It’s a bit late, because of course the season has started already, but I was going to predict Robert Kubica was going to be great this year, honest. First up when making any predictions, it’s important to inspire confidence in the quality of judgement, both by stating your qualifications and by pointing out how successful past predictions have been. Sadly, my expertise is limited to being a reasonable player of F1 computer games. However, my Formula 1 predictions from 2007 weren’t too inaccurate – I went for Ferrari for the constructor’s championship (correct), but guessed Alonso for the driver’s (nope). And of course, despite getting one right, I had no clue about how it would happen. So what about 2008?
Although Ferrari have had something of a difficult weekend so far in Australia, from what I’ve seen, that’s largely been down to adjusting to the new rules, so I’d be extremely surprised if they prove to be slower than McLaren as the season goes on. It was hugely surprising to see Raikkonnen’s Ferrari’s so thoroughly pole-axed by reliability issues, and it does take you back to the problematic seasons he endured at McLaren, but unsurprisingly, Raikkonnen is many people’s favourite to win the championship again this year. He’s not my pick though – I’m going to go with Hamilton to take the 2008 title. Much has been written about the difficulties Hamilton will supposedly face with ‘second season syndrome’ (i.e. a dip), but to my mind, they ignore the qualities of his first season. His wasn’t a sporting debut powered solely by youthful enthusiasm (such as, say, Michael Owen in the 98 Football World Cup). Hamilton had that but he also excelled at the psychological warfare, aggression, consistency and discipline which success at the top of F1 requires, and which normally take a few seasons to acquire. Hamilton strikes me as a more complete drive than Raikkonnen. I’m also going to go for McLaren for the constructor’s championship. I had high hopes for Kovaleinen last year, and he eventually came good towards the end of the season, so I think this should be a good year. I can see less teamwork this year at Ferrari – Raikkonnen is the world champion, but Massa is the entrenched team veteran, and he’ll want to strike back this year to avoid becoming Rubens Barrichello to Kimi’s Schumacher.
All this being said, if McLaren do manage to win both championships the year after a $50million fine and all the pressure/intrigue from the spying scandal, that will be a huge triumph against serious adversity. Speaking of which… this will be the year Alonso gets to prove he’s got the desire and tenacity to get back to work. Last year, whether it was fair or not, he managed to get himself portrayed as spoilt, selfish and petulant on more than a few occasions. Now that he;s back in the trenches, it’ll be interesting to see if he thrives or moans. As for best of the rest, I’ve already mentioned Kubica, who’s a great driver to watch and in a rapidly improving team and I think he should be able to grab a victory this year.