At last after three months of recess and of course boredom for F1 fans, the stage of scintillating action is now set. The winter testing is done and tested and of course there were some surprises, especially with Ferrari’s immaculate testing. As the countdown to the real show starts before the Australian GP, why not a look at the new faces that will grace the grid? Here you go:
1. Rio Haryanto, Team Manor
The 23 year old Indonesian is making his debut in F1 having already impressed by coming in 4th at the 2015 GP2 series. However, there are still questions of his ability in the big considering his team, Manor, was more impressed by the irresistible £10m in sponsorship Rio brings in more than his ability. As they say, time will tell.
2. Esteban Gutierrez, Team Haas
Remember Esteban Gutierrez? Of course you remember the Mexican driver who featured at Sauber in the 2013 to 2014 season. Gutierrez later joined Ferrari as a reserve driver and he believes that a year observing Vettel and Raikkonen puts him in a good place to fight for points with new F1 entrants Haas. He has 38 races under his belt and has already joined the record books as the 2nd youngest driver to set the fastest lap after Rosberg.
3. Pascal Wehrlein, Manor
The relationship between Mercedes and Manor as engine suppliers has miraculously given Wehrlein a seat and the German will definitely work to prove his worth. He is the youngest driver to win the German Touring Cars title in 2015 and obviously, Mercedes know that a seat for him at Manor is invaluable for the their long-term interests. He might not have any F1 experience, but with high-tour racing experience and Manor’s ambitions, the German will be able to fight for points.
4. Jolyon Palmer, Renault
Renault is back in F1 and isn’t it a good feeling? Remember the wins by Alonso and much more glory they achieved before then? Well, Palmer the scion of GP2 champion Jonathan Palmer has the pedigree to push for podium. The car might be ideal, but the 2014 GP2 Series champion has what it takes to push hard.
In terms of the drivers’ lineup, nothing has changed much except probably the departure of Pastor Maldonado or the ‘crashator’ as fans called the Venezuelan who was prone to crashes. There will also be a bit of musical chairs as Kevin Magnussen replaces Maldonado having left McLaren as a test driver. Romain Grosjean will also be linking with entrants Haas after leaving Renault despite the feeling that this was the perfect seat considering his French links.
The rumors associating Valtteri Bottas with Ferrari have also been quashed now that Kimi Raikkonen has surprisingly retained his seat at the Scuderia team.
It is time to get back to the action and experts are already predicting a title challenge by Ferrari considering the impressive testing. Already Nico Rosberg has said the new Ferrari car is closer than ever and maybe Bernie Ecclestone might have to eat humble pie about the boring races when the real action starts in Melbourne.