|THE 2008 DRIVERS' CHAMPIONSHIP GAMBLE|
|THE 2008 CONSTRUCTORS' CHAMPIONSHIP GAMBLE|
I hate making predictions and I wasn't brave enough to take the autosport.com gamble last year, and looking at how my colleagues fared suggests I was wise to take a back seat. While as a group they had Kimi Raikkonen as World Champion by a handy margin, nobody placed Lewis Hamilton higher than fourth. And nine of the 18 pundits didn't even put him in their top five! Ferrari came out top in the constructors' title, another good collective decision, but putting Honda fifth was a trifle optimistic...
So can I do any better? Well, I've taken a pretty obvious route by putting Lewis on top. Although a lot of people are talking up Ferrari's testing form, I believe that McLaren will finally do it this time. Just consider how close they got last year with all the distractions, and with Alonso taking points off Lewis.
I am a huge Kovalainen fan, and I think he will surprise people, but on balance Hamilton will have the edge. Of course the Ferraris will be right there, but I suspect that things won't go quite so smoothly this year. Also points (and bad luck) will probably be distributed more evenly between the two drivers, and that may give Lewis the edge.
As for the rest, I have got no clue. I've given Alonso the benefit of the doubt for fifth because I suspect that over the season Renault's sheer strength will allow him to outscore those who have looked better in testing.
Hamilton will have learnt a lot from last year and is likely to be hungrier than Raikkonen, who may also lose important points to Massa. I'll go for Kubica over Alonso in fifth on current form.
Williams in fourth and Renault fifth may be optimistic, but it's a gamble. That chasing pack looks so tight it's anyone's guess and could all come down to reliability. Maybe even Toro Rosso.
Not much change at the head of the field. Kimi Raikkonen will kick it up a notch this year, to prove that his maiden title was neither a fluke nor a gift. Lewis Hamilton will hold off perennial performer Nick Heidfeld for the runner-up slot, while Fernando Alonso will struggle in the minor championship placings.
Ferrari will win the constructors' title with relative ease, while McLaren will do just enough to snatch second from the improving BMW team. Renault will hold station just outside the top three, with Red Bull also making marginal gains in fifth.