F1 season preview: Mercedes duo set to reignite personal duel ahead of Australian opener

Lewis Hamilton is odds-on favourite to win his third F1 World Championship this season
Lewis Hamilton is odds-on favourite to win his third F1 World Championship this season
  • Mercedes look set to dominate again
  • Hamilton targeting third world title as Rosberg seeks revenge
  • Force India and Toro Rosso also in action
  • Verstappen to become youngest driver in F1 history

The 2015 FIA Formula One World Championship roars into action this weekend when the opening race of the season takes place in Melbourne, Australia.

Twenty races will make up the 2015 season with many onlookers predicting another high-quality and action-packed year.

Sergio Perez and Force India are approaching the new season with some apprehension having not been able to test their new car

Sergio Perez and Force India are approaching the new season with some apprehension having not been able to test their new car

The dominant team of last year’s campaign, Brackley-based Mercedes AMG Petronas, again look like the team to beat, particularly given their impressive pace in pre-season testing.

Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton will be targeting his third world title, while team-mate Nico Rosberg is still seeking his first as he looks to take revenge on the Briton, who pipped him in a thrilling season-long battle last year.

Hamilton said this week: “Winning my second title, the first with Mercedes-Benz, was very special and now I really feel the pressure has been lifted from my shoulders. I feel very relaxed and I am looking forward to the season.”

Rosberg added: “I was sorry not to win last year but I quickly forgot about the disappointment and started to look at the positives. I believe I am stronger and now have a good focus for the season.”

“I feel very relaxed and I am looking forward to the season.”

Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton

Williams, Red Bull, Ferrari and Sauber have all shown good pace in testing as they attempt to close the gap between themselves and Mercedes ahead of this weekend’s opener.

The Silverstone-based Sahara Force India team were late in taking their new car to the track and may find themselves playing catch-up with their VJM08 machine.

Powered by Mercedes, the Force India cars will again be driven by Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg and both are highly-rated by the team’s boss, Vijay Mallya.

Mallya commented: “I believe we have a good package. The VJM08 car looks like it will go well and I think we have a great driver pairing in Checo (Perez) and Nico. We arrive in Australia looking to score points.”

Max Verstappen will become the youngest driver in F1 history at tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix. He'll start from 12th.

Max Verstappen will become the youngest driver in F1 history at tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix. He'll start from 12th.

The part Bicester-based Toro Rosso team have a brand new line-up for the 2015 season in the shape of Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz

Verstappen arrives in F1 from the FIA European F3 Championship, while Sainz, son of former world rally champion Carlos Sainz, has formed part of the Red Bull Junior Team for a number of years.

Verstappen will make history this weekend when he becomes the youngest driver in F1 history at the age of just 17, with many tipping him to become a future world champion.

The Dutchman, son of former F1 racer Jos Verstappen, said: “I am looking forward to the new season. Last year the team scored early season points with Daniil Kvyat.

“I hope I can achieve similar results and establish myself in F1. Carlos and I are ready to do everything we can for Scuderia Toro Rosso.”

Free practice takes place today (Friday) with qualifying tomorrow. The race starts at 5am on Sunday morning.

F1 2015 season calendar: March 15, Australia; March 29, Malaysia; April 12, China; April 19, Bahrain; May 10, Spain; May 24, Monaco; June 7, Canada; June 21, Austria; July 5, Britain; July 19, Germany; July 26, Hungary; August 23, Belgium; September 6, Italy; September 20, Singapore; September 27, Japan; October 11, Russia; October 25, USA; November 1, Mexico; November 15, Brazil; November 29, Abu Dhabi.