The F1 Times casts its 2014 F1 predictions
Making predictions in Formula 1 before the first race has taken place during a season in which the regulations remain stable is difficult enough, making a prediction in 2014, when widescale changes have been implemented, is near impossible.
Despite this, here at The F1 Times, we don't shy away from a challenge - even if we end up feeling a little embarrassed. So we've dusted off the crystal ball and given it our best shot. Who knows, we might actually get a few correct.
How many races into the season will it take for Red Bull to win a race?
Ryan Wood: I think we’ll see it happen. When, who knows. I’d expect the second half of the season, maybe around the Austrian Grand Prix - that’d be a coincidence!
Daniel Chalmers: Underneath all the reliability gremlins is a fast chassis and aero combination. Their rate of development in the last few years has been incredible so they can definitely iron these problems out. The question is will Mercedes have won too many races by the time they have solved all their issues? I think they will win a couple of races in the second half of the year, but it will be too late for a title challenge.
Graham Keilloh: Red Bull will recover: the team's too good not to and will be on Renault's case until its unit improves too. It'll be hard to make big strides in the flyways, but I reckon it'll take slightly longer even than that to win. It'll win first in Silverstone: round nine.
Ernie Black: The unpredictability index on the 2014 season is higher than that of 2012. Red Bull has as good a chance as any other team to win straight away. Red Bull knows what it takes to win. I believe by the time F1 hits the Euro rounds, all top teams will be fighting for the top step.
Will Kevin Magnussen finish on the podium for McLaren?
RW: Magnussen has really impressed me during testing and I reckon we’ll see the Dane on the podium. Maybe not a win, but a second or third. McLaren’s last rookie, Lewis Hamilton, managed to do it at the first race…it’ll take Magnussen a few more though.
DC: He will do more than that in my opinion. Not only will he stand on the podium a few times this year I think he will win a race as well. He has shown in winter testing that the speed is there. If McLaren can keep up all season there is no doubt that opportunities will come his way, although he may need a retirement or two in front of him to get the win.
GK: Yes, I think he will. McLaren looks set to bounce back to a large extent from a difficult 2013 with its MP4-29, and I think there’s more to come from the team. While Magnussen has really impressed those in the team and outside with his technique and pace.
EB: There is no reason to believe that the young star won’t be able to challenge right from the off. Look back at how well Lewis Hamilton did on his debut. Kevin will get a podium for McLaren if the team can give him the car capable of achieving it.
Will Marussia or Caterham score a point?
RW: I think they will and it's a long time coming. The uncertain reliability we’ve seen so far should throw up some surprise results and I reckon we’ll see Marussia do it before Caterham.
DC: Yes definitely, although it probably won't be because of a massive improvement in speed. There are going to be races at the start of the year where over half the field retire. If Caterham and Marussia can keep their cars on the track then that's all they will need to do to score their first points in F1.
GK: Both teams have their best chance so far, and for slightly different reasons. Marussia in the final test set a midfield-aping lap time, while the Caterham hasn’t looked quick but has looked reliable, so may get points via attrition – unreliability is expected to be more of a factor this year.
EB: Marussia will surprise. Caterham has a strong team and a good balance of drivers. Both teams will score points this season especially if unreliability claims some of the front runners.
Who’ll finish ahead: Alonso or Raikkonen?
RW: This is a really tough prediction to make. They’re both brilliant drivers in very different ways. Will Alonso, as he has in the past, be flustered by a competitive team-mate? I don’t reckon we’ll see a repeat of that, but I’m still putting my money on Raikkonen. It won’t be a massive gap though.
DC: It's going to be close but Alonso will edge it. The factor that will separate them will be work rate off the track. The Spaniard will do everything off the track to ensure that he is always in an advantageous position when he pulls out of the garage. I also think having Raikkonen as a team mate will bring out more speed in Fernando.
GK: My gut instinct is that Alonso will have the edge. Partly because he’s ensconced at Ferrari and has a lot of political capital there. But more broadly I think Alonso has slightly the more pace, aggression and relentlessness than Kimi these days. The crazy 2014, like 2012, will suit him.
EB: This is a problem with a chicken or egg complexity. Two hens in the hen house may prove to be a problem for Ferrari who have always favored a one “top driver” format. Ferrari is still very much Alonso’s team, if I was forced to pick one, I would very hesitantly pick Alonso.
Will Williams win a Grand Prix?
RW: You know what, I think they will and it’d be a welcome sight. Okay, Pastor Maldonado managed it in 2012, but we'll see Williams regularly fighting at the front. Felipe Massa will be the man to do it.
DC: At the moment I would say that Williams have the second quickest car. I think they will win one of the early races but may need a Mercedes DNF in order to achieve it. That will be their best chance as I think Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes will then pull away after the first four or five races due to their better resources.
GK: Yes – no one would have thought so pre-Jerez but if Williams doesn’t win a race this year it has to be a disappointment. The team seems to have everything: a good chassis, the best engine, possibly the most reliability, talented staff and two hungry and quick drivers.
EB: All indications from the pre-season testing show that Williams may very well be the dark horse in 2014. With the mighty Mercedes AMG power plant, two very good drivers and a restructured, re-tooled Williams team, I’m certain someone will be pouring Martini in the pit lane this season. Yes.
Who’ll finish ahead: Hulkenberg or Perez?
RW: I’m backing Hulkenberg. He’s arguably the most overlooked driver on the grid and has proven time and time again that he deserves a top seat.
DC: I think Hulkenberg will dominate this team mate battle. Perez is very strong on his day but there are too many days where he is nowhere. Hulkenberg gets the best out of the car at every event, the mark of a top driver. Perez will get a few strong results, but not as many as Nico will be able achieve.
GK: Nico Hulkenberg – he’s a fast and complete driver who with respect to Force India really shouldn’t be there. But Sergio Perez did seem to improve during his McLaren year despite his more general difficulties, as well as has impressed on track in testing, so he could be worth watching.
EB: I’ve been impressed with Nico. While Perez appears to be in great spirits at Force India, I’m expecting Hulkenberg to give him a hard time. In the end, it will depend on who makes the most of the package and can integrate themselves best with the team. My nod goes to the Hulk.
How many will be the fewest number of finishers?
RW: How many cars are using Renault engines, 8? Okay, that’s a bit mean, but I think we’ll see a maximum of 12 retirements in a single race, so that leaves us with 10 cars.
DC: The first few races of 2014 will probably be farcical in terms of the number of DNFs. No car based on winter testing can be described as reliable. A race with just seven or eight finishers is very likely in the early stages.
GK: I’ve had a hunch all winter that there will be more race finishers generally this year than the doom-laden predictions have suggested, but reliability will still be more of a factor than before, so perhaps it’ll creep down to about eight or nine finishers at its lowest.
EB: Three variables will largely determine this question. The obvious one is reliability, the second most obvious is the weather. If one removes tyres from the equation, the third variable might be fuel consumption. I’m going with 12.
Will the Russian Grand Prix produce an exciting race?
RW: Probably not. The layout doesn’t really inspire does it. I won’t write it off straight away though.
DC: I would like to say yes but sadly for me the answer is no. I am sure visually it will be a very nice track with the winter Olympic venues in the backdrop. However when I look at the track layout it reminds me of a combination of Valencia and Abu Dhabi, which doesn't inspire confidence. We have to give the track a chance though before being too judgemental.
GK: Hopefully it will. It looks a track with long straights and tight corners, a bit like Valencia which provided us with an entertaining race eventually! You’d have thought that the braking zones will create overtaking opportunities, while close walls should result in incident and safety car jumbling of the order.
EB: First we might want to consider whether or not there will be a race in Russia. Given the current climate and civil unrest in the Ukraine and the unpopular military involvement of Russia, F1 may have a better chance of racing in New Jersey than Sochi. If the race will actually be run, I would say it will be as exciting as any other.
Which team will win the Constructors’ Championship?
RW: Mercedes. A combination of Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, a Mercedes engine and a brilliant pre-season is just too good for a rival to overcome.
DC: I think this is Mercedes' year. 2014 is what they have been working towards for the past two or three years. The car has looked extremely quick in winter testing without really pushing hard to unlock it's full capabilities. 2014 could be similar to 2013 but just with a different team doing the dominating.
GK: As things stand I have to pick Mercedes. It has an effective chassis, the best engine (and is the works team) and looks ahead in its general preparation. Its budget and resource should ensure that it develops competitively as the year progresses. Main concern is the lack of Ross Brawn.
EB: Would it be unacceptable to say the one with the most points? I’ve never been in the position where I haven’t had the foggiest clue to answer this question in a long time. The complete change of formula has me in total suspense this season. Based on the limited running we have seen thus far, I would have to say Mercedes AMG.
Which driver will win the Drivers’ Championship?
RW: Lewis Hamilton, probably. I think it’s going to be the Briton’s year for a second title.
DC: In my opinion Hamilton is going to completely destroy the field. This is probably going to be the greatest car he has driven by far in his career. An on form and happy Hamilton in a great car is going to be a terrifying combination. I am predicting 10 race victories or more for him in 2014.
GK: Lewis Hamilton will be world champion. The Mercedes machine will be the best, the harder tyres will suit him better, and Lewis unlike Nico Rosberg has experience of chasing a championship. Plus I think that Lewis will adapt to the fuel saving formula much better than many are predicting.
EB: In much the same fashion as the previous question, I am unconvinced over this dilemma. There are so many capable of winning it all if things are to remain close this season. The truth is, it is simply too early to call a winner. My blind pick is Rosberg.
We want to know your predictions for 2014. Comment below with who you reckon will win the WDC and WCC and you might just win a prize if, come the end of the year, it turns our you're an F1-psychic-god.