Monday marks Randy Bernard’s State of the Sport address for IndyCar. Mr. Bernard will be discussing a number of topics. So I (Kent) thought it would be a good idea for a State of Racing Mania address. This will cover a number of topics. Let the fun begin.
Bloggers: We here at Racing Mania are up to two primary bloggers and one part-time blogger. As you readers know I brought Ross over from Triple League Racing and added IndyCar fan Tony Tellez to the mix. Hopefully, we can get some roundtables together to preview some season(s). On a quick note I’m looking for a NASCAR guy. If you’re interested… Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Like always I will cover basically everything, Ross will predominately cover Sports Cars and Open Wheel. Tony will be covering IndyCar.
What to Expect For This Season:
ALMS: I believe this season in ALMS will be very good. The car counts in LMP1 are bad but competitive. LMP2 looks okay, GTE and GT are going to be similar to last season. The thing that hurts ALMS is losing the race with the World Endurance Championship at Road Atlanta to end the season. This year’s Petit should be boring. The car counts will be low, but still okay racing. This year there will be some live races that can be caught on the ESPN family of networks (ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN3). All races can be seen live on ESPN3.
LMP1: Muscle Milk Pickett Racing
LMP2: Level 5 Motorsport
LMPC: Core Autosport
GT: Rahal Letterman Racing
GTE: Black Swan Racing
Grand-Am: After Michael Shank Racing pulled of the unthinkable at the 24 Hours of Daytona… It looks like the same battle of last year in Daytona Prototype (Ganassi, SunTrust and Gainsco Bob Stallings). The new Chevy chassis look great except for the problems at Daytona. The Ford-Riley’s look super fast. We’ll just have to see what happens. The season is long. In GT, it looks like TRG, Magnus and Autohaus will battle for the championship. You can catch races on Speed.
Daytona Prototype: Ganassi
World Endurance Championship: This is a series that saw some transition during the off-season. It got re-named from ILMC to World Endurance Championship. The schedule saw a mini makeover. No San Marino and Road Atlanta. The series will be divided into four classes (LMP1, LMP2, GTE-Pro and GTE-Am). The series will race with the American LeMans Series at Sebring in March. The biggest news in the off-season is the close up of Team Puegeot. They’ll definitely be missed. More later…
GTE-Pro: AF Corse
DTM: I am fairly new to DTM, I know that its mostly ran around Germany. I’ll try to cover a lot of it this year. I am excited that Joey Hand is going to run in DTM for BMW. No predictions.
Formula One: Now to the great stuff (haha). There have been many changes in Formula One for 2012. The new United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas. Driver changes include, Kimi Raikkonen back in Formula One in the Lotus, his new teammate will be last year’s third driver for the team in Romain Grosjean. Toro Rosso brought in developement drivers in Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo for Jaime Alguesari and Seb Buemi. Buemi stays as the third driver. Force India let go Adrian Sutil for 2011 third driver Nico Hulkenburg. HRT brought in veteran and McLaren third driver Pedro de la Rosa for Tonio Luizzi. At Williams, Pastor Maldanando stays but veteran Rubens Barrichello goes in favor of Bruno Senna. Maurissa swapped Jerome D’Ambrosio for Charles Pic.
The top 3- Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari- Red Bull unveiled the RB8 for 2012 last Monday. The team keeps double reigning World Champion Sebastien Vettel and Mark Webber. McLaren brings back both Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton. Ferrari retains both drivers from 2011. I expect Red Bull to be strong as normal but McLaren wins the constructors’ title. In my opinion, I believe that Ferrari is in a re-building mode. Fernando Alonso is a consistent driver, Felipe Massa not so much. I believe if Massa doesn’t perform he’ll be out in 2013. They could possibly slip to fourth in the Constructors Standings if Massa doesn’t show up and Alonso works his butt off.
Middle Fight: Lotus, Mercedes Force India, Toro Rosso and Sauber- Lotus is re-vamped for 2012 with veteran and World Champion Kimi Raikkonen joining the squad after a few years off. GP2 Champion Romain Grosjean joins the team. They looked great in the first test in Jerez, Spain. Lotus needs to go back to the form they were in the early 2000′s with Fernando Alonso winning championships. Could Grosjean deliever? Or will Kimi be consistent. In the Mercedes camp, Nico Rosberg is on the breaking point. I believe he picks up his first ever win this season. He has really matured as a driver since his rookie season in 2010. Michael Schumacher. The ageless wonder. Will he get the coveted eighth championship? Will he win a race? Will he retire, eventually? Those are all the questions that could be answered this season. If he has a bad season, you can see retirement coming in 2013. Good season maybe not. Force India looks very good in the early testing session. Paul di Resta will have a breakout season in my opinion. He was very strong at the end of last season. I think he can carry the momentum into Melbourne in late March. The addition of Nico Hulkenburg aka “the Hulk” just makes the team stronger. They will be battling for fourth in the constructors this season without a doubt. Can Toro Rosso’s young talent deliver? Well, there is no doubt about the talent of Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo. If the STR7 is fast they will be in the points almost every week. Sauber brings back both drivers. Kobayshi is always a strong and fearless driver but can Perez come out of his shell? Predictions: Lotus and Mercedes are the best teams out of these teams listed.
The Bottom 4- Can Williams recover from the dismal season from last year? If Pastor Maldanando can stop crashing they’ll be in good shape. Caterham, Maurissa and HRT have to score points to stay in the fight for 2013.
Sebastien Vettel (Red Bull)
IndyCar: IndyCar needs to come back strong in 2012 after losing Dan Wheldon on the final day of the season in 2011. Obviously Dan will be missed. The recovery process is looking pretty good, Three engine manufactures (Chevy, Honda and Lotus). New competition director in Beaux Barfield. Anything has to better than Brian Barnhart. In some of the changes, Instant Messaging will be used to communicate from race control to teams to give out warnings, penalties and general information. The word ‘discretion’ has only been used six times in 2012′s rulebook compared to eighty-seven times in last year’s. That has to be good. The new DW12 chassis look fast. We’ll find more out on this at the open test in early March. Some driver changes. Danica is gone. Dragon Racing gets Katherine Legge and Seb Bourdais. Bryan Herta Autosport gets Alex Tagliani. Newman Haas closes down. Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing picks 2011 IndyLights Champion Josef Newgarden to pilot the 67 car. Ed Carpenter forms his own team. Oriol Servia goes to DRR. Wilson is back at Coyne. Rahal is back with Takuma Sato piloting the car. And finally Hinchcliffe to replace Danica. On the schedule side, Belle Isle, Fontana and Milwaukee make returns. China is new. Gone is Loudon, Kentucky and Vegas.
The top teams will be Penske and Ganassi. Will Power will be there on the twisties and short ovals. Dario and Dixon are great. Is this Helio’s last year at Penske? Will Briscoe win a few races? Graham Rahal will be better this year and so will teammate Charlie Kimball. Andretti brings back Marco and RHR. They sign James Hinchcliffe to replace Danica that has to be good. KV re-sign TK and Viso but Rubens Barrichello might be coming to the team. Panther brings back Hildebrand. Will RLLR be strong? Will MSR Indy, Dragon and ECR be good? How many cars will make it on the grid at St. Pete?
Will Indianapolis finally see a halfway decent start? I don’t know that but I sure hope so.
Will Power (Penske)
Other stuff: Racing Mania will be your source to TV show and Video Game reviews (for XBOX360). I plan on giving Forza 4 and F1 2011 reviews shortly. Top Gear USA reviews. NASCAR, Moto GP, WSBK, i1 SuperSeries and Australian V-8 SuperCars occasionally.