This Friday sees the beginning of the 2015 Formula One season.
It appears that Mercedes are still the team to beat, with their rivals concerned that the team could be even more dominant than they were last year.
The order behind Mercedes seems to be a little less clear compared with 2014 as Ferrari seemed to have made big gains in performance over the winter. It is clear that Williams are still competitive and Red Bull will be more than capable of competing with Ferrari and Williams. These three teams are likely to be the ones battling for the final podium place in Australia, assuming both Mercedes remain reliable and stay out of any trouble during the race weekend.
I think two dark horses for the early rounds of the championship are Lotus and McLaren. Lotus will this season run a Mercedes engine which was faster and more reliable in 2014 than Renault, Lotus’ previous engine supplier. The Mercedes engine is still the best engine in 2015, which makes it interesting to see whether Lotus will be able to reclaim a place near the front of the grid, like they were for the most of 2013, or whether they will be just behind the likes of Williams, Ferrari and Red Bull.
I believe McLaren to be a dark horse as well, having suffered reliability issues during pre-season testing, it has been difficult to get a clear picture of how competitive the McLaren really is, which will make it interesting to see where they fit into the pack in the early part of the season.
Then there is Force India, Toro Rosso and Sauber, who are likely to be competing for the lower points positions. Although Force India could challenge Lotus and McLaren, due to the late launch and limited testing of their 2015 car I expect Force India to be initially challenging Toro Rosso and Sauber.
Lastly there is Manor who have done a tremendous job in coming out of administration and being ready for the opening Grand Prix. They are more than likely to be at the back, but could close the gap later in the year when they have introduced their 2015 car. I just hope the team can have a solid year without having to worry about potentially going back into administration or being sold.
Although the driver’s title will most likely be fought between Hamilton and Rosberg, there are other intriguing stories and fights further down the grid worth keeping a check on throughout the season.