I am excited for the start of a new season of F1 racing.
Tonight (a.k.a., tomorrow morning, Australian time), the first round of practice for the Australian Grand Prix gets underway in Melbourne. This is the first race of the 2007 season for Formula One, after about five months without direct competition. There are lots of changes that could make this a very interesting year.
I could write pages about the upcoming season, but in order to get enough work done before the race starts, I will stick to the main headlines. After 16 seasons, seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher has retired. Reigning back-to-back World Champion Fernando Alonzo moved from Renault to McLaren, replacing Kimi Raikkonen, who is now at Ferrari with Felipe Massa, fastest in winter testing. American Scott Speed finally regained his ride at Toro Rosso and, in his only test, went faster than the more experienced drivers at their lead team, Red Bull. (Note: Scuderia Toro Rosso means Team Red Bull in Italian.) All teams are on the same tires this year, and each is required to use both available tire compounds during the race, which could lead to both more strategy and more passing.
One of the most interesting stories is the rookie class this year. Lewis Hamilton, 2006 GP2 Champion, and Heikki Kovalainen, 2006 F1 test driver and 2005 GP2 series runner-up, are both going to top teams (McLaren and Renault, respectively), while the highly rated German driver, Adrian Sutil, will be at Spyker. Sutil will have a chance to shine if he can wring extraordinary performance out of his car, which is expected to be toward the rear of the field. Kovalainen is the first Finnish driver with a perceptible personality and could outshine (or at least pressure) his much more experienced teammate. Hamilton is an impressive driver, in one of the top two teams, paired with the reigning F1 World Champion, and he stands an excellent chance of winning in his rookie season. (This Brit also happens to be the first black driver in F1, so if he performs well, expect lots of comparisons with Tiger Woods.)
So what does all of this have to with game development? In the official McLaren preview of the Australian Grand Prix, the following quote is attributed to Lewis Hamilton (in the first paragraph):
“My brother and I have always been playing Formula 1 games on the computer, and now I am going to be one of the cars in those games!“
Very cool, indeed.