It is a good year for British fans in Formula 1 with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button both in competitive cars and Max Chilton looking to be rather closer to the midfield than was the case last year.
Missing from the fun this year is Paul di Resta, the Scotsman who did a good solid job with Force India but lost out to more moneyed drivers for a seat. He is back in DTM, from whence he came.
I am not quite sure of the status of Sam Bird, the Mercedes AMG Petronas test driver in 2013. The team does not currently list any test drivers and Bird was not to be seen in Australia (or at least I didn’t see him).
Force India reserve driver James Calado also seems to have dropped out of F1, although it is still worth keeping an eye on the 24-year-old from the Vale of Evesham. It will soon be announced that Calado has been taken on by Ferrari, to be one of its factory drivers in the World Endurance Championship. This will make him the first British Ferrari factory driver since the days of Eddie Irvine.
Admittedly, the WEC team is not F1, but if James is quick in sports cars you can be quite sure that the folk in Gestione Sportiva will keep an eye on him and maybe even give him a chance to show his skills in an F1 simulator. The team currently uses veterans Marc Gene (39) and Pedro de la Rosa (43), along with Davide Rigon (27) and it probably needs to look at some options for the future.
Ferrari does have a young driver programme which features Jules Bianchi (24), Raffaele Marciello (19 and in GP2), Antonio Fuoco (17 and in European Formula 3) and 15-year-old Canadian Lance Stroll, who will race Formula 4 this year, so things are pretty crowded, but the team has shown that it is happy to axe youngsters if they are not quick enough for their expectations.
This year is going to be interesting for Ferrari as Fernando Alonso and Kimi Räikkönen will be fighting it out to be top dog. Neither is a spring chicken and there have been a load of rumours suggesting that Alonso wants to move elsewhere. Kimi is still quick but he needs to beat Fernando a few times in the next few races to get Ferrari’s attention.
The team has long planned to move Bianchi up the ladder if he is good enough but he has not dominated Max Chilton as much as one would have expected at Marussia.