On the grid: who's who and who's new in 2010
Published 07/03/2010 | 05:00
Jenson Button (GB) Last year 1st
Lewis Hamilton (GB) 5th
The pairing of these two British drivers is either inspired or delusional, and I would lean towards the latter. Hopefully, fireworks from these team-mates will make Jedward look tame. McLaren have a very complicated car which although has been quick in testing could prove problematic on some circuits. The legality of their rear wing is being currently challenged.
Michael Schumacher (Ger) -
Nico Rosberg (Ger) 7th
From someone who has delivered much, much will be expected. All eyes will be on Schumacher. Rosberg is no slouch and will benefit greatly from the privilege of having MS as a team-mate. Mercedes has been as much as a second off the pace in testing. Will find it difficult to emulate their maiden season where they clinched both the drivers' and constructors' titles last year.
Sebastian Vettel (Ger) 2nd
Mark Webber (Aus) 4th
Vettel won the last three races of 2009 and remains a favourite for the title. Webber held his own against his much feted team-mate so expect a race win or more from him. The Adrian Newey-designed Red Bull should produce fireworks. The concern will be reliability.
Felipe Massa (Bra, right) 11th
Fernando Alonso (Spa) 9th
Alonso says he will end his career at Ferrari. At least he will be accorded the respect he failed to find at McLaren in 2008. He should flourish in his new environment. Massa is back from a long recuperation following his horrific accident in Hungary last July. Can he bounce back is the question. Ferrari has been excellent on the long runs and showed reliability in pre-season testing.
Rubens Barrichello (Bra) 3rd
Nico Hulkenburg (Ger) -
Barrichello gave Button a run for his money last year but has he got the motivation for Williams? Hulkenberg was A1 GP champion, F3 and GP2 champion. He's completed a two-year testing role with Williams and is a star in the making. Williams has experience and raw talent with its new driver line-up, which should in itself drag it screaming and kicking up the grid.
Robert Kubica (Pol) 14th
Vitaly Petrov (Rus) -
The massively talented Kubica inherits a team with a small Renault influence which is bad timing, but expect some decent results from the Pole. Vitaly Petrov will become the first Russian to take part in an F1 World Championship. He won the Lada Revolution Cup in 2005 . . . but actually he's also a GP2 race winner. When is a Renault team not a Renault team? When it is barely owned by the French manufacturer. But with Kubica on board anything is possible.
Adrian Sutil (Ger) 17th
Vitantonio Liuzzi (Ita) 22nd
Sutil, a former A1 GP driver and Japanese F3 champion, has shown flashes of brilliance (robbed of fourth in Monaco 2008), he's a talented pianist and speak three languages so he could always make a living outside of F1 if it goes pear-shaped for him. Liuzzi, another A1 GP competitor, has had stints with Red Bull and Toro Rosso. Quick but capricious. When Force India scored their sensational second place in Belgium last year thanks to Fisichella, it was the highlight of their season. If they can repeat that feat the team would be very happy.
Sebastien Buemi (Swi) 16th
Jaime Alguersuari (Spa) 24th
Buemi, a former GP2 winner, scored six points last season for Toro Rosso and he certainly won't be suffering from jet lag because he lives in Bahrain. Alguersuari, the youngest ever F1 driver, is two decades and a year younger than Schumacher. So far he has yet to prove himself. Scuderia Toro Rosso hankers for a return to the days when Vettel got victory in Turkey 2008, but it's hard to see that happening with the current line-up.
Jarno Trulli (Ita) 8th
Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) 12th
Trulli enjoyed five full seasons with Toyota until their shock departure from the sport. His only victory was Monaco in 2004 but he can still impress, which is presumably why Lotus employed him. Kovalainen will miss Planet McLaren but the talented Finn can boast a pole and race win as he heads towards pastures new. Can Lotus recreate the glory days of Clark, Moss, Hill, and Mansell? With Mike Gascoyne at the helm, anything is possible.
Karun Chandhok (Ind) -
Bruno Senna (Bra) -
Chandhok is the second ever Indian Grand Prix driver. A GP2 winner, he is also another former A1GP competitor. Bruno, nephew of Ayrton Senna, is one to watch, not just because of his heritage but for his talent. This drive with HRT will provide a great opportunity for him to make his mark in F1. It's a miracle that the team is making the grid, what with all the financial woes it has been through. A1GP founder Tony Texeiria tried to rescue it and place Team Ireland A1GP current champion Adam Carroll in the hot seat. But it didn't materialise and the team got a new Spanish owner. It went through the change of life before it turned a wheel and Hispania Racing Team is now called HRT.
Pedro de la Rosa (Spa) -
Kamui Kobayashi (Jap) 18th
Pedro de la Rosa had seven years with McLaren, five of them as a test driver and he could throw up a few surprises. Kobayashi came sixth in only his second Grand Prix with Toyota last year. He drove like a man possessed and was certain of a Toyota drive until they pulled the plug. A great future awaits if he keeps it up. Peter Sauber is back to where he started, having bought back his own team from BMW. This team will always punch above its weight.
Timo Glock (Ger) 10th
Luca di Grassi (Bra) -
Glock, a former GP2 champion, also has the distinction of having scored a point in his first Grand Prix. Despite his crash in the Japanese GP last season, he is expected to shine, even if this team struggles. Di Grassi is Glock's GP2 team-mate and he was runner-up in the same 2007 championship. The Brazilian won Macau with the Manor (renamed Virgin) team in '05. Virgin Racing purchased a 25 per cent stake in Manor F1 and rebranded it. Unlike its airline, it probably won't fly.