Lewis Hamilton can bring Great Britain their 15th Formula One (F1) world title — according to the BBC’s F1 commentator Ben Edwards.
The Stevenage-born star clinched the drivers’ title for the one and only time in 2008 when he dramatically overtook Timo Glock at the final corner in the final race of the season.
Much frustration has followed since, despite claiming at least one victory a season since joining the sport 2007, but Edwards believes Hamilton and his Mercedes team currently look favourites.
“He’s not a cert by any means and I certainly wouldn’t be putting my house on it,” said Edwards, who lives in Wortham — just off the A143 between Bury St Edmunds and Diss.
“The competitiveness of the field may change and you may see one team dropping back and another moving up — which is what I hope will happen.
“Mercedes have the edge and in that team Rosberg is extremely good and will give Hamilton a very difficult time, but Hamilton will have the edge.”
As many eyes as will be on those leading, more will be focused on the position of four-times world constructors’ champions Red Bull and their four-times world drivers’ champion Sebastian Vettel, who have — by their own admission — endured a rotten time during pre-season.
Renault have struggled to bring a reliable engine to the table for Red Bull and the other teams powered by the company — such as Lotus and Caterham — while Red Bull have also found problems putting everything together as a package.
But with technical wizard Adrian Newey working hard to provide solutions, Edwards believes it is a case of when and not if Red Bull will move up the order.
Aside from new 1.6-litre turbo-charged hybrid engines, there are a number of other rules changes designed to shake things up, including a fuel limit of 100kg per race.
“The cars look quite tricky to drive, which is great for us watching,” said Edwards.
“There is a lot of power on the exit of corners, which make them tough to handle.
“The fuel limit will have a big effect on racing — they have just 100kg, so they have to do the same race distance on a third less fuel.”
However, the most controversial rule introduced is the awarding of double points for the final race of the campaign.
“As a purist, I don’t like the idea because why should one race mean more than another earlier in the season, plus that track might suit some drivers and cars more than others,” said Edwards.
“On the other hand, I understand everything they can do to keep interest up to the end means it’s entertaining.”
Speaking about the BBC’s coverage, which will again be led by Suzi Perry, Edwards said: “We don’t have (technical analyst) Gary Anderson, but Allan McNish — who has won the Le Mans 24 Hours — will be more involved.
“There will still be technical features, but the reporters will go off and get these from the teams themselves.”