Monday, March 10, 2014

Half-Assed Predictions For 2014

Well with Australia less than a week away, it is time for our annual half-assed predictions for the coming year, something which I skipped last year for the usual no good reason.  Also, I was lazy.

Your Manufacturer's Champion: the smart money at this point of the year after testing would indicate Mercedes or Williams.  I have an irrational dislike for the Mercedes team, and I don't think Williams will be able to maintain and convert on their early season promise.  That said Mercedes have the strongest driver lineup of the Mercedes cars, so betting against them would be foolish.

Your World Champion: Jenson Button. McLaren will have the Mercedes engine, as well as a team able to make and maintain improvements through the season.  They'll be behind Mercedes and Williams at the start of the year, but I think they'll be on top at the end.  They'll lose out on the manufacturer's title because their new boy won't get up to speed quickly and/or will have a few silly offs.

Ferrari might be third in the manufacturer's title.  Right now the testing tea-leaves suggest that while the Ferrari is reliable, it isn't particularly fast.  If cars in front of them are less reliable, they'll pick up places and points, but not enough to seriously challenge on either championship table.

Alonso or Raikkonen: Alonso if the car is fast and reliable, and Raikonnen if it isn't.  Raikonnen will go about his business no matter what state the car is in, while Alonso will probably tilt himself if the going is heavy.

Renault-runners:  Renault looks unusually like it will be a train wreck for the first part of the year, what with the packaging problems causing overheating issues.  That and the rumour mill suggests that their engine isn't fully baked.  I think Lotus will start the best, but Red Bull will overtake them by year's end because Grosjean isn't really an elite driver and Lotus will spend most of the year scrabbling for finance rather than improving the car.

Red Bull's prospects: I think this year will bring Vettel back to earth with a bump.  There's a good chance they'll have things sorted for the back third of the year, but the 2013 champion will be conspicuous by his absence at the sharp end for much of the year.

Williams will enjoy (relative) success for the first third of the year, then the bigger teams will improve faster than they do and they will fade down the stretch.

The Mid-Field: Williams, Force India, Lotus, and Sauber -- in that order at the end of the year.  Force India will have a more predictable and steady year as Williams and Lotus fade down the stretch.  I don't think Sauber will actually do anything other than fade.

Force India might actually see a change of ownership this year as their billionaire owner appears to be merely a multi-millionaire now.

Making up the numbers: for Catarham and Marussia it is a pure lottery, one that will be driven by random unreliability between them and ahead of them on the road.  The team that finishes in front of the other will almost certainly do so on the strength of a single lucky (relatively) high finish granted them by unreliability on the parts of others.

Looking to 2015: The FIA will go through all kinds of contortions to avoid granting the proposed entry for 2015 to the Haas team, perhaps even going to the extent of pushing the entry back to 2016.  It's clear to me that for some reason they prefer the idea of the Romanian entry, even though that's clearly less credible.

Also in 2015: With Ecclestone finally gone, there will be chaos if the Concorde Agreement is not settled before he goes as everyone and their dog maneuvers into the power and money vacuum left when he departs.

Your 2014 Deadpool predictions:

  • Bernie Ecclestone (low hanging fruit that I've been swiping at since 2012) -- he'll skate on the bribery charges, but I suspect he'll "retire" before his paymasters publicly fire him.
  • Force India ownership
  • Lotus ownership
  • Marussia -- I feel like one of the two spear-carriers won't make it, and although I think it is a toss-up as to which one it will be, I'll pick Marussia just to narrow it down.
Tune in when November rolls around for the laughing and pointing.