So it’s that time of the year again. The winter break is nearly over and this year we are having to wait even longer until we see the first action of the year. The first pre-season test takes place in Barcelona on the 22nd of February while the first race in Australia takes place on the 20th of March.
Firstly, I have some bad news for Mercedes’ fans. Don’t expect them to be as dominant as they have been for the past two seasons. They will still have the strongest package and will still be favourites to win both of the titles but Ferrari are expected to challenge the Silver Arrows this year. Mercedes themselves have even said that they are expecting to be beaten by Ferrari. Of course, both teams are keeping their cards very close to their chests. There’s only so much you can do with the Power Unit and the elements inside. The Power Unit consists of six separate elements; the internal combustion engine (ICE), the motor generator unit-kinetic (MGU-K), the motor generator unit-heat (MGU-H), the energy store (ES), the turbocharger (TC) and control electronics (CE). There are rumours that Ferrari have made big gains with the Power Unit over the winter and that they now have 900+ BHP at their disposal. Ouch.
We welcome a new team this year, Haas F1. Grosjean and Gutiérrez will be driving for them and you could say that they are Ferrari’s sister team, similar to how Toro Rosso are Red Bull’s sister team. They will be using Ferrari engines and Ferrari themselves will be providing the mechanical parts for the car while Haas will be dealing with the chassis and the bodywork. Because of the support they’ll be receiving from Ferrari they won’t be at the back of the pack, they’ll be racing alongside Sauber and possibly Toro Rosso and McLaren.
McLaren are also expected to move up the field after a torrid season last year in which they finished the season with 27 points. Don’t expect them fighting with Mercedes and Ferrari but I have a feeling they’ll be racing alongside the likes of the Sauber and Haas and as we get towards the end of the season, further up the field alongside Force India and possibly Williams and Red Bull. (Of course this is all guess work at the minute and we’ll get some clarification when pre-season testing starts.)
It’s not long now and there’s nothing more I want than to see Hamilton win his fourth title but it’s going to be as tough as ever. Rosberg will be back even stronger and Vettel will be up there right from the start in Australia.