Soapbox: The big story of 2008 (pt 1)

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2008 Williams, 450150

With the new Formula 1 season just around the corner I wanted to get the thoughts from the top F1 bloggers on what will be the big story of 2008.

First up is Clive from F1 Insight, who expects big things from Williams this year:

Keith and I were having a virtual drink in the internet pub, The Hacker’s Keyboard the other day, when suddenly he asked the question, “What will be the big story in F1 2008?”

Now that’s a tough one, I thought, as I played for time by taking another swig at my pint (Old Gates’ Terminal Error, strongest brew in the West, if you must know). My thoughts wandered back over the past year and the huge stories that had dominated the sport – the Stepneygate saga, the rise of Hamilton and his feud with Alonso, monsoon rain and penalties handed out, rescinded and threatened, Ferrari’s final and much-debated victory. So much had happened in that annus horribilis; surely 2008 must be different.

That Stepney thing is not over yet, I pondered; I could fob him off with a continuation. But no, that would hardly be fair and, knowing how the Italian legal system loves to keep things going, it could be years before we have a final answer on that one. It has to be something totally unexpected. After all, every year is different – apart from when the Shoe was winning everything in sight and the seasons just blended into one great borefest.

It was time to dust off the old crystal ball, I realized. The crack in it that caused my embarrassing prediction of Button for champ had been fixed and it was time I gave it a test run.

“Tell you what, Keith,” I said, “I’ll have a think and get back to you on that.”

He smiled as he held up his glass to see the light glowing through the warm, golden colors of its contents (Silicon Valley Vineyards, 2005 vintage). “Fair enough, I’d prefer you give it some thought. And no wild guesses this time, okay? Buttons belong on shirts, not racetracks, you know…”

Later that night, I dug out the crystal ball and sat down to let it run through the coming year. In fast forward mode, it scrambled through the early races, familiar faces coming and going, the same old flags waved, red and silver dominating the finishing straights. This is no good, I thought, I need something new and totally unexpected.

I increased the speed and everything became a blur of colour – faces, cars, celebrations, appearing and disappearing in a moment. But a gradual change was happening. I might not have noticed had the speed been less, but the colours were getting darker, almost as if night were falling.

Kazuki Nakajima, Nico Rosberg, Williams-Toyota, 2008 pre-season livery launch

Singapore? But no, that was very early on and long past. It was the red and silver that were disappearing and being forced out by a much darker colour. Dark blue in fact, almost midnight. Williams? Has Frank returned to centre stage at last?

I slowed the thing down – it was Monza already. And there was my confirmation: two blue cars flashing across the line, one, two, and half a minute before a red car appeared. Nico proudly waving the trophy on the top step of the podium, Kazuki grinning like a cat just to the side of him, Kimi looking like, well, looking like Kimi, just making it into the frame.

Increasing the speed again, I hurried through the last few races. There was no doubt about it – even Kazuki made it to the top step on one occasion. Williams are on their way back and I have a fine tale to tell Keith the next time we meet. 2008 will be the year Williams takes the biscuit again!

I imagined the look on his face at receiving the news. The incredulity, the smile of disbelief. Oh, I know what he’ll think – poor Clive has been at the juniper juice again. Could I face another year of being hopelessly wrong?

But nothing ventured, nothing gained. Little point in going for the same old boring predictions, after all – everyone does that. This is my answer: a Williams championship, a return to glory. That will be a story big enough to beat any political shenanigans, even with Max at the helm.

And how does that figure with my previous prediction of a certain bearded German to be champ? Ah well, there are two championships, you know, and there was quite a lot of white in that crystal ball too…

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  • 17 comments on “Soapbox: The big story of 2008 (pt 1)”

    1. Hmph, Well Clive it is a prediction. Williams this year–why the hell not. they have the drivers and they have the car according to the times.

      No complaints from the drivers on their equipment this off season. We have heard enough of that from other teams.

      Most of all is Frank himself. This is one dedicated man to racing. I often wonder if he takes anytime off during the offseason. Because he never stops during race season.

      I am not sure if this is where you (Clive and Keith) would like us to state our predictions and support them as well. so I am waiting for that spot to appear.

      I can not disagree with your arguement for Williams this year Clive. But I am sure others will have strong support for another (not top 2 team) team that will emerge as a success this year. I for one have another that I like and I have reasons to support it but I do not want to steal your thunder.

    2. Hint–My crystal ball has a bit more white color coming from it.

    3. I am not sure if this is where you (Clive and Keith) would like us to state our predictions

      I’m doing a thing on predictions for Monday…

    4. openwheelfan
      8th March 2008, 16:41

      Thanks Keith,  I think we should keep them handy for the season so we can comment on who is correct or not.  The post with the most insightful crystal ball wins a kudo or two!

    5. theRoswellite
      8th March 2008, 17:01

      It would certainly make my entire season just seeing Sir Frank with a victory twinkle in his eye….a bit of justice that.

    6. Ah, would that it could be true. I would love to see Frank and Patrick return to the days of ’96 and ’97. I’m not sure that they are quite there yet, but they sure seem to be turning the corner, and the new injection of Icelandic cash won’t hurt. Rosberg’s talent is no longer in doubt and Kazuki may turn out to be the Japanese driver who leap-frogs past Sato, arguably one of that countries’ most talented drivers.

      I like your predictions, Clive, I just think you may have fast forwarded a wee bit too much to a season after 2008!

    7. Well, I could always claim to be a year ahead in my predictions, Arnet.  Except that would mean Button for champion this year and, for some strange reason, I doubt that…  ;)

    8. There is no crystal ball big enough to permit a vision of a Williams podium, never mind a win, this year. Even if the cars were good enough, the drivers are not. Alonso, possibly Vettel, in a Williams, the odd podium, maybe. Sir Frank needs to hire better talent if wins are on his agenda. As to predictions, the "other" Finn is going to surprise a lot of people, LH in particular, and will likely score the majority of Wokings points.

    9. openwheelfan
      8th March 2008, 21:21

      You know Green Flag I was thinking the same thing about McLaren this year.  I think all the talk about sophomore blues are getting into my head.  I like LH and enjoy watching him but I also like the underdog at that team.  My only hope is that Ron really does treat them both the same when it comes to equipment!!

    10. Green flag, prepare to be surprised. There is nothing wrong with Frank’s eye for a good driver.

    11. From what I can see, Williams dose seem to be heading in the right direction going into the coming season, and that could certainly amount to a few podiums by the end of the year. With so much power in the top two teams, it would be fantastic to see Willaims- or BMW, for that matter- break their grip on the wins in 2008. I think Sir Frank’s drivers are well-suited for the task. After all, if Rosberg is lacking on talent, I would like to ask people like Green Flag why McLaren was so keen on getting him down the road?

    12. Unfortunately, my crystal ball is all red, white and silver…

    13. Great piece of imaginative prose, Clive. But in one of the fastest silver cars there´s no Fernando anymore, but in other there are still the same driver…

    14. If Williams did a have a chance to win either Championship then 2008 would have to be one of the greatest years ever. Rosberg is the finished product and Kazuki is properly quick.

    15. Clive’s attempt at a "mole". Now…where are the penelopes? ;)

    16. Gman, Rosberg is a David Coulthard, competent, quick, but not particularly special.  McLaren will be pleased they signed Kovalainen, who will most likely win a championship before LH does.

    17. Hehehe, Uppili – it’s just good to know that people read The Mole.  He is excellent.

      As for the Penelopes, the Mole insisted that they were all away on assignments when I phoned…

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