So we are just three races into the season and it already appears that this year we could have a real battle for this year’s championship. Ferrari currently lead the charge over Mercedes for the first time since 2010.
In 2015, we all expected that Ferrari could have mounted a challenge last season, but that never materialised. Following testing, we all had cautious optimism about Ferrari’s performance on track. But we needed caution, because in testing in recent years Ferrari have looked good for fighting Mercedes, only to not deliver in the season.
We the media and fans of the sport have all been hyping up this battle between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton. While I think it will ultimately be about that, we cannot and must not write off the Finns.
Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas, are the key players in this battle and their teams will be looking to use them like a queen in chess to protect the king. The flying Finn’s will want to be able to race and in the early part of this season I believe Mercedes will let them, but I have doubts about Ferrari.
But, Toto Wolff has hinted they may need to rethink the team’s policy on team orders, but not the ‘rules of engagement’. I read that as leaving the door open to team orders, should we get to the point where it’s unlikely or mathematically impossible for one driver to win the title.
Ferrari is hungry for the title and will be hoping their luck will change to allow them to take the title. Both teams have a common goal as with every team, to win. But, I think Mercedes will be asking themselves in the coming weeks, have winning most races in the last three years made them a bit complacent?
But, Ferrari will be happy and hoping that their form will continue through-out the season.
This season, teams like Red Bull and Williams will have an indirect impact on the title. I think every season is a war and every race is a battle, this season we are going to see this on and off track.
The way teams manage the drivers and there strategy on track will be important. I think we are going to have races which swing to Mercedes, races swinging towards Ferrari and some upsets along the way!
Its likely that both teams will have off weekends, both together and that could bring Red Bull into play. We know that traffic and car management will be a key factor in this fight. We know Vettel is better than Hamilton at tyre management, but Hamilton has the better race craft.
They are the best drivers of their generation, that’s a fact looking at the facts. They are quite evenly matched on poles and wins, but Vettel hasn’t had the ability to get a win in every season he has raced in.
The two have ‘mutual respect’ for each other they know they want to win and beat each other. But, they will put their hands up when they have lost to say the other driver was better on the day and they will try to be stronger next time.
I would imagine we will see flash points of the intense wheel to wheel racing, maybe contact and even taking each other out. But, that will be great to watch, and affect the swing-o-meter of the battle between the two.
In that case the Finn’s will be a deciding factor, as they will be in ‘damage limitation mode’ and be looking for that victory. We know they have a history of accidents on track, and if they crash out this could change the battle.
The battle will ebb and flow all year long!