2008: What are you most looking forward to?

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota, Melbourne, 2007 | Toyota F1 WorldIt’s getting close now: the start of the 2008 Formula 1 season is three weeks away. The teams have their final test session next week before the cars are packed away for the flight to Melbourne, Australia.

The F1 Fanatic 2008 season preview starts today with my pick of what I’m most looking forward to in 2008. What’s top of your list?

Free practice 1, Melbourne

The shadows of the trees on the tracks, the first sightings of the newly-liveried cars all on the tracks together, new helmets in unfamiliar surroundings. There’s something special about that first glimpse of a new Formula 1 season.

Lewis Hamilton at Monte-Carlo

He was hugely quick at Monaco last year and came very close to winning on his first visit to F1’s most punishing track. Hamilton has an excellent track record at Monaco in the junior formulae, and the sight of him over-steering through La Piscine was one of my favourites in 2007.

With traction control off the menu this year there’s no question what my most hotly-anticipated driver/track combo will be.

Fernando Alonso at Renault

Seeing a double world champion in the state of obvious discomfort Fernando Alonso was clearly in at McLaren last year does no good for anyone – not him, not the fans, and not the sport. Like Senna at McLaren and Jim Clark at Lotus there is an innate ‘rightness’ to Alonso in a Renault.

Plus, Renault relay live telemetry on their website during the races, so hopefully we’ll get the chance to see the man at work like never before.

Customers versus manufacturers

Although Ferrari and McLaren look like the class of the field in testing so far, Williams and Red Bull have shown a lot of promise. Can they take the fight to BMW and Renault?

Timo Glock?s return

He scored points on his d??but in 2004 and it’s a mystery why no-one picked him up for 2005. He had some tremendous fights with Hamilton and Nelson Piquet Jnr in GP2 two years ago, and clinched the championship last year. Welcome back Timo.

Street racing

Unpredictable surfaces, unavoidable bumps. Cambers, crests and concrete walls. Robert Kubica said racing on street circuits makes him feel like a real racing driver, and there’s no mistaking why.

The inaugural Singapore Grand Prix might clinch it in the spectacle stakes by also being the first night race, but the video simulation of the Circuito Urbano Valencia suggests it is going to be a very rapid track. I can’t wait.

Friday at Silverstone

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes, Silverstone, 2007 | F1Fanatic.co.ukUsually my first glimpse of F1 in the flesh each year comes in Friday practice for the British Grand Prix. I stand at the entry to Becketts and watch them clip the apex of the first corner, then dart right and left through the following bends. The speed and immediacy with with they change direction never fails to astonish me.

GP2

If the actual racing in F1 can be disappointing sometimes, the GP2 races more than make up for it. And with GP2 Asia this year it will be appearing at more F1 rounds than before, starting with the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang. Keep an eye on Renault’s rookie Romain Grosjean – he dominated the first two races.

Read more about GP2 at Maximum Motorsport

No traction control

Even if it makes no difference at all, the banning of traction control is the best thing about F1 in 2008. The safety net protecting drivers if they get too hasty with the throttle has been taken away – now it’s all down to them. And, as Nico Rosberg explained, especially when it rains:

At Jerez in the wet, half the field ended up off-track. And then there’s the braking: the lack of electronically-controlled engine braking can be felt when you brake. This could give us a few more chances of overtaking.

What are you most looking forward to in 2008?

Photo copyright: Toyota F1 World | F1Fanatic.co.uk

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31 comments on 2008: What are you most looking forward to?

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  1. I’m looking forward to Singapore this year – whether it’s good or awful, it’s good to see F1 trying new things. Also Glock’s return, Piquet’s debut and I also think it’ll be intriguing to see what role Massa and Kovalainen play at Ferrari and McLaren this year after Raikkonen and Hamilton’s respective triumphs in 2007.

  2. frecon said on 23rd February 2008, 17:25

    Bourdais performance with an F1 car.

    He’s the only driver today that could try to win the triple crown (24h Lemans, Monaco F1, 500 Indy). Other drivers are completly focused on one category. It looks like a history from several decades ago.

    Also I’m interested in Vettel. It could be a good season for Sebastian and Sebastiaen, but sadly I think Toro Rosso is not at the same level than its drivers.

  3. I, for one, am not interested in night races. I’m open to being wrong, but I think it’s a stunt, and just to get desperate Bernie more live viewers. Anything that isn’t motivated by what’s best for the fans, doesn’t sit right with me.

    I really wish that Bourdais had been able to sign with a different team, years earlier, but he will be driving essentially the same Red Bull car that has been showing promise,so there may be some surprised. The skeptics that wonder whether he can make the transition where so many others have failed don’t take into account that he’s European, wanted to be in F1 from the start and has kept his eyes on it the whole time he races Stateside. And, um, he’s won a lot of championships.

    Looking forward with a great deal of anticipation to see how Williams, Renault, and BMW fit in the field, and even Red Bull look like contenders.

    One of the most exciting things, is, I think we have Kimi, current champion in one car, Alonso, former champion in another, and Hamilton, future champion in a third. A mix of great drivers and great cars, with a field behind them of some skill and talent. This may shape up to be one of the most exciting seasons in years, may even top last year.

  4. Dave M said on 23rd February 2008, 19:13

    I’m always really excited by new F1 circuits, can’t wait for Valencia and Singapore.

  5. Robert McKay said on 23rd February 2008, 19:13

    Lookng forward to the lack of TC. Hopefully this will make a difference. And the first wet race is eagerly anticipated by me.

    New tracks are always something to look forward to. And I’m hoping Williams and Red Bull can make a big impression on BMW and Williams.

  6. TommyBellingham said on 23rd February 2008, 19:17

    Valencia and Singapore :D

  7. “What are you most looking forward to in 2008?”

    McLaren taking wins from Ferrari. Can you imagine the commentary from Luca?!?!?

  8. Fred B said on 23rd February 2008, 19:47

    I’m looking forward to see what Kovalainen (the real rookie of the year 2007 in my opinion) can do given a more capable car.

  9. I’m really keen to see Hamilton challenged by another of the new wave; I think Kovi could do really well this season.

    I’d also like to see a steady and gradual improvement for Honda. I want Button back where he belongs.

    Finally, I am looking forward to ITV having improved their coverage by not talking about Hamilton every three seconds, and not showing 20 minute montages of golden boy instead of the planning technical features by Martin Brundle.

    O.K. The last one is not so realistic, but fingers crossed.

  10. Wesley said on 23rd February 2008, 20:13

    I second that Fred B!

    Can’t wait to see what Heikki can do in a proper car.

    I also look forward to seeing if BMW can keep working their way up toward podiums.

  11. Kimi winning another WDC!

  12. Magnus said on 23rd February 2008, 21:38

    No traction control.

    Williams hopefully being closer to the front where they belong.

    But most of all, let’s get the damn season started. I’m getting tired of alpine skiing.

  13. Nathan Jones said on 24th February 2008, 0:58

    many F1 fans have been crying for NO TC since it came back in, me included!
    so for me, thats the thing i most look forward to
    TC takes away the drivers skill and sounds horrible!

  14. I was looking forward to see what McLaren do at the furthest back end of the grid, but it looks like that’s spoilt now :(

    The TC is interesting, but I get the feeling that in racing situations, the drivers will rise up to the challenge – they’re amongst the best racers and drivers in the world, so I’m not going by much from the testing.

    Singapore night race is out of pure curiosity, I’m cynical about the actual spectacle, but I’ll reserve judgement until then. Maybe the rain races will be the most interesting races yet again.

    Testing doesn’t seem like it will favour Honda, who I want to do better, so it almost seems like it’s another write-off year to them. Hopefully the Ross Brawn effect will come into play half way through the season at the very latest.

    I’m most interested in Kovalainen’s progress especially at McLaren, the Sebasti(a/e)n’s at Torro Rosso, Alonso @ Renault coupled with Piquet Jnr, and in particular how the Alonso/Hamilton rivalry will play out even though they may not be on even terms.

    To be honest, I’m fairly confident that Ferrari will do well, they will be up there so even though I’m a fan I can disconcert myself there. Schumacher’s history, and I’m happy with the line up as it stands.

    Finally, I hope Ron Dennis ducks out after the 2008 season, he’s been in F1 for all my life and I have, frankly, had enough of his so-called management skills and PR work.

  15. Melanie said on 24th February 2008, 2:21

    1. Melbourne – Any F1 race after 4 months of waiting, is always going to be exciting. It is also the first glimpse of what is to come and to review months of testing speculation.

    2. Driving without drivers aids – Drivers having to use more of their natural skills, enough said.

    3. Kimi racing with the No.1 on his car – Obviously not existing for everyone, but for the long time Kimi fans this moment has taken a long time to materialize and at times it still feels a bit surreal.

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