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The five F1 drivers to bet on in 2012

Last updated on: March 16, 2012 17:42 IST

The five F1 drivers to bet on in 2012

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Gentlemen, start your engines.

The Formula One season begins this weekend with the Australian Grand Prix. Raja Sen picks five drivers you should put your money on this season.

Presenting, in decreasing order of preference, the men who will likely define this Formula One season:

1.Sebastien Vettel

The young German has a (red?) bullseye on his back going into 2012 following two highly successful Championship wins, the second of which saw him pick up the title entirely unchallenged.

If the Red Bull car is fastest (or even second-fastest) this year, expect Vettel to pick up his third title in three years, instantly catapulting his status to that of legends like Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. Simply put, if Vettel gets his No 3 this year, superstars like Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton invariably will be consigned to also-rans.

- McLarens set early pace in wet Melbourne




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2. Jenson Button

When he won the 2009 Championship, everyone said it was down to the car -- and it probably was. When he left Brawn GP to go to McLaren, everyone expected him to be decimated by McLaren's homegrown wonderkid, Hamilton.

Yet he's kept his head down and shown superlative focus, extreme cool under pressure, and a fine head for impromptu strategic decisions. Last year saw Button completely trounce his hot-headed teammate, and if McLaren delivers the goods, so can Jenson.





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3. Fernando Alonso

The frustrating thing for the two-time Schumacher-beating Spaniard is that Ferrari keeps giving him a dog of a car. Last year saw teammate Felipe Massa languishing down the grid while Alonso kept squeezing unbelievable results out of his very limited machinery, and this year might be just as exasperating.

Following pre-season testing, Ferrari are right to look very worried indeed. They might even slip behind Mercedes in the pecking order. Alonso might be Vettel's most deserving competitor, but can Ferrari's wheels match up to his skill?




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4. Lewis Hamilton

He cocked it all up quite sloppily last year, finishing far behind Button and often involved in needless skirmishes, both on and off the field. The good thing, however, is that Hamilton seems genuinely contrite, and aware that he himself is to blame for his sudden plummet from grace.

A naturally talented driver, he's now vowed to regain focus, give up the pubbing and the popstars, and trade it all in for results on the track.





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5. Kimi Raikkonen

On the other hand, this one isn't giving anything up. One of the most phenomenally quick racers in all of Formula One, Kimi's been away and nothing seems to have changed. Different tire consistency, new regulations, rule changes, all seem mere niggles as the Finnish ace blitzed the timesheets in pre-season testing.

And as he said on Top Gear last week, it doesn't imply he's going to stop drinking at all. Straddled with a Lotus Renault, Kimi might not be on the top step of the podium very soon, but expect him to provide fireworks up and down the grid.




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