A champion's view: Mario Andretti

World champion 1978

It’s always suspenseful as to who’s done the best work off-season, how the fight will go between the usual suspects. There will be a lot of eyes on McLaren and whether they’ve made the right move or not in going with Renault or whether Toro Rosso is going to benefit. That’s going to be fascinating.

One thing that does concern me is the new three-engine rule. What’s that going to look like mid-season and will it affect the ability to go all-out? The technical side is a big part of F1 but you have to balance it with the spectacle and I’m not sure they’ve got this right.

There’s a lot of hope for Ferrari being able to take it to Mercedes. Some mistakes were made there last year. Had it not been for them they could’ve been in the game right to the end. They had a lot of fight in them and I hope that continues. I have a lot of optimism that it’s going to be close.

Watching Fernando Alonso in a hopefully faster car is going to be great. He is such a racer. We’ve always known that, but his sheer energy in the fight with an uncompetitive car after all these years has added another dimension and we want to see him back contending.

Daniel Ricciardo has Max Verstappen to contend with at Red Bull. These sort of contests are great for us as fans. When you get a tough team-mate, as one stock goes up the other comes down. It’s a selfish business. Daniel’s ability is clear, his reliability as a racer is proven, but Max is still potentially the next superman and is full of surprises and so exciting.

Personally, I’m really pulling for Robert Kubica. Here’s a guy with so much heart. To come back after such injuries, to have fought his way back. He’s another extremely exciting talent and in his third driver role with Williams he has that chance to come back fully in 2019. It’s amazing where willpower can get you. I was once back early from injuries and at Cleveland with three broken ribs was leading by 32sec over Al Unser and thinking this was going to be the greatest race of my life, then my engine blew. I couldn’t even get out the car, yet I’d been able to do that. So I wouldn’t write Robert off just because of his physical limitation. It won’t necessarily apply in the car – and today’s power steering systems will be a huge help.

Rather not choose…. because it’s impossible to choose without offending somebody!