Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Fiorano, 2014

Ten things we want to know about the 2015 F1 season

2015 F1 season

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Will Mercedes’ rivals be able to get on terms with them in 2015? Is the grid going to keep getting smaller? And how will F1’s first 17-year-old driver get on?

These are a few of the big questions at the start of the 2015 F1 season.

Can Mercedes’ rivals close the gap?

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Monza, 2014Mercedes were almost 1% faster than their closest rival at every race in 2015 on average. That kind of advantage is not unprecedented in Formula One, but you have to go back a few decades to find another team which was as far ahead of the competition as Mercedes were last year.

However maintaining that sort of advantage has historically proven to be very difficult. Mercedes’ rivals will know where they can make gains with their power units and as well as being able to develop them before the start of the season the FIA has recently confirmed they can keep doing so during the championship (apart from Honda).

The first test sessions will give an indication whether Mercedes are as far ahead as they were last year.

…and while we’re on the subject

How much quicker will the cars be? Lap times were slower by a few seconds at most tracks last year. But aerodynamic gains and more powerful engines should see a quickening of the pace in 2015.

Many McLaren matters

Will the relationship between Fernando Alonso and McLaren be more successful the second time around? How competitive will Honda be on their return to Formula One?

Will McLaren finally have the new title sponsor which was first hinted at two years ago? And will their split with Mercedes see the end of the silver livery they’ve used in one form or another since 1997?

The goings-on at Woking could provide as much intrigue as at every other team this year.

Will Mexico’s F1 track retain its charm?

Michael Christensen, Formula BMW, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2008Formula One will return to Mexico this year for the first time since 1992. The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, which held every previous edition of the race, is getting an overhaul to bring it up to modern F1 standards.

Situated in one of the world’s busiest cities, the track is an ideal venue for a race. However track designer Hermann Tilke has little room to work with when it comes to making the circuit meet Formula One’s exacting safety standards.

The famous Peraltada corner was never likely to be retained in its original form, and it looks like every other bend is being altered on the circuit as well. Will it still be able to excite? We’ll find out on November 1st.

…and while we’re on the subject

Will South Korea’s round of the world championship make its promised return? Don’t bet on it.

Will more F1 drivers race in other series?

One of the most exciting developments of the off-season so far was Nico Hulkenberg’s announcement he will compete in two rounds of the World Endurance Championship, including the Le Mans 24 Hours, alongside his full F1 campaign.

It’s an encouraging sign that Formula One drivers are willing and able to participate in other championships. Are we now going to start seeing more drivers dabbling in different series?

…and while we’re on the subject

Formula E will have its first race on a Formula One circuit – or at least part of one – when the cars take to the streets of Monaco two weeks before the grand prix. Can the electric spectacle rival Formula One at one of its signature tracks?

Can a 17-year-old race an F1 car?

Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso, Suzuka, 2014The news that 17-year-old Max Verstappen will race in Formula On this year prompted surprise when it was announced last August. Since then the FIA has introduced a new rule preventing anyone younger than 18 competing in F1 from 2016. That should cement Verstappen’s place as the youngest grand prix driver of all time.

But is he too young to race at the top flight? More to the point, how will a driver with only a single year of car racing experience cope with the world of Formula One?

Whether Verstappen sinks or swims will be a major focus of attention this year, particularly after Helmut Marko raised expectations to stratospheric levels by comparing him with Ayrton Senna.

And there’s also the matter of the tasty intra-team rivalry between Verstappen and fellow newcomer Carlos Sainz Jnr, whom Verstappen originally leapfrogged to get his hands on an F1 car.

F1’s depleted grid: How low can it go?

Start, Interlagos, 2014As it is unlikely either of the teams which went into administration at the end of last year will return, F1 is going to have its smallest grid at the beginning of a season since 1967.

And there are fears another team could drop out in the near future. Lotus’s entry is described as ‘subject to confirmation’ by the FIA, Sauber endured their first point-less season last year and Force India owner Vijay Mallya continues to face problems in other areas of his business empire.

Should the grid fall below its meagre entry of 18, it could cause problems for those running the sport. Bernie Ecclestone is contractually obliged to endeavour to provide at least 16 cars per race. There are commercial agreements in place for existing teams to run extra cars if needed, but no rules are in place yet to allow that to happen.

How will the Virtual Safety Car change races?

The introduction of a new Virtual Safety Car system was given the go-ahead last month, although the FIA is still working on how it will be implemented. It is being introduced to give race control a means of slowing the cars when double waved yellow flags would normally be used, without having to deploy the Safety Car.

We may therefore see more occasions when the speed of the cars is restricted for safety reasons. The Safety Car is already a significant factor in race strategies, particularly at circuits where it frequently makes an appearance, and it remains to be seen if the VSC will do the same.

Will the cars look any better?

Romain Grosjean, Lotus, Circuit of the Americas, 2014Not for the first time in recent history, the FIA has revised the aerodynamic rules in response to the strikingly unattractive designs which appeared last season.

Have they finally cured F1 of its ugly nose syndrome? We won’t know until the cars begin to appear later this month. But expect some of them to look like the prototype 2015 nose Lotus tested at last year’s United States Grand Prix.

Another manufacturer?

Formula One often made the headlines for the wrong reasons last year. But despite that rumours persisted that more manufacturers were considering a switch to grand prix racing.

While Honda returns to the sport this year, Nissan has chosen to race in the World Endurance Championship. But Volkswagen Group brands have long been tipped for a move into F1, and the arrival of former Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali at Audi last year heightened speculation they could be about to switch.

If they did, it would be a vindication of the FIA’s much-criticised V6 turbo hybrid engine regulations.

Can Arrivabene and Vettel rejuvenate post-Alonso Ferrari?

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Fiorano, 2014New Ferrari team mates Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen endured a bruising 2014 alongside Daniel Ricciardo and Fernando Alonso respectively. And they face an uphill climb this year as the axe has fallen deep at Ferrari following its poor performance last year and latest change of management.

Can Ferrari really be on its way back to the top despite having split from a driver many consider the best in the business? Don’t underestimate the scale of the task faced by new team principal Maurizio Arrivabene.

Over to you

What are you most eager to learn about 2015? What are you expectations for the year ahead?

Have your say in the comments.

2015 F1 season

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 71 comments on “Ten things we want to know about the 2015 F1 season”

    1. My predictions:

      1. I reckon the rivals will close up but not completely, by 0.5s say.
      2. Nando and Ron will be great together.
      5. Max will make a lot of mistakes and become decent but not great.
      6. Bernie will bail out some teams to keep his job.
      7. The VSC will be a bit chaotic with obvious failings (like having to monitor it visually) because too much is left to Charlie and he’s not super bright. Eventually it will be a big improvement.
      9. Audi will let it be known they’re just waiting for Bernie’s demise.
      10. Ferrari will drop behind McLaren and possibly Lotus.

      OMG I can’t wait to see. Please @keithcollantine lobby for testing timing data and ERS use on-screen in races.

      1. Ferrarri and McLaren are going to provide a lot of relief from a probable Merc dominance as we learn if Honda are a genuine force and whether Vettel just had an off year or he is worth mentioning alongside the greats Clark, Fangio, Senna and Schumacher.

        1. @blackmamba Indeed there should be some fantastic racing for 3rd place.

          I’d love to see a poll on Seb’s reputation right now; the impression I have is the majority regard him as below Hamilton, Alonso, Ricciardo and maybe Bottas. That’s in the current field, so nowhere at all among the greats. He can mend it, of course, if he can trash Kimi, but no-one can get beaten like he did last year without damage, especially when he flees the scene. IMO he’s part of Ferrari performance lost to McLaren, leaving Ferrari needing a car advantage against 3 or even 4 teams.

      2. Completely agree with point 9; Audi will not return until Mr E steps down. Once that happens I can see them throwing the sort of money Mercedes have put in and be quite competitive.

      3. The teams will close the gap to .5!! Are you joking???

        That would mean Mercedes made no gains whatsoever for that to happen.

        1. What if Mercedes improve by 5 seconds (for arguments sake) and the other teams improve by 5.5 seconds?

        2. I said close the gap BY 0.5s @Kgn11. Just a guess obviously, anyway. Law of diminishing returns versus Merc being a team that is obviously hot, all joined up with good processes and infrastructure.

          And likewise for the others – how much can Red Bull improve their already great aero?

          1. In this case the law of diminishing returns assumes that all teams are working in exactly the same way with same resources but there are too many variables btwn the teams so at any given point one team will always be on top. At this point it’s Merc and their advantage is so big that I don’t think they can be caught even in 2016. We saw it with Red Bull for 4 years just thrashing everybody else because those who fall behind tend to always panic and start chasing their own tails down blind alleys.

        3. Sources since now saying tha Mercedes already found another 50bhp on their 2015 power unit
          http://autoweek.com/article/formula-one/report-mercedes-set-50-hp-engine-boost-2015

    2. Re: Lotus’ “subject to confirmation”, I understand this not to be an indication that they might withdraw, but they have asked the FIA to for more time before a potential name change (perhaps to Genii Lotus?). I’m sure I read this from a reputable source, however I cannot now find the page.

      1. That would be some relief, if true.

      2. Lotus Mercedes? As long as they are in the grid, we’ll all be happy.

      3. PDVSA is told to be in some sort of financial trouble and they are probably forced to stop supporting Lotus and Pastor Maldonado. That would of course be huge setback for Lotus as PDVSA’s financial support is substantial. Maybe this has something to do with Lotus’ delayed confirmation.

    3. I am really looking forward to mcLaren / Honda / Alonso / Button. I really hope there will be swift progress.
      The first bad news came with Honda not allowed to make upgrades through the year.
      If they are bound to 4 engines like others (and not 5 for a first year?), that is a bit unfair.

      1. Not fair. 1 homologated engine at a time and only one per year. All this rule did was change a date they can homologate 1 engine. Honda do not have a homologated engine and so cannot race without one so have to homolgate before the season then thats it. If Ferrari homolgate new engine before the season starts they also can change nothing. They have to use all tokens in 1 go. They get 36 but between now and late February Honda can make as many changes as they want. Swings and roundabouts. Do not see the point people jumping up and down about it.

        1. You misunderstood my point. I don’t go up and down about it, I find it weird to apply 1st year rule for Honda BUT limit them to 4 engines. Which means it’s not a ‘normal’ first year for them.

          1. The thing to remember here is, that its not about Honda getting any “first year” treatment @spoutnik

            The rules have just stated that in 2015 there will be only 4 sets of drivetrain for each car (except if there are more races), which goes for everyone competing. The other part just means that the FIA has awknoledged that there is no defenite date set for homologation of the 2015 engine with integrated updates, allowing manufacturers to use the engines that were already homologated for last year until they make all the changes they want and homologate the new unit.
            But that also means that until then they will have to run “older” engine specs that do not have the new bits on them yet. And need to have cars that take in both the old and new spec. I see it as a mixed blessing at best.
            Will be curious to see how long Mercedes wait with homologation, as they surely don’t need any major overhauls (but possilby wait until they see if Honda did anything interesting?)

            1. @bascb I think it would be great if Mercedes held off homologation until they felt that their advantage had been reigned in too much, which if Renault and Ferrari are running 2014 units will be no earlier than their post homologation units (at least 4/5 races into the season).

              However, I expect that the logistics of supplying so many teams may make this difficult since the best time to homologate for Mercedes may be a bad time for a customer team and they could be accused of treating a customer unfairly. Renault can get away with this since Torro Rosso won’t complain and Ferrari won’t care a jot about their customer team (or will maybe give a discount to keep them quiet).

              Also, the customer teams don’t enjoy such a big margin over their competitors so may be keen to get 2015 units early so that they can gather points in the early races.

            2. @bascb thanks for the insight. I didn’t know the years were cited. It will still be a though year for Honda though, at least reliability-wise. I hope they made a great PU.

            3. @bascb, is this not a moot point with 21 races on the calendar, or have I missed something ?

            4. Seems that issue with the 21 races on the calendar is now being more or less ignored as the race was never going to happen @hohum, so everyone is now counting on 4 engines only (maybe a bit of backroom bargaining going on – less engines in exchange for not sticking to logical homologation date?)

          2. It isn’t a 1st year rule it is just that as Honda were not there last year they do not have a homologated engine to use by the start of the season. They do have however unlimited changes available until that point. Others can change 48 percent but only once they can however delay the introduction of the latest engine. If Honda wanted to do that McLaren would not have an engine to use until Honda homologated their engine. This is only logical. It has nothing to do with 1st year rules the rules are 2015 for everyone just Honda do not have a homologated engine when they do they cannot change it.

      2. I think Fernando will have no trouble beating Jenson, so my eyes are on other intra-team battles:

        1. Vettel vs. Raikkonen – I predict Seb beating Kimi
        2. Hamilton vs. Rosberg – Lewis will take round 2
        3. Sainz Jr. vs. Verstappen – Sainz Jr. is eager to prove he’s better than the 17 years old, but I’m not sure he will beat him.

    4. Would be eager to see how RB11 performs without their genius Adrian Newey…

      1. You will be in for a surprise because the Rb11 is just as much designed by Newey as the RB10 was.

      2. Newey is still around, and involved in the RB11… but Prodromou, his chief aero guy, has moved to McLaren, which should give McLaren quite a boost in performance.

        1. I am more interested to see if Ricciardo can win more races or can thrash Kyviat. His stock is so high right now I fear the only way is down.

    5. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
      5th January 2015, 13:39

      I’d be very surprised if Alonso caused trouble at McLaren, he’s only got a few more years in which to win the 3rd title he’s so desperate to claim. I’m really looking forward to Jenson challenging Fernando hard next season, it could be a great fight.

      Red Bull were really let down by their Renault engine last season, but it still looked really good on some tracks. Obviously, the chassis is still the best in the field and we have to assume the engine manufacturer will make a big step forward: it could be a great year for Ricciardo.

      1. Over the course of 2014 F1 season, a lot of people believed RedBull’s chassis is the best in the field; however, personally, I doubt that and believe that Mercedes had the best chassis in addition to the best engine, simply because in circuits where engine advantage is diminished, Mercedes were still ahead of the whole field including the RedBulls, even in wet sessions when engine advantage is also reduced. One simple example is Japan, where even with their wet setup, RedBull were not able to challenge the Mercedes guys for victory.

        1. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
          5th January 2015, 15:10

          @hzh00 here’s Horner’s view –

          “If you look at the speed in the corners,” Horner said, “we are always the best. Unfortunately we don’t have the power that we need. When you are 75 hp down, it doesn’t really matter what else you have. What can you do? Nothing.”

          If what he says is right, the Red Bull is still quickest when the engine isn’t the most important factor. I was pretty surprised at how close they got to Mercedes this year, given the HP deficit.

          F1Fanatic reckons Red Bull had good pace in Japan, see here.

          1. On the other hand Remi Taffin, who is responsible for Renault Sport’s F1 engine division, has publicly undermined Horner’s claims – he has claimed that, based on their analytical tools, the power deficit is much lower than Horner says it is (40bhp at most). http://www.motorsport-magazin.com/formel1/news-205303-technik-taffin-wir-kennen-unsere-probleme/

            Out of the two, I would be more inclined to trust Taffin’s estimates than Horner, given that Horner also routinely exaggerated the power deficit of the Renault V8 engines (once claiming a 30bhp deficit when the true deficit was closer to 10bhp).

            1. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
              5th January 2015, 19:09

              Fair enough, I agree Taffin’s more credible than Horner. But 40BHP is still sizeable.

        2. Yeah, Mercedes has an amazing chassis, you could clearly see it from the massive gap between Mercedes and the customer teams throughout the season. Sometimes a STR would qualify ahead of a RBR, but the only time the Mercedes were really beaten in qualifying was in Austria, and Austria is all engine and no drag.

        3. The Mercedes car probably had the best chassis and definitely the best outright package- but the Red Bull car had the best aerodynamics. That car was clearly the best to drive- had it had a Mercedes engine, it would have given the works cars a real run for their money.

          1. I don’t know…surely Vettel’s problem in 2014 can’t be boiled down to merely being 40 to 75 HP down? Best chassis or at least best aero? Gotta be more to it than that. SV, one would think, should have at least been able to dispatch DR if their only problem was being down on horsepower. Of course there’s the lack of EBD which SV loved, but I still say the car was night and day different to what SV did all his winning in. Faster in the corners? Really? Well…maybe for DR who never had a chance to miss EBD.

            1. wasnt EBD banned in mid season 2011? if thats the case.. doesnt that mean vettel won the rest of 2011 … 2012 and 2013 without blown diffuser..?

    6. I am looking forward to see whether Nico Rosberg will be a better racer and if we will see more races like Bahrain.

      1. Yes, he needs to improve his ”race pace” in order to beat Lewis and win the title. He’s been a better qualifier than Lewis, but because you don’t get any points from pole positions (like in GP2) it doesn’t matter, that you get 11 poles, if you only win 5 races (actually 3 from pole). But I hope, that he wins the title atleast once during his F1 career. Last season was the first of his career, he ever fought for the title, so now he has the experience of fighting for the title helping him too in the future.

    7. In my opinion…

      1) The stability of the regulations mean a Hamilton/Rosberg title fight is a virtual certainty, although more non-Mercedes wins are likely.
      2) Alonso realizes McLaren is his last opportunity to add to his world title tally, and Ron realizes that Fernando is probably his greatest asset – the chances of conflict between them approaches zero. Undoubtedly though Honda will not be in race winning form in 2015 versus a more mature Mercedes PU.
      3) It will undoubtedly be sanitized but a well supported Grand Prix in the middle of a city will be a welcome addition to the calendar versus the ghostly grandstands of the Bahrain and Chinese races.
      4) Other than perhaps Alonso, who was a prominent guest at Le Mans and the 6 Hours of Bahrain, interest in other series is in low supply on the grid.
      5) Whilst he will do well to contend with the speed of the fully matured Sainz, Verstappen’s practice form in 2014 did not appear to show a kid out of his depth, so we can expect a solid 2015 from Max.
      6) I shudder to think if what my Lotus press officer friend tells me is true…
      7) If the pitlane is not closed during a VSC period (Will it be closed? I am embarrassed to say I don’t know) then the strategic advantage of pitting whilst the circuit is racing several minutes off the pace will undoubtedly transform races.
      8) It’s difficult to imagine how they could look worse.
      9) For the Volkswagen Group it is plain illogical to be staging an in-house fight at Le Mans whilst they go unrepresented in F1. Audi’s heritage as both a hybrid racing pioneer and as one of the world’s finest engine builders is a perfect match with the current regulations and to my eye it is only a matter of time before Audi is an F1 engine supplier at the very least. Red Bull, powered by Audi?
      10) I’m skeptical – Vettel’s move appears more as a reaction to Ricciardo’s speed and a regulation change to which he is not suited than a rational decision. If he struggles against future teammates and struggles to dig Ferrari out of their current toils, the four-time champion may look for the exits – with a retirement in the not to distant future already mentioned by Seb in 2014.

      1. What did your press officer friend say????

        1. Since I was told in confidence, I’d rather not expand on that point. Some of us journos do have a smattering of integrity you know!

          1. So why mention it if you aren’t gonna spill the beans?

          2. I think its reasonably obvious what the Renault PR said. They and Force India and perhaps other mid field teams, Sauber will do a Caterham/marussia this season. I may be wrong but why else would a man shudder?

            1. His mate is from Lotus. Not Renault…

      2. With regards to racing in other series, it’s not just F1 drivers who are unwilling to drive in a rival series – as other championships extend, drivers in multiple series seem to be slightly wary of compromising their performance in one series by driving in a second series.

        Furthermore, I imagine that quite a few drivers are mindful of what happened to Kubica a few years ago – how many drivers would be prepared to risk being injured in a smaller series and throw away their career?

    8. Hm, lets see what I expect from 2015:

      1. Yes, their rivals will be closer to Mercedes next year, but on the other hand, I expect it to be less close between the Mercedes drivers (surely Hamilton can stay on top now, right?)
      2. McLaren, yeah. Sure, they will go through the motions, but apart from maybe a superb Alonso drive resulting in a win of circumstances, I doubt they will get closer than a few podiums. But all will be happy, unless Hamilton somehow decides to not resign with Mercedes for the next years.
      3. Mexico – Lets wait and see. I don’t expect much, so would be great if it surprised (like Austin did but Sochi clearly failed to do)
      4. Would be fun to see other drivers doing things apart from F1, but I just can’t see it happening (or maybe a WEC GT drive for the odd Ferrari/Sauber reserve or something). Alonso was convinced not to, and I really don’t see Button doing it either, apart from them, not sure anyone would even be interested
      5. Verstappen will do fine, although it makes a bit of a hazardous year for Kvyat then, because it would be best to promote him to RBR directly for the year after. Not sure how Kvyat will handle it either.

      6. Good question about the grid. I would think that Sauber is on the brink (half of their engine bill covered by running Marciello as 3rd driver, and getting a lot of money from their drivers helps), FI has been on knife edge for 2 years by now, but seems to be reasonably stable non the less (and Telmex money), as for Lotus, I just can’t see Genii just giving up on it now – these guys have enough money and not (yet) shown bored of F1 – I would think its more likely they finally found a name sponsor or just want to end the Lotus monicker (as Lotus pays nothing for free publicity) – its been what 5 years now? Sure enough Caterham is not joining back in and where would Manor get engines, apart from securing payment for the Marussia deal.
      7. Who knows what the VSC will bring, I expect to see quite a few iterations, strange last minute changes to the rule we find out only after its been applied etc., to keep up with standard FIA/F1 chaos.
      8.Nope, not for me. For me it will just be very sad that suddenly most noses/cars look almost identical once again after a refreshing dose of variety last year. And I am sure RBR will again argument that they are unsafe, ugly and then be found doing something “clever” with them.
      9. Hm, new manufacturers, sure. But certainly not VW AG anytime soon. Anyone else? Don’t see it happening next year, and BE and Ferrari and RBR are doing their best to keep it that way by brining in uncertainty and stupid ideas about throwing all investments overboard and starting anew next year/2016 too.
      10. Nah, Next year will be Ferrari’s big year again. Its been that way for a decade now and tradition should be kept up, right. But I do expect to see Vettel bring up some cheers in the tifosi, and maybe we might see Kimi look good in Spa and one or 2 other tracks too.

      1. You touch on a really interesting point @bascb: how quickly can Vettel go from Antichrist to hero in the eyes of the tifosi? This is the man that directly robbed their beloved Scuderia of the championship in previous years, and whilst you may argue that it is the same situation as when Alonso entered the team having deprived the tifosi the championship in 2006, in 2006 Ferrari fans were not suffering so much of a results famine as they have under Vettel’s reign.

        Also, how many McLaren flags will we see in Italy? How many Italian fans will be wearing Alonso caps and brandishing Oviedo flags? I sense that the tifosi’s love for Alonso was more than simply inherent to the fact that he was the Scuderia’s #1: the Italian speaking Spaniard had become an adopted home favourite in many ways during the ongoing absence of Italian drivers on the grid. Shaking off the legacy Alonso left behind might be as difficult as digging Ferrari out of their current performance trench for Vettel.

        1. @countrygent How many Mercedes fans did you see in 2010-2012?

          1. I think there was a lot of love for Schumi from the Tifosi even when he came back for Mercedes (though I doubt any German flags!). The difference may be that Schumacher was the saviour of Ferrari, Alonso was touted as the second coming but failed to deliver (I’m not blaming him, just stating the fact) so I suspect that whilst they will still have a soft spot for Fernando I doubt it will be long before it wears off, particularly if Alonso has success at McLaren.

          2. Plenty – a) they were in essence the championship winning team of 2009, b) had a demi-god in their line-up and c) were essentially the German national team with the money of Germany’s premier marque behind them and an all German line-up.

            @jerseyf1 Do you not feel Alonso has become an adopted Italian? He was the strongest link in a weak team for several seasons, and Italian fans know that: Ferrari let Alonso down, the same man who never let the Italian fans down, delivering the maximum performance 100% of the time. I sense those that chant “A-LON-SO” at Monza will secretly be hoping the MP4-30H is a fast car, if only to repay Alonso for his service to Ferrari.

        2. That @countygent is a cut and paste and you should be ashamed, journalist integrity my eye!

      2. I disagree about the ”Sochi clearly failed to do” part. The reason Russian GP last year was boring was because of Pirelli brought too hard compounds (Soft/Medium) but the circuit itself is good IMO, so hopefully they will bring the 2 softest compounds (Supersoft/Soft) for the next GP there, so that there could be more various strategies and also the lack of overtaking there last year was more due the tyre compound choices rather than circuit profile.

    9. Some very good questions here. Here are my predictions:

      1) a) Quite possibly. Mercedes got out of the blocks really quickly, but anybody would be stupid to count out the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari before a season starts.
      b) I reckon that Merc will find half a second, whilst others will find a whole second and Lotus if they turn up (see below) will find even more.

      2) a) I’m expecting fireworks, of the bad variety.
      b) I would expect Honda to have teething troubles. Only two cars to test from after all.
      c) There should be a major sponsor by the end of the year.
      d) I want either the ’97-’05 style back. But it will probably be red and white.

      3) a) I’m not optimistic. Losing the Peraltada is going to be a massive loss.
      b) Korea won’t happen.

      4) a) Not likely.
      b) Not a chance. As impressed as I have been with Formula E, it will not have a chance when it comes to rivalling Formula One at this stage.

      5) Verstappen looks far more ready based on what I have seen on him than say Esteban Gutierrez did in 2013. The lack of experience will hurt him, but Marko must be patient. He has potential.

      6) It will drop to 16. I am not optimistic about Lotus at all. Sauber appear safe (for now) and I have little concern over Williams now. Force India seem in the middle somewhat.

      7) I like the idea. I hope it will neutralise races less than a full-on safety car.

      8) I absolutely hope so.

      9) It would be nice to see, but why would a manufacturer (or a privateer) pick Formula One in its current state over the World Endurance Championship? I can’t see it happening.

      10) Absolutely. I have not seen Ferrari so hyped up about a driver since I started watching Formula One. The results may not be instant, but I can see Vettel back on the top step of the podium.

      One thing I am curious to see is how Rosberg bounces back from the championship loss last year.

      1. Don’t forget @craig-o that in 2007 Alonso, and everyone else, was totally surprised by Hamilton. Young rookie Lewis was NOT supposed to be leading the championship instead of Nando! Who was the superstar, and only 25. It’ll be different with Jenson, who at least is a wdc. Anyway Racer Ron will much prefer a high-maintenance mad-to-win character like Fernando to a sweetie like Jenson, so it’s a different ballgame this time around.

        I reckon Ferrari are whistling in the dark over their drivers, paying silly money to help kid themselves. Though I’m not exactly neutral I have to admit. But as far as I can see the two drivers like completely different cars, and Allison’s been saying this one will suit Kimi – pointy, nervy and the exact opposite of stuck down at the back. There’s 2012 history too, when Seb also struggled for a few races when the mapping was changed, he lost some hot blowing, and Webber looked better.

      2. Williams should not have any financial problems thanks to their 3rd-place finish in the constructor’s championship last year, which gave them a lot of money.

    10. 1. Yes, but it won’t stop Merc to win titles again
      2. The relationship will be way better between them compare to 2007, but its unlikely they build a car like in 2007
      3. Yes, I think
      4. Only Hulk that maybe will do it
      5. I was one of his doubters but now I know he’s pretty fast and mature enough to be in F1, He likely will have a solid first season
      6. I’m still in no relief situation, 3 car teams is a pretty bad option and with or without it F1 are losing it charm ,18 is poor, pretty poor for “pinnacle of the motorsports’
      7. Maybe there will be a little bit chaotic but it will better and better
      8. It still ugly in my eyes even though with fixed nose, but atleast its a little bit better.
      9. I really hope this happen, it will regain F1 popularity and of course the field will be better
      10. Even though Kimi and Seb are pretty good friend, their prefrence of car are pretty diffrent, and Ferrari also did not seem to improve at all, and then the management are pretty poor, I highly doubted that Ferrari will back to winning ways

    11. 10. As a Tifoso, I am going to be following this one. Vettel has been the next Schumacher in the minds for many years until 2014 happened. I am betting on him working doubly hard and bring Ferrari to some sort of stability.
      My prediction: One win in the second half of the season (hopefully at Monza) and Ferrari ending the season as the 2nd fastest team.

      1. ColdFly F1 (@)
        5th January 2015, 20:00

        I think that Vettel will do something spectacular at Ferrari.
        I will never forget what he did in the STR; and he seems to have his ‘child-like’ grin back!

        But we have learned that doing something spectacular at Ferrari can mean only 6th in the Driver’s championship.

      2. Just Like Hamilton brought stability and a winning car to Mercedes?

    12. Will Mercedes’ rivals be able to get on terms with them in 2015?

      Nope :P

    13. I may be an old fart who has followed this sport for too long but can I please ask where the optimism for the Honda power unit is coming from? McLaren have not exactly produced for many years and Honda have not been in the sport for a few and their last 3 results were 9th/11th/9th. I’m constantly told to stop being a dinosaur but just because they get back together it doesn’t mean it’s 1988 again.

      1. @rampante The 2012 Mac was a rocketship, pace-wise. Who knows about Honda except it will be an entirely new team compared to 2008, and Ron has been quite bullish about it and the setup. They’ll have had clear targets and a lot of other information from the 2014 car, a clean sheet, and a lot of it is electronics and programming which might suit a big Japanese company. I think we can dare to hope, even if that’s all it can be for now. Not for 1988 of course, but a challenge at the sharp end. Plus the drivers are making a big difference with the current formula, is my impression.

        1. Yeah I think the enthusiasm is partly for sentimental reasons, and partly for the hope that this new marriage can throw a spanner into the Mercedes/Red Bull works of the last 5/6 years.

          The past is the past, and never before has the marriage between PU and chassis been more crucial. I’m starting to think of them as one unit, such is everything so connected now, with the PU so affecting how the braking feels and works. I no longer think F1 is about building a great chassis and slapping on a great engine(now PU). They both have to be built together with each other in mind every step of the way.

          So if McHonda can hit it right….who knows?

    14. I think, Mercedes’s rivals can close the gap, but it will be very hard to reach. And Max can race with them. :)

    15. 1. a) I don’t see past Mercedes walking both championships again. I think other teams will win races though.
      b) I’m looking forward to seeing the lap times drop to more reasonable levels for the Pinnacle of Motorsport.

      2. a) There won’t be many problems with Alonso this season.
      b) I really couldn’t make a prediction on Honda’s engine. I’d be impressed if it was close to Mercedes’.
      c) I think this year we’ll finally see a new title sponsor. The chrome will go (apparently Mercedes will run a chrome livery instead!).

      3. a) Mexico will definitely excite! We should give the alterations a chance. This is the kind of place ideal for an F1 return.
      b) F1 won’t be visiting Korea in 2015.

      4. a) I think Hulkenberg may be a one-off. Not many teams will allow it and he is probably going to end up in the WEC in 2016 or later.
      b) The Monaco ePrix will attract a good crowd. It will struggle to match F1 as a spectacle though.

      5. A 17-year-old can definitely race. There will be errors but Verstappen is going to impress a lot of people.

      6. I think it will remain an 18 car grid, no more withdrawals. Haas are joining in 2016 so hopefully this is just a one-off. 2015 will look quite depleted.

      7. I honestly know nothing about the VSC.

      8. The cars will look better.

      9. I wouldn’t rule out Audi entering in a few years’ time. Ecclestone may need to leave for that to happen though.

      10. I think Arrivabene and Vettel will have to be patient. This year’s going to be a struggle. I believe they can eventually rejuvenate Ferrari though.

      I am most eager to see how much lap time the teams can gain and who can gain the most. With this engine, the potential for quick lap times is definitely there.

      Top drivers in different teams, young drivers trying to impress the big teams, more Hamilton vs Rosberg, Honda returning, no double points… I expect a gripping season. Hamilton to take a third crown.

    16. Keith, how much slower were the cars in 2014 compared to 2013?
      Also in the past with the reduction of the engine sizes or even before with the introduction of grooved tires, changes were made to reduce cornering speeds. It would be nice to know which f1 cars of the past were the fastest.
      Thanks

      1. I am sure Keith did an article comparing speeds and laptimes late last season, I might have a look for it (you could try yourself in between @oni) –
        From memory – the year gave us higher top speeds at tracks, and at best the new engines /cars matched last year but overall they were clearly slower (although the harder tyres and loss of exhaust blowing is mostly to blame for that I guess)

        1. Wasn’t there one track where they’d beat the (qualifying) lap record this year?

          1. Yes, Interlagos, but the fastest ever lap there is the fastest lap from the pre-QLF session of the 2004 Brazilian GP, which was 1m9.9s and the official pole lap back then was 1:10.646, so it means, that Rosberg’s pole lap is the 2nd fastest lap ever around that circuit.

    17. 1. Mercedes still the team to beat, but I doubt they will be as dominant as last year and more drivers from other teams winning races is more likely as well and I also expect, that lap times will be faster than they were last year and could even be faster than 2012-13 at many circuits.
      2. Honda PU is a question mark, so it’s hard to predict now, that will they be enough competitive to challenge Mercs and I don’t expect any problems with Fernando and Ron this time around.
      3. Mexico will be interesting and I bet Korean GP will be dropped from the calendar.
      4. Let’s see how many current F1-drivers will do the same as Hulkenberg in the near future.
      5. Age isn’t really the reason, why Verstappen may not be ready to F1 yet, but his lack of experience from the lower single-seater categories could be a bigger factor.
      6. I think we will have a 18-car grid this year, because I think, that Caterham will collapse as well as Marussia did earlier.
      7. Interesting to see how the VSC will work.
      8. The cars will or atleast should look better.
      9. I don’t think Audi will join in anytime soon.
      10. I believe Ferrari will eventually be back in where they belong, but it will take some time to happen.

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