2015 Formula One season
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"F1 2015" redirects here. For the video game based on the 2015 Formula One season, see F1 2015 (video game).
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-two drivers representing ten teams are contesting nineteen scheduled 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.
The calendar featured two significant changes; the first being the return of the Mexican Grand Prix, held for the first time since 1992, while the German Grand Prix was ultimately scrapped after a venue could not be secured, leaving the nation without a World Championship event for the first time in fifty-five years.
Hamilton secured his third Drivers' Championship with three races left in the season. He leads Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel by seventy-six points, with Hamilton's team-mate Nico Rosberg a further four points behind in third. Mercedes clinched the 2015 Constructors' title at the Russian Grand Prix, ahead of Ferrari and Williams. Hamilton has already secured the FIA Pole Trophy, having amassed eleven pole positions thus far in the season.
^‡ – Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi were entered for the first round in Australia, but although both they and Marussia were present, they did not compete as the team were unable to complete their cars in time for the event.
Nations that will host a Grand Prix in 2015 are highlighted in green, with circuit locations marked in black. Former host nations are shown in dark grey, and former host circuits are marked with a white dot.
The following nineteen Grands Prix are scheduled to take place in 2015.
Failed race bids
Sparks returned in 2015 due to titanium skid blocks attached to the underside of the cars.
Before the start of the season, Hamilton announced he would not be exercising his option of switching his car number to 1 for 2015, as was his prerogative as reigning World Champion, and would instead race with his career number 44. It was the first season since 1994, when Alain Prost retired from the sport following his fourth and final World Drivers' Championship title in 1993, that the field did not contain a number 1 car.
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 Marussia 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 met updated 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. However, following the twelfth round, Manor Marussia elected to abandon those plans in favor of developing the car for the following season.
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 began the season with a 1–2 finish in Australia, 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's 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. By the end of the flyaway rounds, Mercedes led the field, having earned 159 points (with Lewis Hamilton acquiring 93 out of 100 possible points), while Red Bull's struggles endured. The team acquired 26 points, enough for a distant fourth, and Ricciardo entered the European stages of the season on his fourth and final permissible power unit with fifteen events remaining on the calendar.
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. Magnussen relinquished his seat back to Alonso in Malaysia, however both cars qualified ahead of only the Manor Marussias and eventually retired. The team showed signs of improvement in terms of performance, able to compete with the midfield cars in China and Bahrain, although reliability continued to prove troublesome as Button's car was unable to compete in the latter Grand Prix.
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 compete in the Grand Prix. The team managed to get their cars 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. Manor Marussia continued to show signs of consistency, with both cars qualifying within 107%, starting, and finishing both Grands Prix in China and Bahrain. They were one of two teams, the other being McLaren, to return to Europe without a championship point.
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. In Malaysia, Vettel won comfortably and Räikkönen finished in fourth despite suffering a tyre failure. They followed this up with a 3–4 finish in China and Räikkönen securing his first podium appearance in Bahrain since rejoining Ferrari the previous season. With 107 points, the team returned to Europe fifty-two points behind Mercedes, and forty-six points ahead of third place Williams.
European and Canadian rounds
Mercedes arrived at Spain already with a comfortable lead, having amassed a fifty-two point cushion over Ferrari after the first four races. Lewis Hamilton entered having left only 7 points out of a possible 100 on the table, giving him a twenty-seven point lead over teammate Nico Rosberg entering the eight-race European portion of the season.
Rosberg quickly cut into Hamilton's championship lead by securing victories in Spain (reducing his deficit to twenty points) and Monaco. The latter win was aided by the result of a costly miscalculation by the Mercedes team to pit Hamilton with a 19-second lead during a safety car period (that briefly saw the use of the "Virtual Safety Car" for the first time in F1's history) with 14 laps remaining. Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel did not pit, allowing both to narrowly pass Hamilton by the pit exit lane. Racing resumed on lap 71 and Rosberg quickly pulled away, remaining in the lead till the chequered flag. Vettel held off Hamilton for second and third, respectively. As a result, Hamilton's lead over Rosberg in the Drivers' Championship was cut in half, to just ten points. Meanwhile, Button secured McLaren's first points of the season by finishing 8th. This left the Marussia drivers of Stevens and Merhi, along with fellow McLaren driver Fernando Alonso, as the only full-time drivers not to score a point after seven rounds.
At the following Grands Prix in Canada, Austria, and Britain, Mercedes put to rest the criticism following the result in Monaco with three successive 1–2 finishes, extending their championship lead to 160 points over Ferrari. Williams collected their first two podiums of the season in the form of a third-place results by Valtteri Bottas in Canada and Felipe Massa in Austria, while Ferrari lost ground to Mercedes following a retirement in Austria and an eighth-place finish in Britain by Räikkönen. Other power unit manufacturers continued to show their struggles, with Renault finishing in the top five only once, in Monaco, indicating their continued lack of power. Honda continued to have reliability issues and, through Britain, suffered nine retirements and two failure to starts due to power unit problems, translating to only seven overall finishes out of 18 possible results.
The Drivers' Championship remained closely contested between leader Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, with the gap between them never larger than 28 points after Hamilton's round-eleven victory in Belgium. The two would trade victories between rounds six and nine, closing the gap to as little as ten points. Sebastian Vettel, who at one time was within three points of the lead after his second-round victory in Malaysia and the only non-Mercedes winner after eleven rounds, could not overcome team miscues in Canada and Austria, and fell 59 points off the pace of Hamilton after round nine. He rebounded in Hungary by winning his second race of the season, reducing the gap to Hamilton to 42 points in the process, but fell out of a points-paying position in Belgium after a tyre failure on the penultimate lap, dropping him to 67 points behind the leader.
Hamilton closed out the European portion of the season with his seventh victory of the season in Italy. With Rosberg's retirement at the event, Hamilton entered the closing rounds of the season with a 53-point lead over his team-mate in the Drivers' Championship standings, the largest gap of the season at that point, while Vettel sat a further 21 points behind. Hamilton's tenth pole position in Belgium assured him the FIA Pole Trophy. Mercedes built up a 181-point lead over Ferrari in the Constructors' Championship, with Williams in third, 263 points behind the leaders. After twelve rounds, half of the teams have been represented on the podium, while nine of ten have scored points.
Asian, Russian, and American rounds
Shortly before the thirteenth round in Singapore, Manor Marussia announced that American GP2 driver Alexander Rossi would race for the team, replacing Merhi in five of the final seven rounds, while stating that Merhi would be retained for the remaining two. Vettel would claim his third victory of the season in Singapore, closing his gap to Nico Rosberg in second place to just eight points in the Drivers' Championship.
Rosberg could not close the gap to Hamilton in Japan or Russia; despite winning pole position in both races, his leads were short-lived. He was passed by Hamilton on the opening corner in Japan and retired on lap seven in Russia. Vettel capitalised on the results with a third-place and second-place finish, respectively, to take second place in the Drivers' Championship from Rosberg with four rounds remaining, while Hamilton extended his lead to 66 points, the highest lead he has held in the season. A victory in the United States, with Rosberg and Vettel finishing second and third respectively, secured the third Drivers' Championship for Hamilton with three races left to run.
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.
Lotus suffered financially throughout the season, culminating in Pirelli withholding their tyres for Friday's practice sessions in Hungary. Preceding the Belgian Grand Prix amid negotiations with Renault for a potential takeover, former Lotus reserve driver Charles Pic initiated legal action against Lotus alleging lack of seat time in 2014, resulting in breach of contract. Belgian authorities would later move to impound the assets of Lotus for four days following Grosjean's podium finish. The legal battle between Lotus and Pic has yet to be publicly resolved.
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