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I freely admit that this is just an emotional response to the end of the second pre-season test but if you’re British, you may have a reason to be excited about the upcoming 2014—that is, if the double-points fiasco doesn’t ruin it for you.

After watching and reading about the first test in Bahrain this week, I was encouraged by several factors. As an American, I don’t have a knife in this fight and haven’t had for years but suffice it to say, there could be something positive for the Brits if testing proves to be a sign of potential race pace.

The new regulations will certainly play a massive role in reliability, power plant issues, software concerns, energy storage gremlins and more. There is no telling what will happen come the first race in March. However, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton and Williams have shown promise.

Williams F1 has something happening. When they did run in testing, their pace was intriguing and with new Mercedes shove in their chassis, it could bode well for drivers Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas. Speaking of Massa, the Brazilian is excited to be at Williams F1 and why not? The team has just announced a slew of new Brazilian sponsors as well as a third-driver signing in Felipe Nasr of GP2 fame. Along with Petrobras and Banco do Brasil, the team have some welcome sponsors and presumably some additional cash. Keep a close eye on how Williams do in the final test in Bahrain next week.

For Mercedes, the praise keeps coming and with Nico Rosberg’s flying laps on the final day of testing this week, the rumbling has them as the ones to beat in 2014. This bodes well for Lewis Hamilton as he’s no stranger to wringing the neck of a car and being 10/10ths if he has the right equipment…and even if he doesn’t sometimes. Lewis will have a mighty competitor on the grid and namely his own teammate.

For McLaren, it’s been a bit rocky losing technical personnel and a team boss but Eric Boullier will step in nicely and had proven his abilities at Lotus F1. The car, benefitting from the Mercedes engine development that the Mercedes AMG Petronas team enjoys, has some interesting design features in the rear diffuser and suspension area being called “mushrooms” and it remains to be seen if any other teams will protest the feature but many say it could be a great move to claw back the aerodynamic los of the lower element of the rear wing which was banned for 2014.

Driver Jenson Button reckons the buzz is back at McLaren and with a new team boss, Ron Dennis back in charge and a car that seems to be performing well in pre-season testing, there is every reason to get excited about the folks in Woking.

Red Bull has had their issues in both pre-season testing events—first in Jerez last January and now in Bahrain. They have four days left to sort their issues and Renault Sport F1 says they too have issues in software management and control.

I maintain that Renault and Red Bull are doing some serious high-wire acts with their chassis, software and ERS systems that are designed to use the technology in a way that pushes the envelope well beyond the letter of the law. It is this complication of design and desire for hidden advantage that could be causing issues and then again, it could win a 5th title.

As I say, this is purely an emotional response and has very little technical or official provenance but the truth is, it is about time Brits have something to get excited about after the Red Bull domination and why not see a battle between Mercedes, McLaren and Ferrari?

Time is the grand equalizer and when you have reached the pinnacle of Formula 1, there is only once direction to go. Will this be the year Red Bull starts its downward march? Can they take the new RB10 even higher than the previous iterations? Can McLaren reclaim their rightful place amongst the competitors at the sharp end of the grid? Will Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen gamble pay off? Can Lewis Hamilton start winning the titles he felt were his to take? Time, as I say, is the grand equalizer…it’s also the grand revelator. Bring on Australia.

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Rapierman

    Given what’s happened so far at Jerez and Bahrain, I’m pretty sure that the UK folks have a legitimate reason to be excited. The question is “What happens when it’s for real?” Yes, the Merc engine looks like it could stand up to the demands, but there is a difference between practice and performance (as former basketball star Allen Iverson so eloquently points out).

  • Andrew

    Haha, thanks NC, as a Brit I’m not really bothered if it’s a Brit who wins, sure I’d prefer Jenson but my gut instinct is he’s just not good enough compared to the Alonsos, Vettels and Hamiltons of this world. Harsh but fair I think, deep down we all know it.

    Lewis? Well, after the whole toys out the pram tweeting telemetry thing last year I’ve lost a lot of respect for him. His tendency to suffer bouts of depression about his relationship also make him hard to back (cold hearted I know, but it’s like DUDE, keep it together!).

    For me I’d like to see Kimi win, he races and that’s it, no bullcrap.

    Just as long as the race results are not 1. Vettel 1. Vettel 1. Vettel 1. Vettel 1. Vettel 1. Vettel 1. Vettel 1. Vettel I’ll be happy :)

    • LOL…ABV (anyone but Vettel). Well, if Seb wins, I’ll be happy for him because he’s done an amazing job but how about a mix up this year? Maybe Kimi, Alonso or…wait for it…Nico Rosberg? :)Just trying to keep the Brits excited. An an Anglophile, it’s kind of hard not to. :)

    • Brody

      Andrew, if you have lost respect for Lewis, because of his tweeting telemetry in (2011) not last season, then you must really have little regard for Alonso, who tried to blackmail Ron Dennis in 2007, if he wasn’t given #1 status at Mclaren, and ensuing scandal cost Mclaren to receive a $100,000,000 fine.

      Lewis definitely wasn’t suffering from any form of depression in 2012 or 2013. Hamilton in 2012 kept it together, and stood a reasonable chance of securing the WDC, but for pitstop mistakes, mechanical failures also occurring while comfortably leading 2 races, and being sent to the rear of the grid, after securing pole position, beause of a fueling foul up, all hurt his chances of securing the top spot in 2012. I felt that as a driver 2012 was good year for Lewis, and 2013 with a new team, hasn’t been too shabby.

  • Jiji the cat

    I’m with you, the Brits should be excited.
    This season is going to be very interesting, Williams look very promising as does the McLaren. As far as Merc go, I tend to think Nico May have the upper hand as fuel management is going to have a big play in this years season. Lewis is not happy when he can’t push the limits all the time and tends to struggle when in a concede action mode. If he can get his head around this, I believe he can be a force. I do expect a number of poles from him this season

    Did I mention that there seams to be some great positive energy coming from the Williams camp ?

    • Jiji the cat

      Stupid spell check. That was meant to be conservative mode re Lewis.

  • MIE

    I’m not sure that anyone other than Mercedes and Force India have done Qualifying simulations so far, so the apparent lead that the Mercedes powered teams have at the moment may not be there at the first race. However, they do seem to have by far the most reliable power unit, which has allowed their teams to do far more miles than their rivals.

    Ferrari should get there soon (possibly during the next test), but I wonder how having only three teams using the power unit is affecting their development. Especially as Marussia seem to be having problems getting their car to run.

    Renault will I think take longer to get on an even footing, and we may see them given dispensation to change more than the regulations permit to try and equalise the power output come the end of the year. Interestingly it is only this year that Renault are responsible for the development of the Energy Recovery System (in previous years each Renault powered team developed its own KERS), and this is the area that I suspect they are weak compared to Mercedes and Ferrari.

    I still have a nagging doubt that with the troubles Renault are likely to have at the beginning of the season, the ‘double points spectacular’ could see the title once again head to Vettel as the team finally sorts itself out for the end of the season.

  • Let’s be honest, Williams ran the most laps as anyone this week and they have Felipe who is a veteran and Bottas who many believe to be the real thing and a pocket stuffed with Brazilian cash so I’m kind of excited to be honest. I bet Claire is too.

  • Brody

    Mclaren looks as if they will not be languishing in the midfield, but towards the sharp end of the grid where they belong, which can only be good for all fans worldwide.

    Williams may not be a contender for any championship like Mclaren, but it looks as if some positive results maybe in the cards for the team this season, which can only have a positive effect on British fans.