By Jonathon Momsen
Christmas is gone and summer is here, which means the Formula 1 Championship will begin building towards the Australian Grand Prix coming up in March. After such a strong year in 2014, Daniel Ricciardo’s future will be one of a champion, but whether or not 2015 will have an Australian winner remains to be seen. The first challenge to be overcome, not just by Ricciardo’s Red Bull Racing but the rest of the field too, is catching Mercedes. Taking the Constructors Championship and the quinella in the Drivers’ Championship, Mercedes remain the team to beat entering 2015. They were easily the team that adapted best to the introduction of the new six-cylinder turbo formula. That combined with the experience of Hamilton and Rosberg meant that only mechanical failures saw the rest of the field get a look in at the top of the podium (a sign of things to come that the ‘rest of the field’ was, in all three cases, Daniel Ricciardo).
At this stage however, some teams will be struggling to make it that far. Manor F1 (formerly Marussia) and Caterham are still yet to finalise their driver pairings and are joined by Lotus in not confirming their place in the 2015 Championship. While this has no bearing on the title chase, it does create cause for concern over the future of the sport. Once again, the field is threatened to be thinned due to failing underling teams.
The real question marks lie over the movements in the middle of the pack. Four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel and 2007 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen will go to work with the underperforming Ferrari team, looking to outdo last year’s third placed team Williams. With bolter Valtteri Bottas claiming fourth place last year behind Ricciardo and team Mercedes, both he and Williams team-mate Felipe Massa have the potential to find their way on the championship podium in 2015.
All of this stands in the way of Australian Daniel Ricciardo taking out top honours in 2015. His team-mate Daniil Kyvat scraped together just 8 points in 2014 in a season that included five retirements. The step up for Kyvat from Torro Rosso to the top of the line cars at Red Bull Racing could see a change in his fortune but that remains to be seen. As many Australian motorsport fans know, life as a number two driver at Red Bull Racing isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.
One can only hope 2015 brings us more than a two horse race. With all of the teams having a full year of racing in the new cars, we can expect stronger performances from the likes of Red Bull, Williams and Ferrari with some of last year’s roughies firming to much shorter odds. Mercedes will have their work cut out for them as the scores are set to zero when the lights go out in Melbourne. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons