Welcome to 2012

#F1 – the silly season is pretty much over now and it looks as though we have said farewell to Rubens after a marathon career. On his day pretty damn quick, but maybe not showing that X Factor that makes a world champion. Still, it will seem odd without him around. Why Williams have chosen Senna as his replacement defies logic in our opinion, but there you are. Grove is a bit close to Harwell, so maybe there is something in the air affecting their thinking. Whilst on the subject of Williams it is also farewell to Patrick Head. Maybe it is time for the team to move out from his long shadow.

The Ice Man will be returning with what we’ll have to call Lotus now. Will he be able to settle with a mid grid runner? Can he turn them around, or will he just get bored with it all? We don’t really remember him as being a car sorter and developer which puts a lot of weight on Grosjean’s shoulders and there is a danger that the team will look to Kimi first because he’s a former world champion (if only just), so can Romain get his voice heard? Or will he blow the iceman away?

Torro Rosso had a complete clear out which was fair enough in the sense that they claim to be a sort of F1 academy, but the way that the dismissals were handled seemed very poor. If they truly had decided to move on Seb and Jamie then why wait to tell them? Why have one of them attending a team function the day before the announcement? That sort of thing is shabby.

No changes at the top teams so it should be business as usual once we kick off in March. Testing is not likely to give us any real clues; it all comes down to qualifying and the race to see where the real pace and durability lies. Can Felipe get back to the sort of form that we’ve seen him show before? Whereas having a team mate pushing provides an edge for many drivers we know that Alonso didn’t like it at McLaren, so there could be an interesting situation there. Hamilton ended 2011 looking a bit more settled and it will be good to see him with his old fire. Will the bubble burst for Vettel this year? He is very good and has a very sharp team around him which makes them look strong, especially as the car will no doubt be another good one.

It will be interesting to see how the newer teams fare this year and whether or not they can really start to close the gap. To see one scoring points would be good, even if it was only in one of those strange races where attrition elsewhere promotes them. The sport needs a decent grid all turning in competitive times, but not at the expense of going the spec car route.

As for all the shifting around of commentary teams amongst the broadcasters, well that means nothing to me as I shall be keeping up my embargo on watching. I can follow it on the web quite happily and, whilst I might watch the odd highlights on BBC, the only races I plan to catch live will be those on Speed when I’m in the USA.

#NASCAR – over the pond the departure of the elder Shrub was fairly inevitable after the fan video of his behaviour in the garage area at Homestead surfaced in the public domain. We would have put money on both siblings losing their drives, but the younger Shrub has held on and some credit has to be given to JGR for keeping faith in him and trying to make things work. He is surely one of those drivers who have the natural feel that could make him competitive in other forms of the sport, but he has that self destructive streak still. Whether he can overcome it or not we can only wait and see. Big brother, meanwhile, has a new start and maybe can spring a surprise or two, especially if his past win record can help bring money to the team.

For Penske to take The Dinger was one that we didn’t see coming, but he is a media savvy guy as well as someone who knows how to win (at least he has a winning record in single seaters). We wish him well in the #22 car. His move has opened up the #43 for our friend Aric (we consider Tampa as a second home, which explains why we like to support the Central Florida drivers). He did well last year in the #88 Nationwide ride in terms of finishing near the front and does come with some experience at the top level so we’re hoping that he can keep the #43 knocking on the top 10 this year.

With Speedweeks under way (the 50th Rolex 24 should have started as we’ve been writing this blog) our racing season is under way at last; not long now ‘til the 500!

#IndyCar – we don’t like the look of the new car; really wierd, but we accept the need for safer vehicles. Looks like an intersting season even if the driver & teams line up is still a little fluid. The series got a big wake up call at the end of last season and is almost starting anew in 2012 with the new car, some new engines and a revised calendar. We wish them all well.

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