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F1 Season Preview: 2008

Last year was the first time that my generation saw a season without the Legendary Michael Schumacher. While the entertainment on track hit the zenith, the happenings off it, the scandals, accusations, et al really hit the nadir. On the plus, the year saw the iceman Kimi win the championship with such ├ęclat, a new sensation in Lewis Hamilton, an Alonso who whined even more and the shameful espionage by McLaren worsened by Ron Dennis trying to put on a face as if he did no wrong. Despite the grouse that 2007 was a battle in court rooms than on the track, it sure was an entertainer!

From the news in print and web, it appears that Ferrari may regain an edge this year too with McLaren staying close to them. We will have to wait and watch to see whether Massa will push Kimi over the edge at Ferrari or simply play into the team objective! This year at McLaren, Lewis can push ahead without the former World Champion Alonso breathing down his neck, lest rising Finnish star Heikki Kovalainen spoils his plans! Also, BMW may consolidate their position as the best of the rest on the grid. Nick Heidfeld or Robert Kubica could be close to registering their first win this year!

Alonso is an unknown quantity for 2008. After two champion years and one close to WDC, he is back to Renault, where his heart is. After a dismal 2007, it remains to be seen if Alonso can resurrect its fortunes. Other midfielders whom Renault may need to fight include a revised Adrian Newey RB4 and an improved FW30, celebrating three decades of Team Williams. The performance of Japanese teams Toyota and Honda, now with Brawn in it seems unknown too. And well, what about Force India? After being acquired by our very own Indian Vijay Mallya, We’ll have to wait and watch!

Regulatory changes for the year include a standardized ECU banning Traction Control, thus emphasizing on drivers’ skill. Others include stipulations on testing, use of gearboxes for minimum 4 races, no refueling before Q3 of qualifying and ban on use of a spare car. The FIA focus on Engine Homologation for 5 years, appears to be a serious effort to reduce costs! The part use of bio fuel is also encouraging. The 2008 Calendar has two new circuits, both on street at Valencia and Singapore, the latter being a Night Race for the first time in the history of F1 which should add to the entertainment value!

Let’s hope for some serious sporting action & entertainment beginning March 16, 2008! Go Kimi! Go Massa! Forza Ferrari!! Cheers!!

This year's schedule gathered from the internet. Time in IST
Australian GP 16-Mar 1000
Malaysian GP 23-Mar 1230
Bahrain GP 6-Apr 1700
Spainish GP 27-Apr 1730
Turkish GP 11-May 1730
Monaco GP 25-May 1730
Canadian GP 8-Jun 2230
French GP 22-Jun 1730
British GP 6-Jul 1730
German GP 20-Jul 1730
Hungarian GP 3-Aug 1730
European GP 24-Aug 1730
Belgian GP 7-Sep 1730
Italian GP 14-Sep 1730
Singapore GP 28-Sep 1730
Japanese GP 12-Oct 1000
Chinese GP 19-Oct 1230
Brazilian GP 2-Nov 2230
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