2005 team-by-team

Who’s there and who’s nowhere heading into the new season – we break down what the ten teams have got going for and against them.

Ferrari

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, 2004

Ferrari have won the last six constructors' championships and Schumacher the last five drivers' titles

Drivers
Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello

Third driver
Luca Badoer

Strengths
(Deep breath) Lead driver is one of F1′s all-time greats, recent cars have boasted impeccable reliability and awesome speed. Tailor-made tyres and a well-drilled pit crew. All backed up by the same rock-solid team that have been with Schumacher since 1994, plus the ruthless Jean Todt.

Weaknesses
Second driver Barrichello is not so handy. The need for substantial amounts of tyre testing may hinder Bridgestone, now supplying just three teams.

BAR-Honda

Drivers
Jenson Button
Takuma Sato

Third driver
Anthony Davidson

Strengths
Honda’s increased commitment, reflected in their increased stakeholding in the team, may give BAR the most powerful engine in F1 this season. Willis’ conventional yet effective 006 was a revelation in 2004. Button’s impeccable smoothness should be an asset under the 2005 tyre restrictrions. Davidson is the best third driver in F1.

Weaknesses
Loss of team principal David Richards is a blow, and Button will walk to Williams in 2006 if the performance isn’t there. Sato is yet to truly impress, though he can astonish. No longer have access to Friday testing to apply the excellent Davidson.

Renault

Drivers
Fernando Alonso
Giancarlo Fisichella

Third driver
Franck Montagny

Strengths
Two drivers of genuine quality and a super-fast car in testing. Mechanics for other leading teams have remarked that Fisichella would have won a Jerez Grand Prix had it been held in January.

Weaknesses
Reliability and engine power are the two biggest question marks, but Renault may have found convincing answers to their traditional weaknesses over the summer. Though quick, their ’04 car was also notoriously difficult to set up. And team boss Flavio Briatore has proven that even a Monaco Grand Prix win isn’t sufficient to stay in his good books.

Williams-BMW

Drivers
Mark Webber
Nick Heidfeld

Third driver
Antonio Pizzonia

Strengths
Powerful BMW engine and a pair of hungry drivers.

Weaknesses
Aerodynamics are a major concern on the new FW27, with Webber already telling journalists that the car lacks grip. The choice of second driver was a major compromise on their original plans to poach Button, though at least they made the right choice between Heidfeld and Antonio Pizzonia.

McLaren-Mercedes

Drivers
Kimi Raikkonen
Juan Pablo Montoya

Third driver
Alex Wurz

Strengths
The best driver pairing in F1. After a shocking 2004, McLaren look much better prepared for 2005 and the MP4-20 has been both quick and reliable in testing. So much so, that Ferrari are considering employing their 2005 machine earlier than planned…

Weaknesses
Driver pairing could go up in smoke, just as Mercedes engines were doing to an alarming extent in the early races of last year. Although the current car looks the business Adran Newey, the aero whiz behind it, apparently wants to go off and design boats for some reason.

Sauber-Petronas (Ferrari)

Drivers
Jacques Villeneuve
Felipe Massa

Third driver
TBC

Strengths
Driver line-up could be inspired. In theory they have the best engine and tyres on the grid. And the C24 chassis is their first to be designed in their new wind tunnel. Politically, Peter Sauber has finally broken his allegiance to engine suppliers Ferrari, to the Todt’s great wrath.

Weaknesses
Driver line-up could be insane. Sauber have also lost Red Bull cash to Red Bull (no surprise there) and lack the financial clout of the leaders.

Red Bull-Cosworth

Drivers
David Coulthard
Christian Klien (first three races)

Third driver
Vitantonio Liuzzi

Strengths
The availability of Coulthard was a massive bonus for the team, as is the goodwill extended to them by all who were disgusted by Ford’s late withdrawal of the Jaguar squad. All good PR for Red Bull.

Weaknesses
All good PR for Red Bull… will these words return to haunt them? Although Williams have been talking up the chances of the new team (because they are terrified of being beaten by them) you have to question the racing pedigree of a soft drinks company. It’s good stuff for staying awake during the duller races though.

Toyota

Drivers
Jarno Trulli
Ralf Schumacher

Third driver
Olivier Panis

Strengths
Quality engine and a pair of race winners behind the wheels. Sufficient resource to have already put a new aerodynamic package on their 2005 car, which was the first to test.

Weaknesses
No more excuses. They have had enough money and time to score more than 27 points in three years. Toyota in 2005 are where BAR were in 2003. Also, at least one of their mercurial driver pairing will end the season in tears.

Jordan-Toyota

Drivers
Narain Karthikeyan
Tiago Monteiro

Third driver
TBC

Strengths
Toyota engines. Karthikeyan has good knowledge of the European circuits and is regarded as a wet-weather specialist.

Weaknesses
Practically nil development expenditure on the new car, plus they lost talented designer Mark Smith almost immediately after poaching him. The instability caused by the sudden and late change of ownership will surely compromise their early-season performance.

Minardi-Cosworth

Drivers
Christijan Albers
Patrick Friesacher

Third driver
TBC

Strengths
Their indestructible team principle Paul Stoddart. They also continue to aggravate F1 season previewers with long lead times, by leaving their driver line-up decisions until the last minute. (But here at F1Fanatic we leave our deadlines so late that will never happen!)

Weaknesses
They’re starting the season with last year’s car because of financial problems.

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