Cipolloni and Carroccio square off on 2015 F1

Question

Brian Carroccio

Mark Cipolloni

Team that had the best off-season

Lotus getting Mercedes engines was huge. But after the circus that was 2014, I’m going to say Ferrari. In Sebastian Vettel, they have someone who the team is clearly behind, and all seems copacetic in Maranello, at least for now.

Mercedes had the best offseason. They sandbagged the entire time and were still comfortably fastest. And they spent most of the test sessions doing endurance runs, so in 2015 they will be both fast and reliable.

Most intriguing storyline of 2015:

Easily, the relationship between McLaren and Fernando Alonso, which is already off to an inauspicious start. My guess is that if things aren’t looking promising by the summer, both sides begin to plot exit strategies.

In my opinion the most intriguing storyline will be how much further the TV ratings and race attendance will fall now that the thrill of the ‘scream’ of the F1 engines is gone

Does Lewis Hamilton’s contract extension become a distraction as the season wears on?

Yes. Because at the end of the day the mercurial Hamilton is still a McLaren man. And while his relationship with Mercedes has been fruitful, the pull of McLaren will factor into his thinking.

No. It will be a done deal before long. Hamilton knows Mercedes domination = many world titles, and you cannot put a price on that.

Will Daniel Ricciardo struggle with the pressure of being the number one at Red Bull?

No. Certainly, the intra-team dynamic has changed for the fun-loving Aussie. But Ricciardo has the perfect mindset for the dog-eat-dog world of Formula One.

Yes. The Italian-Australian is the real deal, but does he have the development ability of departed Sebastian Vettel. I also think Kvyat will give him a run for his money.

Intra-Team battle you’re most intrigued by

Obviously, the battle between Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at Mercedes is likely to determine the title. However, no team lets their drivers have at it like Toro Rosso. And I’m intrigued to see how the team’s 2 youngsters fare in that notoriously cutthroat environment.

Raikkonen vs. Vettel. If Vettel gets beat by Raikkonen this year we will know he’s not as good as Alonso, who had the measure of Raikkonen. Vettel’s reputation could take a major blow.

Something that has jumped-out at you during preseason testing

The speed of Sauber. The team was practically invisible last year. While I know it’s only testing, every time I’ve checked testing times, Sauber seems to have some speed.

The improvement of the Ferrari engine. Both Sauber and Ferrari have been fast and the drivers say the Ferrari engine has taken a major step up.

Driver most likely to capture first Grand Prix victory

With the Red Bull promotion, I’m tempted to say Daniil Kvyat. But the answer to me is Valtteri Bottas. Other than the Mercedes pair and Daniel Ricciardo, Bottas was as strong as anyone in 2014.

I have to agree with Brian on this one. Bottas will get his first win in 2015. His Mercedes engine is strong, he appears to have the measure of Massa, his teammate, so one slip by Mercedes and Bottas wins

2014 was the first year since 1993, in which Ferrari did not win a Grand Prix. Do the Scuderia endure another winless season?

No. Mercedes still dominates, but a rejuvenated Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel score at least one win

No. Mercedes will slip a couple of times and if Ferrari plays their cards right they can benefit. Ferrari's Arrivabene has beefed up their design staff with some star names that brought them magic in the Schumacher era.

Tell us who drives for the following teams in 2016: Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes

Ferrari: Vettel, Bottas

McLaren: Hamilton, Magnussen

Mercedes: Alonso, Rosberg

Ferrari: Vettel, Bottas

McLaren: Alonso, Magnussen

Mercedes: Hamilton, Rosberg

Total wins for Mercedes (the team) in 2015: over or under 13.5

I know what you’re going to say. But despite my desire to play contrarian, I still think it’s over. Remember, the 3 races they didn’t win last year, they basically beat themselves. And I don’t see any team that is going to regularly challenge them.

It’s hard not seeing them win all 20 races, but I think they could slip up in two, so I’ll go with 18 wins for Mercedes. So my answer is over 13.5

Event you’re most looking forward to

Spa: So long as the old Nordschleife is not on the calendar, the answer to this question is and always will be Spa.

The return of Mexico City. Expect to see over 300,000 in attendance, making it the biggest race on the circuit, and if Ferrari runs Gutierrez in that race, perhaps 350,000.

With the 2nd year of the turbo-charged V6 hybrid engines, does the bellyaching from F1 fans and media subside?

It’s human nature for people to adjust to changes, so yes. Still, we learned last year, how much sound matters in racing and F1 royally screwed the pooch with these new engine regulations. They stripped away that magical sound that was fundamental to the experience of a Grand Prix. And they’re not getting it back.

Yes the bellyaching will stop. The fans won’t say much, they will do their voting with their feet and not attend after being bored with last year’s ‘quiet’ cars.

Total points for Manor: over or under ½

Under. It’s good they’re on the grid just for the sake of numbers, but they don’t score a point.

Under. No chance they score even a single point.

Manufacturer’s Champion

Mercedes going away

Mercedes in a walk

World Champion

Hamilton is in absolute prime form with the dominant car/engine package. Rosberg makes it interesting, but Hamilton wins again.

Hamilton, as Rosberg is no match. However the German team will be keen to see a German driver (Rosberg) win.

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