Who'll come where in Melbourne? Nobody knows.
That's the beauty of the first race, testing means nothing, previous times mean nothing, in a way quali means nothing either because you might have the fastest car and driver onthe grid but...
...in Melbourne no-one knows whether the car will stay the course, whether the engine will survive, whether the tyres will last the requisite number of laps to make your strategy work, whether some rookie (and there are a few) will put you out of the race.
Nobody knows what's going to happen - it's a complete unknown or it's a continuation of last year. I've always had a punt on predicting the points scoring positions in the first race of the season simply because it's nearly impossible. I nearly got the first 6 in 2003 but they were in the wrong order and I thought that Alonso would be in instead of HHF - Close but no cigar as they say.
This year is without precedent after last season so I'll probably be way off the mark but in the spirit of fun here's my first to eighth. I hope I'll get good odds on it this year but the irish bookies are notorious for being conservative.
1. Mark Webber to break his duck and win the Aussi GP - Red Bull
2. Alonso - Ferrari
3. Schumi - Mercedes (a years experience + testing)
4. Massa - Ferrari
5. Rosberg - Mercedes
6. Heidfeld - Renault
7. Barrichello - Williams
8. Button - McLaren
Vettel and Hamilton - DNF
HRT - DNQ
I think Ferrari will be strongest going into the first race both in terms of pace and reliability.
One of the Red Bulls will suffer engine failure and I'm giving it to Vettel purely on the heart - Webbo deserves to win a home GP.
Hamilton will crash out chasing the leaders on degrading rubber.
Mercedes are sounding very smug so I think they've got a podium in them and probably a 4th/5th spot.
Renault would seem to be in the mix but I'm afraid that they may have flattered to decieve in winter tests and they may not have a complete package. I'm still giving Heidfeld a 6th on the basis that if they haven't he'll be the most likely guy to bring the car home in the points.
Williams might well have been given the last two spots if they had a second driver of any quality. I go into every season hoping they'll come back to form but unfortunately I think that Barrichello is the only driver who can move them on. This will have a serious effect on their Constructor's Championship and they may have to change drivers mid-season to address that shortcoming (that's assuming they're on the top-of-midfield pace).
McLaren could be talking themselves down but if they have any speed and reliability I believe that Button will be able to manage the tyres to bring the car home in the points. If they've been hiding their true potential, I still think its likely that Hamilton will go off trying to make an overtaking maneouvre stick on degraded rubber.
Sauber/Toro Rosso are the dark horses that could ruin the prediction totally - Kobayashi might well mix it up and either cause a pile up in the midfield or bring the car home in 5th/6th - you've gotta love that guy!
No matter what prediction I make I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all the drivers and teams the best for this postponed season opener. Remember when the lights go out its every man for himself and lets see the wannabe 2011 champion show their hands early this year.