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F1 is dead, long live F1

NEWS STORY
29/03/2009

If nothing else, the FIA's new rules have taken some of the guess work out of today's race. After all, the publication of the car's weights tells us quite clearly that yesterday's performance by the two Brawns was no fluke. Far from running on fumes, as some might have thought, it appears the Brawns were among the heaviest cars out there, which suggests that today they will leave the opposition for dead.

Sadly, although the tyre rules gave been changed, the difference between the two compounds still appears to be minimal, especially as all the teams are restricted to the same compounds, therefore taking out the lottery element.

Therefore, looking ahead, few would bet against a Brawn whitewash today, indeed some are already predicting a Brawn whitewash this season.

F1 wouldn't be F1 without the politics, and therefore it came as no surprise that yesterday, instead of celebrating the fact that the eight cars behind the Brawns were covered by just 0.416s, we were left watching as the Toyota's were excluded from the (qualifying) results and Williams protested the legality of the Ferrari and Red Bull cars. This, of course, is in addition to the appeal hearing we already face following the appeal against the legality of the diffusers on the Williams, Toyota and Brawn.

The good news is that in the case of the diffusers row whatever happens in Paris on April 14, today's result stands. That said, we have the feeling that with the field matched so closely there will be further protests throughout the season. And with certain parties determined to split up the cosy relationship between the teams that is FOTA we can be sure of plenty of fun and games in the months ahead.

Looking ahead to today's race however, and ignoring the obvious superiority of the Brawns, both Red Bulls look good, especially with Webber running heavier than his teammate. While BMW has its drivers on different strategies in terms of KERS, it also appears to have them on a different fuel strategy, with Heidfeld running heavier than Kubica. Rosberg is looking good in the Williams, while both Ferraris are on similar fuel loads, and Alonso should never be written off.

Courtesy of the Race Stewards, who ruled that the rear wings on the Toyotas were too flexible, we can pretty much rule out the Japanese cars today, certainly in terms of taking on the Brawns.

However, they are both obviously quick - courtesy of those diffusers? - and should be up there battling for points.

For McLaren it will be about damage limitation, while Force India and Toro Rosso clearly still have work to do.

While we can expect a tight race for those positions behind the Brawns let's not forget those monstrous wings on the front of the cars this year. We already know that over enthusiasm and front wings don't mix, however, this year we can expect a lot more mishaps. Being the first race of the season, and with a notorious couple of first corners, to boot, we wouldn't be surprised to see several cars out or damaged within seconds of the start, indeed, we wouldn't be surprised to see the Safety Car make an appearance.

Now normally this would merely add to 'the mix', however, with the race starting at 17.00 local time, courtesy of Bernie Ecclestone and his pursuit of quality entertainment for European fans - any major incidents could lead to the latter stages of the races taking part at dusk with the sun rapidly setting. With a sport forever beating its breast in its search for improved safety (not forgetting reduced costs), this decision, together with the introduction of KERS, makes little sense.

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