F1 2015 Season Preview: Predictions

We’ve reached the final day in Formula One preview week here on The Lowdown. As is always the case, we end the week with predictions for the upcoming season. While the head of the field isn’t going to change, it is fun to take a look at how the rest of the grid might finish this season while they all play catch-up to Mercedes.

World Drivers’ Championship

  1. Lewis Hamilton
  2. Nico Rosberg
  3. Valtteri Bottas
  4. Sebastian Vettel
  5. Felipe Massa
  6. Daniel Ricciardo
  7. Nico Hulkenberg
  8. Romain Grosjean
  9. Sergio Perez
  10. Fernando Alonso

The top two in the WDC is pretty obvious. Mercedes is far and away the best team on the grid this season and are likely to remain that way until a significant rules change. With talks of wider tyres and lower rear wings possible in the next two years, there might be a possibility of closing the top teams together. For now, it’s between Lewis and Nico.

Based on the results of last season, it’ll be reliability and luck that determines the champion. Speed would favour Hamilton so assuming all things play out evenly, I’d pick him as champion in 2015. Last season, reliability kept Rosberg ahead in the WDC for most of the season so winning his first championship wouldn’t surprise me either.

As we go down the order, you’ll notice that Mercedes-powered drivers dominate my top ten in the WDC. After a breakout year in 2014, I think Valtteri Bottas jumps to best of the rest in 2015. His closest challengers will be teammate Massa and the resurgent Ferrari in the hands of Sebastian Vettel. Based on what we’ve seen so far, it could very well be a three-way battle for third in the WDC but Bottas did well outclass Massa last year so it may be down to VET and BOT.

Down the order, I don’t like the chances of the Renault engine so Ricciardo falls to 6th from 3rd in last season. Based on reliability and that final test, Force India may not necessarily have as much speed as Lotus but they certainly have reliability. You can find speed but fixing reliability is far harder. And I took a flyer on Alonso finishing in 10th.

World Constructors’ Championship

  1. Mercedes
  2. Williams
  3. Ferrari
  4. Force India
  5. Red Bull
  6. Lotus
  7. McLaren
  8. Toro Rosso
  9. Sauber
  10. Manor

Barring some sort of act of god, Mercedes will be the World Constructors’ Champion.

So that leaves us with nine other teams to sort out. Red Bull was second in last year’s WCC. A repeat in 2015 is entirely dependent on how well the Renault engine stacks up to the competition. Based on the list above, I’m not holding out much hope for Renault and therefore Red Bull.

The remainder of my projected top three will be pretty close but it will depend on the engines. Williams is the best of the rest of the Mercedes-powered teams but Ferrari has closed the engine gap and changed the culture with the arrival of Maurizio Arrivabene and Sebastian Vettel this year. Depending on how close that performance gap is, Ferrari is certainly in with a chance to top Williams but we haven’t seen enough since the first test to give the advantage to Ferrari.

The biggest wild card in the WCC will be McLaren. That Honda engine could result in McLaren having a 1999 BAR season where reliability left the team without points for their first season. Of course, something could be found during the season and they can score some steady points by the end of the year. It’s not like McLaren is incapable of making a fast car. It’s how fast Honda gets up to speed that will determine where the team finishes this year. I have them at the back of the midpack but the great thing about the start of a new F1 season is all the unknowns that will make the next nine months so much fun to watch.

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