With the first weekend of the 2014 Formula 1 season coming up on the 14th – 16th March from Melbourne, fans of the sport may be about to witness a new era, as the dominant team of the last few years, Red Bull Racing, are having huge problems adapting their car to the new V6 engine.
Over three winter testing periods, Red Bull have struggled to even get a car out onto the track to complete any laps of note.
Their problems came to a head last Sunday at Bahrain when in the final testing session before the season started, World Champion Sebastian Vettel failed to complete a single lap in practise, yet still had his car break down twice in the sessions.
Vettel was typically pragmatic about the situation stating, “We obviously have lots of different problems we are curing. It’s not the best situation to be in but we can’t change it.”
Vettel admitted that given their problems in testing so far this season “reliability is still a big question mark.”
Red Bull’s struggles come as the sport has introduced a raft of new changes in order to make it more competitive, exciting for the viewer as well as greener and cheaper for teams.
The teams have moved from V8 engines to V6 Turbo Charged hybrid engines and a limit on fuel, and it seems to be that these are the two key issues causing Red Bull so many concerns.
The F1 calendar 2014
With other teams, notably McLaren, Williams, Mercedes, Ferrari and Force India looking in much better shape in testing than Red Bull, the first race of the season promises to be an entertaining one, with many drivers believing that the contest in Melbourne could be one of the most open races in recent times.
The 2014 F1 Season sees teams compete over 19 races over the course of the year.
The full list of races is shown below:
- March 14-16 – Melbourne, Australian Grand Prix
- March 28-30 – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian Grand Priz
- April 4–6 – Sakhir, Bahrain Grand Prix
- April 18-20 – Shanghai, Chinese Grand Prix
- May 9-11 – Catalonia, Spanish Grand Prix
- May 22-25 – Monaco, Monaco Grand Prix
- June 6-8 – Montreal, Canadian Grand Prix
- June 20-22 – Red Bull Ring, Austrian Grand Prix
- July 4-6 – Silverstone, British Grand Prix
- July 18-20 – Hockenheim, German Grand Prix
- July 25-27 – Budapest, Hungarian Grand Prix
- August 22-24 – Spa-Francorchamps, Belgian Grand Prix
- September 5-7 – Monza, Italian Grand Prix
- September 19-21 – Singapore, Singapore Grand Prix
- October 3-5 – Suzuka, Japanese Grand Prix
- October 10-12 – Sochi, Russian Grand Prix
- October 31–November 2 – Austin, United States Grand Prix
- November 7-9 – Sao Paolo, Brazilian Grand Prix
- November 21-23 – Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
The 2014 teams and drivers
Currently, there are 11 teams and 22 drivers confirmed as starting for the 2014 F1 season. They are:
- Caterham F1 – Marcus Ericsson (Sweden), Kamui Kobayashi (Japan)
- Scuderia Ferrari – Kimi Raikkonen (Finland), Fernando Alonso (Spain)
- Sahara Force India – Sergio Perez (Mexico), Nico Hulkenberg (Germany)
- Lotus F1 Team – Roman Grosjean (France), Pastor Maldonado (Colombia)
- Marussia F1 Team – Max Chilton (GB), Jules Bianchi (France)
- McLaren Mercedes – Kevin Magnussen (Denmark), Jenson Button (GB)
- Mercedes AMG Petronas – Nico Rosberg (Germany), Lewis Hamilton (GB)
- Red Bull Racing – Sebasian Vettel (Germany), Daniel Ricciardo (Australia)
- Sauber F1 Team – Esteban Gutierrez (Mexico), Adrian Suttil (Germany)
- Scuderio Toro Rosso – Jean-Eric Vergne (France), Danil Kvyat (Russia)
- Williams F1 – Felippe Massa (Brazil), Valtteri Bottas (Finland)
There are five former (and current) World Champions racing in the 2014 season: current Champion Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen and GB duo Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.
At the other end of the scale, there are three drivers starting their first season in F1; Marcus Ericsson (Caterham), Kevin Magnussen (McLaren) and Danil Kvyat (Toro Rosso).
Who will take the chequered flag in Melbourne?
The opening weekend race in Melbourne is not just a season opener, but it is also the time when teams start to state their benchmark of performance for the season. Despite their problems in practice, Red Bull have a happy knack of getting things right at just the right time, so it is foolish to rule out Sebastian Vettel, or his new team mate Daniele Ricciardo, especially with Ricciardo racing on home soil.
Red Bull’s problems in testing however have seen Vettel pushed out to a massive 10/1 to win the race, with Ricciardo an even greater 50/1 shot to win.
Ricciardo especially would be my choice for a great each way selection here.
Lewis Hamilton is the 2/1 favourite at present to win the race, but his less than convincing murmurings ahead of the race make me instead opt for Fernando Alonso (8/1). The Spaniard is back in his Ferrari and even in a poor car in 2013, performed admirably. He should be in with a great chance of securing a win on the opening weekend.
Who will win the 2014 F1 Driver’s Championship?
If you are seeking a long-term bet then backing the winner of the 2014 F1 Drivers Championship is always a popular bet. This season, six drivers, the five former Champions plus Nico Rosberg, look likely to be fighting it out for the title.
Lewis Hamilton is the short-price favourite, with Vettel a 7/2 shot. However once again my money would be going on the 13/2 price for Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard is overdue another F1 title to add to his two World Championships in 2005 and 2006 and I think this could well be his year.
I’m not really convinced there’s a good value each way bet for the Driver’s championship as I think these top six drivers are such short odds, that an each way bet isn’t really viable.
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Who will win the 2014 F1 Constructor’s Championship?
Mercedes good pre season form sees them as the very short priced favourites to win the Constructors crown, but something tells me all is not quite as good as it seems at Mercedes and I think now is the time to get on Ferrari at odds of 4/1.
The Italian team are long overdue a constructor’s title success and they have two World Champion drivers at the wheel for 2014. Both of whom should secure regular podium finishes and race wins for their team.
I think these odds may well be drastically altered following the first couple of races of the season, so take my advice and get on these bets now if you fancy taking the value which I feel will disappear once the first race or two have been run.