Melbourne: Formula One fans... Here's what to expect at the season-opening Australian GP...
After nearly four months of inaction, Formula One is finally here. The F1 circus visits Melbourne this weekend to host the inaugural Grand Prix of the 2011 F1 season. 12 teams, 24 drivers and their cars will race in Albert Park over Saturday and Sunday.
The year 2011 has seen a host of rule changes and new drivers enter the sport. We also saw some heavy duty pre-season testing in March. However, here's what you could expect from the season-opening Australian Grand Prix this Sunday.
- The new Pirelli tyres will be put to test in Grand Prix conditions for the first time. Teams will have the soft and hard tyres available for the weekend, which means that tyre strategy will be crucial. Heavily degrading tyres would mean around 3-4 pit stops for each driver.
- VKinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) is back and this time it is backed with the Adjustable Rear Wing (ARW). A sensible usage of both would result in some high speed overtaking action on track.
- Vettel-Webber, Alonso-Massa, Button-Hamilton and their rivalries will be revived again. While the ban on team orders has been lifted, be ready to expect some close wheel-to-wheel racing action.
- If you're used to Bridgestone's green-band soft tyres, it's now time to get used to Pirelli's new colour scheme for 2011. The Pirelli's will be yellow (soft compound) and silver (hard compound) in colour. Too many colour schemes means there will be confused fans!
- KERS and ARW have also meant too many buttons being added to the steering wheels. Could the drivers get confused and press the wrong button at the wrong time?
- Pre-season testing times can't help one accurately gauge team and driver performances, but one could make a few predictions. If you're a Mclaren Mercedes fan, then you could face early season disappointment as the MP4-26 has clocked the least testing miles pre-season.
- With the 107% rule coming into effect this season, all Narain Karthikeyan and Hispania Racing Team (HRT) fans might just be up for early-season disappointment. HRT's 2011 challenger, the F111, was born late in the season and has clocked zero miles in pre-season testing. This could possibly be the worst start to Narain's comeback season.
- Indian fans have all reasons to feel patriotic this Sunday. After all, the Force India F1 Team, Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok will be representing India on the F1 grid. The Force India F1 team has a reliable car and will be hoping to build on their success from last season.