Will Gray

  • Team by team previews: Mercedes

    Mercedes boast a 'dream team' of technical chiefsMercedes stepped into F1 by buying world champion team BrawnGP in 2009, but after two seasons they are still chasing their first victory. Have they finally got what it takes to step up this season?

    Mercedes suffered a big disappointment last year when their W02 machine failed to keep up with the lead pack despite the team having committed more development time to it at the end of 2010 than their rivals had on their cars.

    They had to deal with a serious threat from Renault in the early part of the season and did so strongly in the second half of the year, but after treading water in a distant

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  • Team by team previews: Lotus

    Raikkonen can drive development at LotusThe rebranded Renault team is looking to bounce back strongly from a tough end to the year in 2011 — so with a top-line driver and a car that looks tidy, fast and reliable, what can they hope to achieve?

    The target for 2012 will be to retain fifth place but after some promising testing form (despite a major setback which cost them crucial running) several factors suggest those aspirations could be raised higher.


    Last year, this team was missing a front-line driver after Robert Kubica suffered a rally accident before the season began. The loss of his technical feedback and his driving

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  • Team by team previews: Marussia

    The team formerly known as Virgin enters a new era as Marussia this year — but it's the same old story as pre-season problems leave them still firmly at the back of the pack.

    After two years attempting to make an F1 car using only computer simulation and design, former technical director Nick Wirth's unique technique was dismissed, along with his consultancy company, in favour of the traditional wind tunnel testing route.

    So now they are following the same design approach as the rest of the grid, how far can the new regime and philosophy take them?


    The arrival of extremely

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  • Team by team previews: HRT

    After a turbulent winter of big changes, HRT is another team in transition — and having finished ahead of Virgin last year it will be tough for the Spanish squad to hold onto that spot this time.

    The departure of two key figures - team principal Colin Kolles and technical director Geoff Willis — is a significant loss as both are extremely experienced and Kolles' schooling at Jordan and Midland gave him a real strength in getting the most out of a frugal budget.

    New team principal, former driver Luis Perez Sala, is a rookie taking the reins and he has already admitted that 2012 started with

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  • Team by team previews: Williams

    Will changes at Williams result in success?It's all change at Williams this year — but after a disastrous 2011 in which they posted their worst-ever championship finish will those changes be enough for them to make a quick comeback?

    The team's ninth-place finish in the constructors' championship last year, with just five points, was the low point so far in a now long-running downwards spiral for the former world champions.

    The form of 2003, when they were a championship runners-up with the might of BMW heavily supporting their campaign, are long gone and their name is now only mentioned alongside the likes of McLaren and Ferrari in the

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  • Team by team previews: Sauber

    The Sauber challenger again flatters to deceiveThis is the second successive season that Sauber have set table-topping testing times — but with that likely to have been a glory run again, it looks set to be another season of hard graft for the Swiss minnows.

    Last year's Sauber looked like a dark horse when it fired to the top of the testing times but in Australia it soon became clear that this was a low-fuel run to put their name in the headlines rather than a genuine demonstration of their actual potential.

    This year, the team has had similar testing success and once again it is highly likely the outcome in Australia will follow the

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  • Team by team previews: Force India

    After finishing four points short of fifth last year, Force India have a tough target to beat this season — and even some of the team's top bosses admit it will need to dig deep to step up.

    This is the fifth year the team that began life as Jordan Grand Prix has run as Force India and after a tough time in the early days they have been improving steadily in the last three seasons.

    In 2009, the team had a car that was very strong on fast tracks, allowing them to take pole position and finish second at Spa. In 2010, they found consistency in the slower tracks too, and finished seventh in the

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  • Team by team previews: Toro Rosso

    The unceremonious dumping of Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi made for some teeth-grinding headlines over the winter but it's fair to say that while both were reasonably consistent neither demonstrated signs of being a fledgling Sebastian Vettel.

    In their place this year France's Jean-Eric Vergne and Aussie Daniel Ricciardo represent Red Bull's next set of junior drivers — and they are so closely matched and so determined that, providing a strong car development plan is in place, the team is expecting better things.


    Vergne is an exciting prospect and having spent the whole of
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  • Team by team previews: Caterham

    After two building years, this is the season that Caterham (previously Lotus) must finally attach themselves to the back of the midfield pack — but the chances of doing so are still under review.

    The first car out the box this season, Caterham's new car launch was clearly trying to make the point that the team are more organised, more professional and more ambitious about their campaign than ever before.

    They talked it up last year, however, and fall well short of Mike Gascoyne's ambitious aims of leading the midfield come season end.

    So is there anything to suggest this time will be a

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  • Gray Matter: Lessons from testing

    Sauber hit the top of the timesheets last week in Barcelona but nobody really believes they will be front-runners when the real racing begins - so is there really anything we can read into testing outcomes?

    In the eight days of pre-season running so far, six different teams have finished at the top of the times — Red Bull, Ferrari, Renault, Force India, Williams and Sauber.

    In reality, times mean little in this period because, in the same way as Grand Prix practice sessions often see unusual table toppers as teams concentrate on different programmes, testing sees the same situation but with

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