Thursday, 23 January 2014

Updates and Upgrades

It's been two months since I've written anything on here. I feel terrible! I shall start by saying happy new year to all of you! I know, we're almost a whole month into 2014, but what can I say? I've been busy. Luckily, we're moving ever closer to the start of a new season of motorsport, and things are finally getting more interesting in the F1 winter break.

Today, we saw the new Williams car. Well, we saw a 'preview' image, anyway. Force India also revealed their new livery, but neglected to show us the front of the car. There had been a lot of speculation that the new cars would be pretty ugly due to the plethora of changes coming this season. Having seen the Williams, well, I have to agree. The 'anteater' nose (as it's being termed) is definitely a lot harder to love than the stepped noses of last year (which, to be honest, I didn't mind as much as many people), although I'm sure it's something that won't be that big of a deal once the cars actually take to the track. Tomorrow, McLaren launch their new car - hopefully this time we'll see a real car, rather than a computerised image. That way, we might get more of an idea of what they will really be like. In addition, rumours were abound that McLaren might return to the old orange livery - that will certainly be a change from the past couple of years!

So what else is new in the world of F1? There's currently speculation that Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren's team principal, is going to be off, as Ron Dennis has now taken over as CEO. Whether this happens or not, time will tell. Lotus had, up until recently, been under threat due to financial difficulty (although they were constantly reassuring us that this wasn't the case), however now this seems to have been resolved through a new partnership. Sighs of relief all around.

As we all know, 2014 is bringing considerable change to F1. First off, the technical regulation changes - new engines, for a start. I won't go into details, because everyone has written about this considerably everywhere else. However, what I will reiterate is that this change will bring huge upheaval to F1. Issues of reliability may become apparent, and nobody's entirely sure how things will unfold. As with every F1 season, the only hint of certainty will come in March once the Australian race is over.

Something else new for 2014 is drivers having a number for their career. Previously, driver numbers were based on championship position. However, this year only the current world champion has the option of using the number of their position in the previous year. Vettel has indeed opted for number 1 (he must be used to it after these years), and number 5 should he lose the championship. Raikkonen chose the number 7 because 'it was my number last year and I saw no reason to change it'. Ah, drivers and their superstitions indeed.

Speaking of drivers, we'll have some great line-ups on the grid this year. Ferrari have arguably the strongest drivers in Raikkonen and Alonso - you can be sure that Kimi won't be moving out of Fernando's way this year. Ricciardo pairs with Vettel at Red Bull, while Jenson Button will be driving alongside a rookie of Kevin Magnussen. Massa has managed to secure a drive at Williams, Kobayashi will be driving for Caterham, and everyone breathed a sigh of relief when Hulkenberg secured a drive with Force India.

One final note of news came just after Christmas, when Michael Schumacher was involved in a skiing accident. While early reports suggested that he only had minor injuries, it was later found out that he had suffered a brain haemorrhage and had been placed in an induced coma, a condition in which he remains now. This is of course terrible news, but the fact that we haven't heard anything new for a number of weeks may actually be a good thing given the extent of Michael's brain injury. Brain injuries take a huge amount of time to recover from, and even then it's unclear how much progress Schumacher will make. Sadly, we just don't know enough about the brain to make such predictions - and this is a reason why I would like to go into clinical neuroscience research. In any case, the world of F1 has united to support Michael, and will likely do so throughout his recovery.