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Interview: Sky Sports F1 pundit Johnny Herbert previews the 2015 F1 season

12th March 2015

Johnny Herbert, former F1 driver and Sky Sports Pundit, gives Sports4Bars the lowdown on the upcoming 2015 F1 season which begins this weekend in Australia

Q: Will a hat-trick of titles be an achievable aim for Hamilton this season?
We know Hamilton has always looked up to Ayrton Senna and Senna won the title three times, so he will desperately want to emulate that. To my mind, Hamilton is one of the fastest and rawest drivers out there.

Last season he dominated with that car to win the title, but he will not be happy unless he gets three. I think he has still got the advantage but he knows he can’t rest on his laurels, especially with [teammate Nico] Rosberg snapping at his heels.

"I was surprised by how good Rosberg was last year and he gave Hamilton a run for his money, but in the end he was beaten by the fastest man on the track. But Hamilton needs to be aware of Rosberg again this season, and he will be. I think Hamilton will be hungrier this year. In the past he missed out on winning the title on a few occasions, and deserved more when he was at McLaren. And it seems that with all those ingredients – the hunger, his dad always wanting him to achieve more and matching Senna’s record – it means the stars are in alignment for him to lift that third title he desires so much.”

Q: Who are the drivers to watch this season?
“Max Verstappen, a motor racing prodigy, securing 10 victories and 16 podiums in F3, his talent caught the eye of Toro Rosso. He showed maturity in the pre-season testing and could make a real name for himself this season.

“Nico Rosberg, has gone better than many would have imagined in his first season at Mercedes. He will be on the tail of teammate Lewis Hamilton from the off and could cause some upsets.

“Having left Red Bull for Ferrari, four-time world champion, Sebastian Vettel, could be revitalised with a new car and team. After disappointing last season, we could see a return to the title-winning Vettel of old.

“With a new contract and a new McLaren-Honda partnership resulting in a new car, Jensen Button could put a torrid 2014 behind him and realise the potential both him and his team have.”

Q: What are the highlights fans should look out for this season?
“With the FIA accepting that it must allow manufactures freedom to improve their power units during the 2015 season, lifting the power unit freeze will be a good thing for the season as it is going to make the competition better.

”You always want to see a battle on the track and although last year we did see Daniel Ricciardo winning races for Red Bull ahead of the pack, Mercedes did dominate.

“It’s still early days and a lot can change but there are good signs so far. Already it looks as if Ferrari are going to be better than they were last season. They have two ex-world champions driving for them and I think we’re going to see Sebastian Vettel rejuvenated."

Q: Will McLaren be rejuvenated as a result of the reformed McLaren-Honda Partnership?
“It’s still early days with the Honda power unit but from what we saw in Jerez, they are not as prepared as I would have expected them to be. My prediction is they will get better as the season goes on.

Jensen Button could have a more positive 2015 campaign after his torrid time last season. Despite McLaren taking quite a bit of time to decide to sign him up for another season, he seems motivated, and it’s good for British fans."

Q: How do you think this season's three rookie drivers will fare?
“Nasr looked very good for Sauber and I think that he and Marcus Ericsson will do well and score those all-important points for Sauber that eluded them last year.

“Toro Rosso have the youngest driver pairing in F1 history with Verstappen and Sainz Jr, yet they have shown remarkable maturity so far. They will be very interesting to watch as young drivers today seem to be much more mentally and physically prepared than when I was a debutant back in 1989.”

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