Drivers – (44) Lewis Hamilton, (77) Valtteri Bottas
Mercedes have stuck with the same line up as last year with Valtteri Bottas alongside four-time champion Lewis Hamilton. Last season, Mercedes took their fourth consecutive drivers and constructors championship thanks to the teamwork between Hamilton and Bottas.
Bottas performed well overall in his first season against Hamilton, but was unable to mount a serious title bid during the second half of the season. Bottas did deliver for Mercedes and he will be looking to build on that successful debut season in 2018.
This year the challenge is going to get harder for Mercedes as it is expected that Mercedes will come under more pressure in 2018. So can Mercedes use its drivers well to drive it to a fifth title this season?
Drivers – (5) Sebastian Vettel, (7) Kimi Raikkonen
Ferrari became a force last season pushed Mercedes all season, but there title hopes faded after three difficult races in Asia. Vettel has become the teams leader and knows what the team can do. But he needs to remain calm and avoid letting Hamilton getting in his head if he has a chance of a title bid.
Raikkonen also needs to earn his place , says Sergio Marchionne, he needs to be Vettel’s wing man. But he also will be looking for success in his own right and he is the oldest drivers on the grid, Raikkonen hasn’t really had great success on track.
Meanwhile, Vettel will be hoping that Ferrari are able to build a reliable car as the title challenge fell away with poor reliability in the second half of the season. Raikkonen will need to be able to be in the mix this season as well, if he has a chance of retaining his seat.
Red Bull Racing
Drivers – (3) Daniel Ricciardo, (33) Max Verstappen
Red Bull again have stuck with arguably the most exciting driver line ups with Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen. The two drivers are real fighters and work well as a pairing, both working together to get results while being able to fight each other on track.
However, while Red Bull was in the mix last season but were slow out the box. That will be something the team will want to correct this year, as they were able to match Mercedes in the latter part of the season.
Both Verstappen and Ricciardo will be hungry to fight at the front, but the question is can Red Bull hit the ground running from the start and fight with Mercedes and Ferrari. If they are, you can expect both Verstappen and Ricciardo to be fighting at the front
Drivers – (2) Stoffel Vandoorne, (14) Fernando Alonso
McLaren has retained both Stoffel Vandoorne and Fernando Alonso for this season. The team should be more competitive and will be hoping to be mixing with Red Bull following the switch to Renault power. The team now need to prove the claims they have made about the Honda power unit holding them back.
Alonso should be key in that because he knows how Renault work having won two world titles with them in the mid 2000’s. The Spaniard will be trying to inject new momentum into the team as they try to use that to move forward. However, they may have allowed
Vandoorne should and needs to be able to prove himself this season, as he impressed in the junior categories. He is being seen as the team’s long-term future and he needs to begin to get the results to prove he is the team’s future and is an excellent driver.
Drivers – (11) Sergio Perez, (31) Esteban Ocon
Force India are keeping Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon alongside each other this season. Both drivers are great races and are able to fight for podiums on a good day, however there were moments last season where the driver’s willingness to win over boiled and they crashed into each other.
However Perez and Ocon are both able to deliver good results for the team when the bigger teams are having difficulties. This means that they can get results and allow Force India to fight for best of the rest behind the top three teams. Ocon and Perez need to be getting results, without taking each other out!
Drivers – (35) Sergey Sirotkin, (18) Lance Stroll
Williams has the most inexperienced driver line up on the grid as the Russian Sergey Sirotkin joins Lance Stroll. Stroll will need to step up in his second season to lead the team, as they look to recover the ground they lost to Force India last season.
Stroll delivered good results from mid-season last year, however he was still off the pace of his then teammate Felipe Massa. But he can get the results on a good day, he will need to be more consistent with his form this season.
Sirotkin has been a name we have heard about for a while, can he deliver the results that are expected. But can they both step up this season and allow Williams to challenge Force India? Sirotkin needs to prove that he can perform and isn’t just a pay driver.
Drivers – (27) Nico Hulkenberg, (55) Carlos Sainz
Renault has leased Carlos Sainz from Red Bull to join Nico Hulkenberg this season. Sainz is a good driver and held his own against Max Verstappen, however having Verstappen as his teammate means he was overlooked. Since Verstappen’s move to Red Bull he has been
Sainz has delivered good results, however, his good work is yet to pay off. Sainz also has a point to prove can he deliver for the works team and can he raise his game further.
The Sainz move I see as part of his wider ambition to drive for Red Bull, this is about seeing how he performs at Renault. This could give him the platform to prove himself and get a Red Bull seat in 2019, should Ricciardo leave.
Hulkenberg delivered consistent form last season, overachieving the potential of the car. However, in his 137 races that first podium still alludes him, making the German hold the record for the most career starts without a podium.
Drivers – (10) Pierre Gasly, (28) Brendon Hartley
Toro Rosso has retained the line-up they had at the end of 2017, with World Endurance Champion Brendon Hartley alongside Pierre Gasly. Last season, Toro Rosso struggled with a year old Ferrari ending the season well off the pace.
Hartley did not manage to show anything of his real performance on track, thanks to reliability problems with the car. But we know from the WEC he is a great driver, but he was unable to come up with the results in the final few races. He will be looking to prove himself in F1 now as we know he is can win races, but hopefully he can get the car working
Gasly is expected for great things, the Frenchman won the 2016 GP2 Series (Formula Two) and finished runner up and half a point behind in the 2017 Super Formula, taking the championship to the wire at Suzuka (which was cancelled). He can deliver results in his Formula E debut in New York double header last year he scored a seventh and fourth for Renault.
Drivers – (8) Romain Grosjean, (20) Kevin Magnussen
Haas have retained both Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen this season. Last year, the pair performed well on track despite the teams continuing woes with brakes, Haas really need to get on top of these issues if they are to become a strong midfield team.
Grosjean has been the team’s leader scoring most of the team points in the first two seasons. But, the Frenchman has struggled with he breaks once again can he get on top of those issues this year. Magnussen was a little bit off Grosjean’s performance, but on the whole it’s been pretty evenly matched.
Magnussen for the first time in his career has remained with a team for a second season and that could see his form improve as he knows the team. He can hit the ground running from the start knowing how the team works and has helped develop the car.
Alfa Romeo Sauber
Drivers – (9) Marcus Ericsson, (16) Charles Leclerc
Sauber has retained Marcus Ericsson despite the pressure from Ferrari to take two of its young drivers, who will drive alongside current Formula Two champion Charles Leclerc. Leclerc poses a challenge to Ericsson as we know what he is capable of and Ericsson hasn’t delivered a major result in F1.
Sauber is hopeful of being in that midfield fight this season because of its tie up with Alfa Romeo and Ferrari. It needs the drivers to be able to deliver the results when other bigger teams will be ahead of them on track, however the investment should allow the team to close that gap.