Christmas is a distant memory, the days are getting longer and winter is almost of over. It can mean only one thing; the start of a brand new Formula 1 season.
After some dramatic rule changes at the beginning of 2014, 2015 carries over much of the rules from last season, albeit with some aesthetic changes which, I’m sure you’ll agree, are for the better. The turbo-hybrid engines are also here to stay. Let’s take a look at how things line up.
2014 ended in tumultuous fashion, with two teams folding, one of which made it back for the final race only to go bust for good. Another two teams, Sauber and Force India experienced (and voiced publicly) financial concerns. Now, out of the three new teams that began only a few years ago, only one remain – Marussia (now known as Manor F1). Manor have been resurrected, and as long as everything goes well during their preparations, they should be on the grid in Melbourne next weekend.
After a troubled pre season testing, McLaren have a steep hill to climb. They completed the least amount of testing out of everybody, but even with a formidable line of Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button and new engine partner Honda, McLaren are going to have a difficult start to the season.
After a horrible season last year, as a result of which they lost their star driver Alonso (but gained 4 time champion Sebastian Vettel) Ferrari seemed to have recovered some form after performing well during pre-season testing. Sauber also appear to have taken a step forward after also having an extremely poor 2014, but only time will tell how truly competitive these teams will be.
As well as the big-name moves with the likes of Vettel and Alonso, there have also been a few new additions to the grid, including record-breaking Max Verstappen, who will be the youngest driver ever, a title previously held by Alonso, Button and Vettel. But at the age of 17, Verstappen will have plenty of skeptics to prove wrong.
Although Kevin Magnussen was demoted to make room for Alonso, he will start the Australian GP as the Spaniard is recovering from his big accident in pre-season testing. Young Russian hopeful, Daniel Kvyat was promoted to Red Bull after an impressive rookie season, an he will be closely watched to see if he can replicate the excellent first season had by team mate, Daniel Riccardo.
The 2015 F1 calendar remains unchanged from last year’s, with the exception of the German GP which is yet to be confirmed. The twenty races will include newcomers Sochi (Russia) and Austin (US) as well as some classics, such as Spa Francorchamps (Belgium) and Monza (Italy).
It’s looking like Mercedes are still going to be the team to beat – finishing strong last year and dominating throughout with their all-star line-up of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton. The question remains – who will be the best of the rest? Ferrari look to have caught up after a year to forget, Williams have continued to look like they will be scoring podiums and Red Bull can’t be ruled out. Can the other teams finally catch up to Mercedes? All the answers will be in Melbourne next weekend.
Article by Michael Slevin Uttley from www.therinse.co.uk