Some of the best drivers ever in the same place, rule changes galore, and manufacturers desperate to do well in the worst ever global economic climate for the car industry. Those are just some of the ingredients which mean that the upcoming F1 season will be one of the most interesting in the history of the sport.
Any season preview is doomed to the extent it is based on hypothesis something that in F1 is notoriously difficult to do. But there are certain historical factors which give everyone an indication of who could be successful in the 2009 season, not to mention the pre-season testing which has thrown up some very interesting possibilities. Every fan of F1 just has to pray that the politics won t interfere with the racing. Here, Forumula1.com presents its best forecast of the year ahead.
Ferrari: a team whose resources, know-how and will to win can never be discounted. Pre-season indicates they may suffer from reliability issues, but with one of the best driver combinations, you d have to bet on more success for Maranello. Constructors championship prediction: 1st.
McLaren: on course to continue winning ways, everyone thought, til shock admission that MP4-24 is too slow. Fascinating to see if they can claw their way back Lewis in midfield would be something to watch – and how bad the problems actually are. Prediction: 3rd.
BMW Sauber: the F1.09 has looked good if not outstanding in pre-season, but many thought 2009 would be the professional Swiss team s year. They may have been sandbagging time will tell. Prediction: 2nd
Renault: a few headline-grabbing times in testing did nothing to dispel the idea that Reggie haven t quite got their machine right this year. Bet on Alonso not being there this time next year. Prediction: 6th.
Red Bull: stunned everyone in early pre-season but has faded since. Newey s cars are always quick, sometimes fragileâ€¦Vettel vs Webber will be the team-mate fight of the year. Prediction: 5th.
Williams: the last of the true privateers will probably have another mediocre year, capitalising on others misfortune but never really able to threaten. Their time will return, however, with cost cuts on the horizon. Prediction: 8th.
Toyota: a team who looked very good in Bahrain, but somehow never are quite convincing enough. Glock will fight towards the top end of the midfield on occasion, podiums likely. Prediction: 7th.
Toro Rosso: their success almost entirely dependent on how well they ve got to know the RB5 sorry, STR4. They remain the â€˜small team most likely to surprise, however, because of their wealthy relatives. Prediction: 9th.
Force India: A big improvement on last season is demanded by billionaire owner Vijay Mallya, but with cousin team McLaren suffering, it s hard to see where that will come from. Prediction: 10th.
Brawn: the surprise of 2009 so far. A car that seems to have got to grips with everything a good few months before everyone else. Expect a fast start and then a drop as others develop. Prediction: 4th.