Here's hoping for a great start to the Formula One season in Bahrain on Sunday. Schumacher's return, Alonso at Ferrari and Hamilton and Button fighting it out at McLaren are among the potentially explosive aspects of a season that holds great promise.
But it should be noted that none of this owes anything to Max Mosley's "grand plan" of enticing new teams into the sport. The newcomers look extremely disappointing on the eve of the first race: Lotus, despite two experienced drivers in Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen have been five seconds off the pace in testing at Valencia and Catalunya and Virgin even slower. Campos, now renamed Hispania, hasn't tested but may make it to Bahrain and the much-touted USF1 has imploded even before the season starts.
So much for Mr. Mosley's "due process" of examining business plans and what have you before accepting teams' entries. And of course announcing at the last minute that only teams using Cosworth engines would be admitted. That, arguably, lost us Dave Richards' Prodrive entry, which I believe would have made a better show of things than any of the other hopefuls.
I would venture to say that the chaotic administration and confrontation between F1 teams and the FIA during the latter months of Max's reign also contributed to the withdrawal of BMW and Toyota from F1... so much for his contention that he was acting to ensure the sport's future.
Thank heavens for Peter Sauber, who has managed to save his team, ironically still named BMW Sauber despite running Ferrari engines, and Renault, which has found a way to continue despite the fall-out from the Briatore/Piquet "race-fixing" affair. I hope that new FIA boss Jean Todt, who ran on a Mosley ticket, has got his head around all of this...
Because, despite the excitement of Schumacher, Alonso, Button and Hamilton, we have had the most chaotic build-up to a season that I can remember. If you want proof, you'll only need to look at CAR's annual F1 Guide, which includes at least one defunct team and has a lot of blank spaces to be filled in.
Uncertainty at the beginning of a season is always a problem because of print deadlines and we've had a couple of close calls in the past, notably last year with the Brawn saga. But at least we had the team and the drivers right... and even the white car we showed was pretty close to the contender that appeared. But this season we have really been up against it. The only consolation is that the material on the teams with serious prospects is spot on! Watch out for our booklet, which comes out with the April issue.
Enter CARmag’s new F1 Predictor game brought to you by Bridgestone! All you have to do is predict the top 10 drivers and who'll grab pole position, and the fastest lap, for every race. There's R20 000 in cash up for grabs, and the best player in each round of the championship will win a R500 SupaQuick tyre voucher.