With the points system being how it is Formula One is about consistency above all which is something that Kimi Raikkonen has often struggled to get over.
But as Kimi returns to Formula One as world champion his rivals are all facing more change than him.
At McLaren Lewis will face a new team-mate, he may struggle to set up the car as the experience level of the pair of drivers will be so much lower, a new position in the pit lane (with a much smaller garage), a car which may well have been compromised to allow it to pass the scrutineering of the FIA and a smaller budget.
At Renault he will be returning to what he thinks of as a familiar team. But a lot of changes have happened here as well. Something stopped them from making a winning car in 2007, and although Alonso will be bringing his famous 0.6s a lap it might not be enough for an instant return to form. Presumably a lot of people at Renault had their noses put out of joint by Alonso’s departure at the end of 2006, will they be able to accept him back? Of course Flav accepts him back, but what about everyone else? Can they rally behind him as he needs? And what of the thorny issue of number 1 status?
His new team mate, Nelson Piquet Jr is bound to want to instantly prove that he’s no patsy to Alonso. And this could lead to exactly the same situation that the drivers faced at McLaren last year. Should we expect to see Piquet ignoring team orders at some point?
Lastly on this subject, if Renault are able to pick up their form their rivals are bound to play a bit dirty. I can easily imagine McLaren and Ferrari asking the FIA to investigate team orders at Renault any time they finish well. Even if they aren’t doing anything of the kind the constant investigations could well destabilise the team.
BMW are the other team with consistency behind them. Although it’s more difficult to pick a lead driver. The other thing in BMW’s favour is something they have in common with Renault. Neither team was racing near anyone for the last part of the season. It was easy for them both to write off further development for 2007 and concentrate on 2008. BMW had less distance to climb and so it might well be possible for them to keep at least one of Kimi, Lewis or Alonso behind them. Maybe even two.
But while it’s too early to say categorically, you’d have to tip Ferrari and Kimi in particular for the title. The consistency they have is probably their biggest advantage.