2015 Formula One season
|2015 FIA Formula One
GP2 Series · GP3 Series
The 2015 Formula One season is the 66th season of the Formula One World Championship, a motor racing championship for Formula One cars which is recognised by the sport's governing body, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), as the highest class of competition for open-wheel racing cars. Twenty drivers representing ten teams are scheduled to contest each of nineteen Grands Prix, starting in Australia on 15 March and ending in Abu Dhabi on 29 November as they compete for the World Drivers' and World Constructors' Championships.
Lewis Hamilton is the defending Drivers' Champion after securing his second title at the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. His team, Mercedes, began the season as the defending Constructors' Champion, having secured its first championship title at the 2014 Russian Grand Prix.
After two races, Hamilton leads the Drivers' championship standings by three points from Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, with Nico Rosberg in third. Mercedes lead the Constructors' standings ahead of Ferrari and Williams.
- 1 Signed teams and drivers
- 2 Season calendar
- 3 Regulation changes
- 4 Season report
- 5 Results and standings
- 6 Footnotes
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Signed teams and drivers
- Honda returned to Formula One as an engine supplier, providing McLaren with a V6 engine and Energy Recovery System package, ending the team's 20-year partnership with Mercedes-Benz. Honda had previously supplied McLaren from 1988 until 1992, when they ended their involvement in Formula One. Honda returned to the sport in 2000, again as an engine supplier, providing British American Racing and Jordan Grand Prix with engines until they purchased the former in 2006 and competed as a constructor until 2008.
- Lotus changed engine suppliers, ending their association with Renault in favour of a deal with Mercedes. This ended a 20 year involvement of Renault with the Enstone based team, after being an engine supplier to Benetton since 1995, and being the owner of the team from 2002 to 2010.
- Following the 2014 Russian Grand Prix, Marussia went into administration, missing the final three races of the 2014 season. In November 2014, administrators announced that the Marussia team would cease trading and close down, but the team was saved from liquidation in February 2015 when new investment was secured and the team left administration after an agreement with creditors was reached. The team re-entered as Manor Marussia.
- The assets of the Caterham team were scheduled for auction by the company's administrators beginning just days before the opening round of the season, and the team was not included on the final entry list published ahead of the opening race.
- Fernando Alonso will replace Kevin Magnussen at McLaren, returning to the team seven years after he last raced for them. Following an accident during pre-season testing, Alonso withdrew from the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, and Magnussen was named as his temporary replacement.
- Sebastian Vettel left Red Bull Racing at the end of the 2014 season after fifteen years with the team and its wider junior development programme to join Ferrari in the place of Alonso. Daniil Kvyat was promoted to Red Bull from Toro Rosso to fill the seat vacated by Vettel.
- With Kvyat joining Red Bull and Jean-Éric Vergne leaving the team to become a Ferrari development driver, Toro Rosso overhauled their lineup. The team signed reigning Formula Renault 3.5 Series champion Carlos Sainz Jr., and European Formula Three third place finisher Max Verstappen, who became the youngest driver to make his Formula One début at the age of 17 years, 164 days when he started the 2015 season.
- Esteban Gutiérrez and Adrian Sutil were released from Sauber, where they were replaced by Caterham's Marcus Ericsson and GP2 driver Felipe Nasr. Gutiérrez and Sutil went on to join Ferrari and Williams respectively as reserve drivers.
- Manor F1 hired former Caterham driver Will Stevens to drive for his first full season in the sport, while former Caterham test driver Roberto Merhi was signed to a short-term deal. Former Marussia drivers Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi relinquished their seats, with Chilton joining Nissan Motorsports in the FIA World Endurance Championship, while Bianchi remained in an indefinite coma as a result of a brain injury suffered in an accident at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.
- Kamui Kobayashi left Caterham to race in the Super Formula series in Japan.
The following nineteen Grands Prix are currently scheduled to take place in 2015.
- The Mexican Grand Prix is scheduled to return to the Formula One calendar for the first time since 1992. The race is to be held at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez circuit located in the centre of Mexico City, which also was the location of all of the Mexican Grands Prix in previous decades. The circuit will be substantially reconfigured to accommodate the sport's return.
Failed race bids
- The Grand Prix of America, originally aimed for a debut in 2013 at the Port Imperial Street Circuit in New Jersey, was again delayed for a third straight year.
- The German Grand Prix was set to return to the Nürburgring, in accordance with the event-sharing agreement established between the Nürburgring and the Hockenheimring in 2008. The Nürburgring had previously hosted the race in 2013 and so was scheduled to host it again in 2015, but the venue was left off the provisional calendar, leaving the event-sharing agreement at a stalemate. With both venues unwilling to host the event, the race was ultimately cancelled, leaving the country off the Grand Prix calendar for the first time since 1960.
- The Indian Grand Prix was cancelled for the second consecutive year following tax disputes between the FIA and the Uttar Pradesh government.
- The Korean Grand Prix was scheduled to return to the Formula One calendar after being removed in 2014, but the plan was ultimately abandoned.
- The number of power units that a driver may use in a season will be reduced from five in 2014 to four in 2015.
- The rules regarding engine development that were introduced in 2014 were changed, with the manufacturers allowed to perform half the development permitted in 2014; the development will be halved again in 2016.
- Following the backlash over "ugly" nose designs in 2014, the FIA moved to amend the rules surrounding nose designs for the 2015 season. Noses are now lower than in 2014, retaining a minimum cross section, but they must taper to a point at a fixed linear rate, effectively outlawing the dramatic finger shapes seen in 2014 in favour of a more gradual shape. Furthermore, the design of the nose must be symmetrical and consistent with the centreline of the car, thereby banning the more exotic designs, such as the "twin-tusk" approach used by Lotus on the E22 chassis.
- The minimum weight of the cars at all times during an event was increased to 702 kilograms (1,548 lb), an increase of 10 kilograms (22 lb) from 2014.
- The ban on Front-and-Rear Interconnected suspension systems (FRIC) implemented in the middle of the 2014 season was formalised, with the regulations stating that the front and rear suspension must be designed in such a way that any change in performance must be a direct result of a change in load applied solely to them.
- The anti-intrusion panels on both sides of the survival cell have been extended upwards to the rim of the cockpit and alongside the driver's head.
- Following the financial struggles faced by Marussia and Caterham in 2014, the FIA approved the use of 2014-specification chassis in 2015 provided that teams showed cause and received an individual dispensation to compete with their old chassis. However a request by Manor F1 to use their 2014 car was later rejected by the other teams. Subsequent regulation changes allowed the team to use a modified 2014 chassis which meets current safety and dimensional limits. The car is powered by a 2014 specification Ferrari power unit, with a new chassis to be introduced later in the season.
- The replacement of a complete power unit no longer results in a penalty. Penalties continue to be applied cumulatively for individual components of the power unit, and if such a grid place penalty is imposed and the driver's grid position is such that it cannot be applied in full, the remainder of the penalty is no longer carried over to the next race, but is instead applied in the form of a time penalty during the race corresponding to the number of grid spaces remaining in the penalty.
- In addition to the existing five-second penalty that may be served during a driver's scheduled pit stop, a new ten-second penalty that has to be served in the same manner, was introduced.
- If a car is deemed to have been released from its pit stop in an unsafe manner, the driver receives a ten second stop-and-go penalty. Further penalties are applied if the stewards believe that the driver is aware of this and attempts to drive the car regardless.
- The qualifying procedure has been further clarified to cater to different sizes of starting grids: if twenty-four cars are entered for the race, seven are eliminated after the each of the first two qualifying segments; if twenty-two are entered, six are eliminated after each qualifying segment and so on if fewer cars are eligible.
- Double points will no longer be awarded at the final event of the championship.
- In light of a regulation introduced in 2014 dictating that a race can not run for more than four hours and following recommendations from the report into Jules Bianchi's accident the previous season, the start times of five Grands Prix have been moved one hour earlier, so that races do not start with less than four hours until dusk. Thus, the Australian, Malaysia, Chinese, Japanese and Russian Grands Prix will start an hour earlier than in 2014.
- In the aftermath of Bianchi's accident, a new procedure called Virtual Safety Car (VSC) was introduced following trials during the last three Grands Prix of 2014. The procedure may be initiated when double waved yellow flags are needed on any section of a circuit where competitors and officials may be in danger, but the circumstances are not as such to warrant deployment of the actual safety car. It obliges drivers to reduce their speed to match the one indicated on their displays on their steering wheels.
- The safety car procedure was amended. Once the last lapped car has passed the leader, the safety car returns to the pits at the end of the following lap. This is a change of the previous practice which required the unlapped cars to have caught up with the back of the pack before the safety car could return to the pits.
- If a race is suspended (red-flagged), the cars no longer line up on the grid but instead slowly proceed to the pit lane. Pit exit is closed and the first car to arrive in the pit lane proceeds to the exit with the others lining up behind in the order in which they arrive, regardless of race standing or garage location. Severe circumstances may still require cars to stop immediately on track.
- If any team personnel or team equipment remain on the grid after the fifteen-second signal has been shown before the start of the formation lap, the driver of the car concerned must start the race from the pit lane. If the driver concerned fails to obey this, they receive a ten second stop-and-go penalty.
- Drivers are no longer permitted to change the design of their helmet in-season.
- A new model of safety car was introduced, with the Mercedes-AMG GT replacing the Mercedes-Benz SLS that was brought into service in 2010.
Sauber's early season preparations were disrupted by a series of legal challenges from former Caterham driver Giedo van der Garde, who claimed that the team had reneged on a contract to race that was signed in June 2014. Van der Garde filed a motion with the Supreme Court of Victoria in Australia in an effort to force the team to replace one of their drivers with him at the opening round in Melbourne, with the court finding in his favour. Van der Garde later agreed to not participate in the event, with the driver and team settling the dispute for an undisclosed sum to terminate the contract following the first round.
McLaren's Fernando Alonso was involved in a pre-season testing accident that saw the two-time World Drivers' Champion hospitalised. McLaren claimed the crash was caused by a sudden gust of wind disrupting the car's downforce, while Alonso insisted the crash was caused by his steering wheel locking up. On doctor's advice, Alonso elected to sit out the opening round in Australia, prompting the team to replace him with Kevin Magnussen for the race. Alonso was ultimately cleared to race by the second round in Malaysia.
Mercedes hit the ground running with a 1-2 finish, resulting in a twenty-eight point lead after just one round, finishing over 30 seconds clear of third place driver Sebastian Vettel, who secured a podium in his first race with Ferrari. Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo finished a lap down in sixth, prompting the team to continue to press their frustrations with Renault, as they were forced to use its second of four allotted power units for Ricciardo on the very first day of the season. The team also voiced its displeasure over the progress Renault has made in terms of power, with team principal Christian Horner stating that the Energy F1-2015 is still 100 horsepower (75 kW) down on Mercedes' PU106B Hybrid. After the race, Red Bull team advisor Helmut Marko suggested that Red Bull may exit Formula One entirely if changes to the regulations are not made to level the field or cut development costs. Renault countered with their own threat to pull out of Formula One as an engine supplier if its reputation continues to be damaged or is otherwise not profitable to the company. Mercedes followed up by finishing second and third in Malaysia, while Red Bull continued to struggle, rounding out the top ten a lap down.
With McLaren's longest continuous testing session lasting twelve laps in Barcelona—a total of 56 kilometres (35 mi), a sixth of a total Grand Prix distance—before running into engine trouble, Honda elected to detune the power units for the opening Grands Prix in an effort to improve reliability and longevity while the manufacturer worked to improve these areas before homologation. Both cars qualified on the back row, and in the race Kevin Magnussen failed to reach the grid after suffering an abrupt engine failure, while Jenson Button managed to finish the race, albeit two laps behind the leaders in the last classified position. Alonso took over for Magnussen in Malaysia, however both cars qualified ahead of only the Marussias and eventually retired.
Following a tumultuous pre-season in which they went through a period of administration and were saved by late investment, Manor Marussia arrived in Melbourne with a car that had passed its mandatory crash tests, but had completed no testing. However, it was discovered that after arrival in Australia and while assembling the cars, their computers had been wiped completely clean of all data in preparation for auction. Despite the team's efforts, they were unable to solve the oversight and could not participate in the Grand Prix. The team managed to get the car running and on the racetrack by the second round in Malaysia and were able to set times within 107% of the leading times in practice, giving stewards reasonable grounds to allow the team to race when they failed to do so in qualifying. Merhi was able to finish the race three laps down in 15th, while Stevens did not start.
Ferrari came into the season seemingly much more competitive, finishing on the podium in the opening race. Returning driver Kimi Räikkönen stated that the SF15-T is "much better" to drive than last year's F14 T. With Vettel winning comfortably and Räikkönen finishing in fourth despite suffering a tyre failure in Malaysia, Ferrari began to show that Mercedes dominance would not come easily this season.
Results and standings
World Drivers' Championship standings
Points are awarded to the top ten classified finishers using the following structure:
In the event of a tie, a count-back system is used as a tie-breaker, with a driver's best result used to decide the standings.[N 1]
- † – Drivers did not finish the Grand Prix, but were classified as they completed more than 90% of the race distance.
World Constructors' Championship standings
Bold – Pole position
- † – Drivers did not finish the Grand Prix, but were classified as they completed more than 90% of the race distance.
- In the event that two or more drivers achieved the same result an equal number of times, their next-best result was used. Should two or more drivers achieve equal results an equal number of times, the standings were settled in favour of the driver who was the first to achieve their best result.
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"For sure it's much better than what we had last year," Raikkonen said.