F1: Mercedes’ Hamilton and Rosberg poised for a strong start

Following the F1 offseason testing in Spain and Bahrain, the Mercedes team of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg appear most ready for the season to kick off.

Mercedes 2014

The Mercedes cars performed fantastic in preseason testing

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Time to race

The season kicks off with the Australian grand prix in 12 days.   With unprecedented rule changes, new engines, new drivers, and team changes, this promises to be one of the most exciting and dramatic kickoffs in F1 history.   Coming out of the preseason tests, it appears that the Mercedes team has made the most of the offseason and could completely fill the podium in Melbourne.

Red Bull struggles

The defending F1 champions at Red Bull, however, have come out of the gate slow.   Sebastian Vettel was unable to finish a lap in one day of testing and posted the 18th highest time over the last 4 days in Bahrain.  His new teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, hasn’t fared much better as the team has struggled with reliability issues in all of the tests.   The Red Bull team is not one to panic, though.   Before anyone gets too excited about the seemingly low energy, wounded taurus, we should all remember they struggled out of the gate in 2013, only to completely dominate the second half of the F1 season en route to Vettel’s fourth straight F1 drivers championship.  I would look for them to use the next couple of weeks wisely, and have things figured out in plenty of time to make a run.

Who will be #1 at Ferrari?

A big question for the the dream team of former champions Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen (#kimando) at Ferrari coming in to the season was whether they would be good or bad for each other.   Now, it’s turning into a fascinating battle for top dog status.   Ferrari performed well at the tests overall, and Fernando Alonso logged the 5th fastest time, finishing strong in Bahrain.  More interesting is the difference between the two drivers fastest times…. 1.2 seconds.    Since isportsweb predicted 3 wins each for the duo, we think they will be evenly matched.   We will predict Fernando to take the top spot in the first half with Kimi taking over with a midseason win and a strong finish.

Rookies have a strong showing

It’s a good year to be a rookie because everyone is dealing with change in the offseason.  Everyone has to relearn so much with the new car, rule, and driver dynamics.   There is also a new track in this years schedule that will be the home track and crowd for Russian rookie Daniil Kvyat.  McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen had a strong showing as we predicted, and seems to be meshing well with his superstar teammate and former champion Jensen Button.

Is McLaren back?

That begs the question many in the sport are asking:  Is McLaren ready to bounce back and return to glory following a disappointing 2013 in which they failed to find the podium?  Most think so.   Many think the new rules play to Button’s strengths and that it’s perfect timing for new entrant Kevin Magnussen.   Let’s hope so.  A strong McLaren is great for the sport.

Mercedes set the 4 fastest times over the Bahrain tests

Hamilton is prepared for Australia

Hamilton performs well in preseason testing

Lewis Hamilton kicked off testing with a great showing in Spain.  Despite some concerning issues with the gearbox in Bahrain, Hamilton had the second fastest time in the tests.   The top spot went to Felipe Massa, helping Mercedes set the four fastest times, and six of the top 8 laps.  They would have dominated further, but Fernando and Kimi turned it up in the final days to finish 5th and 7th.

The Rosberg / Hamilton duo, shown having fun with mocking the rule and point changes in this tongue in cheek interview, seem loose which is usually a good sign around team morale and camaraderie.  They’re coming into the season with the intention of improving on last years win total of 3 and taking a constructors cup.   Hamilton is the preseason favorite at 5/2 to win the drivers cup, according to skybet.com.

The tests are over and it is shaping up to be what the BBC calls  the “most dramatic F1 starts in years“.   Look for a strong showing from the Mercedes top team following an awesome offseason.

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