After less than five months the final race in Abu Dhabi, the countdown to Australian Grand Prix, the opening race of Formula 1 World Championship, has already begun.
The Circus prepares his arrival in Melbourne with many certainties, including the double domain of Mercedes. During the collective test sessions in Jerez and Barcelona, the Champions in office have never used Pirelli Super Soft tyres, unlike all the others, scoring anyway the fastest chronometric result with Nico (1’22”8), against 1’23” of Williams with the SS. All things considered, it is a difference of almost 1 second between the pair Hamilton/Rosberg and their first pursuers, the Williams of Massa and Bottas. Then, behind them there is a large group with Ferrari, Red Bull, Lotus, Force India, Sauber and Toro Rosso.
At the moment, it is difficult to establish with certainty the hierarchies, because we don’t know most of the parameters considered for the cars on track. One out of all, the amount of petrol. Therefore, the weekend of Melbourne will be interesting. It will give us the first results on the winter work. No one can hide away. Fuel consumption will be examined carefully. Performances are getting closer to those of 2011-2012 with time results, speed and fuel consumption different from last year. In twelve months, F1 has managed to gain as many as 3″ on aerodynamic development, engine and tyres.
THE FRONT ROW
World Champions are ready to start from where they left, with Rosberg who confirmed to be very fast in Qualifying. Last year, reliability was the only Achilles’ heel, allowing us to have a different winner on three occasions (Canada, Hungary and Belgium), thanks to Daniel Ricciardo. From what we could see in the three sessions, they focused much on reliability, racing many kilometres. This could further make impossible for competitors to act.
FIRST AMONG OTHERS
Williams will be at the start as the second force of World Championship, with a slight lead over Ferrari, Red Bull, Lotus, Force India, Sauber and Toro Rosso. After the excellent growing season in 2014, Mr. Frank went on to develop a simple car, but more and more reliable and streamlined aerodynamically. It will be really the second force of the Championship.
GROUP FROM TOP 10
Ferrari made an important evolutionary step, proving to be able to rely on good reliability both in terms of mechanical power unit, as well as of Sauber team. Despite the financial problems, Lotus and Force India, driven by the German engine, have impressed. In particular the VJM08, which saw the light only in the last three days of test sessions, carrying out a large number of laps (about 1600 km). Unfortunately, the serious financial problems may affect the development. Let us hope that they can find the best solution. Do not forget also Toro Rosso. Verstappen and Sainz Jr collected a lot of laps, far more than the cousins of RBR, getting important positions in standings.
Red Bull is the main unknown element. Among Top Teams, it seems to be late in car’s development, but I don’t think they will arrive unprepared in Australia. Just think about what happened a year ago, with the disastrous winter tests. Ricciardo was able to be on podium in Melbourne opening race, but being disqualified for a regulation that has been changed today. So, that said, I expect the World Champion Team will take part in the fight for the third row.
The Manor (Marussia) remained in the field, giving us a grid of twenty cars, but it won’t be certainly an easy season for them. The car will be that of 2014, just with the front adapted to 2015 regulation, and, of course, they will have to fight to remain within the limit of 107%.
At the start of the season McLaren-Honda disappointed a little and seemed far behind the competitors in terms of reliability and competitiveness. Moreover, they could not rely on Fernando Alonso. We hope that all speculations about what happened at Montmelo will stop and some light will shed on this matter. With all the available technology, it is not possible not come to a certain conclusion. Everyone must know what happened. I can’t understand what the problem in saying clearly the truth. This whole story isn’t good for F1 that would need new rules and convey serenity. It’s likely to further alienate fans. To date, they have told us a lot of lies. Now is the moment of truth.
Let the show begin. Mercedes hunt can start. It’s expected to be a new really interesting season that will give us different ideas.
Gian Carlo Minardi