F1 Power Rankings: Australian Grand Prix

Just because it’s season preview time doesn’t mean that we can’t continue with some usual features on the blog. As we are wont to do before every Grand Prix weekend, it’s time for the Formula One Power Rankings. Ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, it’s a look at who is most likely to do well at the open round of the 2015 Formula One World Championship.

f1-lewis-hamilton-helmet-2015#1 Lewis Hamilton
It’s interesting that Lewis talks about competition this year but doesn’t once mention Nico: “We had a great season last year as a team and, of course, we’d all love to repeat that. But the others won’t stop chasing us. I’m sure the competition will be close and we should get exciting racing with plenty of battling for position… There are many good drivers out there and all of them want to win. You just have to want it more than they do.”

f1-nico-rosberg-helmet-2015#2 Nico Rosberg
For Keke’s kid, there’s only one goal this season – The World Drivers’ Championship: “Personally, I have focussed on pushing myself even harder for the rematch with Lewis. In the end, it comes down to who can put the best season together overall and I have to make sure it’s the other way around this time. Having said that, my team-mate is just one of many strong competitors who I have to beat if I want to be World Champion, so I’m just focused on being the absolute best I can be.”

f1-valtteri-bottas-helmet-2015#3 Valtteri Bottas
#BO77AS wants to get off to a flying start in Melbourne: “A new season and the first time we see where everyone is competitively. The weekend will be interesting but also important as we have to be able to have a strong start and make sure we gain the most from the weekend, especially as other teams improve. You never know how other teams will progress throughout the season, so points here are key.”

f1-sebastian-vettel-helmet-2015#4 Sebastian Vettel
Pirelli Motorsport boss Paul Hembery talks about the effects of the evolution of the cars on : “As always at the start of the season, there are big question marks about the pecking order and relative performance of the cars. All we know for sure is that performance will inevitably increase still further during the course of the year, which will naturally have an effect on the interaction between the cars and the tyres. The behaviour of the tyres was in line with our expectations during pre-season testing, but of course you cannot really compare testing to real racing, with drivers pushing to the limit.”

f1-felipe-massa-helmet-2015#5 Felipe Massa
Old Phil makes an early challenge for generic PR quote of the year: “Being the first race, Australia is important and normally holds a few surprises. All of the hard work over the winter gets its first rewards here, but it can also show a sign of how much work is still to be done. It’s important to start well and give yourself potentially a head start over your competitors.”

f1-daniel-ricciardo-helmet-2015#6 Daniel Ricciardo
Smiling Danny knows that this race is the first real test of everyone’s equipment: “It’s really a question of how much we have improved and if we’ve improved enough to close the gap on Mercedes. Testing has shown us that Mercedes are still really strong, I don’t want to be pessimistic at all, but they seem to be the team to beat at the moment. Behind them it’s pretty close with us, Ferrari and Williams, we all look to be next in line.”

f1-kimi-raikkonen-helmet-2015#7 Kimi Raikkonen
The Iceman is quite happy with how things are at the Scuderia this year: “I’ve known the team for a few years now, but I have to say, this year the atmosphere is very good, the people are happy and are working together in a very close-knit way,” he said. I think that’s a good sign and on top of that, it seems that a good car has been produced over the winter period. Now the time’s come to go racing, which is when we will really understand where we are.”

#8 Nico Hulkenberg
The Hulk briefly takes us through a part of the track: “There are plenty of interesting corners, but if I had to pick my favourite part of the lap I would choose the section between turns nine and twelve in sector two – the slow chicane leading to the straight and that fast left-right combination. It’s a track with a few good overtaking spots – turn three and 13, the right-hander after the back straight, come to mind.”

f1-romain-grosjean-helmet-2015#9 Romain Grosjean
The most interesting battle this year will be between Lotus and Force India. However, the early season battle might be a little ugly: “We’re still quite early in our understanding of the E23 and how it works so we’ll be kept busy finding the correct set-up and getting everything working as we want it to… You can say that everyone will be in the same position of not knowing what to expect, and with all the car changes I imagine there will be a few surprises! For us the weekend will be maximising the time on track, aiming to finish the race and getting the best result possible.”

#10 Sergio Perez
Checo talks about how the Albert Park Circuit feels compared to other street and road courses: “Albert Park is a special circuit and it’s great to get back to action on such a challenging track. Even though it is classified as a street circuit, it doesn’t really feel like one – there are only a few corners in which you get close to the walls. Driving on it, it feels like a permanent track, although if you make a mistake you realise pretty quickly how close the walls really are!”

f1-pastor-maldonado-helmet-2015#11 Pastor Maldonado
I think that Lotus will be in a 4th through 6th battle in the World Constructors’ Championship. Crashtor thinks they’ll be in a battle for 2nd. At least he’s optimistic: “Certainly we’ll be in the fight! We’re working hard to improve and we’ve seen that the reigning champions have set a very high standard with their 2015 car. The difference between them and the rest of the field looks quite big after pre-season testing, but behind them the group is getting more compact. There should be a good mix of Williams, Red Bull, Ferrari and us which should make things interesting.”

f1-daniil-kvyat-helmet-2015#12 Daniil Kvyat
Renault Sport F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul talks about the company’s off-season work: “We know that we are the challengers rather than the leaders, but we also know that we have achieved our own objectives over the winter testing. We set out to make the Power Unit more reliable, which we have done, with over 9,000km covered. We also wanted to improve performance and halve the gap to Mercedes. While it’s more difficult to judge this, our track performance validates our dyno simulations and confirms we are on the right track. We’ve still got a long way to go, but the season is equally long and we’ve still got items up our sleeves to further improve in 2015.”

#13 Max Verstappen

#14 Carlos Sainz

#15 Felipe Nasr
#15.5 Giedo van der Garde
#16 Marcus Ericsson
I don’t even bloody know who’s in the race at this point in time. I’m not sure why anyone really cares about Sauber any more. They were good for a little bit of time with Kobayashi and Perez. In the last couple of years, it seems as though the team doesn’t care and are looking for cash. I can appreciate needing to hire a pay driver to keep going but they’re only racing to keep their head above water. However, I’m burnt out on Sauber after this latest debacle. Let’s move on.

f1-jenson-button-helmet-2015#17 Jenson Button
Jenson has seen improvement in the McLaren-Honda : “McLaren-Honda has been working incredibly hard over the winter, and although we would of course have liked to cover more miles in Jerez and Barcelona, I can definitely see a difference in the car from the first day to the last. The team’s commitment to development and improvement, both in Woking and in Japan, is astonishing, and despite some tricky days in testing, we are seeing definitive progress. The car is a solid base which gives me optimism that we will get there, we just need patience.”

f1-kevin-magnussen-helmet-2014#18 Kevin Magnussen
So why is McLaren so low in the Power Rankings? Because K-Mag admits they have no hope for this race: “Of course, we aren’t expecting to win here, but my focus is on setting up the car for race conditions and pushing our progress forward. I’ll be working hard with my engineers to give them as much valuable feedback as possible so that they can keep developing the car and improving our performance and reliability.”

#19 Roberto Merhi
This is literally all I have to Merhi quotes: “I am incredibly excited to be making my Formula 1 debut with Manor Marussia F1 Team in Melbourne this weekend. It is a big responsibility but I feel ready to make this step in my career and to show that I can make an important contribution to developing a team.”

#20 Will Stevens

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