The lower midfield could be crudely viewed as the battle between the young guns and the veterans, but a lot is at stake for these embattled teams this season. Here’s a run-down of these midfield runners:
Scuderia Toro Rosso
Engine: 2015 Ferrari
Predicted constructors’ position: 6th
The Faenza-based squad will fly to Melbourne with a strong sense of optimism, after an incredibly productive pre-season testing programme. Franz Tost and James Key will continue to lead the reins at Red Bull’s junior team, whilst enticing youngsters Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz, Jr remain as drivers. Many believe Toro Rosso could exceed expectations and finish as high as a lofty 4th in the constructors’ position, but this would heighten tensions considerably within the senior Red Bull Racing squad if they were to beat them.
McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team
Predicted constructors’ position: 7th
After last season’s farce, the only way is up for the Woking-based squad. Pre-season testing at Barcelona showed noticeable improvements, but mostly in terms of the reliability of the chassis and engine. The Honda hybrid unit is still at least 80BHP down on the pacesetting Mercedes engines and heads have already been turned with Yusuke Hasegawa replacing Yasuhisa Arai as Honda motorsport chief officer. Ron Dennis remains Group Chairman, Eric Bouiller continues as Racing Director, whilst Jost Capito has been drafted in as CEO. In the technical department, Tim Goss, Neil Oatley and Peter Prodomou continue to take the reins. However, the patience of star driver Fernando Alonso is draining and this season could prove to be Jenson Button‘s swansong.
Renault Sport Formula One Team
Predicted constructors’ position: 8th
The Renault name may have returned as a constructor entry, but in the eyes of fans, the spirit of “Team Enstone” lives on for another year. Pre-season testing proved underwhelming, however, as the team set low expectations and their main priority was mileage. As with any team buyout, a new management has been put in place. Carlos Ghosn takes over as Group Chairman and CEO, despite his infamous lack of enthusiasm for motorsports, whilst Jérôme Stoll, Cyril Abitedoul and Frédéric Vasseur take over as President, Managing Director and Racing Director respectively. Bob Bell will resume his Chief Technical Officer from the Lotus days, whilst Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen provide new blood in the driving department. One heavy topic of contention throughout this season will be their fractious relationship with Red Bull Racing.