain, such as how many of the wonderful impressions created in 2011 were down to a sub-par Hamilton? No longer one of the youngest drivers' on the grid, Jenson will additionally have his hands full with a re-motivated team-mate. Well liked within his adopted team, Jenson consistently brings his tremendous talents to the party each and every race weekend, as well as his attractive girlfriend. Yes indeed, television will once again, love the McLaren garage.
Remember the movie where Mel Gibson was chased by crazed nomads wearing mohawks and industrial chains around their necks? Of course you do. Classic moments in celluloid history, right? The brave, tough, and resourceful Aussie who could make anything happen.... Mark Webber himself is all those things and could have played Gibson in that role. Unfortunately last year Mark was b*t*h slapped all season long by his German team-mate, Sebastian Vettel. This coming season will be the most pressure Webber has been under in recent memory. Without the results he's gone at year's end, if not sooner. And Mark knows it. Good luck, mate.
The 'against the odds comeback tour' rolls into year number three for the legendary Schumi. Coming off a remarkable year, where many times he was the equal of the undoubtedly quick Nico Rosberg, Schumacher must put it all together for one last effort before calling it on his career. Is it in him to win once more? The engineers back at Brackley, under pressure themselves from Stuttgart, have given their very best effort delivering a car which may be capable, at times, of threatening the top teams. Michael must make the most of the few opportunities remaining to burnish the legend, while fighting off the persistent questions of retirement. Not an easy task, even for one as talented as Michael.
I think we all know Robert isn't on the grid this year again, and why. A huge mountain remains to be climbed if he is ever to resume his Formula One career as a driver. We wish him the very best in his hard work to return, and yes, it is hard painful work. Should he return to the grid he will have a massive effect on the careers of other men equally doing their best to succeed on this fascinating world stage we call F1.
by Crash.net viewer Mike Nichol