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With the first car launch of 2012 on us tomorrow it is time to start the Official 2012 F1 World Championship thread.

Technical and rule changes

The off-throttle blown diffuser has been outlawed. As a corollary the sophisticated exhaust systems teams used to employ are replaced by traditional 'periscope' exhausts.

The maximum car nose height has been lowered from 62.5 cm to 55 cm. A byproduct of this will be really ugly, platypus-type noses.

Cars must now pass the mandatory crash tests before being allowed to run in pre-season testing.

In-season testing makes a return, with a session planned for May 1st at Mugello - before the start of the European leg of the championship.

New rule about defending your position and leaving the track. From Wikipedia:

Drivers will not be permitted to leave the confines of the circuit without a justifiable reason, following a spate of incidents in 2011 when drivers were sighted using access roads around the circuit to shorten their reconnaissance and in-laps in order to preserve their fuel and tyres. Similarly, drivers will not be allowed to return to the normal racing line should they choose a defensive line going into a corner.

During a safety car period lapped drivers will be allowed to unlap themselves before the safety car returns to the pits.

Driver and team changes

Three teams changed their names: Lotus Renault GP became the Lotus F1 Team; last year's Team Lotus is now known as Caterham F1 Team; lastly, Virgin Racing now races under the Marussia F1 Team banner.

The driver market saw more changes than most had anticipated for 2012, particularly in the lower ranked teams. The return of Kimi R?ikk?nen to Formula 1 is the biggest news of the year, making 2012 the first season with six current or former WDCs on the grid: Fernando Alonso (2005/2006), Jenson Button (2009), Lewis Hamilton (2008), Kimi R?ikk?nen (2007), Michael Schumacher (1994/1995, 2000 - 2004), Sebastian Vettel (2010/2011).

Favourites for 2012?

Red Bull Racing are likely to be the favourites for this year as well. The big question this year will be which of the competing teams is able to close the gap to RBR - or perhaps leapfrog them. Time will tell.

2012 Race Calendar:

18.03.2012 Australian GP, Melbourne

25.03.2012 Malaysian GP, Sepang

15.04.2012 Chinese GP, Shanghai

22.04.2012 Bahrain GP, Sakhir

13.05.2012 Spanish GP, Barcelona

27.05.2012 Monaco GP, Monte Carlo

10.06.2012 Canadian GP, Montreal

24.06.2012 European GP, Valencia

08.07.2012 British GP, Silverstone

22.07.2012 German GP, Hockenheim

29.07.2012 Hungarian GP, Budapest

02.09.2012 Belgian GP, Spa

09.09.2012 Italian GP, Monza

23.09.2012 Singapore GP, Singapore

07.10.2012 Japanese GP, Suzuka

14.10.2012 Korean GP, Yeongam

28.10.2012 Indian GP, Greater Noida

04.11.2012 Abu Dhabi GP, Abu Dhabi

18.11.2012 United States GP, Austin

25.11.2012 Brazilian GP, S?o Paulo

May the 2012 season be as thrilling as the 2011 season was.

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Similarly, drivers will not be allowed to return to the normal racing line should they choose a defensive line going into a corner.

Schumacher will be stuffed then :p

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Car launch dates:

January 26

  • Caterham CT01

February 1

  • McLaren MP4/27

February 3

  • Ferrari F2012
  • Force India VMJ05

February 5

  • Lotus R32 (T129?)

February 6

  • Red Bull Racing RBR 8
  • Sauber C31
  • Scuderia Toro Rosso STR7

February 7

  • Williams FW34

February 21

  • Mercedes GP W03
  • HRT F112

March 1

  • Marussia MR01

First images of the Caterham F1 CT01 emerged ahead of tomorrow's launch via the F1 Racing magazine. One can only hope the other cars won't have noses as ugly as this...

post-1302-0-83577000-1327493204.jpg

post-1302-0-20491400-1327493202.jpg

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Going to Silverstone again this year, 3 years on the trot!

Soo much of a better experience watching it.

But this year will be the year of finding places showing the races due to the BBC being nobheads!

ALso, gone for Ferrari & Alonso for the winners. Although Ferrari have just had a massive setback wit hthe height control of their new car being banned

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I hope this year is more exciting than the Vettel-a-thon we had last year. Go Ferrari!

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The Caterham F1 CT01 looks awful, which is such a shame because it was beautiful last year. :(

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The Caterham F1 CT01 looks awful, which is such a shame because it was beautiful last year. :(

Front of it looks like it would be perfect to iron my shirts on though.

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I'm always rooting for Rosberg to do well sometime, there have been loads of races over the years where he has looked to be in a good position and somehow it always goes wrong. Maybe he can't handle the pressure but I'm still hoping we might see something from him this year as long as the Mercedes is a bit more competitive this season....

If not then I guess Vettel again would be fine but we need the other teams to pick up the pace.

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I'd love to see Schumacher win a race this year, for the sake of nostalgia. Generally speaking I'll be rooting for the McLaren duo (especially Button). I don't mind if Vettel wins the championship, as long as it isn't a total annihilation like last year.

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I'd love to see Schumacher win a race this year, for the sake of nostalgia. Generally speaking I'll be rooting for the McLaren duo (especially Button). I don't mind if Vettel wins the championship, as long as it isn't a total annihilation like last year.

I'm with you on that .. would love to see Schumy pick up a race win or two. I'm a big McLaren fan -- more so for LH, although I must admit JB showed us just how good he is last season .. can't wait for it all to start again. We're planning on going to Jerez for the practise on Feb 10.

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I Didnt realize the last 3 races of this yr are taking place last year a edit needed!!!

18.03.2012 Australian GP, Melbourne

25.03.2012 Malaysian GP, Sepang

15.04.2012 Chinese GP, Shanghai

22.04.2012 Bahrain GP, Sakhir

13.05.2012 Spanish GP, Barcelona

27.05.2012 Monaco GP, Monte Carlo

10.06.2012 Canadian GP, Montreal

24.06.2012 European GP, Valencia

08.07.2012 British GP, Silverstone

22.07.2012 German GP, Hockenheim

29.07.2012 Hungarian GP, Budapest

02.09.2012 Belgian GP, Spa

09.09.2012 Italian GP, Monza

23.09.2012 Singapore GP, Singapore

07.10.2012 Japanese GP, Suzuka

14.10.2012 Korean GP, Yeongam

28.10.2012 Indian GP, Greater Noida

04.11.2011 Abu Dhabi GP, Abu Dhabi

18.11.2011 United States GP, Austin

25.11.2011 Brazilian GP, S?o Paulo

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^ whoops. My bad - corrected. Thanks for the heads-up.

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I'm hoping Hamiltons cleared his head a bit.

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First teaser image of the MP4/27:

post-1302-0-59231800-1327516750_thumb.jp

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That looks like its gonna be lovely, Caterham looks odd cause of that step on the nose.

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Can't wait, although its now ruined by Sky. BBC F1 coverage cannot be beaten!

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Isnt the US cancelled because of some short grey haired tw@ called bernie?

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Isnt the UK cancelled because of some short grey haired tw@ called bernie?

Fixed :)

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Isnt the US cancelled because of some short grey haired tw@ called bernie?

I think his face looks like an old shoe.

First teaser image of the MP4/27:

post-1302-0-59231800-1327516750_thumb.jp

Too low to the ground and I'm not sure if that meets regulations.

That looks like its gonna be lovely, Caterham looks odd cause of that step on the nose.

It needs "NO STEP" on the livery.

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SK[' timestamp=1327521348' post='594608661]

Can't wait, although its now ruined by Sky. BBC F1 coverage cannot be beaten!

Looking at the BBC lineup this year, I'm gonna disagree :p

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I hope this season and the coverage this season is great! I'm sure it will be. Looking forward to the Indian Grand Prix once again!

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OK, this isn't technically to do with this season, but I think it's an interesting story for discussion...

Volkswagen considering F1 entry

Volkswagen could enter Formula 1 according to a proposal being drawn up by Wolfgang Durheimer, the German manufacturer's head of motorsport.

Rumours first emerged suggesting that VW's interest had been raised last year with the news that F1 would be switching to turbocharged 1.6-litre V6 engines in 2014.

However, resistance to the idea has, to date, apparently come from the chairman of VW's board Ferdinand Piech.

Now, though, Durheimer has told Wirtschafts Woche that he intends once more to propose the move as a means of boosting car sales.

"I will present my concept to the board later this year and put forward proposals that affect not only the racing series we are in today," he said.

Durheimer added that F1 has "by far the greatest importance. It dominates the racing scene in Europe and Asia".

But he also said that using F1 to boost sales in the United States might prove difficult given the sport's lower profile there compared to IndyCar and, particularly, NASCAR.

He did add, though, that "these race series must be examined in the context of a future strategy".

The speculation is that VW would enter as an engine supplier, with Toro Rosso mentioned as a possible partner.

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McLaren ready for legality fight over new MP4-27

McLaren is bracing itself for a battle over the legality of its new MP4-27, AUTOSPORT can reveal.

According to McLaren Applied Technologies managing director Geoff McGrath, the new car, which is launched tomorrow, will feature obvious design innovations which could potentially attract protests from rivals.

These are the result of the team's aim to be less conservative in the interpretation of the Formula 1 regulations than it has been in previous years.

"There are technical innovations on the car which will be immediately obvious when you see them," said McGrath, who added that McLaren is "getting ready for a fight" over its new machine.

McGrath admitted that McLaren has paid the price for being overly cautious in previous seasons. The team has finished behind Red Bull in the constructors' championship in the past three years and must start the season strongly if it is to end that run.

"We've started way behind in the last couple of years ? that's the really disappointing thing," he said. "But when we're behind, you can see that historically we always catch up faster than anyone else.

"Until we go to the first test in Jerez [which starts on February 7], the engineers won't know for sure if they got it right."

It is understood that McLaren is focusing on single-lap speed with the MP4-27, which it hopes will allow it to take more pole positions and control races from the front.

McGrath added that beating qualifying master Sebastian Vettel will be crucial if McLaren is to be successful in 2012, particularly as its analysis indicated that the raw pace of last year's MP4-26 was superior towards the end of the season despite Red Bull and Vettel's run of poles.

"He must be a brilliant driver, because by the end of last season we definitely had the best car and he was still whupping us," McGrath said.

"We're trying to figure out exactly what he's doing that's so good. How does he pull out that fast qualifying lap every time? We think it's driver skill. There's no trickery on the cars, he just gets more out of it than we do."

Source: Autosport

Only 24 hours until we see which technical innovations they mean.

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