The answers are going to come thick and fast, so let’s get the questions ready.
Sebastian Vettel: The whole thing with his Ferrari relationship now he begins the season knowing the Scuderia is letting him go at the end of it and that his team mate is the chosen one. An emotional man at times and a proud one, Vettel will have no obvious reason to agree to be constrained by the team if it seeks to dampen his rivalry with Charles Leclerc. Can Vettel hold back the sands of time and how will this unique dynamic between spurned champion and passionate team play out?
Red Bull and Honda. Do they have a Mercedes-beater? Can they prevent a seventh straight brace of titles for the Silver Arrows? It didn’t look like it in testing, but there’s nothing definitive about that – and both the Red Bull and Honda sides of the equation seemed strangely bullish afterwards. What do they know? The newly Mercedes-like needle nose of the Red Bull signifies a significant tweak to its aero philosophy, targeting the one weak spot of a high-rake car – low speed downforce. Honda was on a steeper improvement curve than any of the other engine manufacturers last year and by the end of the season had as much race-day grunt as anyone. Has it been able to continue on that curve? And how will Mercedes HPP, the engine half of the silver team, do without its inspirational leader Andy Cowell, who recently announced he will be leaving soon.
Can Ferrari fix its lack of straightline testing
Talking of engines, will Ferrari’s power advantage of the last couple of years simply evaporate under the latest blitz of technical directives, specifically the ones regarding fuel flow? Or will it simply find another way of achieving much the same thing? Ferrari, incidentally, is very interested to see whether the other technical directives regarding ERS deployment and oil burn will have any deleterious effects on any of the other engines. The new car has more downforce and a better balance than the old one, particularly through low-speed corners, but in testing it wasn’t getting down the straights very quickly. Let’s hope they can fix whatever’s wrong with it – because they’re stuck with it for two seasons now.