Lets face it 2011 was a disastrous year for Williams and with the likes of Sam Michael and Jon Tomlinson having left, 2012 is set to be another challenging year for the team. It was really sad to see Williams struggling last year when you consider their history and prestige in Formula One. Williams are a team that should be challenging for titles.
Pastor Maldonado certainly had a difficult year in his rookie season. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and come the end of 2011, there may have been some people asking why Williams did not hold onto Nico Hulkenburg.
As poor as the FW33 was last year, you could argue Maldonado was able to get the best out of the car. And qualifying ahead of his more-experienced team-mate Rubens Barrichello on nine occasions was a fine achievement. Scoring his first point in Formula One at Belgium will have been one of the major highlights of 2011 for the Venezuelan.
Maldonado will be hoping 2012 is a better year for him and Williams. And hopefully the team will have a stronger season compared to last season.
No doubt Aryton Senna will be looking down on nephew Bruno this year as the 28 year-old will be driving for the nine-times Constructors Champions in 2012. Seeing a Senna back in a Williams will be an emotional moment and I’m sure the Senna family will be keeping a close eye on what Bruno achieves in 2012.
Bruno in my view did a solid but unspectacular job for Lotus Renault GP last year. The Brazilian has come a long way since making his F1 debut in Bahrain 2010 and the progress he has made has been steady.
I would love to see Bruno and Pastor finishing in the points on a regular basis in 2012 but this year does promise to be another difficult and challenging year for Williams.
Out of all the three ‘new teams’, you have to say it is Caterham who look like breaking into the midfield and scoring their first points in Formula One. And with Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov driving for the team this year, I reckon Caterham will score their first points in F1.
For the last two seasons, Heikki has been the top dog out of the six drivers driving for the three backmarker teams. The Finn certainly proved in 2011 he can battle it out with the more established midfield teams and there were occasions where Kovalainen finished races ahead of Sauber and Williams.
The former McLaren driver totally dominated Jarno Trulli last year and was only outqualified by the Italian twice. Caterham do have a long-term project and I’m sure Heikki is part of that project.
If Kovalainen can continue to be consistent as he was last year, there is no reason why he cannot challenge the midfield and even pick up the odd point now and then.
Vitaly Petrov will be partnering Heikki at Caterham in 2012 and I expect the Russian to challenge his team-mate on a regular basis unlike Jarno. Having long-term financial stability is crucial for any company and with Petrov bringing money to Caterham from Russian backers, I’m sure Caterham will be on the F1 chipping block for many years to come.
The ex-Renault driver now has two full seasons of F1 under his belt so there should not be any excuses for not doing well. Petrov has proven that he can cut it in Formula One and has the potential to do well. Just remember his podium at Australia last year and of course not forgetting his fine drive in Abu Dhabi 2010.
The in-team battle between Kovalainen and Petrov will be interesting and 2012 could be a good year for Caterham.
When you consider the difficulties they have had both on and off the track, HRT have done well to remain in Formula One and 2012 will be their third year in the sport. Also beating Marussia in the previous two seasons will have been a boost for the Spanish team.
Pedro de la Rosa will bring bags of experience to the team and no doubt his experience will be vital in the team going forward. He could so easily have remained with McLaren as a Test Driver but the Spaniard has decided to take up as race seat at HRT. Fair play to him.
Narain Karthikeyan was the final driver to have his seat confirmed for the 2012 season and I think he deserves to still be in F1. Narain did a decent job for HRT last year and driving at his home Grand Prix will have topped off his season.
I do expect 2012 to be another season of struggle for HRT and not being able to test their new car at all three Pre-Season tests will have been the last thing they will have wanted.
Failing a crucial crash test and not having done any Pre-Season testing. Not exactly the best of starts to the season for the newly named team Marussia. Like HRT, I expect 2012 to be another year of struggle for Marussia. But then again I could be wrong.
Timo Glock has remained with the team despite their struggles and the German has continued to retain his professional focus and managed to deliver strong results for Marussia in the past two seasons.
He certainly does have faith that the team will improve but I just wonder whether Glock will consider his options if Marussia fail to take a step forward this season.
I had not heard of Charles Pic until he was announced as Jerome d’Ambrosio’s replacement. Getting rid of Jerome was harsh because he was consistently finishing races and even getting the better of Timo at times. But obviously Marussia know what they are doing.
I wish Timo and Charles well for 2012 but it could be another year of struggle for Marussia.