Sunday’s Hungarian GP was an interesting race… well more interesting than most Hungarian Grands Prix have been in the past anyway. Lewis Hamilton scored McLaren’s first victory since 2008 which was a major surprise considering it was just two races ago when Lewis was struggling around at the back of the field. This is a major form reversal and I wonder if this was due to the uniqueness of the Hungaroring rather than any recent improvements made in Woking. Ferrari too had a return to form in the race with Kimi Raikkonen taking second place. Once again I wonder if this improvement is due to the Hungarian track rather than anything Ferrari has done in the last month.
Mark Webber finished third and is now 18.5 points behind Jenson Button’s Brawn Mercedes. The Red Bulls have definitely been the form team in the second half of 2009, while I always thought that Brawn would eventually be caught by the other teams. The Brawns were the most developed cars when teams first gridded up at Albert Park in March, thanks to the fact that they started on their car much earlier than the other teams due to the fact that Honda was so horrible in 2008. Red Bull were the only team close to the Brawns pace and have now surpassed them due to improvements made, while it seems that McLaren and Ferrari could be catching them.
Having mentioned Honda and how Brawn have risen from the ashes of that team, I must now make mention of the sad news that BMW Sauber have announced that they will quit Formula 1 at the end of 2009. This year has been terrible for the Swiss based German team and one would be hard pressed to even guess that they placed third in the 2008 Constructors Championship with their lack of pace this year. Both Kubica and Heidfeld have really struggled and the team has often employed odd fuel strategies for their drivers to try to fluke some points.
I wonder which will be the next manufacturer to exit F1. Renault have had an awful season, despite Alonso’s low fuel pole position in Hungary, and they will endure more pain now that they have been banned from the European GP in Fernando’s backyard, Valencia, thank to his front wheel not being secured properly at the pitstop and then coming off. Renault’s position in F1 has looked quite shaky for a while now and this won’t have improved things much.
Toyota is another team who may leave F1 sooner rather than later. They were full of promise at the start of the season but have fallen into a hole since their pole position in Bahrain. Toyota has said that 2009 was a make or break season and apparently came close to pulling the pin on F1 in 2008.
With Heidfeld and Kubica being on the drivers’ market for 2010 it is interesting to see how the line ups will change next year. It will also be interesting if the FIA will accept another new team (Lola) to fill the void created by BMW’s departure. Here are my predictions. I will review these in a couple of months to see how close I am.
Predicted Teams/Driver Line Ups in F1 for 2010
Red Bull Racing
* Depends on whether Massa is able to race in 2010. It also depends on both Renault and Toyota remaining in F1 in 2010. Campos and Manor will both have pay drivers as their second drivers.