Buckle up, because Formula One is back on our screens once again this weekend, with the season getting underway in traditional style with the Australian Grand Prix.
The Melbourne race at Albert Park is always one of the most hotly anticipated occasions on the sporting calendar, as drivers get their first competitive run-out of the campaign. But after a flurry of team changes during the offseason, there’s additional intrigue this term.
Lewis Hamilton looks like the man to beat in his Mercedes once again, but with team-mate Nico Rosberg likely to be in hot pursuit, expect another thrilling opener to what’s one of the most anticipated F1 seasons in years. It’s simply unmissable; here’s all the information you need on where to catch the race live and a closer look at how the teams are shaping up ahead of the curtain-raiser Down Under.
Date: Sunday, Mar. 15
Time: 5 a.m. (GMT), 1 a.m. (ET), 2 p.m. (Local)
TV Info: Sky Sports F1 (UK), NBCSN (US)
|Team||Driver 1||Driver 2|
|Red Bull||Daniel Ricciardo||Daniil Kvyat|
|Mercedes||Lewis Hamilton||Nico Rosberg|
|Ferrari||Sebastian Vettel||Kimi Raikkonen|
|Lotus||Pastor Maldonado||Romain Grosjean|
|McLaren||Fernando Alonso||Jenson Button|
|Force India||Nico Hulkenberg||Sergio Perez|
|Sauber||Marcus Ericsson||Felipe Nasr|
|Toro Rosso||Max Verstappen||Carlos Sainz Jr|
|Williams||Valtteri Bottas||Felipe Massa|
Mercedes Remain the Team to Beat
While it’s often said that you can’t read too much into the testing sessions conducted prior to the season getting underway, there’s little denying that the silver arrows set to be piloted by Hamilton and Rosberg remain the fastest cars on the grid.
The new F1 W06 Hybrid seems to be an improvement on the W05 that allowed Mercedes to dominate the calendar last year, but as aforementioned, we’ll only know for certain when the lights go out come race day on Sunday.
Hamilton was the man who reaped the benefits of this efficient machine last season to take the championship and he’s admitted in the build-up to the race that he can’t wait to get back behind the wheel again, per Formula1.com:
You're impatient to get back to racing but, at the same time, you never know what a new season will bring. Testing gives you a basic idea of whether the car feels good or not but, beyond that, it's anyone's game to win.
The team have been working incredibly hard through the winter and it was great to see everyone in the factory before I left for Melbourne. I'm so thankful for everything they do and I want to show that in the best way I can out on track.
Indeed, his duel with Rosberg last season made for magnificent viewing, and there are plenty who are expecting a repeat of the fireworks that lit up the 2014 season, per BBC Sport:
While Mercedes look almost certain to reign supreme again this year, it’d be naive to completely rule out some of the other teams that have made significant strides during the break. Williams are definitely ones to watch and arguably the team with the best chance of challenging the silver arrows this weekend and for the remainder of the season.
Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa are both extremely capable drivers and toward the back end of the 2014 season they showcased enough pace to trouble the Mercedes pairing on race days. If they’re to get in the mix for race wins on a regular basis this season, they must improve their qualifying performances, a facet that Mercedes had a stranglehold on in 2014.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo will also be looking to make an impression at his home Grand Prix. He’s the No. 1 driver with the team now following the departure of Sebastian Vettel to Ferrari and as we can see here courtesy of the team’s Twitter account, he’s going to have plenty of support in Melbourne:
Disappointingly, Fernando Alonso will miss the chance to make his second McLaren debut following his injury in testing, but Jenson Button will be looking to repay the faith showcased by the team after they decided to keep him on alongside the Spaniard.
As the Brit noted on Twitter prior to the race, he has a very good record in Australia too:
At this stage of the season it’s perilously difficult to call a potential winner, but it would definitely be a big surprise if one of the Mercedes drivers wasn’t on the top step of the podium come the race climax on Sunday.
Rosberg is a man who endured torrid luck during the run for home last season, allowing Hamilton to build up serious momentum to take the world title. The German will be doubly determined to ensure any remaining impetus is nipped in the bud here and he’ll do so with a race win to get this season off to the best possible start.