As the poll votes near the 100 mark, I thought I would take a look at the results thus far and see what peoples expectations are for the upcoming 2007 Australian Grand Prix. All the teams (except Spyker) were out in force in late November and early December, testing various parts and acclimatising themselves to Bridgestone rubber. Many teams also took this opportunity to try new drivers and give their new racers some valuable experience. Toro Rosso let ChampCar champion Sebastian Bourdais have a spin in their motor, and BMW modified one of their cars to allow Alex Zanardi to drive around the Jerez circuit. Mika Hakkinen also made a brief comeback at the wheel of a McLaren, but what about the drivers who will be competing come March 18th?
Lewis Hamilton has received one vote from an optimistic McLaren supporter. Lewis wasn’t added to the poll until after the official announcement came about a month after I started, so this may have affected his total votes. But needless to say, only ~1% of the total votes does signify that a lot of people feel he will not be instantly fast straight out of the box. McLaren have been running well in testing though, and although the lap times do not mean much at the moment (the new cars are yet to be finalised and built), I think they may be more competitive than some people think.
This thought is compounded by Fernando Alonso picking up 11 votes and currently resides in third place in the poll. Although Alonso only got one days testing in due to contract complications, 11% of you guys still think he is in with a shout of winning. Will he be able to continue his momentum to a new team, or will the change mean Alonso will have to take some time to settle in?
Oddly enough, Robert Kubica has accrued equal votes to Jenson Button – three each. Robert only raced for half of last season, stepping up after 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve bowed out of the sport. Robert did drive well though and managed points on his first outing (but later disqualified for being under-weight) and a podium on his third race for the team. Button on the other hand won his maiden race last year and although the campaign was not as spectacularly successful as we thought it would be, he still drove well and upped his game during the season.
Support of Renault has subsided – maybe due to the absence of World Champion Fernando Alonso – and Giancarlo Fisichella has collected just 5 votes. Giancarlo has been hyping up his chances for 2007, saying that he thinks he can win the title and remain at the Anglo-French squad. His team boss – Flavio Briatore – has been in the media saying he will beat Alonso, but Technical Director Bob Bell has been a little more cautious with the build up to next year, suggesting this will be a ‘make-or-break’ year for Fisichella.
The number one spot at the moment is taken up by Kimi Raikkonen, who moves from the McLaren stable to Ferrari and partners Felipe Massa. Massa has managed 15 votes, while Raikkonen has romped into the lead with 59. Despite not actually testing a car since the Brazilian Grand Prix last October, ~60% of you believe he can win from the start with the Scuderia.
Personally, I’m going to be more reserved and wait until I see Kimi in a Ferrari before suggesting how he will fair next year. Although the team will carry over some of the momentum they gained in late 2006, the Italian squad are going through a period of change at the moment, and I feel that could upset the balance a little.
Remember that the cookie that remembers you have voted will delete itself come January 1st (IPs are logged, so don’t cheat), so you can vote again once the testing resumes early next year. I think the poll could get interesting at that point, as it becomes clearer who is doing well, and who is not.