Three Newbies, but where’s the fourth?

So with a week to go until the five red lights go out, there has never been so much anticipation for the start of a new season. One of the reasons is that we’ll have three new teams sitting on the grid.

It’s inevitable that these teams will be towards the back in Bahrain, but which will fare best out of Lotus, Virgin and HRT? and what about that fourth slot that never was?

Lotus seem to have the strongest case to be the best of the three. Even though they started work on their car later than the others, they have managed to sign up two experienced race winning drivers, who can obviously aid development through the season. Mike Gascoyne has built a good team, and with the classic Lotus name, they are sure to gain support. But I, along with many fans I’ve spoken to, cannot get over how simple and boxy the car looks. I’m sure there will be developments, but these may not arrive until the European leg of the season kicks off.

Virgin have come up with the only car on the grid to have never seen a windtunnel. The CFD design from Nick Wirth looks like a very sleek car, indeed, the front wing features no winglets of any kind, just a pure and clean wing. This is, of course, the same wing that fell off during the first Jerez test. Much was made of this, however, Lotus had problems with their power steering, and steering rack, and any new team will encounter trouble, that’s what testing is for. Yet Virgin’s lack of mileage does not bode well, and see’s them heading into the season without much data on their car.

Yet they’ll have more data than HRT, formally Campos. their Dallara designed car features a nose similar to the Virgin, and a very bland livery. For a Spanish team, with Hispania in their name, I was expecting a red and yellow theme. However, that the team will make it to Bahrain is a miracle in itself. Their shake down will be very public, and I don’t expect them to make an impact straight away. But with the very handy Bruno Senna behind the wheel, it won’t be long before they’re taking the attention from the big boys.

So in Bahrain, I expect it to be Virgin leading, but HRT and Lotus to be close behind. When the season is not so new, they’ll all be pretty close.

However one team that won’t be there is USF1. They have finally thrown in the towel, and the FIA have denied them an entry for this season. It is expected the tender for the 13th slot will be opened soon, and both the Americans, and Stefan GP will be invited to bid. It’s a shame, but USF1 have no excuses. Lotus had just five months, while Virgin are running on £35 million for the season, and HRT had a host of financial problems sorted out just two weeks before the start of the season. These three teams have shown what can be done, USF1 it seems, just couldn’t tie up that fourth.

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