I've had a look back through some of the pre-season comments from last year and compared them to how the season panned out. It makes some interesting reading.
The new Williams car will be the first under the leadership of Paddy Lowe. So I'm expecting a good car, and we know it will have a great engine. But will they be able to develop it throughout the season, given the inexperience of their driver line-up?
Well my concerns about the inexperienced driver line-up struggling with development proved correct. But my expectations of Paddy Lowe's first car were a little wide of the mark! (Completely wrong!
Re: Force India
Force India (or whatever they will be called this year?) always work wonders with a small budget. But I fear they will be jumped by McLaren and Renault this year.
Although the final standings says I was right, the only reason McLaren finished above them was due to the fact Force India lost all their points mid-season. Yet again they worked wonders on a small budget.
Haas struggled last year as the season went on, but that was in part due to starting work on the 2018 car very early. Maybe they will reap the benefits of that this season.
I should have been bang-on with this one. They produced a fantastic car. But due to the antics of Grosjean they didn't reap the benefits. Not until the 9th race of the season did he score any points.
As for Sauber, last year their chassis wasn't bad (it never is) but they struggled because of year-old engines. That problem has been solved now. It looks like their management turmoils have been sorted, and they have new investment (although that may benefit next year more than this). They could spring a surprise or two.
Bang-on with this one. It was a great car. But sadly only in the hands of one driver though.
I'm also expecting a good inter-team battle. Ericsson MUST beat Leclerc or his F1 career is finished. But Leclerc has talent in abundance and I don't think he will struggle in the same way that Stroll did.
In term of a good inter-team battle - Completely wrong! Leclerc did show his class though.
One theory that was doing the rounds is that last season McLaren ran with a lot of downforce to make the cars look good in the corners, therefore making the chassis look good, knowing they could simply blame Honda for them being slow in the straight, when in actual fact it was the drag that was contributing to them being slow.
This year they can't do that. It should be a straight fight between them and Red Bull. This should be an interesting battle. Hopefully the late engine switch and the inevitable packaging compromise won't hinder them too much. It looks like they've abandoned the size zero philosophy they had with the Honda in the back.
It's looking like the battle between McLaren and Red Bull will be one of a number of interesting sub-plots this season.
Very wrong. And I guess the rumours were right.
Mercedes' approach this year is surprising and a little concerning.
Look at the season last year. It's fair to say that Ferrari threw it away as much as Mercedes won it. After the break Ferrari just imploded with reliability issues and Seb and his hotheadedness.
At the start of the season Ferrari clearly had the better all-round car. Mercedes had the 'Diva'. But neither car was optimized perfectly for the new regulations. Mercedes went for the long wheelbase, and most observers feel they went too long. And Ferrari went for the short wheelbase, and went too short. The optimum wheelbase was somewhere between the two.
This year Ferrari have lengthened their wheelbase. So straight away this gives them room for improvement, even if you don't see that straight away.
They introduced a new sidepod design last year, shorter with split intakes, which other teams have copied this year. All the proof you need that it works. And this year they've taken it a step further.
They've also incorporated the McLaren style front wing supports which are also being seen up and down the pitlane. And they've even got some nice trick aerodynamic wing mirrors. Ok, those alone won't have a great impact but it's great attention to detail.
All-in-all it's a step up from what they had last year.
Then look at the Mercedes and ask yourself "What have they done?". As far as I can see, not a lot! They've taken last years car and ironed out all the flaws. But they've stuck with the long wheelbase. And they haven't incorporated any of the successful ideas from other cars.
Taking a great car and making it better - there's some sense in that. But it doesn't give them the scope for improvement over the season that Ferrari have given themselves.
Although Mercedes walked away with both titles (again) I do think my concerns about their car were correct. For much of the season they didn't have the fastest car. But they won, partly due to Hamilton's heroics (why he still has detractors baffles me!) and partly due to Seb and the Ferrari manamgent throwing it away.
So this year I'm going to say will be Ferrari's year
Wrong. But glad to be wrong!
And finally, back to Williams:
Claire Williams: 'We can't finish P5 or lower this year'
I was laughing then, and I'm still laugh now!
Claire, this year is Last Chance Saloon for you.