Half a season preview, because here we go F1 2015!
Ernst Hemingway once said, “There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.”
Bar the commotion about the noise, the evident loss of horsepower, and the aggravating economics of the sport; when the action is needed, Formula One does what it is best at. After a season of change, politics, drama, battling and unadulterated racing, F1 returns this March in Melbourne with all tables reset to 0. The catch of this all being, how much exactly is ‘zero’?
Testing: A blurred view
To say teams have covered up lost ground, we would need results on hand. Yes, that’s why testing took place. And we do have some good stats that prove Williams and Ferrari are a lot closer compared to 2014 (fun fact: Ferrari are 1.5s faster than where they were last season!) Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen’s frequent session topping pretty much proves Ferrari’s quantum leap. But how much were Mercedes sandbagging? Total testing times shows the Mercedes duo singlehandedly topping the overall sheets with a one second gap to the pack below.
A clearer picture would be visible only after Melbourne. What is confirmed as of now is the pecking order is likely to see a change, bar positions 1 and 2.
F1 more dramatic than Shakespeare
Just a few days prior to the official start of the season, Sauber lost a court case to Giedo van der Garde, who appealed to race in Melbourne as per his contract. However, Sauber have already competed their driver line-up with Marcus Ericcson and Felipe Nasr! Which means Sauber have 3 contracted drivers for 2 race seats. Possibilities are that another hearing will ultimately strip Giedo off his permission to race in Melbourne or Sauber will be forced to replace Marcus since Nasr is man bringing in money for the nearly-broke Sauber team with sponsorship from Bronco de Brasil.
Williams were the closest to Mercedes in terms of pace last season. And with the retention of the same drivers for this season, they will be in full contention of the championship. Valtteri Bottas has been dubbed the new ‘flying Finn’ by several F1 gurus, owing to his incredible performance last season to grab 5 podiums. However, there are improvements to be made in terms of race pace and in general, Williams’ tyre degradation issues. Felipe Massa started last year’s campaign with a strong qualifying in Melbourne and undoubtedly, the car will be performing better than ever back here in Albert Park.
Red Bull’s bittersweet memories
Who doesn’t remember Red Bull’s dramatic disqualification from last year’s Aus GP results? (To remind you, that gave way to McLaren’s only double podium last season)
They return back in 2015, heading into the season with the same issues and concerns as last year but don’t forget how they ended up!
With Vettel’s exit, Red Bull replaced the 4 time world champion with Daniil Kvyat. The young Russian who was named Rookie of the Year in the same year, will be partnering with Ricciardo, Red Bull’s lead driver. Their pre-season results were the least impressive as it was plagued by drivability issues and reliability; the Renault engine still seeming to be lacking quite a lot to Mercedes. In an ideal situation, Red Bull would jump right back up with a package strong enough to hold position as the second best team on the grid, but an cluttered picture shows much more and better improvement from teams like Williams and Ferrari. Only time will tell.