For Formula 1 fans, the Ides of March are more auspicious than ominous, as March 15th marks the date of the Australian Grand Prix and the start of the 2015 Formula 1 season.
The 2014 F1 season saw a changing of the guard as Mercedes broke Red Bull’s string of four straight Constructors’ Championships; while Mercedes’ drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, finished first and second in the Drivers’ standings, respectively.
Hamilton enters the 2015 season as the odds-on favorite to repeat as Drivers’ Champion, while Mercedes is a heavy favorite to win another Constructors’ Championship.
Mercedes is hoping that this year’s Australian Grand Prix will once again set the tone for the season. Last year, Rosberg overtook teammate and poll-sitter Hamilton in the first corner and led wire-to-wire. (Hamilton, meanwhile, had to retire with engine problems.) The race was a wake-up call for the other teams, as Rosberg won by nearly 25-seconds, showcasing Mercedes’ new-found power.
After just one down year (in which they still finished second to Mercedes), Red Bull is in a serious state of flux. Gone is Sebastian Vettel, the 15-year Red Bull veteran (who has taken Fernando Alonso’s place at Ferrari), and now Red Bull will turn to Daniel Ricciardo (winner of three races in 2014) and Daniil Kyvat (who was promoted from Toro Rosso, Red Bull’s second team) to try to re-establish itself as the ultimate power in F1. It looks more likely, though, that Red Bull will be duking it out with McLaren and Ferrari for lesser podium places.
Williams (which finished third last year) will continue with Felipe Massa and Valteri Bottas behind the wheel, while Ferrari (which finished fourth) now has four-time champ Vettel and 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen at the helm.
After a seven-year absence from the team, Alonso has returned to McLaren, which finished a very disappointing fifth in 2014.
With Vettel moving from Reb Bull to Ferrari, and Alonso moving from Ferrari to McLaren, there is a great deal of intrigue about who will emerge as Mercedes’ top challenger. Will it be one of the cagey veterans, or will Red Bull’s Ricciardo (who was the top non-Mercedes driver last year) establish himself as the heir apparent to the Mercedes dynasty?
The early indications are that 2015 will be a bounce-back year for both Alonso, personally, and McLaren, as a team, and those indications are reflected in the odds for the 2015 Drivers’ Championship, Constructors’ Championship, and Australian Grand Prix, set out below.
2015 Drivers’ Championship Odds:
Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes): 1/2
Nico Rosberg (Mercedes): 4/1
Fernando Alonso (McLaren): 10/1
Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull): 16/1
Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari): 20/1
2015 Constructors’ Championship Odds:
Red Bull: 6/1
2015 Australian Grand Prix Odds:
Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes): 2/3
Nico Rosberg (Mercedes): 3/1
Fernando Alonso (McLaren): 8/1
Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull): 8/1
Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari): 12/1
(Photo credit: Jake Archibald (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode]. Photo may appear cropped.)