This weekend sees the start of the 2015 Formula One season as the ten competing teams (assuming Manor gets the all-clear to compete) head to Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit for the opening weekend of the F1 calendar.
It’s been a busy off-season in F1 with several big driver moves, none more so than Sebastian Vettel’s switch from Red Bull to Ferrari and Fernando Alonso’s move from Ferrari to McLaren, although the Spaniard will miss the opening race of the season due to an injury he sustained in testing in Barcelona.
Let’s begin first by taking a look at how the new 2015 F1 calendar shapes up with one more race on the schedule compared to the 19 that were contested last season.
This year sees 20 races on the F1 calendar with the Mexican Grand Prix added to the roster to the 19 races that took place last year. The season is roughly split into two groups of 11 races in the first part of the season, with a month’s break between late July and late August and then the final 9 races take place from the end of August onwards.
Here is the full race schedule for the 2015 F1 season.
- 15th March – Australian Grand Prix at the Albert Park Circuit
- 29th March – Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang
- 12th April – Chinese Grand Prix – Circuit yet to be decided
- 19th April – Bahrain Grand Prix at Bahrain Circuit
- 10th May – Spanish Grand Prix at Catalunya
- 24th May – Monaco Grand Prix at Monaco
- 7th June – Canadian Grand Prix at Montreal Gilles Villenueve Circuit
- 21st June – Austrain Grand Prix at Red Bull Ring
- 5th July – British Grand Prix at Silverstone
- 19th July – German Grand Prix at Nurburgring/Hockenheimring
- 26th July – Hungarian Grand Prix at Hungaroring
- 23rd August – Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps
- 6th September – Italian Grand Prix at Monza
- 20th September – Singapore Grand Prix at Marina Bay
- 27th September – Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka
- 11th October – Russian Grand Prix at Sochi
- 25th October – United States Grand Prix – Circuit yet to be decided
- 1st November – Mexican Grand Prix at Hermano Rodriguez
- 15th November – Brazilian Grand Prix – Circuit yet to be decided
- 29th November – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Yas Marina
As of yet, three races are not yet finalised as to where they will take place with negotiations still ongoing with FIA about where the Chinese, United States and Brazilian Grand Prix events will take place in the 2015 season.
Now we know where we will be racing in 2015, let’s take a look at the teams and drivers who will be lining up on the grid at least at the start of the season.
The teams and drivers
Outlined below are each of the ten teams set to participate in the 2015 F1 World Championship, we show you each team with their engine supplier in brackets and both drivers for each team with their race number also shown in brackets after each name.
- Mercedes (Mercedes) – Drivers – Lewis Hamilton (44) and Nico Rosberg (6)
- Red Bull (Renault) – Drivers – Daniel Ricciardo (3) and Danil Kvyat (26)
- Williams (Mercedes) – Drivers – Felipe Massa (19) and Valtteri Bottas (77)
- Ferrari (Ferrari) – Drivers – Sebastian Vettel (5) and Kimi Raikkonen (7)
- McLaren (Honda) – Drivers – Fernando Alonso (14) and Jenson Button (22)
- Force India (Mercedes) – Drivers – Nico Hulkenberg (27) and Sergio Perez (11)
- Toro Rosso (Renault) – Drivers – Max Verstappen (33) and Carlos Sainz Jnr (55)
- Lotus (Mercedes) – Drivers – Romain Grosjean (8) and Pastor Maldonado (13)
- Sauber (Ferrari) – Drivers – Marcus Ericsson (9) and Felipe Nasr (12)
- Manor (Ferrari) – Drivers – Will Stevens (number to be confirmed) and another driver to be confirmed at a later date
Manor, although a new name, are the company to have emerged from the ashes of the Marussia team that went into administration, along with Caterham, near the end of the 2014 season. The new team has only one driver so far with the car still to undergo crash testing this week to ensure it is safe to race in the season opener in Melbourne at the weekend.
Top bets for the season
Although it is difficult to read too much into pre-season testing, it does very much look like Mercedes dominance of the sport is set to continue into 2015.
Last year, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg won all but three races, they achieved 18 pole positions between them out of 19 races and Mercedes was the winning race constructor in 16 out of the 19 races.
While testing hasn’t been error free, it seems likely that Mercedes will once again be the team to beat and that the rivalry between Hamilton and Rosberg will likely continue into this season.
The two teams arguably best set to challenge Mercedes are Red Bull, with Daniel Ricciardo now very much the senior driver following Sebastian Vettel’s move to Ferrari, although Danil Kvyat did show some flashes of brilliance last year to show he may be one to watch this season.
Williams are also making big strides and although Massa has the experience, Finnish ace Valtteri Bottas has been consistently quickest in testing so far this pre-season and he is arguably the best choice outside of the Mercedes duo.
Both Ferrari and McLaren will probably struggle at the start of the season but given the strength of their driver line ups, expect both teams to make significant progress throughout the season and they should not be too far of maintaining a strong challenge after a few months.
That may be too little too late however as the bookies have Lewis Hamilton a staggering 8/15 to win the drivers’ championship with arguably the better bet being Nico Rosberg at 5/2. Vettel is 18/1, Ricciardo 20/1 but perhaps the best each way bet could be Valtteri Bottas who is a 22/1 shot.
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The Australian Grand Prix preview
The first race of the season begins this week in Melbourne and it is hard to see anyone but Rosberg or Hamilton lifting the winner’s trophy at the end of the race here.
Mercedes usually time their development to be spot on and although Williams have been quick, I think the German-based team have held something back in pre-season but will be flying come the first race weekend proper.
Nico Rosberg won the same race last year, when Hamilton retired after being on pole position but the Englishman will be doing his level best to get his 2015 season off to a flyer.
As such, I’m backing Hamilton to put his Melbourne misery of last season behind him to win the season opener at 10/11, with a side bet on Valterri Bottas at 11/1 to finish in the top 3.