Sunday, March 22, 2009

Time To Go Racing, 2009 Style

What with Sebring this weekend and the first F1 GP in Australia next, the 2009 racing season is well and truly underway.

The upcoming F1 season promises to be one of the most interesting for years with a whole new slew of regulations throwing the old kings out with the old cars ... perhaps! Ferrari look to have done a good job in the closed season, and if the final testing session at Jerez is to be believed then better than McLaren at creating a brand new aero package to go with the new rules. This year the cars have smaller rear wings but are back on slicks again, the idea being to trade mechanical grip for aero down-force and hence to make overtaking easier. At least, that's the theory, but we'll just have to wait and see what will happen in actual races. Also new this year is a Prius-like KERS system, taking advantage of regenerative braking energy, that will allow drivers an extra 80 bhp or so for about two seconds a lap. Not sure every car will start in Australia with this technology but even if not then very soon thereafter.

Despite having Honda pull the plug on them, one of the stronger contenders in the developmental sessions has been Brawn GP. Ross Brawn has now become a team owner and they will be running McLaren engines this year instead of Honda. Somewhat embarrassingly for the Woking outfit, the Honda/Brawn chassis has been around a second a lap quicker running those customer engines, a fact that will surely mean the McLaren boys will be burning the midnight oil prior to Australia in order to close the gap. On the plus side, Button might finally have a car that will allow him to show just what he can do. Again, it will be an interesting year.

Endurance racing has also been thrown a curve ball with Audi not yet committing to a full season of racing, despite their very strong debut showing for the R15 at Sebring where they came in 1st and 3rd. Even in these reduced times, perhaps the idea of just gifting the Group 1 championship to Peugeot might be a bit too much to swallow? Here's hoping.

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