Start your engines: Driver-by-driver, team-by-team 2015 F1 preview

Ahead of Sunday's start to the 2015 Formula One season at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, Graham Caygill details all there is to know for the new year.

Lewis Hamilton won the 2014 drivers' title and begins his 2015 defence on Sunday at the Australian Grand Prix. Mark Dadswell / Reuters / March 12, 2015
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Ahead of Sunday's start to the 2015 Formula One season at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, Graham Caygill details all there is to know for the new year.


Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes (GB)

Age 30; Races 148; World titles 2 (2008, 2012); Wins 33

The world champion bids for title No 3 and starts as favourite to do so in the fast Mercedes F1 W06 Hybrid. Won six of last seven races in 2014.

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes (GER)

Age 29; Races 166; Wins 8

Must start the season well to try to stop Hamilton running away with things. If he can match qualifying speed with race pace, then he will be a serious contender.

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull (AUS)

Age 25; Races 69; Wins 3; Podiums 8; Poles 0

In many ways the revelation of last season as he out-performed Sebastian Vettel and won three races, the challenge now for the Australian is to try to improve that form.

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari (GER)

Age 27; Races 139; World titles 4 (2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013); Wins 39; Podiums 66; Poles 45

The four-time world champion is out to prove that he was as important as the Red Bull machinery he drove to his championship success, and leading Ferrari’s bid to rejuvenate itself gives him that opportunity.

Fernando Alonso, McLaren (ESP)

Age 33; Races 235; World title 2 (2005 and 2006); Wins 32; Podiums 97; Poles 22

Misses Australia with concussion, but the double world champion may regret a move back to the British team, having been in 2007, in the short term as they struggle with unreliability.


Felipe Massa, Williams (BRA)

Age 33; Races 210; Wins 11; Podiums 39; Poles 16

Was quicker and better than seventh in last year’s drivers’ standings as suffered a lot of bad luck. Finished the season strongly with second in Abu Dhabi and needs to build on that.

Jenson Button, McLaren (GB)

Age 35; Races 266; World title 1 (2009); Wins 15; Podiums 50; Poles 8

The 2009 world champion’s strong run of form at the end of the season persuaded McLaren to keep him on, but the Briton will have to raise his game considerably to match the consistent speed of Alonso.

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari (FIN)

Age 35; Races 212; World title 1 (2007); Wins 20; Podiums 77; Poles 16

Last year was arguably the worst of the Finn’s career as he struggled with the handling of the Ferrari on his return to the Italian team. An improved car should allow the 2007 world champion a chance to show what he is really capable of.

Romain Grosjean, Lotus (FRA)

Age 28; Races 64; Wins 0; Podiums 9; Poles 0

After a strong end to 2013 in which he scored four podiums in the last six races, the Frenchman had to endure a horrible 2014 in a slow and unreliable car. Deserves better and should get it this year.

Valtteri Bottas, Williams (FIN)

Age 25; Races 38; Wins 0; Podiums 6; Poles 0

The Finn showed what he was capable of with competitive machinery as he often proved the best of the rest behind the Mercedes pair. Like Ricciardo the challenge is to improve on that form further.

Nico Hulkenberg, Force India (GER)

Age 27; Races 76; Wins 0; Podiums 0; Poles 1

Like his team fell away after a good start to 2014, where he finished in the top five four times in the first seven races, and to reestablish his reputation needs to convincingly beat Perez this year if he is to attract the attention of the top teams.

Felipe Nasr, Sauber (BRA)

Age 22; Races 0; Wins 0; Podiums 0; Poles 0

Gets his chance to shine after stepping up from GP2, where he was runner-up last year. Less experienced than Ericsson means it may be a while before he leads the Sauber charge.

Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull (RUS)

Age 20; Races 19; Wins 0; Podiums 0; Poles 0

The reward for an impressive first season at Toro Rosso was a promotion to their sister team. Kvyat will hope for wins and podiums, but beating Ricciardo is the immediate goal.

Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso (NED)

Age 17; Races 0; Wins 0; Podiums 0; Poles 0

The Dutchman will make history in Australia when at the age of 17 he becomes the youngest driver to compete in F1. Impressive speed in testing hints that is not out of place to be on the grid.

Sergio Perez, Force India (MEX)

Age 25; Races 74; Wins 0; Podiums 4; Poles 0

Held his own well against highly vaunted teammate Nico Hulkenberg last year as he rebounded well from the disappointment of being dropped by McLaren after just one year in 2013.

Pastor Maldonado, Lotus (VEN)

Age 30; Races 76; Wins 1; Podiums 1; Poles 1

The sight of Maldonado walking wear from a broken and battered Lotus was not an uncommon sight in 2014 and the Venezuelan, while quick when he hooks everything up, makes to many mistakes to be a serious contender.

Marcus Ericsson, Sauber (SWE)

Age 23; Races 16; Wins 0; Podiums 0; Poles 0

The Swede drove for Caterham last season, and impressed in the slowest car of the field as he held up well compared to more experienced teammate Kamui Kobayashi. Sauber will give him a better chance to show what he is capable of.

Carlos Sainz Jr, Toro Rosso (ESP)

Age 20; Races 0; Wins 0; Podiums 0; Poles 0

Another F1 rookie. The son of World Rally champion Carlos Sainz, he graduates to F1 after winning the 2014 Formula Renault 3.5 series and his first objective has to be out-pacing Verstappen.

Will Stevens, Manor (GB)

Age 23; Races 1; Wins 0; Podiums 0; Poles 0

The Briton raced in Abu Dhabi for Caterham last year to make his F1 debut, but will be difficult to gauge his potential in an uncompetitive car.

Roberto Merhi, Manor (ESP)

Age 23; Races 0; Wins 0; Podiums 0; Poles 0

The Spaniard is on a one-race deal for now to appear in Australia, and all the inexperienced Spaniard can aim to do is beat Stevens and keep the car on track.



Won a record 16 races in 2014 and the German marque looks set to start where they left off after impressing in winter testing.

Red Bull Racing

Will need the RB11 chassis to be as aerodynamic as its predecessors, and more, if is to be a threat to Mercedes.


Enjoyed a welcome return to form in 2014 with nine podiums, and the aim this year will be to push Mercedes harder and look to pick up their first race win since 2012.


After their first winless season since 1993, the Italian team are transformed both behind the scenes and in the line-up as they seek a return to the front.


The great underachievers of F1, with only one F1 title to its name since 1999, face another year of frustration as new engine partners Honda iron out the problems with their machinery.


The British team are optimistic of better things after a miserable 2014 where only 12 points were scored, with the move to Mercedes engine power leaving them particularly optimistic.

Force India

This could be a difficult year for the British-based team. A problematic winter with finances led to the car being finished, and the lack of testing will likely hurt their prospects early in the season.

Toro Rosso

The perennial midfield team have looked good in testing and will to pick up big points early in the campaign before their rivals with bigger budgets really hit their stride.


Sauber’s preparations have been thrown into disarray by the legal row with driver Giedo van der Garde over the Dutchman’s claims he has a contract that gives him one of their race seats. Regardless of the outcome to the case, due to be announced this morning, it will be financially costly for the team.

Manor F1

In many ways it is an achievement the British team are on the grid at all, given they only came out of administration last month. Will run a 2014 spec car so unlikely to be competitive, speed wise, in any capacity.


Australia, Albert Park, Sunday

The street race in Melbourne is the traditional season opener for F1, and often produces unpredictable races around the narrow confines of Albert Park.

Malaysia, Sepang, March 29

The 5.5-kilometre track’s long straights and sweeping turns brought out the best in Lewis Hamilton 12 months ago as he dominated in his Mercedes-GP to win by 17 seconds.

China, Shanghai, April 12

Made its debut in 2005 as the final round of the season, but now established as a challenging part of the opening races of the campaign in the east.

Bahrain, Sakhir, April 19

This will be the second year that the race at the Bahrain International Circuit will be held as a night race. Has been on the F1 schedule since 2004.

Spain, Barcelona, May 10

Pole position is crucial at the Circuit de Catalunya with 18 of the 23 stagings of the race in Barcelona won by the man who started first.

Monaco, Monte Carlo, May 24

The tight confines of the streets of the principality leave little margin for error for the drivers with the barriers just centimetres from the racing line.

Canada, Montreal, June 7

Home to the race since 1978, the number of ­chicanes and tight corners make it one of the toughest tracks on brakes on the calendar.

Austria, Spielberg, June 21

Action at the Red Bull Ring returned last year after an 11-year break. Was the only track where Mercedes-GP did not take pole as Williams’s Felipe ­Massa claimed it.

Britain, Silverstone, July 5

The 1950 British Grand Prix was the first in F1’s history and Silverstone has been the permanent home of the British race since 1987.

Germany, TBC, July 19

No location has yet to be confirmed for Germany. It is scheduled to be the Nurburgring, but the track has had huge financial problems, so Hockenheim may be asked to hold the race again.

Hungary, Budapest, July 26

Last year’s race was the best of 2014 in terms of excitement, with mixed weather leading to an unpredictable race and Daniel Ricciardo passing Fernando Alonso with laps to go to win.

Belgium, Spa-Francorchamps, August 23

Spa is now the longest track on the F1 schedule, covering 7km of road around the Ardennes forests, which often produces wet weather.

Italy, Monza, September 6

The long straights around the circuit in northern Italy make it usually the quickest race of the season, with the 53 laps normally covered in only 80 minutes.

Singapore, September 20

F1’s first night race came into existence in 2008 and there has not been one staging of the race yet that has not included at least one safety car period.

Japan, Suzuka, September 27

The earliest the race has ever been held. Suzuka in the past has been on the verge of eight title deciders, the most recent being in 2003.

Russia, Sochi, October 11

The first race in Russia was held in 2014 and was memorable for the low tyre degradation that allowed Nico Rosberg to complete 52 of the 53 laps in the race on one set of tyres.

United States, Austin, October 25

This year it will host its fourth F1 race. The Circuit of the Americas venue is popular with drivers because of the challenging twists and turns of the first section of the lap.

Mexico, Mexico City, November 1

F1 returns to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez after 23 years with the 4.4-km track to be heavily reconfigured from the last time it hosted a race in 1992.

Brazil, Sao Paulo, November 15

The bumpy surface at Interlagos is a major test for the drivers, with the long start-finish straight requiring a strong engine package to be competitive.

UAE, Abu Dhabi, November 29

For the fourth time since it made its first appearance in the F1 schedule in 2009 Yas Marina Circuit will play host to the final round of the season.

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