Formula 1: Countdown to Bahrain

Posted on Mar 10, 2010 by

Will Michael Schumacher return to his winning ways?

 

The focus of the motorsport world will be on the International Circuit this weekend for the start of the 2010 season.

Four months after the final event of 2009 in Abu Dhabi, the world’s top motor racing returns to the Middle East with huge amounts of interest.

The headlines are dominated by the return of seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, three years after the German maestro retired. The 41-year-old returns to the fold not with Ferrari, his team for five of his titles, but with Mercedes GP, newly created following a buy out of last year’s champions, Brawn GP.

Brawn’s reigning world champion Jenson Button has moved to McLaren to partner the 2008 champion Lewis Hamilton. And with 2005 and 2006 champ Fernando Alonso now at Ferrari (below), the stage is set for a titanic battle between four men that have all tasted the highest level of glory in F1. Will Schumacher still have the skills that brought him unprecedented success, or will the latest batch of aces prove too strong?

Alonso testingThere will be plenty of other drivers too, anxious to prove themselves against the big boys. The Red Bull cars were hugely strong in 2009 and retain the services of championship runner up Sebastian Vettel and Australian Mark Webber, who was revitalised after his first win last year. Experts are also warning that Schumacher’s team mate Nico Rosberg could be strong, as could Felipe Massa, who returns to driving duties for Ferrari after his horrific accident last year.

The Force India car too has looked quick in pre-season testing. The team retains Vitantonio Liuzzi and Adrian Sutil as its drivers. Torro Rosso also keeps the services of Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastian Buemi.

 

There are three new teams for 2010, meaning a larger grid of cars than last year. Lotus Racing is backed by a team of Malaysian businessmen and features two experienced drivers in Heikki Kovaleinen and Jarno Trulli. It marks the return of the Lotus name to F1; Team Lotus won six driver’s world championships and seven constructor’s titles in the 1960s and 70s, although the new team has little to do with the original outfit.

Di Grassi testingVirgin Racing is backed by entrepreneur Richard Branson and features last year’s Toyota driver Timo Glock and newcome Lucas di Grassi (left). The team is notable for running a car designed solely by computer, rather than through aerodynamic testing in a wind tunnel.

The other new team is Hispania Racing F1 Team, known as HRT and formerly named Campos Meta. The Spanish-backed newcomers will run two rookie drivers – Indian Karun Chandhok and Bruno Senna, nephew of the late world champion Ayrton Senna.

Toyota has pulled out of the sport, and while the BMW Sauber name remains, that team is under new management following BMW’s withdrawal. Another team, USF1, was due to compete but was unable to create a car in time. A further Serbian outfit, Stefan F1, was apparently ready to race in its place but was denied an entry by governing body the FIA.

The action in Bahrain starts on Friday (March 12) with practice at the Sakhir circuit from 7am GMT (11am UAE), followed by qualifying on Saturday at 11am GMT (3pm UAE). The race itself starts at 12pm GMT on Sunday (4pm UAE).

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