So, can anybody catch Mercedes this year? That is the big question everyone will be asking. In a word, no. We are talking about the team that, last year, won 16 out of the possible 19 races, the team that got 18 out of the possible 19 pole positions and dominated the year accumulating a massive 701 points in the Constructors’ Championship.
There are rumours going around that Mercedes have somehow found another 50-80BHP for their power unit. If this is true, other teams will have their work cut out for the season, just like last season. It’s not long until teams unveil their cars for the 2015 season. The Mercedes chassis was very solid last year, they’ll make a few changes but it’s one of the best chassis’ on the grid along with the Red Bull. For me, (I’m bias I know) it’s Hamilton’s title again this year. He’s already said that he’ll come back stronger and specifically stated that he needs to improve his qualifying performances. I know Rosberg got the Pole Position trophy last year but when it came to actual racing, Rosberg was always outclassed by Hamilton.
This year, we welcome Honda back to the sport as they will be providing McLaren, and McLaren only, with their own power units. In my opinion, I don’t think McLaren-Honda will be a threat to Mercedes this year, it’ll be in 2016 when we see the true power of the Honda power unit. Do they have the best driver-lineup on the grid? No, they don’t, but they have the best driver on the grid, that man being Alonso. I am pleased that Alonso will feature this year as there were talks he might have taken a break from the sport. I’m also pleased, that, eventually, Button was the other chosen driver and that it wasn’t Magnussen. Back to Alonso for a second though, just look at what he can do in a car that isn’t up to scratch, it’s just unbelievable. Perhaps, at some point during the season we’ll see Hamilton and Alonso fighting on-track. That would be a spectacle in my eyes.
I don’t really have a lot to say for Williams. They were the closest competitor to Mercedes last season but realistically, didn’t frighten them at all. It was only in Austria where another team (that team being Williams) beat Mercedes to a pole position. I do think they’ll still be the second fastest team this season as they, of course, use the rampant power unit from Mercedes. Bottas, for sure, is a future champion as some of his drives last year were simply outstanding. Massa had some bad luck but hopefully he’ll have a good season this year.
What will they do without Vettel? With or without him, I have a feeling they’ll struggle again this season. Similar to Bottas, Ricciardo last season was fantastic to watch and again, is a future champion. Red Bull do have a great chassis but it’s the Renault power unit that lets them down, the fact they have to put a Renault power unit in their car automatically decreases their chances for the season ahead. It’s simply lacking in BHP. Yes, they’ll make some grounds but I can’t see them battling the Mercedes or the Williams this season.
They have lost Alonso, arguably the best driver on the grid and gained a 4-times world champion in Vettel. Again, similar to Red Bull, I think Ferrari will also struggle this season. I can’t see them fighting Mercedes, Williams, Red Bull, McLaren or even Force India. But, this is Ferrari we are talking about, they have the biggest budget in Formula 1 but I can’t see them doing anything special this year.
So, that’s my preview for the season ahead. Mercedes will still be ahead of the pack followed by Williams. McLaren (depending on how testing goes with the Honda power unit of course) may be up there if they can build a decent chassis. Red Bull will be ready to pounce should any teams have any issues, just like last year at Canada for example where the Mercedes were cruising but later fell into major problems with the ERS-K system. Lotus should have a better season as they have switched from the Renault power unit to the Mercedes power unit. I, for one, can’t wait until testing gets underway on the 1st of February and like last year, I’ll have analysis from each of the tests.
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