The difficult in making predictions about Formula One is they will most likely be wrong. The difference between Football previews and Formula One previews is that while teams in Football may change, more often than not you get a good idea of how they will perform by comparing last years squad with this years: a few players are a bit older, they're best striker went a bit mental, but they signed Aguero, so probably about the same as last year. In Formula One however, there's no way to know what's coming. Pre-Season testing provides some clues, but even then the car can change drastically between then and the first race. In Formula One the case usually is that by the third race, or the first European Race you get a good idea of what's to come.
The reason is simple. The Car. While some wish to argue the driver is the most important aspect of the F1 team, it is only half true. The car and whats in it or on it makes up for the bulk of performance. Hence a a new wing might appear or a new engine. It are these unknowns of car construction and design that make it predictable. David Silva did not grow a third leg over the summer, whereas a car might...
Anyway, to the matter at hand. I can only see Red Bull continuing to dominate the sport, which is a shame from a purist point of view. Indeed, there is nothing wrong with how the Bulls go about their business, they tend to win pretty legitimately, and have built a sound car with no cheats. However, they represent a change in Formula One towards corporate and financial superiority ruling the roost. Yes, McLaren and Ferrari have money, and that's why they're up there every year, but they have the history and heritage to justify it. Redbull are coming into their 8th year in Formula 1, challenging for their 3rd World Title.
Elsewhere, Mclaren and Ferrari will be the biggest rivals. Fernando Alonso at Ferrari will have had two years now to shape the car to his needs, and will be hoping for his 3rd World title. Both Jenson Button and Lewis will be hoping to rubber stamp their place in history with a 2nd world title.
My interest however, as was the case in 2011, lies in the midfield of Formula One. As it became obvious that Sebastian Vettel would win easily in 2011, my eyes shifted to the battle of the midfield, a compelling tustle between Lotus Renault (now just Lotus), Force India, Mercedes and Sauber.
This year, Lotus seem to be going all guns blazing with a dream driver line up of former champion Kimi Raikonnan and Romain Grosjean. However, in the last week their active suspension unit was banned by the FIA, so that may through a spanner in the works somewhat.
Force India appear to be rising and rising, each season improving on the last. Paul Di Resta has the difficulty now of proving he is a fully fledged driver, not just a talented Rookie.
Mercedes are perhaps my dark horse of the year. Two years of Ross Brawn and i'm wondering if he has brought it all together for Schumi's final season.
Drivers to watch out for are:
Filipe Massa - under much pressure at Ferrari. No doubt he is number 2 to Fernando, but he needs to up his game big time in order to justify his spot on the team. He is aging, at 31 this year he might find himself out of a drive in 2013, as teams say, we'd rather have a young gun with financial backing, than "that guy who was World Champion for 30 seconds in 2008".
Mark Webber - I can see this being his last year too. 36 this year, and will not challenge Vettell. Same case with Massa, teams will be looking for young guys with a big sponsor rather than the Aussie.
Kimi - Can the '07 world Champ return with the hunger to really challenge in that Lotus?
Toro Rosso guys - Ricciardo and Vergne are both pretty much new guys in the team this year. Ricciardo impressed so much last year in the HRT that he was promoted to the Red Bull junior team.
and finally Bruno Senna - Bearing the name of probably the best driver ever, he has a job to prove he is in F1 for the long run. A few impressive performances in the 2nd half of last year justified his selection for Williams, can he (and i hope he does, because i like Williams) bring Williams back to where they want to be?
There are a lot of drivers on the grid this year, young and old, with some notable exits: Sutil (who is caught in a legal battle), Barrichello (who retires) and Petrov (once touted for a Ferrari seat) all leave the sport because their seats have been taken by other drivers. Indeed, the current crop need to be on their game, there is a long list of drivers willing to take their seat, most likely with Petrov at the front!
I'm looking forward to the new season as i always do. I'll of course be rooting for my beloved Ferrari boys to be on the top step of the podium more often than not this year. I'll also be keeping an eye on Lotus, my "2nd team."