There’s only one team we can start off with, right? Mercedes. Who would of thought they’d be even more dominant this year after what they achieved the year before. They accumulated more points in the Constructors’ Standings than last year and it’s even more impressive as the final Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi didn’t offer double points. Last year Mercedes got a total of 701 points, this year they got 703.
Lewis Hamilton claimed his third world title with three races to go. However, in the remaining races either Hamilton took his foot off the pedal (literally) or Rosberg upped his game, it’s hard to determine which one actually happened. Perhaps as the main target was achieved (the world title) Hamilton did back off. He has opened up a little since the finale in Abu Dhabi and has said that he did find it hard to focus after he won the title and that since Singapore the car wasn’t the same. Perhaps his side of the garage changed the setup on his car, who knows? We’ll never know as the drivers won’t admit anything to the public. Hamilton will talk to his team behind closed doors. Rosberg was simply the fastest driver in the three remaining races and he looked good.
Rosberg, for the first time in his career won three consecutive races and when the pressure is off, he’s a very good driver. I mean, if you have Hamilton in your mirrors, it’d be strange if you didn’t feel a bit of pressure, he’s the fastest guy in Formula 1 after all.
At the first race in Australia, Mercedes finished around 33 seconds ahead of third-placed Vettel and everyone was thinking it was all over already and that it was simply between the two Mercedes drivers yet again. However the biggest team in Formula 1, Ferrari, now had a four-time world champion driving for them. In 2015, Vettel transformed Ferrari.
They stunned Mercedes at the second race in Malaysia as Ferrari took advantage of the extremely hot track temperatures and worked out the perfect strategy to beat the Silver Arrows. Ferrari and Vettel beat them fair and square on race day as he finished 8.5 seconds ahead of Hamilton. Were Ferrari title contenders after all? At the next race in China it was much closer as Hamilton won the race by a measly gap of 0.7 seconds from Rosberg with Vettel finishing in third.
We’ll jump forward to Monaco where Mercedes made a howler of a strategy decision. Hamilton was leading the race and he had Rosberg behind him. The Safety Car was called out and for some reason Mercedes called Hamilton into the pits but left Rosberg out. By the time Hamilton left the pits, Rosberg was comfortably ahead and Vettel even managed to get the jump on him. Hamilton, who had led the whole race was now sitting in third. On team-radio Hamilton was heard saying “we’ve lost this race haven’t we?”. There was no need for Hamilton to come into the pits, his tyres were fine. Understandably, Hamilton was unhappy after the race. Obviously it was a team decision but Paddy Lowe did admit after the race that it was his call. Mercedes thought Hamilton had a big enough gap to come back out still leading the race.
Again, we’ll jump forward a few races to Great Britain. At the start of the race it was dry and both of the Williams drivers, Bottas and Massa got the jump on both of the Mercedes drivers. Clouds were starting to form and they were getting darker and darker and it soon started to rain lightly. Hamilton decided that he wanted to come in for the Intermediate tyres. This was his decision and not the team’s. Everyone thought it was the wrong call, Rosberg breezed past and stayed out. Down the Hanger Straight we could visibly see the track was getting wetter and wetter and the spray from the cars was getting worse and worse. Hamilton had made a cracking call to come into the pits at exactly the right time and he won the race by over 10 seconds in the end.
Singapore next and it was Mercedes worst race arguably since Canada last year. Many people thought that they couldn’t get enough heat into the tyres. Hamilton retired from the race while Rosberg finished in fourth. Ferrari were there to pounce and Vettel took his second victory of the season. Ricciardo in his Red Bull finished in second with Räikkönen finishing in third. It was a race weekend to forget for Mercedes.
Finally, the United States where Hamilton could wrap up the title. All the action happened with around ten laps to go. Rosberg was leading with Hamilton behind and if the result stood, Hamilton would not win the title in Austin. However, anything can happen in this sport. The Safety Car was called out with ten laps to go and this of course closed the gap and Hamilton was right behind Rosberg’s gearbox. When the race resumed Rosberg started to pull a gap but the pressure got to him as Hamilton was eager to wrap up the title. Rosberg went off the track which gifted Hamilton the lead, and most importantly, the title.
So, that was that. I’ve picked out the major points in the 2015 season as some of the races were very boring unfortunately. Ferrari are back and next year I have a feeling they’ll be as good as Mercedes have been this year so Mercedes themselves will need to create a stunning car if they want to continue leading the field. Hamilton nor Rosberg incurred any penalties for using more components than allowed. Rosberg retired in Monza (engine) and Russia (throttle) and Hamilton (broken clamp) retired in Singapore. That was all, three retirements all year. The W06 was bulletproof.
Many people are predicting that Ferrari will challenge Mercedes in 2016 and it’ll be good to see Hamilton, Vettel, Rosberg and Räikkönen fighting for race wins. The cars won’t look much different next year but hopefully they’ll be a little louder. Just a quick word on McLaren. What a torrid season they had. The chassis is good, it’s just the recharging aspect of the power unit is useless. Did Honda return a year too early? Did they return two years too early? Who knows how long it’ll take before they are back where they belong, at the front. It’s not good for the sport, I hope they improve significantly next year and fight with the likes of Toro Rosso and Sauber. I mean seeing Alonso at the back of the grid is, in a way, shocking. He’s arguably the most complete driver on the grid and seeing him drive right at the back of the field is a sad sight. He, alongside Button should be right up there fighting Mercedes and Ferrari.
Next year we welcome a new team, Haas F1. They will run the 2015 Ferrari power unit and have secured a deal to use various parts from Ferrari too. Haas F1 might run alongside the mid-pack next year, we’ll just have to see how they do in testing. Grosjean and Gutiérrez will drive for them next year.
The first test gets underway on the 25th of January with the second test taking place in Barcelona on the 22nd of February and the third and final test also taking place in Barcelona on the 1st of March. I’ll have analysis on my blog from all three tests, of course.
Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to sleep for 53 days.