Formula 1: Champs and chumps: Andrew Benson’s (and your) season predictions

Ferrari, Marcus Ericsson and Lewis Hamilton

We could predict the outcome of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, but we might as well go the whole hog and say which drivers and teams will be the best and worst come Abu Dhabi.

Then, in November, we can turn around to our friends and say: "I told you so." Or maybe not.

Joining us on this crazy trip of predictions is chief F1 writer Andrew Benson, who explains his reasons for his forecasts. After which, you can probably get them all completely wrong as well.

Andrew's predictions

"Let's make one thing clear before we start - this is a bit of fun, based on not very much evidence at all. So let's not fall out if it's wrong.

"Having said that, pre-season testing did give some indications about how the year might shape up. No-one would be surprised if Mercedes turned up in Melbourne and blitzed everyone again. But it does not look that way right now. So assuming the picture so far is accurate, let's take a deep breath and jump in.

Top three drivers

1.Hamilton

2.Vettel

3.Ricciardo

"If the Mercedes and Ferrari are the two fastest cars, my money would be on Hamilton to beat Vettel to the championship.

"He's just that bit faster and better, as long as he can keep weekends such as Baku and Singapore last year to a minimum. It's a tough call between the two Red Bull drivers, but I've gone for Ricciardo to edge it just on the basis of last year.

Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull
'Verstappen's better than you, mate!' No, he's definitely not listening

"There was a sense of a momentum swing towards Verstappen at the end of 2016, though, both in races and in the pattern of qualifying. In which case the Dutchman could easily swing it."

Your turn...

Top 3 fastest drivers

Which three drivers do you think will be fastest during the 2017 Formula 1 season?

Bottom three drivers

18. Vandoorne

19. Wehrlein

20. Ericsson

"Assuming Sauber will be last, Pascal Wehrlein would be expected to out-do Marcus Ericsson over a season. If he doesn't, his F1 career is almost certainly over. And on the basis of a terrible season for McLaren, Stoffel Vandoorne - promising and extravagantly talented though he is - cannot realistically be expected to beat Fernando Alonso in his first full season, unless the inevitable unreliability is skewed heavily in one direction.

"Had Esteban Gutierrez still been at Haas, he would be on this list instead of the Belgian. But Kevin Magnussen is a much stronger proposition so he and Romain Grosjean should be clear of this little 'battle'."

Marcus Ericsson Pascal Wehrlein and Stoffel Vandoorne
Ericsson, Wehrlein and Vandoorne are in Andrew's dreaded bottom three... but do you agree?

Your turn...

Top 3 slowest drivers

Which three drivers do you think will be slowest during the 2017 Formula 1 season?

Top three teams

1.Ferrari

2.Mercedes

3.Red Bull

"This is based not so much on the overall speed of the cars, but on the combination of team, car, engine, reliability and driver line-up.

"If testing is to be believed, the Ferrari could be the quickest car. And if it's of similar pace to the Mercedes, there's a decent chance Vettel-Raikkonen as a combination will score more points than Hamilton-Bottas, as it's inevitably going to take Bottas a while to adapt to a new team.

Kimi Raikkonen
Champions! Perhaps... not that Raikkonen's bothered

"However quick the Ferrari was in testing, it's hard to contemplate the idea of them beating Mercedes over a season, but let's go for it anyway. Red Bull may be similarly quick, but there is a reliability question mark over the Renault engine."

Your turn...

Top 3 fastest teams

Which three teams do you think have made the fastest cars for F1 in 2017?

Bottom three teams

8. Haas

9. McLaren

10. Sauber

"After their dire testing programme, McLaren should be at the bottom of this list. And things are so bad, they might yet be. But simply assuming that when the car does actually run, it will be faster than a Sauber (surely), and that Alonso-Vandoorne is several light years ahead of Ericsson-Wehrlein as a driver line-up, Sauber are last.

"Picking the team to finish bottom of a very tight midfield battle is extremely difficult. Haas looked the slowest but some of their rivals felt they must be hiding something. Still, on the basis of difficult-second-year syndrome, let's go for them."

McLaren
McLaren: here to win... or come ninth

Your turn...

Bottom three F1 teams

Which three teams do you think will be bottom of the pile during the 2017 Formula 1 season?

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