New rules, new drivers and new venues – it’s all change in Formula One in 2014, and it’s shaping up to be one of the best seasons ever.
The lights go out in Melbourne, Australia, but racers will also have to come to terms with a return to Spielberg in Austria, plus a new track in the Winter Olympic park in Sochi, Russia.
To spice things up further, double points will be awarded at the season-ending race in Abu Dhabi, and as well as overall titles, a new trophy will be handed to the driver who gets the most pole positions. But bad driving will also be punished, with drivers now getting points on their race licences which add up to in-race penalties.
F1 stars have had to pick a race number (from 2-99) that’s theirs for their career, to make it easier for fans to follow, although number one is reserved for the reigning champion.
Ahead of the first race, the three pre-season tests have shown how the teams are making the best – and worst – of the new rules.
Lewis Hamilton said: “There’s so much to learn with these new cars, it’s just mind-blowing. But I feel ready and I’m looking forward to Melbourne.”
The Mercedes looked reliable at the start of the season, with Hamilton’s team-mate Nico Rosberg completing the most laps in pre-season. Williams wasn’t far behind, though.
Despite having its worst year in 2013, the team seems reinvigorated following a switch to Mercedes power, and gaining a new Martini livery for its FW36.
Champion Red Bull had a dismal start to 2014. The team struggled to prevent the RB10’s Renault engine from overheating, and Sebastian Vettel acknowledged its struggles, saying: “It’s difficult to know where the car is, but we have to catch up in lots of areas.”
The Ferrari also looked fast, with Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen experienced enough to cope with the demands of F1’s new breed of cars.
Another old hand is Jenson Button, who will look to maximise his McLaren’s Mercedes power to keep tabs on new team-mate Kevin Magnussen, who looks right at home in the team’s new racer.
Click on the links to the left to read about each team and the drivers who will be racing this year.