The final part of our ‘TCF Picks’ series sees our team of writers at TheCheckeredFlag.co.uk take a step back from reviewing the 2014 season to look ahead and pinpoint what we’re looking forward to most in the world of motorsport in 2015.
Louis Suddaby: World Superbike Battle of the Brits
Tom Sykes’ quest to regain the World Superbike crown is sure to be one of the stories of 2015, especially given the controversy and animosity that surrounded the 2014 championship decider in Qatar. Much like that weekend, one thing Sykes will not be able to count on this season is assistance from his teammate.
After a decade of tremendous loyalty to Honda, Jonathan Rea has finally moved on to a fresh challenge with Kawasaki and alongside Sykes, forms what is surely the strongest rider line-up in the SBK paddock. Having spent five years with Kawasaki, Sykes will start as slight favourite within Kawasaki but for me, Rea is the best pound-for-pound rider in the championship and is certain to give him a serious run for his money.
Sylvain Guintoli is sure to be a contender as he defends his title with PATA Honda but in my view, whoever emerges on top at Kawasaki is likely to be the 2015 champion.
Aaron Rook: Mclaren-Honda
It took a long wait, but we finally found out that Jenson Button will be driving for the new look Mclaren in 2015. His team-mate? Only double World Champion Fernando Alonso.
It’s not only the new Honda partnership that we should be looking out for, it’s also the return of Señor Alonso. Alonso left Mclaren after a troublesome 2007 season, so seeing how he will cope with Ron Dennis and the challenge of beating Jenson will be very interesting indeed.
Nick Smith: Bentley Steps Up A Gear
Bentley’s return to motorsport moves up a level this year with the continuation of their programmes in Pirelli World Series thanks to Drayson Racing and Blancpain with M-Sport. To that already impressive GT3 itinerary there are two very exciting additions to the package for next year.
The first new effort will be the arrival of the Continental GT3 in Australia as Maranello Motorsport take their new car to ‘the Mountain’ for the first time. It will be very impressive watching a car that size through the Chase and Elbow. Then there is the return of Bentley Motorsport for the first time since the Speed 8 won at Le Mans. Bentley are headed to the Ring for the 24 hours. What’s not to like?
James Broomhead: Nissan Join LMP1 Mix
I’m going to say it. 2014 was not a vintage year for the World Endurance Championship. I’m sorry, but multi-class racing needs every class to be competitive to be at its best and all too often some of the lower classes let the series down. LMP1-H was consistently superb, however, with all three of the manufacturers fighting with each other and – just to prove the equality in the class – all three claiming race wins during the season.
Next year Nissan will step into the fray, promising a fresh approach to the class. If the Japanese brand can arrive with the same pace as Porsche did for 2014, then the premier class of the WEC will only improve. Hopefully the lower classes can step up to bring the championship back to its best.
Simon Paice: A New Beginning
The introduction of MSA Formula is arguably the biggest championship launch in the UK in decades, bringing with it FIA backing, an end to British Formula Ford and entries from single-seater powerhouses Carlin, Arden and Fortec.
A capacity 32 car grid is expected, featuring a number of bright young driving talents including world karting champions Lando Norris and Enaam Ahmed, and it’s sure to be a fascinating, must-watch season of single-seater competition on the BTCC package.
Joe Hudson: Nissan’s LMP1 Le Mans Return
Nissan return to LMP1 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and with four manufacturers set to be battling for overall glory in the hybrid powered category, expect competition to be fierce. In a way it is Europe v Asia and Germany v Japan so not only will it be a battle for racing glory but also national pride as the Japanese, especially Toyota, will be wanting to show that their dominance in the six hour races can be matched in the 24 hour showpiece.
Tom Errington: Formula E Grows
Formula E has proven itself as a capable series of motorsport and with the likes of Jean Eric Vergne having appeared in the season, it’ll be interesting to see whether Formula E can continue to make strides forward in its debut season. On top of that, there’s the questions of what changes will occur on the way to the second season as there will be greater scope for development.
Dan Mason: Musical Chairs
It’ll be tough getting used to seeing people in each other’s cars for this season, particularly with Sebastian Vettel in one of Maranello’s finest as Ferrari aim to stop their lengthy rot. McLaren bring back Honda power and nostalgia, as well as combine an enviable driver pairing of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button which will start the 2015 season as the prime talking point.
Will Red Bull challenge further? Will Mercedes be even more dominant? Quite how will the Formula 1 paddock pull itself together following the fold of two teams in Caterham and Marussia?
Similarly will be the case in MotoGP, with rider switches aplenty down the grid, while the new BTCC season has already been shaken up massively with some big names still to find drives.
Intriguing is the word to describe the situations, making it all more exciting to look forward to.
Paul Hensby: GP2 Title Scrap
The potential line-up for the eleventh edition of the GP2 Series is making the series the one to watch in 2015, especially if all the rumours of drivers come true.
McLaren test driver Stoffel Vandoorne, Ferrari Driver Academy driver Raffaele Marciello, GP3 Series champion Alex Lynn, and his fellow Red Bull Junior Pierre Gasly are all set to battle it out for the title, with Mark Webber protégé Mitch Evans and Frenchman Arthur Pic also set to join in the fight to follow in Jolyon Palmer’s footsteps to be GP2 Series champion.
And we still do not know where Lotus F1 Junior and 2014 FIA European Formula 3 Champion Esteban Ocon will be, nor the talented duo of Dean Stoneman and Marvin Kirchhofer! Its exciting times in the junior categories!
Matt Bristow: RX Lites
Given its inaugural year as a one make support class for the World Rallycross, it had a lot to live up to and it certainly didn’t disappoint. With the level playing field of the cars it was all down to driver ability and talent, which led for some great door to door racing that is sure to be replicated in 2015.
Joe Diamond: Rise of the WEC Prototypes
It’s no exaggeration to announce that the World Endurance Championship is entering into a golden era of existence, with Porsche, Audi and Toyota once again returning to battle it out for title glory and outright bragging rights at Le Mans in June. What’s more, Nissan are entering the fray after 15 years away from LMP1, as is Nico Hulkenberg, who makes his debut in the series, dovetailing his commitments with Force India; all of which points to one of the strongest fields sportscar racing has seen in recent memory.
Lee Bonham: Some Exciting Formulas
Formula E has produced three absolutely stunning races in its debut season and the product has been refined race on race. It is still dismissed by far too many fans and how it fairs in Europe will be fascinating.
The TOCA support package is also looking tremendous for next year with every series expecting an increase in entries. One of those series is MSA Formula, which represents a new dawn in UK single-seater competition. A new dawn I cannot wait for.
Jake Handley: Bumper BTCC Package
After a bumper year the BTCC is looking set for a thrilling 2015, with a new manufacturer, Inifinti, already confirmed along with the returning new-look MG team and West Surrey Racing with Sam Tordoff and Andy Priaulx, the season is already looking to be spectacular.
Another mouth-watering prospect is the likes of Adam Morgan, Aiden Moffat and Aron Smith all returning to the series, the former two in Ciceley Racing-built Mercedes A Class’s, as well as smaller privateer teams like Handy Motorsport and Welch Motorsport also returning to the grid.
Not forgetting the TOCA Support series’, the Porsche Carrera Cup looks set to have a bumper grid, with the series also going to Spa to support the WEC, whilst the Renault Clio Cup is also looking to be the place to be in 2015 with the likes of Team HARD and Team BMR joining.
Pete Allen: The Next British Stars
Britain celebrated titles in GP2 and GP3 in 2014, but there were perhaps even more exciting home-grown prospects further down the ladder. George Russell and Ben Barnicoat enjoyed great first seasons in single-seaters, winning the BRDC F4 and Formula Renault 2.0 NEC titles respectively. For 2015, Russell is poised to make the step up to the FIA F3 European Championship, while Barnicoat will launch a title assault in the highly competitive Eurocup.
Britain also celebrated world karting titles at senior and junior level courtesy of Lando Norris and Enaam Ahmed and in 2015 the pair, who will both only be 15, will go up against each other in the brand new MSA Formula series. The new FIA F4-rules championship would have been worth keeping an eye on regardless, but there could hardly be a better way for it to start than with these two future stars.
That’s the end of our series reviewing the 2014 season and looking ahead to what promises to be a superb 2015 of motorsport. If you missed any of the previous instalments of TCF Picks, click here to view them all.
Let us know your thoughts on Twitter @thecheckerflag with #TCFPicks.