F1 2015 Primer: The Drivers


The new Formula 1 season kicks off on Sunday with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, and the class 0f ’15 is raring to resume racing after a long winter and testing period.

As part of MotorSportsTalk’s ongoing preview of the new season, here’s a run-down of the drivers that will be racing in F1 this season. Most of the old hats return, but with four rookies on the grid, there is a fresh feel about the sport in 2015.


Lewis Hamilton #44
The defending world champion was in devastating form last year, scoring 11 race wins to beat teammate Nico Rosberg to the title in Abu Dhabi. Hamilton can match his hero Ayrton Senna with a third championship in 2015, and is the pre-season favorite.

Nico Rosberg #6
2014 was Rosberg’s first taste of a championship battle, and although he emerged the loser, the German learned plenty and will be hoping to use this experience in 2015. Qualifying is his key strength, but he’s yet to prove he can beat Hamilton in a straight fight on-track.


Daniel Ricciardo #3
The affable Australian was the breakout start of the 2014 season, scoring three wins and putting four-time champion Sebastian Vettel in the shade at Red Bull. Now he is team leader, Ricciardo will be hoping to build on this form and return to the top step of the podium in 2015.

Daniil Kvyat #26
Kvyat’s rookie season in F1 with Toro Rosso was solid if unspectacular, but he did enough to secure a seat at Red Bull for 2015 in what will be his sophomore year. The Russian still has plenty to prove, and all eyes will be watching closely to see if he can be a suitable replacement for Vettel at Milton Keynes.


Valtteri Bottas #77
Besides Ricciardo, Bottas was the other surprise package of 2014, scoring six podium finishes for Williams en route to fourth place in the drivers’ championship. The flying Finn will have his sights set on a maiden race win in 2015, with the Williams FW37 looking to be a strong car once again.

Felipe Massa #19
Massa may be entering the final few years of his F1 career, but the Brazilian proved in 2014 that he still has what it takes to cut it at the very top. Misfortune limited him to just three podium finishes last year, so with a better run of luck, Massa could yet match his younger teammate at Williams.


Sebastian Vettel #5
The four-time world champion follows in the footsteps of his hero, Michael Schumacher, by joining Ferrari when the team is by no means a leading force in F1. Vettel has the chance to truly establish himself as an all-time great by picking the team up and leading its charge back up the grid.

Kimi Raikkonen #7
Raikkonen’s motivation came into question last year as he struggled to adapt to the 2014 Ferrari car, but the Finn has lost none of his pace. 2015 could be a make or break year as he considers his future in F1 and motorsport.


Fernando Alonso #14
Forced out of Ferrari, Alonso has returned to McLaren in a move that many would have thought unthinkable following their turbulent one-year relationship back in 2007. Both the team and the driver need each other more than ever, but time will tell if the scars have healed.

Jenson Button #22
Button was almost dropped by McLaren in favor of reserve driver Kevin Magnussen, but retained his seat after taking a pay cut. A two-year deal means he will be in F1 until he is 37, and the 2009 world champion will be keen to lead the team’s new era with Honda engines.


Nico Hulkenberg #27
Hulkenberg led Force India’s charge in 2014 with a very consistent display, but is still seeking that elusive first podium finish. The German driver will balance his F1 commitments with two races for Porsche in the FIA World Endurance Championship, racing for the marque at Spa and Le Mans.

Sergio Perez #11
With Esteban Gutierrez losing his seat at Sauber, Sergio Perez will be the only Mexican driver to race at his returning home grand prix in November. After being jilted by McLaren in 2013, Perez has revived his F1 career at Force India, and will look to build on a solid 2014 this year.


Max Verstapppen #33
At just 17 years old, Verstappen will smash the existing record for the youngest driver to start a grand prix on Sunday. His rise to F1 has sparked controversy, but he appears to have the makings of a champion. Toro Rosso will be the perfect training ground for the Dutchman.

Carlos Sainz Jr #55
Son of rally legend Carlos Sainz, “Carlitos” enters F1 after winning last year’s Formula Renault 3.5 championship. He was not Toro Rosso’s first pick for the race seat, so has plenty to prove in 2015, but should not be underestimated in the fight against his junior teammate.


Romain Grosjean #8
Grosjean’s stock rose considerably in 2014 despite scoring just eight points, as he couldn’t do much more with the difficult Lotus E22 car. This year, the team has switched to Mercedes power and appears to be far more stable, paving the way for Grosjean to move back up the grid.

Pastor Maldonado #13
A one-time grand prix winner, Maldonado’s reputation has been blighted by a number of incidents and accidents. If the E23 Hybrid car allows him to though, points could be on the cards for the Venezuelan in 2015, providing a chance for him to atone for past mistakes.


Will Stevens #28
Stevens made his F1 debut under unusual circumstances at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last year for Caterham, but now has a shot at a full season with the revived Manor team. The car won’t be competitive, so taking his results with a pinch of salt will be key in 2015.

Roberto Merhi #98
Merhi had been due to make his F1 debut for Caterham last year before the team folded, but he has been given a second chance with Manor. The Spaniard enjoyed an impressive junior career, and brings plenty of experience from all forms of racing to the team for the new season.


Marcus Ericsson #9
Ericsson is one of the few drivers to come out of the Caterham mess better off, securing a seat with Sauber for the new season. He made big improvements towards the end of 2014, and will be looking to carry this form over to his new team for 2015.

Felipe Nasr #12
Finishing third in last year’s GP2 championship, Nasr has proven his pace in junior categories, but perhaps lacks that killer instinct. His F1 debut has been a long time coming, and one can only hope that the Brazilian is able to prove his worth with Sauber this year.

IndyCar Power Rankings: Alex Palou still first as Newgarden, Ferrucci make Indy 500 jumps

NBC IndyCar power rankings
Kristin Enzor/For IndyStar/USA TODAY Sports Images Network

The biggest race of the NTT IndyCar Series season (and in the world) is over, and NBC Sports’ power rankings look very similar to the finishing results in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

Pole-sitter Alex Palou entered the Indy 500 at the top and remains there after his impressive rebound to a fourth after a midway crash in the pits. Top two Indianapolis 500 finishers Josef Newgarden and Marcus Ericsson also improved multiple spots in the power rankings just as they gained ground during the course of the 500-mile race on the 2.5-mile oval. Though Alexander Rossi dropped a position, he still shined at the Brickyard with a fifth place finish.

Santino Ferrucci, the other driver in the top five at Indy, made his first appearance in the 2023 power rankings this year and now will be tasked with keeping his A.J. Foyt Racing team toward the front as the IndyCar circuit makes its debut on a new layout..

Heading into the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix on the streets of downtown, here’s NBC Sports’ assessment of the current top 10 drivers through six of 17 races this year (with previous ranking in parenthesis):

  1. Alex Palou (1): Three consecutive top 10 finishes at the Indy 500, and yet the 2021 IndyCar champion still seems slightly snake-bitten at the Brickyard. A few different circumstances and a dash of experience, and Palou could have three Indy 500 wins. But he at least has the points lead.
  2. Marcus Ericsson (4): Some want to say the Indy 500 runner-up’s unhappiness with IndyCar race control was sour grapes, but the Swede had a legitimate gripe about the consistency of red flag protocols. Still a magnificent May for Ericsson, especially while the questions swirl about his future.
  3. Josef Newgarden (7): Strategist Tim Cindric and team did a fantastic job catapulting Newgarden from 17th into contention, and the two-time series champion did the rest. Particularly on a late three-wide pass for the lead, it can’t be overstated how brilliant the Team Penske driver was in his finest hour.
  4. Alexander Rossi (3): He winds up being the best Arrow McLaren finisher in a mostly disappointing Indy 500 for a team that seemed poised to become dominant. With a third in the GMR GP and a fifth in the Indy 500, this easily was Rossi’s best May since his second place in 2019.
  5. Pato O’Ward (2): Unlike last year, the Arrow McLaren star sent it this time against Ericsson and came out on the wrong side (and with lingering bitterness toward his Chip Ganassi Racing rival). The lead mostly was the wrong place to be at Indy, but O’Ward managed to be in first for a race-high 39 laps.
  6. Scott Dixon (5): He overcame brutal handling issues from a wicked set of tires during his first stint, and then the team struggled with a clutch problem while posting a typical Dixon-esque finish on “a very tough day.” The six-time champion hopes things are cleaner the rest of the season after the first three months.
  7. Santino Ferrucci (NR): Pound for pound, he and A.J. Foyt Racing had the best two weeks at Indianapolis. Ferrucci said Wednesday he still believes he had “by far the best car at the end” and if not for the timing of the final yellow and red, he would have won the Indy 500. Now the goal is maintaining into Detroit.
  8. Colton Herta (NR): He was the best in a mostly forgettable month for Andretti Autosport and now is facing a pivotal weekend. Andretti has reigned on street courses so far this season, and few have been better on new circuits than Herta. A major chance for his first victory since last year’s big-money extension.
  9. Scott McLaughlin (6): Ran in the top 10 at Indy after a strong opening stint but then lost positions while getting caught out on several restarts. A penalty for unintentionally rear-ending Simon Pagenaud in O’Ward’s crash then sent him to the rear, but McLaughlin still rallied for 14th. Detroit will be a fresh start.
  10. Rinus VeeKay (10): Crashing into Palou in the pits was less than ideal. But a front row start and 10th-place finish in the Indy 500 still were 2023 highlights for VeeKay in what’s been the toughest season of his career. The Ed Carpenter Racing cars have been slow on road and street courses, so Detroit is another test.

Falling out: Will Power (8), Felix Rosenqvist (9), Romain Grosjean (10)


PRESEASON: Josef Newgarden is a favorite to win third championship

RACE 1: Pato O’Ward to first; Newgarden drops out after St. Pete

RACE 2: O’Ward stays firmly on top of standings after Texas

RACE 3: Marcus Ericsson leads powerhouses at the top

RACE 4: Grosjean, Palou flex in bids for first victory

RACE 5: Alex Palou carrying all the momentum into Indy 500