If some of the Formula One teams are riled about the FIA's frequent rules changes, I can't blame them. Rules juggling had a lot to do with the way this season panned out. It certainly caught BAR on the hop. The team that was on a dramatic rise in 2004 tumbled into the also-rans with revised aerodynamics that weren't up to the best of the rest. My colleagues at Autosport tipped Jenson Button as the driver who'd be the spoiler at the end of 2005, whose successes would decide the race between McLaren and Renault - one of the season's major miscalculations.
Now of course the British press is all steamed up about the potential of Jenson in 2006 with the Honda-owned BAR operation. He went straight to Japan, they said, after the race in China, to huddle with the Honda engineers. They thought this was pretty impressive. Seems to me they're overlooking the arrival at BAR of a pretty handy Brazilian race driver. The Rubens versus Jenson show will be one of the most interesting of 2006. I must be one of the few who doesn't think it'll go all the Englishman's way.
Toyota has the potential to be a power in the land of 2006. This year they showed great qualifying form - sometimes with help from a light fuel load - and by the end of the season they were getting their race pace up to speed. I agree with Mike Gascoyne: Toyota needs to start winning next year. But I have my doubts. I don't know if Toyota is hungry enough. I don't see a Briatore, Dennis or Todt at the top of the Toyota operation, a man for whom winning is everything. Toyota is just too darn corporate. Corporations don't win races and championships, people do.
Speaking of men and teams for whom winning is everything, the Williams-Cosworth combo may just surprise a lot of people. Certainly the Cosworth V10 hasn't been disgracing Red Bull Racing, and the V8 is 80 percent of that. By the way, isn't it amazing how the press is now calling the older V8s "Cosworths" when in fact they've always been "Fords"? Talk about fickle! Keith Duckworth always tried hard to make sure that the press called his engines by their rightful names. "I won't be able to get sponsorship for my engines," he said, "if the press don't use the right names."