2014 F1 season preview
Almost every driver on the grid has a new team mate to measure himself against this year.
Which driver will come out on top at each team? Cast your vote below.
Red Bull: Sebastian Vettel vs Daniel Ricciardo
Ricciardo is only the second Red Bull development driver to be promoted to their ‘A’ team since Vettel himself, so this will make for a barometer of the team’s talent-spotting abilities.
But the four-times champion will surely be expected to hold the upper hand over the newcomer.
Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton vs Nico Rosberg
Hamilton’s ultimate one-lap pace is a lot to deal with but Rosberg has the opportunity to turn the ever-increasing complexity of F1 races to his advantage.
Given Mercedes’ testing performance there could be a world championship riding on the outcome of this contest.
Ferrari: Fernando Alonso vs Kimi Raikkonen
The dynamics of this contest are fascinating, and not just because it pits two world championships against each other at a team which has historically avoided having what its president refers to as “two roosters in the same hen house”.
Ferrari has been Alonso’s team since he arrived in 2010, but the re-hiring of the same driver he was brought in to replace sends a clear message about his position.
Lotus: Romain Grosjean vs Pastor Maldonado
Maldonado, meanwhile, already has his first win under his belt but didn’t seem to offer anything constructive at the struggling Williams team last year. It would be wrong to see his PDVSA funding as the only reason he’s joined Lotus, but more promising and less well-heeled drivers were passed over for him.
McLaren: Jenson Button vs Kevin Magnussen
McLaren’s decision to drop Sergio Perez after a single season was one of the biggest surprises of last year’s ‘silly season’.
It would be too much to expect Magnussen, who steps up from Formula Renault 3.5, to get on terms with world champion Button in his first season. But wasn’t the same also said about Hamilton and Alonso the last time McLaren put a rookie in one of their cars?
Force India: Nico Hulkenberg vs Sergio Perez
Perez will need to produce more of the kind of performances that made him stand out at Sauber in 2012 as he goes up against the highly-rated Hulkenberg, whom many believe is overdue a chance in a front-running car.
Sauber: Esteban Gutierrez vs Adrian Sutil
Toro Rosso: Jean-Eric Vergne vs Daniil Kvyat
Williams: Valtteri Bottas vs Felipe Massa
Given how emphatically Alonso beat Massa during their time as team mates, it won’t escape attention if Bottas can do the same. Having been part of the Williams family for several years, he has a sporting chance.
Marussia: Jules Bianchi vs Max Chilton
Caterham: Kamui Kobayashi vs Marcus Ericsson
Kobayashi has much more F1 experience, of course, and you’d expect that to tell over the course of a season, but he should prove a fair benchmark for Sweden’s new F1 driver.
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Images © Red Bull/Getty, Red Bull/Getty, Ferrari/Ercole Colombo, Lotus/LAT, McLaren/Hoch Zwei, Sauber, Williams/LAT, Caterham/LAT