WATCH out for Fernando Alonso and Ferrari!
That’s the message from ex-Formula One insider Becky Sheveling, of Holmbridge, as the new grand prix season – with Michael Schumacher making his return – screeches into action in Bahrain on Sunday.
The 38-year-old spent seven years as an engineer for the Lear Corporation, designing F1 car seats and getting to know many of the biggest names in the sport.
She is still a devotee and will be glued to the TV coverage this weekend, despite a hands-on role helping run Holmfirth Vineyard with husband Ian and looking after their two-month old son Luca Harry.
“It’s going to be a really exciting season,” said Becky, who was involved in F1 until 2006.
“Michael Schumacher coming back is absolutely brilliant – great for the sport and everybody watching to see if he’s still got it.
“Everyone will want to beat him, with him being seven-time world champion, while Michael is really competitive and wants to win.
“The combination of him and team boss Ross Brawn (with Mercedes GP) is very creative and very dynamic and everyone is eager to see how they go.
“In my book, though, Fernando Alonso and Ferrari are the ones to watch.
“Alonso is very, very quick and cut-throat and Ferrari look to have an excellent car for this season.
“They have gone really well in winter testing and they seem to have got the reliability back which let them down last year.”
Becky invented the extractable seat safety system which, when it was introduced, made Lear the first outside supplier in 50 years to change FI rules and regulations.
A friend of World Champion Jenson Button, she is hoping he and new teammate Lewis Hamilton can put the Union Flag to the fore with McLaren, although Alonso has said the 2010 Ferrari is the best he has ever driven.
“I’m sure the Brits will do okay because they will be very competitive and work for the good of the team,” she explained.
“They will be serious competition for each other. Lewis has a lot to prove still, he is hungry and as a part of the ‘McLaren family’ he is desperate to do the business after what happened last season (he had just two wins).
“Jenson, meanwhile, I think will do really well.
“I have known him since he first started out and he’s a really lovely guy. The first ever testing he went to, in Valencia, I remember me and Johnny Herbert teasing him at the airport about his chances of getting into Formula One!
“He’s done pretty well since then and it will be very interesting to see the team dynamic with him and Lewis.”
Becky has misgivings about no re-fuelling for cars in races this season, and also on teams having budgets capped.
“A lot of technical transfer comes from Formula One to road cars,” she said. “In fact, a lot of the research work we did was then channelled back to road cars.
“I can understand the sport wanting to keep teams involved, but in my mind it’s up to them how much they want to spend.”