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The Curtain Rises On The Final Act

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Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg - Who Will Be Crowned F1 Champion?
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg – Who Will Be Crowned F1 Champion?

Here we are. Hardly believable that the end of the season is only one day away. Hard to believe that Nico/Lewis might win his first/second championship this weekend. While we all might bemoan the end of a season and sit huddled and waiting for the cold light of winter testing to be followed by the glorious coming of spring with Australian Grand Prix, this is no ordinary year, and it will be no ordinary off-season. It will be a off-season partly made up of mystery and hopefully also providing some answers to  questions that have been asked all season.

The first set of questions will be answered on Sunday evening, can Rosberg keep his cool and finish first?

Can Lewis live up to his talent and claim his second championship? All signs (and British media) point towards Lewis Hamilton taking the championship this weekend and given that a second place finish is good enough I would fancy that he will as well, but this is racing and anything can happen.

The next question on the everyone’s lips is who will be driving for Mclaren? Alonso looks destined to go there unless he comes out in the next few days and shocks the world by buying Caterham F1. So what of Button and Magnussen?

The prevailing opinion seems to be that you keep Jenson because he is experienced and he is a big draw to sponsors whereas Magnussen needs more time to hone his skills, especially at the top level. At worst Jenson under performs against Alonso which wouldn’t be a huge surprise given Alonso’s sheer race ability. At best Button pushes Alonso and puts Mclaren at the business end of the constructor’s championship and gives Mclaren more time to assess a replacement driver from a big pool which includes Vandoorne, Magnussen, Grosjean and Bottas amongst any other emerging talent.

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Also surrounding Mclaren are questions about the Honda power-unit. Could it really be as good as the Mercedes power unit? Will it sound as good as the preview videos lead us to believe? And most importantly will it, coupled with Promodrou’s work in the aero department, be able to propel Mclaren up to the sharp end of the grid and back to fighting for wins and championships? This remains to be seen but Mclaren right now top the table for the team to keep a close eye on this winter.

The next big question for F1 is ‘how many cars will be on the grid next year?’

Will Marussia or Caterham find buyers before the start of winter testing? With the cost of going racing in F1 getting ever higher anyone would be forgiven for thinking that no other person in there right mind would pick up these teams, clear their debt and take them racing but it only takes one person with more money then sense to make this a reality.

My money is on one of the two teams in administration being bought and ready to race come Melbourne next year but who long they will last is anyone’s guess.

Finally the issue of what kind of Formula 1 we will have in 2016 will be addressed, hopefully, before the start of the 2015 season. Will we have three driver teams? I for one hope not, I feel it will undermine many of the junior formula as well as showing an unbalanced grid in F1, imagine Alonso, Vettel or  Ricciardo finishing repeatedly behind a Mercedes youth driver and one team consistently locking out the podium finishes, that doesn’t sound appealing to me. Then there is the matter of cost caps which will no doubt once again come into the conversation as the sport looks to protect some sort of grid for the long term and nail down most of the regulations in the hope of some stability in the sport post 2015.

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One final thing on the subject of technical regulations. The issue of engine regulations just arose in the team managers press conference this evening. During a question about the cost and ability to develop the current engines Horner suggested that perhaps F1 should look at a V6 twin turbo charged system with a standardized ERS system much like the current single ECU system that is currently in place. Forgetting for a moment that throwing out the current engine regulations which have cost Renault, Ferrari and Mercedes somewhere in the region of a billion euro collectively to develop in favor of new ones would be a monumental expense to all the teams, but I love the sound of it.

A standardize ERS system cuts costs to smaller teams immediately and the change in engine format maintains the noise and drama of old F1 while still being in a modern enough to possibly attract new manufacturers into the sport. Just a thought.

And finally while I haven’t really mentioned how good the racing has been for the majority of this year, or how Vettel will do in Ferrari, or whether or not Ricciardo will be a title contender next year, I feel I should make mention of the tragedies of the year in the accidents and injuries to Michael Schumacher and Jules Bianchi.

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After the accidents to both men I felt like I should write something but both times could not bring myself to saying anything that didn’t feel like I was partly exploiting their accidents for my writing, this is not a criticism of any other writer who are probably more experienced at this than I am for writing articles on them or the safety of modern f1, just a statement to explain why I am only saying this now.

I feel like although the recovery period for both men will be years before they are anything like the men who we the general public knew, I fear we will never see them in any race ever again. This is especially sad in the case of Jules who was and is touted as an extremely talented driver, whose bright future must look very bleak at present. News that he is out of his coma is hollow as it is only the start of a long process of recovery for him and his family. My best wishes to both the racers and their families and I promise to keep both men in my mind over the coming years of their recovery and with any luck until they will return into our lives.

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