As he gears up for the new season on a new channel, Ben Edwards is tipping reigning Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton to clinch a third successive title.
Edwards, who lives in the village of Wortham, is part of Channel 4’s brand new line-up for the season alongside experienced drivers David Coulthard, Mark Webber, Alain Prost, Alex Zanardi, Susie Wolff, Karun Chandhok, Eddie Jordan and Bruno Senna and presenters Steve Jones, Lee McKenzie and the legendary Murray Walker.
And with the campaign kicking off from Melbourne’s Albert Park, Australia this weekend,the former BBC1 lead commentator is resuming a similar role as part of an exciting new set-up.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to be part of Channel 4’s new coverage and I’m really excited for the new season,” he said from Australia.
“My role will be much the same as it was. I’ll be commentating alongside David Coulthard but I think the channel will have a few fresh ideas which is exciting.
“It’s great to have Murray involved as well. I’ve worked with him a few times and it will brilliant to see him carrying out some key interviews which he’ll make really interesting to watch.”
Turning his attention to the track, Edwards believes that although some of his rivals may put up more of a fight this year, he can only see Hamilton sealing yet more silverware, having finished 59 points ahead of nearest rival and Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg last time out.
“A lot will depend on the opening races of the season,” he added.
“Lewis will be fired up to make it three in a row but Rosberg finished strongly last season and will be desperate to beat him.
“Hopefully that rivalry will be as good as it was at times last season but ultimately I think you have to put Lewis down as the favourite.
“Sebasitan Vettel at Ferarri will be closer to those two this season and I’d also keep an eye on young Max Verstappen, who was fantastic last year.
“I think it will only be a matter of time before he moves up to a bigger team from Toro Rosso because he is definitely one to watch.”
With Hamilton and Rosberg set to battle it out at the head of the pack, Edwards inevitably feels Mercedes will once again pick the honours in the constructors championship standings with Ferrari posing them the biggest challenge.
“Mercedes are definitely the favourites again for the season but I think the fight between Nico and Lewis will much closer than it was last season.
“I also think Ferrari will push them closer as well which could be interesting.
“Engineer Jock Clear has switched to the team from Mercedes so that development could be interesting to watch.
“However, I just think Mercedes have that little bit extra and we don’t really know how much they have been holding back during testing.”
Other key interests for Edwards this season will be the performance of the new look Renault team, headed up by the returning Kevin Magnussen, the brand new American backed Team Haas with former Lotus star Romain Grosjean and the hopeful improvement of McLaren with former world champions Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso.
“The new Renault team, who were Lotus could be one to watch with Kevin Magnussen in their team,” he said.
“I’m not expecting them to be a front runner but I think they can establish themselves among the rest.
“Haas will be an interesting addition to the paddock. They have a lot of elements from Ferrari and so will have a bigger head-start then some new teams that have come into the sport.
“They will have a few hiccups along the way but the early signs look pretty good and I’d keep an eye on them to cause a few surprises among the point scoring.
“I’m also hoping McLaren will be more competitive but the signs aren’t great.
“They will better than last year but I can’t see there being a lot of joy for them.”
n Extended highlights from the Australian Grand Prix will be on Channel 4 on Sunday from 1.30pm.