F1 Season Preview: Part 2
In the part 1 of the season preview, we looked at the top 4 teams. Here is part 2, with the rest of the field.
Lewis Hamilton‘s arrival seems to have lifted Mercedes to new heights this season. They utterly dominated the final two days of testing in Barcelona, Hamilton, and then Rosberg, setting the fastest times of the winter. Mercedes dropped off so badly last year, after Rosberg won in China, that by the end of the season, they were struggling to even pick up points. Judging by the admittedly unreliable indicators from testing, that won’t be a problem this year. With Hamilton at the wheel, the Mercedes looks like having the pace to challenge at the front of the grid. A bold prediction – Hamilton for pole in Australia. You heard it here first.
Benefitted quite nicely from the Hamilton to Mercedes deal, as they were able to bring in the highly rated German, Nico Hulkenberg, to replace the outgoing Perez. As Hulkenberg showed in Brazil at the end of last year, he has the potential to win races. Whilst he might struggle to do that for Sauber, he will certainly amass an impressive points tally. Alongside the Mexican rookie, Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber have an exciting driver line-up to go with their new striking dark grey livery.
Have not had an ideal winter. Undecided on their second driver, they spent most of the winter trying to decide between the young, fast Jules Bianchi and the older, more experienced Adrian Sutil. In the end, they opted for experience in the shape of Sutil. In my opinion, it was a poor choice. In Sutil’s previous F1 stint, he hardly set the world alight, he was merely a reliable points scorer. I doubt a year away would have turned him into anything more than that. A punt on the clearly quick Bianchi (who has now gone to Marussia) would perhaps have shown a bit more ambition from Force India. Looks like another season slogging it out in the midfield.
Sticking with Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne. The car looks to be much the same as last season. Will be hoping to stay ahead of Caterham and Marussia. Aims will be limited to getting out of Q1 and scoring the odd point.
Have a completely new, very inexperienced driver line-up in Charles Pic, who was at Marussia last year, and Dutchman Giedo van der Garde. Will be looking to reign in Toro Rosso and get out of Q1 on a more regular basis. Might struggle early on as their young drivers get to grips with the cars.
Signed the young Englishman Max Chilton early on, but didn’t confirm their second driver until the end of the final test. Had a deal in place with the Brazilian Lucas Razia, but when his sponsorship failed to materialise, so too did his race seat. The deal fell through and they opted instead for the already mentioned Bianchi. Not much is expected of them, and it will be interesting to see how both the rookies go. Chilton should benefit from having every day of testing to himself.