Last week, BadgerGP were lucky enough to head to Sky HQ for Sky Sports F1’s media event. With the excitement of pre-season in the air, we were treated to Martin Brundle’s dream track. This Scalextric track featured corners from every track of the 2015 calendar, and naturally fierce rivalry between drivers of the Sky F1 team were on show.

Between Anthony Davidson trying to out-do Martin Brundle and Damon Hill, we managed to grab a chat with Davidson and asked a few questions on the season ahead.

Image: BadgerGP/Sky F1
Image: BadgerGP/Sky F1

Badger: From what we’ve seen in testing Mercedes seem quite far ahead, let’s face it.

Anthony Davidson: Mercedes are looking strong, but maybe some teams haven’t shown their hand. We’re looking at one track [Barcelona] and Melbourne is a very different beast, so let’s see where the others are and what the conditions are as well.

I think in pure performance Mercedes are looking pretty good at the moment, and they should. It’s hard to lose that advantage that you get from one season to the next, especially when the regulations stay pretty much the same.

Badger: Who do you think will be best of the rest?

AD: I’d say probably Williams, but perhaps in Melbourne Red Bull. They were very strong there last year, and whether it’s Daniel Ricciardo being spurred on by the home crowd, I think he’ll be even more handy there this year now he’s more confident of his own abilities – so Red Bull could be the dark horse for Melbourne, I reckon, if not for the whole season.

Red Bull perhaps haven’t shown their hand and they know how to build a fast racing car. I think last year if they had that Mercedes power unit they would have been the ones to challenge Mercedes consistently.

Badger: And on the other side of that coin, we have McLaren.

AD: I said in a previous interview, I’ve got them down as a top 5 position at the last race of the year, so let’s see if I’m right or wrong!

Honda are an ambitious company, very innovative, and I’ve seen some great things in the past from them as a test driver, and they will get it right. At the moment it’s obviously frustrating for them and for us at this stage. We expected more and they probably expected more themselves and it’s not where McLaren want to be at all. They don’t want to look like an embarrassment at Melbourne so I think their target is to bring both cars home – but even that is going to be a tall order.

They might show what they can do in qualifying, and they may have to live off that for the first couple of races while working on the reliability and durability through a race distance.

It’s a tough challenge for them, and people are going to have to give them some time.

Badger: What’s your take on the whole Fernando Alonso concussion situation?

AD: There’s a lot of speculation at this stage, and I don’t want add fuel to the fire. I hear it was a slight glance into the wall on some very dodgy looking footage.

I know that in some situations that in any crash some bizarre things can happen in terms of where the energy goes. If that energy goes the wrong way through quite a strong part of the car on a side impact where the head protection is minimal, even a slight glance can potentially cause concussion. I hope that’s what we’re looking at. I hope it’s not more but I can understand why there’s speculation around this.

Badger: Do you think the FIA have been more cautious with this as a knock-on effect from the Jules Bianchi crash from Suzuka last year?

AD: No, it’s the right thing to do. It’s right for the FIA to say something like ‘Look, here’s what appears to be a small impact and we’ve seen a concussion. Why did this happen? Do we have to work on side impact safety measures for the helmet?’

We’ve seen the HANS (Head And Neck Support) device introduced years ago and that’s worked very well in forward impacts – but side impacts are not that common, especially into a wall, so it could just be one of those situations where the FIA really want some further analysis into understanding what can be done in the future, either through car design or helmet design.

It’s good that they’re look into it either way, because it could have been easy to say ‘It’s just a test session, let’s leave it up to the team and the doctors looking after him and they’ll take care of it themselves’.

Badger: And finally, who’s your favourite for the title? I’m guessing it’s going to have to be a Mercedes driver.

AD: Yeah, it’s Hamilton in the Mercedes. I know it sounds boring, but from what we’ve seen so far I can’t see it being anyone else.

Images courtesy of Sky F1
Images courtesy of Sky F1

Sky Sports F1® will be the only place to watch the full 2015 FIA Formula One World Championship™ with coverage beginning with practice at the 2015 FORMULA 1 ROLEX AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX on March 13, one of ten Grands Prix™ exclusively live in 2015 including Monaco, Singapore, America and Mexico.