in a recent news-story on Autosport.com Mike Gascoyne mentions that he is optimistic about not beeing too far behind the established teams
especially because there has been more and more disruption to some established teams.
I am not quite sure what he wants to say, but my guess would be that he knows or hopes that some established teams have encountered problems over the winter, hindering their development. What might these be?
One obvious case is Red Bull: The engine drama about whether or not to switch to Mercedes or even Cosworth or keeping Renault has certainly not helped designing the rear end of the car.
Even more obvious is probably the case of (BMW-)Sauber. I wouldn't be surprised to see them fall to STR's level, that is, to the back of the old teams. Unless, of course, they pull off a Brawn, as I could imagine the team switching its efforts to the 2010 car quite early on. Even though that's extremely unlikely, last winter has told us not to bet highly against it.
Then, of course, there's Renault. Having been on the verge of a pull-out, and then a half-hearted take-over certainly hasn't boosted the spirits. I can only imagine an expertise-drain, rather than the other way round (same for Sauber, though).
But what about the other teams? The Mercedes take-over of Brawn probably didn't hinder the design team to continue, McLaren would not have been distracted by all that either. As for Williams, one might consider that the Cosworth-switch isn't exactly a big step forward.
Concerning McLaren and Ferrari, I'm excited to see how their coping-strategies with their 2009-dogs plays out. McLaren tried to understand the problems of the car, putting a lot of effort into the dog, hoping to really understand the car's problem before switching to the 2010 racer. Ferrari apparently tried the other way: binning the 2009 car as early as possible and hoping that they have learned enough to build a good 2010 car.
We have talked a lot about the new teams' performances, but taking all these disruptions and strategies into account, why not talk about the old teams' relative performances?
My guess would be:
1. Mercedes: Okay, their 2009 performance was due to Honda's switching efforts early to this car and partly to the double-diffusor coup. But as they had to fight up to the last race of 2009, this probably pulled resources from the 2010 development to the 2009er. Still, I think Ross Brawn is the resource-allocation master, so his team will remain very fast. If somebody put a gun to my head, I'd bet that they will start very fast.
2. McLaren: I think trying to understand the 2009 car before switching to the 2010 design will pay off. They will be up there with Mercedes, probably tied 1st.
3. RBR: Relatively they will fall behind, not least due to their engine situation. Fighting for the 2009 title certainly has drawn resources from the 2010 car, similar to Brawn. I think there's a good chance that McLaren gets past them.
4. Ferrai: They didn't impress me in the latter part of 2009, so I would be surprised if they had a great car, knowing they had problems to understand their old one.
Behind these teams I expect a gap, with Cosworth-hindered Williams, Force India, ashes of Sauber and Renault, and STR fighting it out. Whether or not one of the new teams might challenge the old ones... I don't know!
What do you think?