It doesn’t seem long when Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton won the 2014 Formula 1 World Championship at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. Exactly 69 days since the last race of the 2014 championship, the 2015 season kick starts with the first official pre-season test in Jerez, Spain from February 1 to February 4.
The off-season was filled in anticipation about the pre-season testing and how the 2015 season will shape up. While there were two high profile driver changes but the quantity of drivers jumping ship were far less than what we've witnessed over the past few seasons.
Continuing from the 2014 season, the driver changes for 2015 had some highlights. Fernando Alonso was officially announced as McLaren driver alongside Jenson Button while Sebastian Vettel moved to Ferrari alongside incumbent Kimi Raikkonen. Red Bull moved in young Daniil Kvyat partnering Daniel Ricciardo. Toro Rosso and Sauber gets a new line-up as the former has teen Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr, the latter has ex-Caterham Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr. Mercedes (Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg), Williams (Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa), Lotus (Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado) and Force India (Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez) retain the same pair.
The car launches were the most awaited event all through. Sahara Force India was the first team to launch their 2015 challenger, albeit only the livery in Mexico; they soon announced that they will not participate in the Jerez test and instead focus on giving their VJM08 its first shake up at Barcelona in two weeks time.
The launch of Sahara Force India was followed by Williams, Lotus, McLaren-Honda, Ferrari, Sauber and Toro Rosso; all the teams chose an online launch. Although, Mercedes didn’t officially launch their car but they released pictures of the shakedown they had in Silverstone as part of a filming day. Their official launch is scheduled tomorrow morning along with last year's championship runners up Red Bull.
Force India, McLaren and Sauber had livery changes while others chose to continue with their existing colour scheme with minor changes.
At the time of writing, there was no news on what the future holds for Marussia and Caterham .
With FIA allowing in-season engine development, it will be interesting to find out what changes the manufacturers have brought to the table. After a dominant year Mercedes had, can anyone pose a challenge to them? At the end of the 2014 season, Williams were the closest to the Brackley based team. Red Bull will certainly bank on Renault to provide them with good engine, as will Ferrari. With Lotus switching to Mercedes engine and McLaren re-uniting itself with Honda, both of them will be hoping to get back on the successful track after their average 2014 campaigns.
Driver line up for Jerez test
Mercedes - Rosberg(Day 1, Day 3) Hamilton (Day 2, Day 4)
Red Bull - Ricciardo(Day 1, Day 3) Kvyat (Day 2, Day 4)
Williams - Bottas(Day 1, Day 2) Massa (Day 3, Day 4)
Ferrari - Vettel (Day 1, Day 2) Raikkonen (Day 3, Day 4)
McLaren - Alonso(Day 1, Day 3) Button (Day 2, Day 4)
Force India - Absent from the test
Toro Rosso - Sainz Jr (Day 1, Day 3) Verstappen (Day 2, Day 4)
Lotus - Maldonado (Day 1, Day 3) Grosjean (Day 2, Day 4)
Sauber - Ericsson (Day 1, Day 4) Nasr (Day 2, Day 3)
by Darshan Chokhani