With the new season just kicking off, Jack Greeney offers his predictions from before a single wheel has been spun
1st: Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari):
A shock return to winning ways it could be, but Vettel has vast experience and blistering qualifying pace, and has a seat in a Ferrari looking faster than ever.
2nd: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes-Benz):
The British driver will once again be pushing for the title, with his extreme race pace, but maybe, just maybe, the era of total Mercedes dominance is over.
3rd: Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes-Benz):
Filling Rosberg’s seat, and having only signed a one-year Mercedes contract, the Finn has a lot to prove, with raw talent, yet no race-winning experience.
4th: Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari):
The hugely experienced Finn will be looking to fight fellow countryman Bottas once again, so expect wheel to wheel action and closely fought points tallies.
5th: Max Verstappen (Red Bull):
The flying teenage Dutchman, exciting and talented, will be hoping to replicate last year’s form, a future World Champion, in a car that’s not quite there yet.
6th: Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull):
Aggressive, all-out racing, with a tactical head to boot, Aussie racer Ricciardo will be a very close match for Verstappen. Red Bull have some supers drivers.
7th: Sergio Pérez (Force India):
Force India finished 4th last season, significantly boosting finances; in an improved car, the calm and uniquely light-on-the-tires Pérez could surprise many.
8th: Felipe Massa (Williams):
Brazilian veteran Massa retired last season, but couldn’t resist the lure of a return; the enormously experienced Williams driver will be tested to new limits.
9th: Esteban Ocon (Force India):
In a season looking racier than ever, Force India can really make an impression, and Ocon, on the Mercedes development programme, has talent to prove.
10th: Nico Hülkenberg (Renault):
Hülkenberg will be hoping that Renault have made strides with their new car since last season, and has the talent to hold his own with faster cars to boot.
11th: Romain Grosjean (Haas):
Franco-Swiss racer Grosjean has proven to be highly talented, with ten podiums in lesser cars: sadly the Haas model does not seem to match his pace.
12th: Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso):
The Russian is another driver with something to prove, after being shockingly swapped out of the Red Bull mid-season last term back into Toro Rosso.
13th: Carlos Sainz Jr. (Toro Rosso):
Son of double World Rally Champion Sainz Sr., the talented young Spaniard should produce a very close battle with his teammate Kvyat this season.
14th: Lance Stroll (Williams):
The 18-year-old’s first season in F1 could go either way: he clearly has immense talent, but crashed on numerous occasions in pre-season testing.
15th: Kevin Magnussen (Haas):
Haas have another talented driver in their line-up this year in Kevin, son of driver Jan: the team have experience and youth but a rather sorry-looking car.
16th: Joylon Palmer (Renault):
The Brit now in his second season of Formula 1, the first plagued by car failures, will be looking to gain experience and finish races respectably this year.
17th: Fernando Alonso (McLaren-Honda):
McLaren are looking truly atrocious going into the new season: but if anyone can nick a point for them it’s Alonso, still one of the best drivers out there.
18th: Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren-Honda):
Sharing the same dreadful McLaren with Alonso, Belgian Vandoorne will be hoping to avoid embarrassment this year: and more engine failures.
19th: Marcus Ericsson (Sauber):
By all rights, McLaren drivers should be found at the bottom of this list: if it weren’t for Sauber, looking equally sluggish and with a tamer driver line-up.
20th: Pascal Wehrlein (Sauber):
The German in the dreary Sauber missed almost all of pre-season injured, so has had no time at all to get used to faster pace and radical rule changes.
This is the opportunity for Mercedes’ dominance to end; Scuderia are looking to take advantage.
The German team have been successful in recent years and will push all the way for another title.
3rd: Red Bull:
Red Bull have a superb driver line-up this term, with a car just a little work off becoming a winner.
4th: Force India:
Force India exceeded expectations to finish a lucrative 4th last term: a repeat will be sought.
Sir Frank and his British team Williams will seek a return to 4th, but with their car, might fall short.
6th: Toro Rosso:
A clear secondary to parent team Red Bull, the true pace of Toro Rosso will always be a question.
Renault have a good opportunity to move on from a poor 2016, but development seems slow.
Hass will be entering only its 2nd year of existence, let alone competition: expect inconsistency.
Even Alonso can’t pull McLaren out of this mess — will the engine be able to survive a whole Grand Prix.
A weak-looking team, a weak-looking car and a weak-looking driver line-up: the new back-lappers.