Toby Jupp previews the upcoming highly-anticipated Formula One season.
Can Mercedes be so dominant again? How will Red Bull fare without Vettel? Surely Ferrari must get back to winning ways? Will Alonso lead McLaren to a glorious new era?
Who will emerge as World Champion: Hamilton or Rosberg?
Obviously Mercedes are as near to 100% likely to win the constructors’ title as can be predicted in sport but behind them there is a fascinating battle shaping up between as many as six teams for the second spot: Williams, Red Bull, Ferrari, Lotus, Force India and McLaren. Williams and Ferrari emerged from testing with the best times and reliability while McLaren endured a horrific time; Fernando Alonso was injured and will have to miss the season opener because of the car’s unreliability. Lotus look to have leapfrogged Force India with their new Mercedes power unit, and testing was promising giving the horrendous season last year.So who will be world champion? I’m certainly backing Lewis Hamilton to win back-to-back titles. He is simply a better racer than Nico Rosberg and that’s where the points are won. If the German can transfer his qualifying pace to race victories, the title could get more interesting but I expect Hamilton to win comfortably.
Mercedes are 100% likely to win the constructors’ title
The best news of the winter however was at the beginning of March, when it was confirmed that Marussia (renamed as Marussia Manor) would remain on the grid amid growing speculation about the team’s future being in doubt after going into administration in October. They are likely to be joined by Sauber and Toro Rosso at the bottom of the grid – with the latter having two rookies with a combined age of 37 driving their cars (Dutchman Max Verstappen at 17 years old is still below the legal driving age in his own country!).
So as I have already said, I expect Mercedes and Hamilton to retain their titles. Chasing them down will be Ferrari and Williams, where I expect Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas to be challenging them for podiums. McLaren and Red Bull will take the odd podium because of possessing talented drivers such as Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button (both McLaren) and Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull). It would be great to see one of Lotus or Force India to challenge for podiums but it may be too elusive.
There will be one new race on the calendar, Mexico City holding the first Mexican GP since 1992, and four (potentially five with the announcement of the second Manor driver) rookies on the grid; Verstappen, his Toro Rosso team mate Carlos Sainz Jr, British Formula Three champion Will Stevens and ex-GP2 and Williams reserve Felipe Nasr. The question on my mind, and quite a lot of others as well, is whether Mercedes can go through the entire season winning every race.
2015 DRIVERS’ GRID
|MERCEDES||Lewis Hamilton & Nico Rosberg|
|RED BULL-RENAULT||Daniel Ricciardo & Dani Kvyat|
|WILLIAMS-MERCEDES||Valtteri Bottas & Felipe Massa|
|FERRARI||Sebastian Vettel & Kimi Raikkonen|
|McLAREN-HONDA||Fernando Alonso & Jenson Button|
|FORCE INDIA-MERCEDES||Nico Hulkenberg & Sergio Perez|
|TORO ROSSO-RENAULT||Max Verstappen & Carlos Sainz Jr|
|LOTUS-MERCEDES||Romain Grosjean & Pastor Maldonado|
|SAUBER-FERRARI||Marcus Ericsson & Felipe Nasr|
|MARUSSIA MANOR-FERRARI||Will Stevens & Roberto Merhi|