Where do you start with the three-times-consecutive World Champions? How about the loss of the World Champion Driver to be replaced by Valtteri Bottas, the addition of a very well regarded man in the form of James Allison and Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda sign long-term contracts.
The noises coming out of Brackley are pretty muted in regard to their car and the engine developments. Little or no news has been their modus operandi for the recent seasons and who can blame them from keeping their winning secrets to themselves. With news that Renault have made gains and Honda have tried to re-invent their engine, this could be a very interesting battle.
We wont see the new car until 23rd February, but when Lewis reported back on it, he was less than complimentary, ‘it looks like a boat‘. It might take some getting used to, but we all know that a winning car doesn’t have to be a beautiful car and that sometimes the beauty is earned by hitting the chequered flag first.
But it might just be that Lewis is a little rattled by his new team mate and has started to make a few excuses early. Having a dig at the car was the first step and then moaning that he doesn’t want to share data with his team mate was the second. To be fair to Lewis, late breaking is one of his specialities, so why should he have to give up his advantage over his team mate by showing them exactly where he is capable of breaking.
Bottas has a lot to prove when he finally sits in the Mercedes. Already reports have compared him to Mika Haikkenen, whilst others have likened him to Mika Salo. Apparently, just because he is Finnish he has to be like them. Is Lewis the same as Sir Stirling, Nigel Mansell or Max Chiltern, just because he is British?
So the new season will see a car we have no idea about, with an engine which has excellent pedigree, being driven by an Ex-World Champion with a point to prove and a possible future World Champion with a point to prove. We can’t wait for this to kick off.
One thing we don’t see happening is Bottas crashing into Hamilton. At least not on purpose or even aggressively closing the gap. Yes he’ll race him and pass him, but we don’t think there will be the same animosity that we saw between Lewis and Nico or Lewis and Fernando. More the sort of professional respect between Lewis and Jenson.
There’s not a lot of point in predicting Mercedes coming anywhere but the top of the tree. We’re going to be boring and say that Lewis will comfortably have Valtteri in his pocket and it wont come down to the last race or even the last two.
Sorry, but we just don’t see anyone beating Hamilton, even if they have the same car.