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Formula One 2015 - Big Season Guide

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The new Formula One season starts this weekend with all eyes on Melbourne as the fastest sport on Earth returns. Last season was dominated by the two Mercedes drivers, Hamilton taking the title in a hotly contested battle with his team mate Nico Rosberg. Fans of F1 will be hoping for a more competitive season this year. Here are the teams, drivers and tracks that will make up F1 2015.

Mercedes

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Full name: Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team
Engine: Mercedes PU106B Hybrid
Homebase: Brackley, Northamptonshire
Last year’s result: Constructor’s championship winner (701 points)

Last year could not have gone any better for Mercedes. Dominating the championship practically from start to finish, it wasn’t a question of if but which of its two driver’s would win. Even a few heated moments between Hamilton and Rosberg couldn’t distract from their complete domination. Two hungry drivers desperate for victory, combined with the best car on the track, should spell another year of domination for Mercedes.

Lewis Hamilton

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Nationality:British Age: 30
Last year’s result: Champion – 1st place (384 points)
Total F1 races: 148 Wins: 33

Winning eleven out of the nineteen races on the calendar, Hamilton had his best season in F1 last year. The only thing that held him back were a few mechanical issues, something he had hoped he left behind when he made the switch from Mclaren. Such was his domination, that when his car worked, he finished every race on the podium. His rivalry with Rosberg threatened to spill over at some points, but in the end he settled the debate the best way he could – by taking the title. Hamilton has to be favourite to win again this season, with only Rosberg looking capable of stopping him winning his third title.

Nico Rosberg

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Nationality: German Age: 29
Last year’s result: 2nd (317 points)
Total F1 races: 166 Wins: 8

Finishing second would be a bittersweet result for Rosberg. Despite being his best ever final position, Rosberg would be forgiven for looking back with regret at a missed opportunity. Having been with with Mercedes for six years now, Rosberg could also feel a little aggrieved that as soon as he has a competitive car that could push him to the top of the standings, one of the best racers in Formula One joins the team beside him. Will be looking to take the title this season. Rosberg consistently qualifies well. Can he transfer this consistency across to the race itself?

Red Bull

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Full name: Infiniti Red Bull Racing
Engine: Renault Energy F1-2015
Homebase: Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
Last year’s result: 2nd in Constructor’s championship (405 points)

To say last season was a disappointment for Red Bull would be an understatement. Having strolled to victory in 2013, it was surprising to see the team stutter so badly. Not many teams finishing second place in the constructor’s championship would call it a disappointment. Having won four straight titles, suddenly being unable to compete with Mercedes was certainly unexpected. Champion Sebastian Vettel didn’t win a single race, Red Bull’s golden boy also surprising with his switch to Ferrari. The one bright spark was Ricciardo, who not only outperformed Vettel but also impressed with his skill behind the wheel.

Daniel Ricciardo

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Nationality: Australian Age: 25
Last year’s result: Third (238 points)
Total F1 races: 69 Wins: 33

Last season’s rising star, Ricciardo has made an instant impression behind the wheel of a Red Bull F1 car. The only driver to win a race outside of the two Mercedes driver’s, Ricciardo’s three victories last season impressed with his aggressive driving, impressive overtaking and quick driving. Not only impressive behind the wheel, Ricciardo has also been a star off the track, his smiling enthusiastic persona a welcome sight in the paddock. Will only be held back by his car this season.

Daniil Kvyat

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Nationality: Russian Age: 20
Last year’s result: 15th (8 points)
Total F1 races: 19 Wins: 0

The latest driver to join Red Bull from the Toro Rosso feeder team, Kvyat makes the move after just one season in Formula One. Described by Red Bull team principal Christian Horner as one of the most exciting prospects to come through their training scheme. Whilst not scoring many points last season, he did break the record previously held by Sebastian Vettel as the youngest points scorer in Formula One history. Will look to make an impact this year, expect him to take a while to find his feet.

Ferrari

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Full name: Scuderia Ferrari
Engine: Ferrari
Homebase: Maranello, Italy
Last year’s result: 4th (216 points)

2014 was a record breaker for all the wrong reasons. The famous prancing horse had its worst performance in the constructor’s championship for twenty years. Managing only five podiums across the season, Ferrari have taken some bold steps to address the issue. Number one on the list is the recruitment of Sebastian Vettel to the team. Replacing Alonso, the four time championship winner will be hoping to recreate the form that led to four consecutive titles. Designed by James Allison, the new car is already showing signs of improvement. The team has a modest target of two victories in 2014. They will be hoping to perform much better than that.

Sebastian Vettel

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Nationality: German Age: 27
Last year’s result: 5th (167 points)
Total F1 races: 139 Wins: 39

Having won four straight titles, no one would have expected such a dramatic change of fortune last season. Not winning a single race and only reaching the podium four times, some have speculated how good a driver Vettel really is, or is it in fact all down to the car? Ridiculous it may be considering his four titles, Vettel will be hoping to reaffirm his position as best in the business at Ferrari. Following in Schumacher’s footsteps, the car will take some time to catch up with the expectations.

Kimi Raikkonen

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Nationality: Finnish Age: 35
Last year’s result: 12th (55 points)
Total F1 races: 213 Wins: 20

The enigmatic Kimi Raikkonen had a season to forget last year, becoming the first Ferrari driver to finish out of the top 10 for over thirty years. Despite his cool, calm exterior, Raikkonen cannot have been happy with his performance last year. With Vettel replacing Alonso, the pressure will only increase on the mercurial Finn. Will we see him back on the podium this year?

Williams

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Full name: Williams Martini Racing
Engine: Mercedes PU106B Hybrid
Homebase: Grove, Oxfordshire
Last year’s result: 3rd (320 points)

A surprise package last season, Williams outperformed many of its big rivals thanks to the Mercedes engine, two excellent drivers and a high level of consistency. In Massa they have a veteran driver still filled with the passion to compete at the highest level. And in Bottas, they have one of the most promising young drivers on the grid. Expect Williams to take advantage whilst the non-Mercedes engined teams catch up.

Felipe Massa

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Nationality: Brazilian Age: 34
Last year’s result: 7th (134 points)
Total F1 races: 212 Wins: 11

Massa return to the podium was one of last season’s best stories. Having lost the 2008 title to Hamilton on the last lap of the last race of the season, and the severe head injury that kept him from competing for a season, many believed Massa’s time as a top driver was over. His move to Williams has proved to be an excellent decision, freeing him from the weighty expectations of the prancing horse. Massa finished 2014 strongly with two podiums, and will look to push on in 2015.

Valtteri Bottas

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Nationality: Finnish Age: 25
Last year’s result: 4th (186 points)
Total F1 races: 148 Wins: 33

Bottas was one of the best driver’s last season, finishing on the podium in six races and only missing out on points in two. One of the most highly rated young driver’s on the grid, the question is not “Is he good?”, it’s “just how great could he be?”. Bottas will hope to continue his excellent form in 2015, with a first race victory top of his list of goals. Some doubt whether he will ever be able to take that next step unless one of the bigger teams comes in for him. Only time will tell.

McLaren

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Full name: McLaren Honda
Engine: Honda RA615H
Homebase: Woking, Surrey
Last year’s result: 5th (181 points)

To say that McLaren have had a pre-season to forget would be an understatement. First there was the debacle around them choosing the second team member for 2015. Recruiting Alonso was a big coup, especially as many thought he would try and hold out for a seat at Mercedes. But then they took ages to choose between Button and Magnussen. Then testing came along. Mechanical failures and technical faults meant McLaren completed a fraction of laps of the other teams. Struggling to keep up, things became even worse when Alonso suffered a heavy crash in Barcelona. Kept in hospital with concussion, questions have been asked over the exact cause of the crash. Preparation has been a nightmare and can be translated to a shaky start to the season. Will McLaren be able to bounce back from the set back to mount a challenge?

Jenson Button

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Nationality: British Age: 35
Last year’s result: 8th (126 points)
Total F1 races: 268 Wins: 15

Having survived the post 2014 turmoil with his seat intact, Button would have been forgiven for hoping for a smooth start to 2015. Troubles in testing have made that impossible and do not bode well for the season ahead. Button has always performed his best in a good car, but when the technology suffers so does his driving. Having never really come close to replicating the form that took him to the world title in 2009, it will depend on the performance of the car to determine his season. If McLaren can sort out the technical issues and make their car competitive, then you should see Button on or close to the podium.

Fernando Alonso

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Nationality: Spanish Age: 33
Last year’s result: 6th (161 points)
Total F1 races: 236 Wins: 32

Alonso is often praised as being the best out and out driver on the track. True, it seems that he is able to get the most out of whatever car he is put in, performing consistently since his two titles back in 2005 and 2006. This year will see a real challenge to his skills, behind the untested McLaren-Honda car. Thankfully he came through the accident unscathed although he will miss out on the Australian GP on doctor’s advice. Whether he will be able to compete will again be down to how quickly McLaren can make their car competitive. If they can put aside the testing issues to produce a decent car, Alonso is an excellent driver to see just how far they can go.

Force India

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Full name: Sahara Force India Formula One Team
Engine: Mercedes PU106B Hybrid
Homebase: Silverstone, Northamptonshire
Last year’s result: 6th (155 points)

Questions remain over whether Force India will be able to line up on the starting grid in Melbourne. Rumours abound that the team are facing insolvency with the team having missed every weekend of pre-season testing. In Hulkenberg and Perez they have two talented drivers who will be hoping to repeat their performance of last season. Both drivers scored points on a regular basis, with Perez reaching the podium in Bahrain. With financial difficulties affecting the smaller teams, and the larger teams refusing to give any leeway, F1 fans will be hoping that the financial issues remain a rumour and that Force India can send out a competitive car this season.

Nico Hulkenberg

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Nationality: German Age: 27
Last year’s result: 9th (96 points)
Total F1 races: 77 Wins: 0

Hulkenberg has been a solid if unspectacular competitor for a while now. He started off 2014 strongly, fading as the season went on. This year he has the added distraction of taking part in the Le Mans 24 Hour competition. The troubles behind the scenes will only add to the inconsistency Hulkenberg suffered, and if the financial troubles continue, he cannot bring the financial backing that other driver’s bring to their teams.

Sergio Perez

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Nationality: Mexican Age: 25
Last year’s result: 10th (59 points)
Total F1 races: 77 Wins: 0

One person hoping more than anyone that Force India make it successfully into 2015 is Sergio Perez. Last season saw some signs of that early promise Perez showed back at Sauber, the second place finish in Bahrain 2014 being the biggest example. But the big news for Perez is the return of the Mexican Grand Prix to the calendar. Racing in front of his home crowd would surely be high on Perez’s wishlist. He also receives some hefty financial backing from his home country, so if he can impress this season, it could help pave the way to a more certain seat in 2016.

Lotus

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Full name: Lotus F1 Team
Engine: Mercedes PU106B Hybrid
Homebase: Enstone, Oxfordshire
Last year’s result: 8th (10 points)

Last season did not go to plan for Lotus. Having finished a respectable fourth in the constructor’s championship in 2013, last season’s disappointing eighth place finish was a set back. The departure of Eric Boullier to McLaren had a big affect, leaving the team with just three points finishes across the season. Two unpredictable drivers do not help. One possible advantage this season is the switch to a Mercedes engine. Whether that will help improve performances remains to be seen.

Pastor Maldonado

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Nationality: Venezuelan Age: 29
Last year’s result: 16th (2 points)
Total F1 races: 77 Wins: 0

Nicknamed “Crashtor” by F1 fans, Maldonado had a poor season in 2014. Having left Williams for Lotus, he would have hoped for a good season. Unlike his former team, Maldonado struggled with just one points finish. He will hope for a better season ahead. We all know he is fast. Can he keep his car under control and start consistently finish races? Or will his recklessness lead to more crashes in the season ahead?

Romain Grosjean

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Nationality: French Age: 28
Last year’s result: 14th (8 points)
Total F1 races: 66 Wins: 0

Grosjean’s 2014 season was a far cry from the success and promise of 2013. A combination of poor decision making and an unreliable car meant that Grosjean only placed in the points twice. With a decent car, Grosjean has shown the skill and tenacity to get good results. The new Mercedes engine may help give him the boost he needs. All he has to work on is his decision making. There’s taking risks and then there’s taking stupid risks. If Grosjean can work out the difference, he should vastly outperform last year’s results.

Toro Rosso

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Full name: Scuderia Torro Rosso
Engine: Renault Energy F1-2015
Homebase: Faenza, Italy
Last year’s result: 7th (30 points)

Toro Rosso’s 2014 season was filled with technical faults and poor race performance costing them points throughout the season. The news that Vettel would leave Red Bull at the end of the season meant Kvyat was quickly ear marked for promotion to the main team. Jean-Eric Vergne could perhaps have felt a little aggrieved at being overlooked for the young Finn, with results clearly affected as both driver’s coped with the news. Fresh blood has joined the team for 2015, with Verstappen becoming the youngest ever F1 driver. Whether they can improve on last year’s results remains to be seen.

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