Formula 1 reflection for 2005
Ok so I said I was going to wait for the re-run, but given that it's started so anyone watching it will not be reading this until it's over anyway, and also that I'm exceptionally bored right now, I feel like writing this now.
Overall I think it's been a smashing season for 2005. The reign of Ferrari and Michael Schumacher has finally been broken, and we saw a title fight that was only decided a couple of races before the end of the season and a constructor's championship that could have gone to either of the top teams going into the final race. My driver of the year has undoubtedly got to be Alonso. His consistency all season and the ability to maximise opportunity where it presents itself are what has won him the title over Raikkonen. Not only that, but he's a very modest chap who comes across as genuinely seeming like he's having the time of his life. By comparison, Raikkonen shows moments of genius and on a good day no-one can get near him. However his complete lack of expression and emotion, combined with his variability on bad days, meant that I spent the whole season rooting for his failure. Many people might argue that it was the car and not the driver that won it for Alonso this year, but I don't accept that. Yes the Renault has been more consistent, and initially it showed pace far in excess of anyone, but McLaren's car by mid year was ultimately a much faster one and Renault did well to maintain their lead, aided by both McLaren's reliability which has in some places been patchy, and the driver's errors (such as Raikkonen's suspension collapse on the last lap of a race earlier this year because of his braking errors throughout it's duration).
Other drivers and teams that I wish to mention: Montoya suffered badly this year from his inconsistency and injury. If he can calm himself down a bit and get some consistency into his performance, I think his talent would at least equal Raikkonen's. Come on Montoya, you have it in you – sort it out. Webber has had a disappointing year at Williams, which I don't think he deserved really because he really is a solid all-round driver. His pace in qualifying and race craft are pretty exceptional – just look at what he did at Jaguar last year. Hopefully Williams will make a comeback next year and give Webber a car to truly demonstrate his talents. A similar story for Jenson Button – his talent is evident by just how much he outperformed teammate Takuma Sato this year, although this is partly due to Sato being a bit useless. I don't think Honda will be sorry to see him go. I still think Button is somewhat overrated, but if Honda can put a car under him that has the race pace to match it in qualifying then he should be right up there with the title contenders. Coulthard has demonstrated this year that it's not all about youth by doing a sterling job with Red Bull, and the engineers there are also to be highly commended for taking the Jaguar team and really moving them forward. Thus sums up my thoughts on faces for this year.
Looking forward to next year, in many ways I'm going to feel like F1 will never be the same again. The biggest rule change is undoubtedly the change in engine ruling. Currently the 3 litre V10 engines push out close to 950BHP and rev to near as dammit 19,000 RPM, but from next year there will be a compulsory move to 2.4 litre V8's. While these should rev faster, it will represent about a 200 horsepower drop over the current units; and not only that I have a strong feeling that they won't be nearly as loud or sound as nice. This disappoints me greatly. They are also imposing many more restrictions on engine design – the V angle is to be fixed at 90 degrees, the engine must weigh a minimum of 95kg (currently the best 3 litre engines are under 100kg so this is a pain), a maximum bore of 98mm and a maximum of 2 inlet and 2 exhaust valves per cylinder. All of these rule changes are designed to reduce speeds and costs, but I don't see really why this is necessary. The speeds F1 currently runs at are not unsafe, as has been demonstrated again and again by the crashes that the drivers walk away from. Costs are also not such a problem – although the FIA claims that it is necessary to improve competition, it is constant innovation by the teams that brings down long term dominance of teams like Ferrari. This year for example, the gradual building up of the Renault and McLaren teams has resulted in them overtaking Ferrari in the constructors championship, which has nothing to do with costs. So all in all, I feel that F1 from next year onwards will suck somewhat more. The main other rule change I've heard banded about is a potential move back to allowing in-race tyre changes in pit stops, which is at least a move in the right direction rather than the wrong one.