Most of the team at Daytona are, or have been, avid F1 fans. There are one or two individuals in the office (who will remain nameless) who do not “get” Formula 1 but pretty much everyone else is a fan, although maybe not as bothered by it all recently. It is very noticeable just how much impact the Red Bull – Vettel domination over the last four years has had on the die-hard F1 fan base. Instead of the lengthy Monday morning debates about the teams’ strategies and the drivers’ abilities, 2013 saw very short “Did Vettel win?”, “Yes” conversations. Maybe 2014 will see the return to the good old days?
With a long period of rule stability, the teams should get closer and closer with their cars’ performance. Once one designer proves that an aero concept works well, all the other teams race to copy or implement their own versions and the teams playing catch up don’t have to spend as much time or money on the initial concept. Similarly the engines in 2013 were all very similar in output. Whilst some cars worked better with the various different types of Pirelli tyres that were used in 2013, the differences between fastest and slowest were really very small.
For 2014 we have all new rules and, if pre-season testing is to be believed, then the order has been shaken up! All the Renault-powered teams have had a lot of problems with their power units, especially Red Bull who had a dire February. Meanwhile the Mercedes-powered teams seem to have had a lot more success throughout testing – albeit with a few teething problems.
On paper, Mercedes, Williams, Force India and McLaren look the most promising, but Ferrari are renowned for sand-bagging during tests and some observers think that they have kept their true performance hidden until Melbourne. What we do know is the very clever people at Red Bull and the other Renault teams won’t have settled for a bad year. They will be working very hard to iron out the issues and, whilst they may not win on Sunday, or even finish the race, they will be back to their winning ways before long.
It’s time to show my colours. I am a Hamilton fan. I like his out-and-out attack style of driving and I hope that he will be able to work out how best to apply that with the new engines’ torque and the 100kg fuel limit. Whether he does or not, I am really looking forward to a new F1 – even if half the grid break down on Sunday.