When the 2014 F1 season was closing, it was obvious that no team would come close to Mercedes in 2015. When the W06 was launched, Lewis Hamilton, the 2014 champion, said the car felt much like the 2014 machine which obviously sent jitters down the spines of those constructors’ who wanted to at least take a bite off team PETRONAS’ lead.
Williams’ Preseason Surprise Package
Well, preseason testing is over and Australian GP is due to start on March 15th. However, that is not even the focus this week, but the performance of Williams in testing. By the last day of testing, Valterri Bottas had managed to ensure Williams ended preseason testing on top of the timesheets. The Mercedes-powered Williams managed to rake in 89 laps at an impressive 1: 23.063s on super soft tires.
So, what is Williams not giving away and who should be worried about this preseason muscle power? For starters, there was nothing much coming from the team during the first days, and Felipe Massa and Bottas seem to have worked extra hard to get to the peak.
The two drivers are already saying the car is a vast improvement from the previous car and it is no wonder it got the best classification since 2003 season. With only more down force being cited as the problem, it is obvious that the season is definitely going to be full of surprises.
Changes to Competition behind Mercedes
What would happen if Williams kept up its consistency which other teams seem to be struggling with? Most likely the teams that would have to come in for more competition include:
This is the team that has experienced the most intriguing ‘stupid season’ and now it seems the dust is settling. The new boss, Maurizio Arrivabene, wants some wins, and with Vettel and Raikkonen praising the SF 15-T, it is obvious that these wins are possible in case reliability issues with Mercedes persist.
Could the season be over before it starts for McLaren-Honda? The team name that once sent shivers down spines of competition is now fading right before fans’ eyes. With technical problems still plaguing the team, especially with Alonso’s accident, it seems like Ferrari and Williams will fully capitalize on McLaren’s problems. Kevin Magnussen and Button were further limited by oil leaks again hinting the car is not ready to push for 2nd position.
3. Red Bull
Could the livery on Red Bull’s car have been meant to hide the disappointment of the winter season? The RB 11 is not the force anyone thought it would be and to even think it can challenge Ferrari or Mercedes would be stretching the truth too far. The performance and reliability of RB 11 are in doubt and only the combined genius of Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat can see Red Bull winning a race this season.
Felipe Nasr impressed in preseason testing and though the team concentrated on race simulations, there is no denying the team can surprise with points this season. Marcus Ericsson hasn’t raced since Sochi, Russia and you have to give it to the team for the efforts they seem to be expending. Could this be the surprise package this season?
If Pastor Maldonado stops crashing every other time, this team could probably fight for points. The Mercedes-powered E23 Hybrid impressed in Barcelona, and while the team is not overly optimistic on wins and podium finishes, it is definitely going to be interesting to see what comes out of this partnership.
6. Force India
The most significant detail that you must have noted from Force India’s races in Barcelona was VJM08’s performance, which seemed flawless. The team which skipped Jerez entirely landed with Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg ready to see what the car could do. Impressively, the VJM08 impressed so much almost surpassing the more powerful McLaren-Honda’s entire pre-season total laps over only 2 days.
7. Toro Rosso
Beautiful car to say the least and one which Franz Tost hailed as the greatest the team has made. If you ask Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr., the reaction wouldn’t be so optimistic considering the team’s erratic performance and low power. With an almost new car for the last pre-season testing to remedy these issues, the two rookie drivers have a tough test ahead as Melbourne approaches.
Well, this was all about Williams. Many teams have impressed during pre-season testing previously only to disappoint. Could Williams be a true surprise package this season? It would surely make every race more exciting to watch.