On the weekend of 24th to 26th April 2009, there will be the smell of burning oil and hot rubber, twinned with the scream of engines at 19000 rpm as 20 or so Formula One cars hurtle round the Sakhir Racetrack in Bahrain. This is the Gulf Air Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix.
Image by Sabbah
Attempts are being made to enhance overtaking possibilities with new rules this year making the rear wing narrower and higher than before. Hopefully, this will make racing more exciting, although Schumacher, Alonso and Hamilton have shown that overtaking is possible on virtually any track if the driver has what it takes.
Team Form in 2009.
With these new rules, it is harder than ever to predict which teams will have the edge this year. In addition to the rear wing, other changes include a larger front wing with variable geometry, slick tyres instead of grooved and a kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) as at least a token acknowledgement to the existence of global warming and the contribution that cars make to it. (Please note, drivers of gas guzzling 4-wheel drive vehicles!)
In the last week both McLaren and Ferrari have launched their new cars.
This year testing halts once the racing begins, so the teams will be working flat out in the next few weeks to test their new developments. It also means that the drivers will be less familiar with the cars at the start of the season.
Upset in Bahrain.
By the time the circus reaches Sakhir circuit, we should have some idea of this year's form, although last year Ferrari's performance had been unpromising until Bahrain. In fact, Bahrain completely upset the order that had been established in the first races, with Hamilton having a disastrous race and Massa showing winning form for the first time that season.
Toyota have also launched their 2009 car. The former Honda team are in talks with Mercedes and McLaren over the supply of engines. Pedro de la Rosa started testing the new McLaren car in Portugal yesterday.
An Exciting Year in Prospect.
With new cars, new rules, a possible "new" team (formerly Honda) and a new race on the calender in the Middle East, this looks like being an exciting year. Will Hamilton retain the Championship or will Massa prove the winner? Will Renault continue the resurgance it showed in the second half of last season to bring Alonso into contention? Will Vettel be able to show his form of last year after his change from Toro Rosso to Red Bull?
Will BMW become a dominant team in 2009?
Questions answered in Bahrain
These questions will be at least partly answered in Bahrain and by the end of that race we should have some idea of the teams' pecking order in 2009.
Bahrain Grandprix Highlights
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