Harried and Random 2011 F1 Season Predictions – PART II


On to Part II of my harried and random 2011 F1 season predictions…


6. Michael Schumacher will podium this season

the Schumi Leap

"I just saved hundreds on my auto insurance!!!"

However, the Red Baron will not win a race in 2011, or maybe ever again.  Honestly though, it’s not him.  It’s his car, his fierce competition, and their own very fast cars which will keep Schumacher off the top step of the podium this year.  Instead, I see him taking a P3 at a frenetic race like Brazil this season, in mixed conditions.

Surely if Michael’s and Mercedes’ joint venture for world titles was a 3 year plan, then certainly we should see some kind of results by the end of this year.  But to be frank, even a podium is a bit of a long shot if the MGP 02 is really a full second behind the front-runners as was stated by Merc GP at this late point in the pre-season.  Ross Brawn better hope all those holes he had to cut in the interim car to keep it cool were the majority of that full second gap.

7. Intra-team battles won’t be as dramatic, or surprising as some are predicting

Senna and Prost

"Stop it, Ayrton. You're hurting me."

Here in the US, we are very lucky to have the SPEED channel crew of Bob Varsha, Steve Matchett, and David Hobbs calling all the F1 races of the season.  And as all 3 are fond of saying, “to finish first in F1, you must first beat your teammate.”

However, I don’t think we’ll see too many surprises this season and the tally at the end of the year will mirror 2010’s status quo for the most part with few exceptions, and no big surprises:

  • Vettel slams Webber
  • Hamilton pips Button
  • Alonso buries Massa
  • Rosberg edges Schumacher
  • Heidfeld embarrasses Petrov
  • Barrichello schools Maldonado
  • Sutil handles di Resta
  • Kobayashi takes Perez
  • Alguersuari over Buemi
  • Kovalainen dusts Trulli
  • Unnamed Driver beats Karthikeyan
  • Glock pummels d’Ambrosio
Hamilton and Alonso

I'll never get why McLaren drivers must cut their hair on Day 1...

As advertised, this blog is one of opinion and bias, but even I hope I’m wrong on a few of the above teammate battles.  It would be an empty victory for me to be 100% correct, but still have to stomach a season that plays out like the snore-fest above.  I’d love to see MSC beat Rosberg.  I want to see Button prove that he really is a smart driver; smooth, kind to his tires and not just a lucky guy with freckles and a penchant for triathlons.  I would go crazy to see Webber handle Vettel this season, take the WDC and retire on top and in good form; Fosters in hand.  But this isn’t Fantasy Island, and nothing of the sort will happen in 2011.

8. Felipe Massa will win a race

Felipe Massa

A happy Massa is a fast Massa

Sure, I’ve already said that a 7-time World Champion wouldn’t win a race this year, and I believe that.  I also believe that Fernando Alonso thoroughly thrashed Felipe last year.  He might even do it again in 2011, but not without Felipe sneaking a well-deserved win or two.  If Bridgestones really were the problem for Felipe in 2010, then Pirelli just may be the Italian solution that gets him back to the front of the grid.  If Massa can win races early, it will be very interesting to see how Ferrari manage their drivers with team orders being perfectly legal from the start of this season.  I feel it would only be fair to back Felipe if he shows in good form by the time Germany rolls around.  We shall see…

But enough about team orders and more about Massa — I’m not sure which round(s) he’s going to win, but if he comes to terms with the Pirelli rubber early, I can definitely see him getting some good qualifying performances — and once he grabs that pole at a track he likes, he’ll just do one of those start-from-P1-and-never-look-back races that some of us sorely miss seeing from the likable Brazilian.

9. The RB7 is still a cut-above, and will take the Constructor’s Crown once again

Ferrari and Red Bull  have both looked solid on long runs in testing, while the Lotus Renault and McLaren definitely have some new tricks up their sleeves, but Red Bull Racing and their RBR look to be at least fastest outright, and fastest in simulated qualifying runs.  Obviously, the car that’s easier on tires can make fewer stops, and perhaps Ferrari might look a bit more consistent over long runs, but it may be at some circuits that Horner and RBR will opt for an additional stop (or 2) from the rest of the front-runners simply because the RB7 is fast enough to allow that.  I’m reminded of Magny-Cours in 2004 when Michael Schumacher won on a 4 stop strategy that included a late ‘splash and dash’ (despite all the other front-runners opting for 3 or even 2 stops) to take best advantage of his tires, fuel load, track position and traffic to ultimately win the French GP.  If the degradation of the Pirellis and the speed of the RB7 allow for races like Magny-Cours ’04, we’re all in for some very special races.

Red Bull RB7

RB7: For when you absolutely, positively must destroy every other car on track. Accept no substitutes.

Stay on the lookout for Harried and Random 2011 F1 Season Predictions – Part III

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Posted on March 7, 2011, in Season Predictions. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Another great post…

    On your last point…food for thought, making an extra stop may be a quicker way overall to get through the race than trying to get around on failing Pirellis that have already gone off. If the lap times are falling off badly enough, then the extra stop may actually save time in the long run.

    -tim-

    • Thanks for reading again, Tim. That’s exactly what I’m saying about Schumacher’s ’04 win. I remember how strange a strategy it looked at the time, but Todt and Brawn worked overtime on their calculators and decided 4 stops was fastest for MSC. I remember the Bridgestone performance window being a big factor, but I think traffic and maybe even a fuel feed problem during 1 stop led to the call. I don’t exactly recall, but 4 stops were fastest for Schumi and his Ferrari that day in Magny-Cours!

  2. I’d love for Schumi to win again (for old times sake) and I do feel he was starting to get to narrow the gap to Rosberg in the latter stages of the season. This years car shouldl be more to Michael’s liking as he will have had some input into its design but I agree, it doesn’t look like he will win based on the Mercedes testing times so far… unless of course they are sandbagging.

    Sad to say but I feel Massa is a broken man after the “faster than you” saga, it seems to have destroyed his confidence so I wouldn’t be surprised if he was replaced mid-season. I do hope I’m wrong though as he’s such a decent guy.

  3. I still believe massa is keeping the seat warm for kubica

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