F1 2015 Primer: The Teams

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Following on from our F1 2015 Primer looking at the 20 drivers that are set to race this season, here’s a run-down of the ten teams that will line up on the grid at this Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix.

The pecking order in F1 changed significantly in 2014, with Mercedes storming to the front of the field by taking full advantage of the new technical regulations.

Behind the Silver Arrows, Williams, Red Bull and Ferrari look to be left battling for second place, whilst McLaren will be hoping to bounce back this year after switching to Honda power units.

Here’s how the grid is shaping up in 2015.

Mercedes AMG Petronas

The defending champion team, Mercedes will be looking to secure another pair of titles in 2015. All of the early signs suggest that it will have little trouble in doing so, having produced yet another superb car in the form of the W06 Hybrid. In Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, Mercedes has two quick and competitive drivers, but the team management will be doing all it can to ensure that tensions do not boil over as they did at Spa last year.

Infiniti Red Bull Racing

After dominating F1 between 2010 and 2013, Red Bull’s 2014 was rather lacklustre in comparison, with Daniel Ricciardo scoring all three of its wins. The Australian driver will lead its charge in 2015 after Sebastian Vettel’s departure to Ferrari, with Daniil Kvyat moving up from Toro Rosso after just one season in F1 to replace the German. The team may lack depth and experience this year, but its line-up is one of the youngest and most interesting on the grid.

Williams Martini Racing

Williams’ return to the top table of F1 in 2014 came as a welcome surprise to the seasoned fan, with Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa reaping the rewards of the changes made at the team over the past few years. Once again, the team should be fighting at the front of the field in 2015, and could perhaps even be the team to snatch a win should Mercedes drop the ball at any time this year.

Scuderia Ferrari

2015 marks a new beginning at Maranello. The old regime has been ousted out after years of mediocrity and missed opportunities, and now Sebastian Vettel is the driver Ferrari’s efforts are focused on. Maurizio Arrivabene and Sergio Marchionne offer a fresh perspective for F1’s most famous team, and if its pre-season testing pace is to be taken seriously, 2015 could well hold far better things for Ferrari.

McLaren-Honda

Like Ferrari, McLaren is starting a new era in 2015 with the arrival of Honda engines and former Ferrari man Fernando Alonso. The British team has also grown tired of fighting in the midfield, having not won a grand prix since the end of the 2012 season. Immediate success may not come about with Honda, but once the teething problems are resolved, McLaren could yet rekindle the glory days of the last time it paired with the Japanese manufacturer in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Sahara Force India F1 Team

Force India has come close to beating McLaren in each of the past two years, and appeared to have the momentum coming into 2015 to mount a serious challenge against the British team. However, financial difficulties meant that Force India could not debut its new car until the final test of pre-season, putting it on the back foot. Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg are two talented drivers, but neither should be getting their hopes up heading into the new year.

Scuderia Toro Rosso

Red Bull’s satellite team continues to be a training ground for its future drivers in 2015, with Max Verstappen (17) and Carlos Sainz Jr. (20) arriving to form the youngest line-up in the history of F1. The lack of experience could cost the team this year, especially with Verstappen having spent just one year in single seaters, but at the same time, this is an exciting line-up that could be spoken about for years to come.

Lotus F1 Team

After coming close to financial doom in the past couple of years, Lotus managed to steady the ship last year and is now on the cusp of a revival in F1. The E23 Hybrid is an all-new car, not an evolution, giving the team a chance to break with the past. The arrival of Mercedes engines should also aid the team’s cause, and although both Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado may have critics, both have proven to be very difficult to beat on their day.

Manor Marussia F1 Team

Rising like a phoenix from the flames, Manor enters F1 in 2015 after Marussia entered administration following last year’s Russian Grand Prix. Thanks to fresh investment, a shell operation is running at the beginning of the new year, meaning that although points are out of the question, a future is. Roberto Merhi and Will Stevens may lack F1 experience, but both are young and exciting prospects.

Sauber F1 Team

Reeling from its worst ever year in F1, Sauber had entered 2015 with hopes of a fresh start. However, before it even got out on track in Melbourne, a legal row with ex-reserve driver Giedo van der Garde has overshadowed its efforts. Uncertainty lingers, but if the team can stabilize itself, a better year may be in the offing with the improved C34 car.

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed their new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with US-based Ford Motors in a press event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Team Principle Christian Horner. They are the only Formula 1 team to launch in the United States, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen had already wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts will inevitably turn to establishing a dynasty – and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his principle rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.