Vetel, Alonso, Button, Schumacher and all the drivers profiled
Time Out Dubai staff
Red Bull Sebastian Vettel Nationality: German DOB: 3/7/87 2011 result: 1st Comment: After making astonishingly rapid and successful progress through the lower ranks of motorsport, in 2010 he became the youngest ever Formula 1 world champion and consolidated that position with a series of convincing wins last year, so definitely one to watch.
Red Bull Mark Webber Nationality: Australian DOB: 27/8/76 2011 result: 3rd Comment: While Vettel scored a second consecutive championship victory in 2011, Webber often struggled to keep up with his young team mate, though he did take a trio of pole positions. Having come so close to the championship in 2010, he’s back for another crack at the top spot and excited about the new season.
McLaren Jenson Button Nationality: British DOB: 19/1/80 2011 result: 2nd Comment: Formula 1’s change of tyre supplier played into Button’s hands in 2011 giving him an edge over teammate Lewis Hamilton and, along with Vettel and Alonso, he emerged as one of the outstanding talents of the year. Always a Bahrain favourite the Brit, who had a home on the island, can be sure of a warm welcome.
McLaren Lewis Hamilton Nationality: British DOB: 7/1/85 2011 result: 5th Comment: While Vettel tightened his stranglehold on Formula 1 during 2011, Hamilton took three wins in a scrappy, error-ridden campaign which saw a string of incidents, many of them unnecessary. However, he’s still massively popular in Bahrain and there’ll be a lot of people rooting for him.
Ferrari Fernando Alonso Nationality: Spanish DOB: 29/7/81 2011 result: 4th Comment: The three-time Bahrain winner found his car just wasn’t quick enough to challenge for the championship in 2011 but he did have 10 podium finishes and has pledged his future to Ferrari until 2016. With his record in the kingdom, he’s got to be another one to watch.
Ferrari Felipe Massa Nationality: Brazilian DOB: 25/4/81 2011 result: 6th Comment: Following a bad accident in 2009 and poor seasons in 2010 and 2011, Ferrari retained Massa and the former champion will be doing his best to return to form this time around.
Mercedes Michael Schumacher Nationality: German DOB: 3/1/69 2011 result: 9th Comment: Has won more world championships and races than any other driver but after a three year break from the sport his return from retirement saw mixed results over the 2010 and 2011 calendars. Let’s hope 2012 is a better year for the former king of the track.
Mercedes Nico Rosberg Nationality: German DOB: 27/6/85 2011 result: 7th Comment: He impressed immediately on his first outing at Bahrain in 2006, setting fastest lap. In 2010 Rosberg quickly dismissed any questions over his ability to compete with team mate Michael Schumacher and the battle seems to have become between the two Mercedes drivers.
Lotus Kimi Raikkonen Nationality: Finish DOB: 17/10/79 2011 result: N/A Comment: The former world champion lost his Ferrari place to Fernando Alonso in 2010 and left F1 to drive in the World Rally Championship for Citroen. In 2011 he again drove in Rally and NASCAR and at the end of the season Renault announced he would join the renamed team for the 2012 calendar.
Lotus Romain Grosjean Nationality: Swiss DOB: 17/4/86 2011 result: N/A Comment: Made his F1 debut with Renault in 2009 but failed to impress returning to GP2 during 2010 and 2011 and winning the championship with three races to go. That convinced new team principal Eric Boullier to return him to the Lotus team for 2012.
Force India Paul Di Resta Nationality: British DOB: 16/4/86 2011 result: 13th Comment: In only his second F1 season, di Resta will be looking to improve on last year’s placing and live up to his family’s strong racing traditions.
Force India Nico Hulkenberg Nationality: German DOB: 19/8/87 2011 result: N/A Comment: Debuted for Williams in 2010 and had a strong season before losing his place to Pastor Maldonado and moving to Force India as reserve driver in 2011. Expect some exciting driving from him to hold his place this time.
Sauber Kamui Kobayashi Nationality: Japanese DOB: 13/9/86 2011 result: 12th Comment: An aggressive style of driving makes Kobayashi interesting to watch and team rivalry with Sergio Perez could bring this to the fore after the younger driver increasingly got the upper hand in 2011.
Sauber Sergio Perez Nationality: Mexican DOB: 26/1/90 2011 result: 16th Comment: The joker in the pack Perez at one point last year caused raised team blood pressures by claiming that his car had lost power before going on to complete his race. He also tested for Ferrari last season before extending his contract with Sauber.
Toro Rosso Daniel Ricciardo Nationality: Australian DOB: 1/7/89 2011 result: 27th Comment: Steady progress with HRT last year brought Ricciardo into the Toro Rosso team for 2012, maybe his style will be a little more inspired this season as he takes up the reins at Toro Rosso in place of another Bahrain favourite Sebastien Buemi.
Toro Rosso Jean-Eric Vergne Nationality: French DOB: 25/4/90 2011 result: N/A Comment: F1 debut for Vergne who followed the path of his predecessors on the Red Bull Driver Development Programme. Vergne’s predecessors Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari were dropped from Toro Rosso at the end of last season to make way for him and fellow development driver Daniel Ricciardo.
Williams Pastor Maldonado Nationality: Venezuelan DOB: 9/3/85 2011 result: 19th Comment: Signed for Williams in 2011 after winning the GP2 championship the previous year. He compared well against experienced team mate Rubens Barrichello, especially in qualifying, and bagged a contract extension for 2012.
Williams Bruno Senna Nationality: Brazilian DOB: 15/10/83 2011 result: 18th Comment: The nephew of racing great Ayrton Senna has a lot to live up to. He joined Renault as one of two ‘third drivers’ for 2011 taking his first points at Monza but both he and Vitaly Petrov were dropped at the end of the year. This year he’s with Williams, the team his uncle was driving for in 1994 when he was killed in a crash during the San Marino Grand Prix.
Caterham Heikki Kovalainen Nationality: Finnish DOB: 19/10/81 2011 result: 23rd Comment: Out of eight drivers on new teams in 2010, Kovalainen was the highest-ranked. But such was the gap between the new boys and the established players, he never had the chance to race for points, a situation which persisted in 2011. This old hand will be looking for better results this season.
Caterham Vitaly Petrov Nationality: Russian DOB: 8/9/84 2011 result: 10th Comment: The first Russian driver to compete in F1, he raced with Renault in 2010 and 2011 but publicly criticised the team’s lack of progress late in the year and was not retained for the 2012 season.
HRT Narain Karthikeyan Nationality: Indian DOB: 14/1/77 2011 result: 26th Comment: Became the first Indian driver to race in Formula 1 with Jordan in 2005. Having been away from the sport for some time Kartikeyan made a surprise comeback with HRT in 2011 but was consistently beaten by team mate Vitantonio Liuzzi and was replaced halfway through the season before rejoining the team for 2012.
HRT Pedro De La Rosa Nationality: Spanish DOB: 24/2/71 2011 result: 24th Comment: Joined Sauber as a race driver in 2010 but was replaced before the end of the year and went to McLaren as a test driver at the beginning of 2011 before signing with HRT for 2012.
Marussia Timo Glock Nationality: German DOB: 18/3/82 2011 result: 25th Comment: Formerly with Toyota, Glock switched to the new Virgin Racing team for 2010 but a slow and unreliable car offered him few chances to shine. However he’s kept faith with Virgin, which has changed its name to Marussia, and must surely be seeking a return to form.
Marussia Charles Pic Nationality: French DOB: 15/2/90 2011 result: N/A Comment: Made his way to F1 through the French Formula Campus series which led him into Formula Renault 2.0 and then, in 2008, Formula Renault 3.5. Virgin gave Pic his first run in an F1 car in the young drivers’ test at Abu Dhabi last year and he earned his place in the team for 2012.