The Ben Evans Column: The alternative 2007 preview

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Ralf Schumacher, Nick Heidfeld, Melbourne, 2006In just a few days the 2007 motor-racing season will kick off with the Australian Grand Prix. And boy, does it promise to be a good year.

I’m not talking about Ferrari’s radical design or the new McLaren line-up – because that has all been done to death.

No I’m going to highlight some of the more unusual questions and moments to look forward to in 2007.

For starters: Will Heikki Kovalainen continue to undo all the good work of all his Finnish F1 predecessors by remaining outgoing and amusing self? Mika Hakkinen and Kimi Raikkonen take note…

Also this year will anyone notice if Rubens Barrichello and Jarno Trulli are racing or not? Because I swear both of them took a few months off in 2006 (like, March to October) and nobody noticed.

Of course the Brazilian will attract more attention for driving the biggest load of green bollocks since the film adaptation of ?????ǣThe Incredible Hulk??????.

Trulli’s Toyota team mate Ralf has sadly failed in his bid to become the fastest Schumacher in F1 following brother Michael’s retirement, as apparently Spyker hospitality sous-chef Englebert Schumacher is a bit handy in a kart. At least ITV viewers can enjoy another year of one muppet commentating on another.

Nick Heidfeld, BMW, Valencia, preseason, 3At BMW ‘Not so quick’ Nick Heidfeld is set with the task of winning every race by five laps, while blindfolded and juggling a dozen eggs, to avoid losing his seat to Sebastian Vettel.

Red Bull have invested more than anyone in history in young talent except maybe the Chinese army. So quite how did they end up with F1’s oldest partnership in David Coulthard and Mark Webber?

Vitantonio Liuzzi’s lack of form serves to remind us that F3000 in 2004 really was rubbish.

Scott Speed retains his seat for no reason other than he’s American, good looking and has the perfect racing driver name. Sadly he’s rubbish, unlike the final of the Red Bull quartet, Mark Webber, who may have wondered into yet another team whose performance is on the wane – see this year’s testing times.

Super Aguri could be the surprise package of the year. But Takuma Sato has an unfortunate habit of alternate promising seasons with crash-strewn disasters, and so after last year’s decent campaign expect a relapse.

Adrian Sutil, Spyker-Ferrari, Silverstone, 2007, 4At least the team still sounds like a Nintendo game, which is more than can be said for Spyker, which sounds like a third-rate James Bond villain. But 007 himself stands more chance of winning a racing in ’07 than either Adrian Sutil or Christijan Albers.

Away from F1 GP2 as always looks like being excellent. So does British F3 despite possibly its weakest ever line-up – the prospect of watching 20 or so teenagers with exceptionally wealthy parents shunt very expensive racing cars that they can’t drive properly is most appealing. Even more enticing is the anticipated reaction of Nigel Mansell when he realises that his sons’ Fortec team-mate Sebastian Hohenthal is light years quicker. I fully expect the fast Swede to receive a pit-lane Brummie-bashing before the year is out.

Our transatlantic cousins in Champ Car have taken a novel approach to the pre-season built-up but not announcing any of the drivers until opening practice at the first round.

Paul Tracy, Forsythe, Champ Car, 2006Only Sebastian Bourdais and a handful of others are confirmed. And the world waits with baited breath to see if Paul Tracy has put on any more weight in the off-season.

The Andy Fordam of racing is now matched in NASCAR by the chubby Columbian Juan-Pablo Montoya who finally put to rest all those ‘fat’ jibes by admitting to sampling McDonalds in every country he visited. Now in NASCAR he’ll get to try variations in all 50 states and the opportunity to check out rival chains such as Wendy’s, Popeye’s, White Castle and Taco Bell.

At least it detracts from the racing, which only serves to make Pixar’s ?????ǣCars?????? look like a documentary.

The Indy Racing League is facing up to the fact that its most bankable asset, Danica Patrick, won’t remain bankable for long if she keeps finishing 9th no matter how much better looking than Dan Wheldon she is. The fact that most of the races in 2006 were really dull for the first 200 laps also doesn’t help help.

As ever, even if the racing is dull, there will still be enough going on off track to keep the fans entertained.

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Tags: f1 / formula one / formula 1 / grand prix / motor sport

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Ben Evans
Motorsport commentator Ben is RaceFans' resident bookworm. Look out for his verdict on the latest motor racing publications on Sundays....

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3 comments on “The Ben Evans Column: The alternative 2007 preview”

  1. Nikos Darzentas
    7th March 2007, 13:27


  2. Ooooooh, cynical! :D

  3. Ahh, you should see the season previews that these guys do – had me in stitches.

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