For once, the biggest talking points going into the new Formula One season do not concern who is going to win the title. As far as that is concerned, everything is relatively simple.
Mercedes’ superiority last year looks to have translated onto the new season. The gap between them and the rest of the field ultimately means that the title challenge looks to be Lewis Hamilton vs Nico Rosberg II. The psychological edge will be with Hamilton, having won the title last season. He believes that he is the faster driver. However, Rosberg’s attention to detail, in making up the small margins he conceded to Hamilton last year, makes it very hard to call.
Ferrari, is a giant of the sport looking to rebuild their reputation
The ‘best of the rest’ in terms of teams looks incredibly close. Ferrari, Red Bull and Williams look too close to call at this point. Ferrari, looking to rebuild after a horrible year last season, look much more competitive than they were last season. Vettel, having moved from Red Bull to Ferrari, is in a similar situation: a giant of the sport looking to rebuild his reputation. His battle against team-mate and veteran Kimi Raikonnen will be a fascinating one.
Daniel Ricciardo, the man who beat him comprehensively as his Red Bull team-mate last season, will look to kick on as Red Bull’s lead driver, while Williams’ Valteri Bottas will be looking to cement his reputation as a future world champion, much like Ricciardo.
Further back is where the talking points away from the track begin to take precedence. McLaren’s pre-season struggles, having switched from a Mercedes to a Honda engine for the new season, were compounded by the freak accident suffered by Fernando Alonso during testing. Having suffered concussion after a 130-mph crash, the reason behind the crash is yet to be confirmed. What we do know is that the two-time world champion will not be racing at the first grand prix in Australia, having been advised to sit the race out by doctors. McLaren have stated that they will be more competitive once they bring in upgrade for the European season. That is 5 races in. How they will perform before that, or if they will even manage to complete a race, is wholly debateable. From a slightly sentimental perspective, it what could well be Jenson Button’s final season in Formula One, there are many who would have wished he had a better car to go and try to win a few races.
To explain their current situation simply, Sauber F1 gave three drivers contracts for two spots
As for the Sauber team, their financial difficulties are no secret. What is a secret at this point is exactly who will line up for them come the 15th March. To explain their current situation simply, they gave three drivers contracts for two spots. Having given Guido van der Garde a contract to drive for them next season, they decided instead to opt for Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson, the two drivers who bring the biggest budgets. As such, van der Garde has taken them to court, which itself looks to be getting increasingly more bitter.
Manor Marussia, a team whose financial troubles last year meant they missed the final three races of the season, have found an investor to give them the financial backing to race this year. They will certainly be at the back and cut off from the rest of the field.
The new season, although overshadowed by political turmoil and incidents, looks to be one that follows much as the same trends as last year. Hamilton looks to be the favourite. Rosberg thinks otherwise. Mercedes are still the team to beat.
Images courtesy of The Guardian