Before the season kicks off, here at F1 Badger we thought the time was right to have a look at this year’s driver line ups. Part one contains the new boys and some old favourites…
Hispania Racing (HRT F1)
Bruno Senna (Newcomer): Coming with such a famous surname, expectations of Bruno will be high. He stopped racing after the deaths of his uncle and father and returned, comparatively late, aged 20 in 2004. He competed in a few Formula BMW races before moving onto Formula Three, then GP2, and finally into F1. His lack of driving time in the car won’t have helped him, especially with the pressure that comes with the Senna name. Season aim:- Prove his drive was through talent, not nepotism and perform well enough to move to a bigger team in time for next season.
Karun Chandhok (Newcomer): Your correspondent didn’t know too much about Chandhok, the second Indian driver to compete in F1 after Narain Karthikeyan, before he was announced as Bruno Senna’s teammate, but then read Jimmy Von Weeks’ excellent summary here, and all became clear. In summary, he’s been in GP2 for the previous three years, never really performing consistently enough to challenge for championships or anything much. Also, his father is a high-ranking official in Indian motorsport who’s friendly with Bernie Ecclestone. Bound to help, isn’t it? Season aim:- Prove he’s good enough to be in F1 and finish a few races.
Driver to back: Senna. If only for his surname.
Timo Glock (Toyota, 10th): What’s he doing driving for that new team? That’s the (perfectly valid) question a lot of F1 fans will be asking this season, especially given Timo’s relative success with Toyota. However, it helps if the team you drove for is, you know, still in existence. He’ll doubtless get a significant amount of responsibility and the chance properly to lead a team. Still only 26, this’ll hopefully put him in a very good position to move back to a bigger team in a year or two, so it may prove a case of one step back to take two steps forward, or so he’ll hope. Season aim:- Beat his teammate comfortably, proving that he’s able to lead the team well.
Lucas Di Grassi (Newcomer): Runner up to Glock in the 2007 GP2 series, he’s mixed F1 testing and GP2 over the last few seasons and now gets his first proper chance at F1. Although by going up against Glock Di Grassi is taking on a massive challenge, he should also view it as a great opportunity to prove how good he really is. Glock will provide an excellent benchmark against which to measure his progress and he’ll be hoping to turn his good results over the last few years in GP2 into a competitive showing against his teammate. Season aim:- Match Glock, or at least be competitively close over a number of championship rounds.
Driver to back: Glock. Consistent, quick, and more experienced.
Jarno Trulli (Toyota, 8th): One of the great enigmas in F1, the very experienced Italian has turned in some sensational qualifying performances over the years, but only occasionally followed through in race conditions. Lotus will obviously be banking on his many years experience with Prost, Jordan, Renault and Toyota to allow them to develop their car throughout the season, as well as hoping he’ll propel the team to the top of the new team pile. Season aim:- Use his experience to ensure Lotus are not only the most successful of the new teams, but also that they make the greatest improvement throughout the season.
Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren, 12th): Underwhelming is probably the best way to describe Heikki’s two seasons at McLaren but, then again, after the Fernando Alonso shenanigans, that may well have been what the team were looking for. He’s fairly quick, but only won one race while at McLaren and was consistently beaten by Lewis Hamilton. He does seem to be a genuinely nice guy though, so your correspondent sincerely hopes he has some success this year, however unlikely that may seem. Season aim:- Help develop the car, beat Trulli, and move on to one of the bigger teams for the following season.
Driver to back: Kovalainen. This is a close one. The heart says Kovalainen, but the head says Trulli. You know what, the power of positive thought reigns supreme: Heikki it is.
Pedro De La Rosa (McLaren, test driver): 72 races, 29 points, 1 podium, so read Pedro’s F1 stats. His last action in an F1 race came during the 2006 season so, although he’s been testing for McLaren during the intervening period, he’ll be hoping that his racecraft hasn’t totally deserted him. His appearance at Sauber probably has a lot to do with his teammate who, given the brief exposure we had to him last season, seems as though he may be a little wild. Pedro will be there to act as a steadying influence for the team and he can’t have been that expensive either. Whether or not he’ll produce some decent race performances is another question; although, if they’ve got a decent car he’ll probably be hanging around the lower points positions. Season aim:- Be the voice of experience – surprise people with a few top 6 finishes.
Kamui Kobayashi (Toyota, last two races 2009 season): “No fear” seems to be the best way to describe Kobayashi, at least based on his performances last year. After stepping into the Toyota team for the last two races of the 2009 season in place of the injured Timo Glock, Kobayashi proceeded to scare the life out of a number of more established F1 drivers. His most notable moments came with Button in Brazil and again in Abu Dhabi, when he passed last year’s world champion, albeit running an advantageous fuel load. Of all the new drivers on the grid, expectations are highest for Kobayashi this season, which is what could prove his undoing. Season aim:- Meet or exceed expectations. Compete with the bigger teams and score a good number of points finishes.
Driver to back: Kobayashi. Youth vs. experience. In this instance, youth triumphs. Kobayashi to beat De La Rosa into a cocked hat.