‘Mercedes will be the team to beat in 2015.’ Yep, think we all worked that one out for ourselves. So is there much point spending £4.99 on F1 Racing March issue, with its F1 season preview?
Yes, yes and yes. Here’s a mag that sets a very enthusiastic scene for the new season and the first race in Australia on 15 March (05.00 Sunday morning on Sky Sports F1, highlights later Sunday on BBC).
That’s quite a knack given how easy it is to be cynical about F1. There’s no cynicism here; just lots of well-informed writing and plenty of imagination (Fernando Alonso in a Shakespearian tragedy?) in conveying it in entertaining fashion. You don’t need to be an F1 anorak to enjoy this.
The March issue serves up all the essentials for the F1 year ahead: the lowdown on the teams, the personnel, the drivers, the cars (better looking than last year) and the circuits. Plus stats of course: did you know that there hasn’t been a full grid of 26 cars since Monaco 20 years ago? Before Marussia’s reinvention as Manor, there were fears there would be as few as 18 cars on the grid this year, there being no Caterham F1 any more.
If the Constructor’s Championship is a shoe-in for Mercedes, which of their drivers will triumph?
Favourite for F1 Racing is ‘The Hammer’ (that’s Lewis Hamilton to you and us; the mag has pet names for them all…). Lewis badly wants his third title like his hero Senna. But, says F1 Racing sage Peter Windsor, Lewis’s Sunday afternoons will be a lot easier if he starts from pole, and here his teammate, ‘The Thinker’ (Nico Rosberg), outqualified him 12-17 in 2014. If ‘The Thinker’ can keep up that record, and Mercedes allows them to race for the lead as it did last year, well, who knows…
Then there’s the ‘Honey Badger’, whose ‘smiling exterior belies ferocity within.’ Got him yet? Of course, local hero for the season opener, Daniel Ricciardo. ‘You have to expect that Red Bull will win at least four races this year,’ says the mag. Including the Oz GP at the weekend, a few million Aussies will be hoping…
F1 Racing places new Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel next, ‘The Scarlet Ace, a dazzlingly fast fighter pilot’. The mag’s summation: ‘With a restructured team the only way is up. Question is, how much power do they have?’
At McLaren it’s ‘The Samurai’, Fernando Alonso, who gets the F1 Racing nod. Despite restricted testing for the new McLaren-Honda, we can be sure Alonso will ‘extract 100 per cent from the car at any given moment.’
Fernando certainly hasn’t extracted 100 per cent from his razor recently. Ron Dennis must have overcome his dislike of beards – there’s a great pic of them both cuddling up.
The Flying Finn (Valtteri Bottas) at Williams-Mercedes is also in with a chance, says the mag. ‘He need do nothing more than he did in 2014. The wins will come.’ Potentially a great racing driver, concludes the magazine.
Max Verstappen may be another potential great. The youngest ever driver in F1, the 17-year-old is joining Toro Rosso after just one season of F3 racing (before that it was all karts).
‘He’s not been taught but conditioned by Jos to be a racing driver. It’s like when you have a puppy and he is only going to be a guard dog – you train him that way,’ F3 team owner Timo Rumpfkeil is quoted as saying. Despite the unappealing canine analogy this young man is ‘on the verge of turning into a global F1 superstar’ says the magazine.
So, plenty to look out for when the flag drops in Australia at the weekend. And if the action doesn’t live up to the billing? You can always seek solace in F1 Racing’s free poster showing every world champion’s helmet from 1950 to the present day.
It’s oddly compelling!
GRR Read Test Verdict
Essential reading for the start of the new F1 season