Now that Lewis has won a world title some of the immense pressure is now lifted. No matter what happens now, he will always be referred to as a world champion. Had he lost last season’s title final, life would be feeling much tougher right now.
It is clear that Hamilton has enormous talent.
When he performs at his best he is one of the best out there, if not the best. However he still has many flaws. He makes silly errors, and can make life hard for himself. The pressure from outside can often get to him, and affect his driving.
In the future if he can cut all these flaws from his game, then more world titles will surely be won. At the moment though it’s looking like it could be a tough season for Lewis.
The Mclaren currently isn’t a front runner. On a positive note this is his key chance to prove the critics wrong. He can prove to them that his early success wasn’t just about having a quick car.
He can prove that he can drive a car further than it deserves to be, like all the greatest drivers in F1’s history. If he achieves that in 2009, his critics will have to start finally taking note.
If he struggles in a difficult car, it will only confirm their suspicions. This season will tell us plenty about Lewis’s ability, even if he is unable to defend his title. Can he battle hard from the midfield to score points? This is one of the most interesting sub plots of the 2009 season.
This is without a doubt a make or break year for Heikki. Last season he underperformed. There is no doubt the talent is there, but he has to seriously up his game. He can’t afford to be threatened by who his team mate is. He has to dig deep, and fight harder than ever before in 2009.
He needs to ensure, that he stakes his claim within the team right from the start of the season. He simply has to make a much better start to the season than he did last year. He can’t let all the momentum run Lewis’s way early on.
He needs to show Mclaren that they have two exceptional drivers, not just one. One thing that may swing in Heikki’s favour is that he has had experience of driving a difficult car (with Renault in 2007).
This may give a Heikki a small advantage over Hamilton. If Heikki doesn’t perform in 2009 his Mclaren career will surely be over. He simply has to give Lewis something to think about. Nothing less will be sufficient.
TOYOTA – Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock
Jarno Trulli completely walloped Glock in the first half of 2008, but in the second half of the season, Glock improved and came back strong. In the end, it was Trulli who won the team mate war, but it didn’t end up as comfortable as it might have been.
Glock looks to be a very handy driver. After a tough start, he has adapted himself very well to F1. He will improve furthur and have a very good second season.
However, he will find it very hard to beat Trulli. Trulli is in the form of his life at the moment. He is also arguably F1’s best qualifier. If he can get a few cars between himself and Glock, then Trulli has a great chance of leading Toyota’s charge for podiums and wins.
Trulli can find an extra few tenths from nowhere when it matters most. This sets him apart from Glock, certainly when it comes to qualifying.
In 2009, Jarno will be able to get rid of his worst enemy—the grooved tyre. He will be one of the drivers who benefits most from the changeover to slicks. When Trulli first started in F1, he was super-quick on slicks. I think Trulli stands a chance of having his best ever season in F1 in 2009.
Glock will have a good season too but don’t expect to see Trulli’s No. 1 status in the team changing. Glock will push him all the way, but Trulli has enough to stay ahead and may edge further ahead of Glock.
If Toyota is going to win races this season, Trulli is more likely to be the man to deliver them.
FINAL VERDICT: Glock is a very competent driver who will keep Trulli on his toes. However, I don’t see No. 1 status shifting to Timo’s side of the garage this season. Trulli looks set to build on 2008 and will become harder to beat.
Scuderia Toro Rosso – Sebastien Buemi and Sebastien Bourdais
For Toro Rosso, it’s the battle of the Sebs again!
Bourdais may not have had many points last season, but in the final third of the season, he was very strong. Luck wasn’t with him at times.
He could have challenged for the win in Monza—it rained at the wrong time in Spa. Then there was that dreadful decision by the stewards in Fuji. Once he adapted to the car he was fast.
The decision to give Buemi the drive is a strange one. He didn’t finish that high up in the GP2 standings, and his best results came in the sprint races benefiting from the reverse grid system.
I think with so little experience, and having the new F1 cars to adapt to, it will be a very tall order for the young Swiss. As the season goes on, I am sure that he will get more adapted to F1, but it’s going to take some time. I don’t expect him to get results straight away.
Bourdais, on the other hand, could have a very strong season. These new cars could really suit him down to the ground. Over in Champ Car, he was used to cars with slick tyres and more emphasis on mechanical grip.
In Champ Car, there also was the “push to pass” button. This may give him a little head start, when it comes to making the most use out of the KERs system, when it comes to overtaking.
Bourdais could be one of the surprises of this F1 season. He could get the odd podium. I think that he will come out on top at Rosso this season.
FINAL VERDICT: Rosso has brought Buemi into F1 too soon and he may struggle. Bourdais has a chance of having a great second season. He will improve massively on what was overall a disappointing debut season. He will feel more at home with the new spec F1 cars.