Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Countdown to sakhir: the desert lies waiting...

As i write this piece the countdown clock in formula 1's home page says there are 18 days 19 hours 35 minutes and 20 seconds left for the big day at sakhir. Well, the excitement starts much before that. At least a couple of days before.

2005 was the year that changed the f1 landscape. It was the year when the f1 rainbow lost a bit of its red hue. Shock for many, surprise for some and pure excitement for a few others. Renault had a pleasant surprise. McLaren were a frustrated lot. And the big reds were left with the realisation that they too could falter. As for the others, Toyota were pleased but not contented. Honda were dejected. Williams - dont wanna talk about them.

Renault did their homework well and were clearly the best car on the track in australia. Fisi with a little aid from the weather man secured a surprising victory. But the man who drew attention was the fiery spaniard who showed a lot of potential in 2004. If there is someone whose drive i enjoyed the most in 2004 apart from kimi it was Alonso. He was talented, fast and unpredictable. Somehow i took an immediate liking and rooted for him even when renault had no fire power to deliver victories. The most amazing stunts would come at the start when renault with its suprior traction would wind through the traffic and take the lead, although for a brief period. Come 2005, however, alonso was a completely different man. He had the fire power and the confidence. As he surged from the back of the grid to secure a podium down under, he made his intentions clear. He would take his first victory of the season the very next race and hold on to the top of the podium for quite some time. It was obvious that f1 was heralding a new champion - at least for me.

Kimi. The flying finn. The iceman. If ever there was a charcter in f1 u could write a drama around, it had to be kimi. Kimi gives f1 what it needs - sheer speed and daring. Inspite of my rooting for Alonso, i just couldnt help admiring kimi in 2005. He was there setting the pace and making others look at bullock carts. He overtook at will, cut the curbs like a bullet and showed what on-the-limit driving was all about. Had only Mclaren held. There was literally no contest between him and alonso whever he was leading. The contest was purely between him and the machine.

Kimi and alonso overshadowed everyone else in 2005. Yet Schumi had his moments. Rare ones. Imola springs to my mind always. To me that and suzuka were the best races of 2005. Oh man! Hope there are more of Imola this season between the three of them.

To me 2006 is all about these three guys. The clash of the trio will form the highlight come this march. The first race will set a lot of speculations straight. Honda and button - they have been setting an impressive pace, but i want to see them on actions and then talk about their chances.

the scenaio is murky before the start of 2006..
Will shumi be back with a bang?
Will alonso get renault's unflinching support?
the kimi - motoya rivalry - one of them is going out next season
Barri - button rivarly - barri is tired of playing second fiddle
will bridgestone bridge the gap with michelin
will toyota get more wins
will button get his first win?
and above all will mclaren hold??

well i am ready to make predictions only for sakhir. Here goes..

1. Kimi
2. Alonso
3. Schumi

seems very contrived. I dont expect all three to end on the podium but these guys are my best best as of now. Honda might spring a surprise and so can toyota. Lets wait and watch

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