To Win Outright:
Sebastian Vettel 12/10
Fernando Alonso 9/4
Jenson Button 8/1
Kimi Raikkonen 12/1
Lewis Hamilton 16/1
Sergio Perez 16/1
Mark Webber 16/1
Felipe Massa 40/1
Romain Grosjean 50/1
Nico Rosberg 50/1
Nico Hulkenberg 80/1
Paul di Resta 100/1
Pastor Maldonado 100/1
Valtteri Bottas 100/1
Esteban Gutierrez 150/1
Daniel Ricciardo 250/1
Jean-Eric Vergne 250/1
Red Bull chose to retain both Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber. A smart decision considering one driver is a triple-world champion and the other is an experienced title contender. After consecutively holding the constructors’ title for three years, it would seem silly to change a winning driver combination. Their consistent success attracted Infiniti as a title sponsor for the team resulting in the inclusion of purple in the RB9’s colour scheme. Despite looking the part, the Red Bulls struggled to display some of last year’s dominance in pre-season testing. This year may be a challenge for the team unless they manage to find the pace and continuously improve, a high possibility with the skills of Adrian Newey at the team’s disposal.
By some miracle Felipe Massa has managed to secure another drive with the Italian team, despite only scoring half the amount of championship points as teammate Fernando Alonso. Perhaps he will surprise us this year by recapturing some of the skill seen back in 2008, but after recent years, pegging the hopes of a Ferrari title on Alonso seems the much more natural choice. The number one driver’s stellar performance last year proves that he’s still in contention for a third title despite being constantly denied by the tenacious German champion at Red Bull. The Ferrari drivers will sit behind the wheel of the F138, which looks fantastic, mostly because they’ve removed the ghastly “step” nose that plagued the cars in 2012. However, good looks don’t win a championship,(I’m looking at you Nico Rosberg) and it’s the car’s performance on the track and the skill of the drivers that will decide if Team President Montezemolo cracks a smile at the end of the season.
McLaren’s British dream team of Button-Hamilton has been split up after Hamilton left to race for Mercedes and was subsequently replaced with the inexperienced, yet undeniably skillful, Sergio Perez. The MP4-28 looked quick during testing and could be a possible contender for the championship, especially with a driver as proficient as Button at wheel. His young Mexican teammate may give him a run for his money if we take into consideration some of his great performances in 2012. Technical Director Paddy Lowe has been replaced by Tim Goss, perhaps an indication that McLaren are serious about the silverware.
Lotus is set to be one of the most exciting teams to watch and definitely one to place some bets on this year. Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean are once again driving for Lotus and when Raikkonen is not busy filming dandruff commercials, he’s actually incredibly quick. The Lotus Team’s E21 regularly impressed, with both drivers setting fast times throughout testing. If the team can improve their consistency and avoid stupid mistakes, they could seriously challenge the big names for the title.
Mercedes unites long time friends and former go-karting teammates Hamilton and Rosberg in a bid to bring back some of the success achieved prior to the car’s rebranding. Ross Brawn is a technical genius and despite the issues of break failure and a small fire, his direction at Mercedes has resulted in the team looking like they could definitely shake things up in the championship. The addition of Lewis Hamilton’s aggressive driving style might be exactly what the team needs to have a decent shot at winning a title.
The aforementioned teams are all serious contenders, but with some of the smaller teams showing surprising speed and driving dexterity, the field is closer than ever before. Force India are looking fairly competitive with the return of Adrian Sutil to the team, accompanied by the promising talent of Di Resta. However the team might be hindered by apparent financial difficulties and without proper funds to continuously improve the car the team may find themselves lagging behind.
Williams have kept Maldonado after he impressed in 2012 and have replaced Senna with test driver Valterri Bottas, who has had previous success in Formula Three. Although the team started out slow in testing both drivers managed to set pretty decent times in the later stages.
Toro Rosso & Sauber
The Toro Rosso and Sauber drivers also managed some competitive times in testing. Nico Hulkenburg secured a seat at Sauber and has shown some superb, albeit inconsistent, form in the past. Their test driver, Esteban Gultierre, will take the remaining seat, his successes in GP3 and Formula BMW making him a promising addition to the Sauber team. Red Bull’s sister team, Toro Rosso, has kept both drivers from 2012, Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo, who both show some promise, having set some surprisingly fast lap times during testing. Toro Rosso is essentially a stepping stone into the championship winning Red Bull team, so these drivers could be ones to watch in the future if they manage to score some decent points this season.
Caterham & Murussia
All that remains are the two bottom teams that pose little threat to the title. Caterham and Murussia once again return to their familiar spots at the tail-end of the grid. Caterham replaced the experienced Kovalainen with Charles Pic, reviving the Frenchman’s brief F1 career. He is partnered with Giedo van der Garde, a product of the McLaren Young Drivers Program. Murrusia have also gone with a rookie driver, giving young British driver Max Chilton his F1 debut. Former Ferrari test driver Jules Bianchi brings some much needed experience to the team that considers tenth place an achievement.
Think we've got it wrong? Well leave your comments below and tell us how you think this one is going to play out.