A look at why the opening race in Melbourne could be anyone’s to win.
After what has seemed a long wait for any F1 fan, the new season has finally arrived, and what a game changing season it looks set to be.
With the radical engine changes, the new design changes to the cars, and the challenges these have brought to all the teams, the race in Melbourne this Sunday is going to be one of the most anticipated season openers the sport has seen in many years.
Mercedes are already seen as the most likely team to dominate the first part of the Formula One season, but whether they maintain their edge as the season progresses is anyone’s guess. Lewis Hamilton is hoping that we have seen the end of the Red Bull domination in this sport.
Hamilton admitted that he was tired of seeing Sebastian Vettel keep winning for Red Bull, stating, “One team destroying it for four years, having your ass whupped so badly, is not good for the sport.”
He also went on to say, “You want a championship that goes to the wire. I hope the changes enable that to happen this year.”
The problem with predicting how the rest of the season will develop is that nearly all the teams have experienced reliability problems during winter testing. Many think that this will be a significant factor in Sunday’s race in Australia, but teams will attempt to overcome these problems as the season progresses.
Winter testing has proved to be particularly tough for Red Bull, with overheating issues constantly blighting their pre-season preparations. Before you write off the Red Bulls though, you need to take into account that a driver does not just win 4 world championships purely based on speed alone. If they can overcome their technical issues within the first few races, Vettel will still be a force to be reckoned with.
It’s not all about the Red Bulls and the Mercedes team though, as both McLaren and the Williams have shown good pace and reliability during winter testing.
The Williams led the way in pre-season testing with Felipe Massa setting the fastest time in the final week in Bahrain. Massa did say that he suspects the Mercedes to have the edge for the first race of the season, but warned that we should not write off any of the big teams, including Red Bull.
Massa is not ruling anyone out though. “You have so many teams that will be there fighting. Maybe McLaren will be fighting, maybe Ferrari will be fighting and we don’t know where Red Bull will be because they didn’t run.”
He then added, “You cannot say forget about Red Bull. They know how to build a quick car and be competitive, and when they fix the problems they have, they are going to be there.”
Ferrari, as Massa mentioned, are also a team that you should not write off. They have not survived in Formula One without putting up a good fight, and like many teams they would have been working hard these last 2 weeks to rectify the problems they had with their car.
Although Lewis Hamilton is being tipped to win Sunday’s race, one driver I recommend to keep an eye on this season is Kevin Magnussen.
Magnussen has settled in well at McLaren and has been proving his worth by clocking up some really good times in the winter testing. I believe he could collect points for McLaren this weekend, and go on to grab himself a podium position, or two, this season.
Some teams are struggling to find the pace they need with the new engines, some are experiencing the reliability issues, with other teams putting up with various technical problems. It is these same variables that will make Sunday’s opening Grand Prix one of the most anticipated races for a long time.