The big questions have yet to be answered as the new Formula One seasons bursts into life in Melbourne this weekend. Who will, when the time comes, replace Bernie Ecclestone as the sport’s most senior executive? Do CVC Capital Partners, the sport’s majority shareholder, actually have a gameplan? And how on earth does the sport untangle itself from the financial knots, which saw one team go out of business last year, another come perilously close and at least three others openly questioning Formula One’s iniquitous distribution of prize money?
The circus will be set up again in Australia, the first of 20 races on a 2015 calendar which includes the return of the Mexican Grand Prix after 23 years, with no shortage of problems to solve. And yet, despite the financial issues, the teams’ inability to agree on anything and its chronic lack of centralised marketing and promotion, there is much for Formula One to shout about: the sport’s biggest global star is the defending world champion; there’s a new star in scarlet, as Sebastian Vettel tries to emulate his hero Michael Schumacher by dragging Ferrari from the doldrums; a 17-year old boy racer is about to make a record-breaking debut; and Honda and McLaren are reviving one of Grand Prix racing’s most evocative partnerships.
And it says much about the inherent strength of Formula One – its global appeal, its value as a tool for marketing and as a showcase for technology – that even after the toughest and most uncertain of winters, Epson, Qualcomm, Estrella, BT and former Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King have all decided to get involved.
On the eve of the opening race of the season, here’s SportsPro’s commercial guide to the ten teams who will be on the grid this year.