Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

2011 Teams & Verdicts

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

2011 Teams & Verdicts

Article excerpt

Byline: Compiled by DAVID SMITH

Red Bull 1 Sebastian Vettel (Ger, age 23) 2 Mark Webber (Aus, 34) Red Bull gave Vettel wings to fly to a maiden drivers' title last season and the German 'wunderkind' starts clear favourite to retain his crown after promising pre-season testing. Veteran Aussie Webber may struggle to keep up, though the car's pace should keep him ahead of the rest of the pack. McLaren 3 Lewis Hamilton (GB, 26) 4 Jenson Button (GB, 31) Alarm bells already ringing as their radical new car undergoes major revision ahead of Sunday's race, leaving the drivers to play catch-up. New tyre rules will favour Button's sensitive style but the more aggressive Hamilton may start looking for drives elsewhere if results don't come. Ferrari 5 Fernando Alonso (Spn, 29) 6 Felipe Massa (Bra, 29) Alonso would have claimed a third championship last season but for a tactical blunder in the last race. Team reshuffle, plus a new car showing speed and reliability, should enable the Spaniard to press Vettel. Suspicions growing that Massa is losing his edge.

Mercedes 7 Michael Schumacher (Ger, 42) 8 Nico Rosberg (Ger, 25) Can they recover from a lacklustre 2010? Can Schumacher still cut it at the age of 42? Pre-season testing has not been promising, so expect Rosberg to again out-drive his more exalted team-mate.

Lotus Renault 9 Nick Heidfeld (Ger, 33) 10 Vitaly Petrov (Rus, 26) Dealt a huge blow by the rally accident that resulted in serious injuries to lead driver Robert Kubica. Replacement Heidfeld is renowned for technical nous rather than outright speed. Petrov will keep the repair department busy.

Williams 11 Rubens Barrichello (Bra, 38) 12 Pastor Maldonado (Ven, 26) Clever low-line gearbox could offer a crucial advantage, with Barrichello describing the new car as "aggressive". Lack of finance means second seat goes to rookie pay-driver Maldonado. …

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