Twelve months ago I listed a few predictions for the year and I think I foolishly agreed I would review them at the end of the season.
So here goes…
McLaren will win the Formula 1 constructors’ championship.
The McLaren MP4-25 never really looked like the sort of car that would see Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button put together a title-contending campaign this season.
Even with the innovative driver-controlled F-duct system, the car always seemed to be one step behind Red Bull in the development race.
Still, not a bad year for the Woking-based team. Finishing second in the constructors’ championship behind the often untouchable Red Bull is the best they could have expected.
Lewis Hamilton will win the drivers’ championship, closely followed by Fernando Alonso.
Hamilton took the rough with the smooth this year. He looked set to win his second world championship after his third win of the season at the Belgian Grand Prix, and then it went downhill rather rapidly with clashes with Felipe Massa and Mark Webber at Monza and Singapore respectively.
Mercedes Grand Prix will find fourth in the constructors’ table, behind the likes of McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull.
And sure enough they did.
The MGP W01 was an okay car that was generally fourth fastest – an average of 0.3s adrift of the Mercedes-powered McLaren – the result of a 40% reduction in staff numbers as the team adapted to life as an independent last year.
The boffins at Brackley came up with a less than ambitious challenger for this season, one that was never going to challenge the top three, but held its own in the upper echelons of the midfield mob.
Michael Schumacher will regularly blitz Nico Rosberg.
Herr Schumacher’s return to F1 was nothing short of disappointing. He wasn’t always outclassed but over-shadowed by team-mate Nico Rosberg.
Something resembling an upturn in performance materialised towards the end of the season and, in truth, the Mercedes-Benz wasn’t the best car to make your comeback in.
Much now depends on what the new Pirelli tyres have to offer Schumacher.
Campos Meta will fail to make the grid in Bahrain.
HRT (nee Campos Meta) limped their way to the Bahrain Grand Prix at the start of the year. A season of pain and misery followed.
Sebastian Vettel will win the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Vettel lead the Bahrain Grand Prix from the off and looked comfortable up front until a spark plug problem sapped his Renault of any power. The German racer managed to nurse his car home for fourth.
Of the new mob in Formula One, Virgin Racing will be the most competitive.
The all-CFD-designed VR-01 lacked downforce and was on the back foot when the team discovered pre-season that the fuel tank wasn’t large enough for some of the higher-consumption races later in the year.
Any planned aero updates arrived late, by which time Lotus had already begun to pull away in the performance stakes.
Toro Rosso will be put back on the market again, and be sold off before the end of the year.
Well, there were rumours of Jacques Villeneuve and Durango being interested in purchasing the team, but nothing actually came of it.
But, I have a hunch energy drinks magnate Dietrich Mateschitz won’t be ploughing money into the Red Bull B-team for too long…
Barrichello and Trulli will call it a day.
Barrichello drove as brilliantly as ever this year, his 18th season in F1. His ability to quickly indentify and pick up any technical problems proved invaluable to Williams, hence his services being retained for 2011.
Trulli’s season wasn’t anything to write home about. He didn’t seem to have a single problem-free weekend all year long. But, with no other real alternatives on the sidelines for 2011, the Italian winemaker finds himself alongside team-mate Heikki Kovalainen for another year.
Kimi Raikkonen will finish on the fringes of the top 10 in the WRC and commit to another season of rallying.
When he wasn’t rolling his Citroen C4 down the nearest embankment, the Finn demonstrated his outright driving ability and speed. All-in-all, it was a so-so first year in the WRC, and the fact he finished tenth in the drivers’ standings is indicative of quality the series at the moment.
With no competitive F1 race seats available next year, Raikkonen will almost definitely be returning for more rally action in 2011.
Mikko Hirvonen will be crowned WRC champion.
It’s been a difficult season for Hirvonen. He started off the year in fine form at Rally Sweden, but in a year full of problems, only finished on the podium on one further occasion in Turkey.
He vowed to go out on the attack to clinch the title this year, but it backfired on many an occasion. Still, with the new regulations for 2011, he may well be able to take the fight to Loeb and end his successful reign. Maybe.
Kris Meeke will announce he is to drive in the WRC for 2011.
Prodrive announced back in September that Kris Meeke would drive for the newly formed Mini team in the WRC next year. The 2009 IRC champion has been linked with the team since its assault on the champion was confirmed in July.
Prodrive will announce a BMW Mini WRC entry for 2011.
Fairly predictable one this.
However, what was surprising was just how long it took for an official announcement to be made.
Months of speculation finally came to an end during the summer months when Mini revealed that they had contracted motorsports firm Prodrive to build its new rally challenger.
The Mini Countryman WRC model will race in just a few select stages next year, before gearing up to participate in the full 2012 season of the WRC competition.
Ken Block will head up the Monster-Ford WRC team and be competitive from the off. Finishing in the top five.
The man behind the popular Gymkhana videos participated in seven of the 13 rounds that made up this year’s WRC season, and according to the official FIA standings, finished in a lowly 23rd position in the drivers’ championship.
Block managed to take his first WRC points when he finished ninth during the Rally of Spain. Otherwise, the newcomer’s season has been a case of spotting the flashes of promise between mistakes and misfortunes.
A1GP’s life support machine will finally be switched off – but nobody will notice.
The future of the “Worldcup of Motorsport” looked pretty miserable towards the end of last year when the opening round of the season at Surfers Paradise was cancelled just five days before practice was due to begin.
Despite assurances by leading figures from the series that a package with a group of investors will get the series back on track in 2011, nothing has been heard since former series boss Tony Teixeira scarpered earlier on in the year.
RIP – A1GP.
Valentino Rossi will once again win another MotoGP title and switch from two-wheels to sportscar racing.
Quite what the logic behind this outlandish prediction was, I’ll never know. “The Doctor” will be leaving behind the Yamaha team he’s been with for seven years and joining Ducati.
Carlos Sainz will win the Dakar Rally.
The double World Rally Champion returned for his fourth attempt at the Dakar this year and, adopting a more cautious approach this time around, won this year’s event with a cushion of just over two minutes.
A fairy tale result.
The Le Mans 24 Hours will be won by Peugeot.
Well it would have been, had the four-strong Peugeot team not been blighted by mechanical woes which allowed Audi to roar home in first, second and third. Sacre bleu!
The Le Mans 24 Hours will feature David Coulthard and Sebastien Loeb, though not necessarily in the same team.
I had a feeling that Coulthard was itching to get back behind the wheel of a race car. But unfortunately for me, he opted to go down the DTM route instead of jumping into a prototype or GT car.
Loeb on the other hand was a busy bunny, concentrating fully on clinching his seventh WRC title.
Daniel Ricciardo will win the Formula 3.5 championship.
The Aussie driver lived up to his reputation and enjoyed a brilliant rookie season in which he came within just three laps of the finish of the very last race to taking the title.
The Red Bull F1 reserve driver will get another stab at it next year, driving once again for Tech 1 Racing, that’s if of course he’s not called up to drive for Toro Rosso mid-season.
Jean-Eric Vergne will win the British F3 championship.
As predictable as night following day, a Red Bull-backed Carlin Motorsport driver clinched this year’s British F3 title.
Simply put: Vergne was a class apart. Incredibly quick and also the most consistent driver in the championship, it also helped he had the best car at his disposal.
An absolute dominant display saw him become the first Frenchman ever to win the championship. An F1 career beckons.
The winner of the Formula 2 category will impress Williams and be offered a drive.
Dean Stoneman had a bit clumsy mid-season, but in the end the quickest driver in the series came good and won the second Formula 2 season of the modern era.
Stoneman went on to test with Williams in Abu Dhabi last month after winning this year’s F2 title, and as yet, hasn’t confirmed his whereabouts for next year. Anyway, Williams need a bob-or-two, hence Pasor Maldonado’s inclusion within the Grove-based team for 2011.
So there we go. As you can see from the abundance of red crosses above, motor racing is mostly unpredictable and any predictions are just hopeless guesswork. I guess that’s why we love it so much.