As we head into the second round of the Formula 1 season, it’s clear the Mercedes team will again be running away with the championship. But there’s an intriguing engine battle emerging just behind them on the grid, between Red Bull with Renault power, Williams with a Mercedes engine and Ferrari using their own engine. Who will come out on top?
Australia was a dismal weekend for Red Bull. Daniil Kvyat failed to start the Grand Prix with gearbox problems, while Daniel Ricciardo struggled throughout – finishing 6th behind the Sauber of Felipe Nasr. Team boss Christian Horner even went as far as calling the car “undrivable”. Although it was clear from testing that the Renault engine was going to struggle, it’s still a shock to see just how far back they have slipped.
Perhaps even more surprising is that Red Bull’s junior team – Toro Rosso – are now seemingly on par with their older sibling. Toro Rosso were unlucky in a race which saw Carlos Sainz suffer a disastrous 30-second long pit-stop, and F1’s youngest ever driver Max Verstappen forced to retire with technical problems. Both drivers were showing good pace and may have finished ahead of Ricciardo had luck been on their side. While Ferrari have worked hard and seemingly made improvements during the off-season, it seems Red Bull are further behind than ever.
Ferrari certainly won’t mind that of course. With Kimi Raikkonen much more at ease with the car and a happy Sebastian Vettel at the wheel, things are looking up for the Italian team. Vettel seems to have a spring in his step as the we enter the campaign, one that was sorely missing in 2014. He comfortably held off the Williams of Felipe Massa to take 3rd, while Raikkonen unfortunately retired when running in 5th place.
The Australian Grand Prix was an average opening to the new season, and it sorely missed Valterri Bottas who suffered a back injury during qualifying and was advised not to take part in the race. The Finn is a future world champion, and is a joy to watch when on form. With all the action taking place in the midfield, it would have been great to see Bottas fighting with Vettel and Massa for the final podium slot.
Perhaps 2015 will be another dud year for Red Bull. It looks like the title of ‘best of the rest’ will be fought between Ferrari and Williams, and thank goodness for that. With Mercedes so far ahead of the pack, both teams will be doing their utmost to be right behind them should they slip up. And with Vettel and Raikkonen at the wheel, it’s a duel Ferrari may very well win.