If testing is anything to go by, the 2016 F1™ season is going to be defined in one word: impressive. The last two weeks have been incredibly busy for the 11 teams in Formula 1™. It seems that every single team came to perform. In the few weeks that testing has taken place, we’ve seen more from every team than we have in years prior.
Let’s take into account testing that took place a two years ago, where teams weren’t able to get two or three laps out of their cars with cars not running or breaking down and now we have teams like Toro Rosso running 150-160 laps a day. A DAY! This year’s testing has been amazing.
Mercedes has actually completed a season’s worth of laps in just two weeks of testing, already. It’s only just now that Lewis Hamilton is experiencing a few liability issues with his car. With all the exciting new demonstrations of power that we’ve seen during the winter testing, let’s take a look at the 2016 season and figure out this season’s pecking order.
Has anyone gained ground on Mercedes? What will Ferrari’s version of the halo head protection concept do for them? Who is leading in this year’s testing? It's almost time for the 2016 Formula One™ season to kick off in Australia, which means we are about to see the results of what the teams have been frantically working on.
Mercedes has retained their winning formula as they seek to extend their dominance of Formula 1 for a third season. Winter testing in Barcelona suggested that they remain the team to beat, although their advantage may mean that a repeat of 2015 might take place and seal the championship for Lewis Hamilton once again. Rosberg finished strong in 2015 and the long-simmering rivalry between the two could boil over and ultimately hurt their chances to earn podiums.
Haas F1 Team
Haas’ introduction into Formula 1 has been quietly happening in the background for the past five years, so it is perhaps no surprise that the American team appears better prepared than recent newcomers to Formula 1. Their close relationship with Ferrari (engine supplier) might also have something to do with their success, as well as having two drivers with F1 experience. Romain Grosjean has 10 podiums under his belt and showed plenty of determination during his years at Lotus, while Esteban Gutierrez spent the past two seasons with Sauber.
Force India’s 2016 campaign hinges on an evolution of last year’s b-spec chassis. With regulations likely to drastically change in 2017, there’s little hope that they’ll make any more improvements to the existing chassis. Technical Director Andrew Green went as far to say it “didn’t really seem like an efficient use of our resources to start from scratch on a project that would have such a limited lifetime.” I guess some teams are perfectly okay with not earning a podium. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
No team suffered a more chastening experience in 2015 than McLaren. One of the standard bearers of the sport and eight time constructors’ champions, the British team suffered a disastrous fall from grace, often failing to make it through the first phase of qualifying and not scoring a single point until the sixth race. It could be another painful year for McLaren and Co. with little sign of the hoped for improvement in testing.
While last season saw an improvement on the miserable zero-point year of 2014, 39 percent of their 36 points came in the opening Grand Prix and they finished without a point in the final three races. With finances still a major constraint, there has been little to suggest a real improvement in 2016, and another tough season for the Swiss team could well lie in store.
The past two years have been something of a resurgence from the Martini-liveried Williams outfit. Having finished third in the 2014 and 2015 Constructors’ Championhip, Frank Williams will be looking to make a leap and start challenging Ferrari, Red Bull, and of course Mercedes for the top step on the podium. After an up and down 2015, which perhaps cost him a move to Ferrari, Valtteri Bottas will be looking to step it up and show he is worthy of a seat among the real title challengers. Time to make moves Bottas!
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Australia Preview!
See F1™ in Austin!
See the world’s most complex and innovative vehicles put to the test as they compete on one of the most exciting and challenging tracks in Formula 1! If you’re an F1™ fan, you already know that COTA is one of the most popular tracks on the calendar. It’s one of just four anti-clockwise tracks on the schedule, featuring 19 turns and a 133-foot climb into a blind left turn. Last year’s championship was decided at Circuit of The Americas, will we see a repeat this year? Be there and find out for yourself!