Start your engines

By Oliver Field

Spying controversies, tyre scandals, new rules and some new guy called Lewis Hamilton are all things that spring to mind when the 2007 Formula One season is mentioned. One of the most followed sporting events worldwide gets on pole next weekend, and motor sport fanatics are drooling at the prospect of another exciting season. Last year we got used to life without Schumi, as the season was contested by the three most exciting youngsters on the circuit. Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso raced like their lives depended on it, bringing new life to a sport that has been overtaken by technological advancements and off track scandal. Who could forget Ferrari’s coup in Brazil at the end of the season to give Rakkonen the title by one point, against all odds, and the unstoppable Team McLaren. Between Robert Kubica’s crash in Canada, Lewis Hamilton commenting that winning was “better than sex” and Takumo Sato’s cowboy driving tactics, there was rarely a boring moment, especially in the media.

So what’s in store for 2008 then?

Well, after being rivals on the same team last year, Hamilton and the feisty spaniard Alonso have parted ways, with Alonso rejoining Renault. Hamilton is joined at McLaren by Heikki Kovalainen, who impressed for Renault last season and is certainly one to watch. Hopefully he’ll be a more supportive team mate in the controversial McLaren set up. Ferrari go into the season as favourites though, following their impressive performance last year, and the fact that they have Raikkonen and Brazilian Felipe Massa behind the wheels. Team Williams who finished fourth last season have recruited the young Japanese driver, Kazuki Nakajima, into the team. He has been dubbed as the next big thing in F1 in his debut season. He’ll join Nico Rosberg, who despite being inconsistent last season, should be pushing for a few podium finishes. Other than that, it should be the same three horse, or car, race we saw last season. In fact, the season promises to provide all the usual F1 antics that have been around for years. The ITV commentators will tell us how great David Coulthard and Jenson Button are, only because they’re British. Ferrari Director Jean Todt will be praised endlessly for anything his drivers do, even the way they spray their champagne. The Monaco Grand Prix will end just as it started and Takumo Sato will write off 10 Super Aguri vehicles throughout the season. This is the formula that F1 followers have grown to love and what makes this prestigious sport so popular and with the Singapore night Grand Prix in prospect for 2009, the FIA are giving even more reason to watch the drivers do their thing. So, some predictions: Hamilton will lick his wounds from the end of last season and take the title, closely followed by Raikkonen. This will probably only be decided in the second last race in China. Alonso will finish in third, pretty far behind the top two and Heikki Kovalainen will have a break out season and finish fourth. Whatever happens, be prepared for some fierce crashes, stressful pit stops and close finishes as Formula One 2008 takes pole position in the sporting world.

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