The Formula One Season of 2016 is upon us now, with the session starting in nearly a week from now. The drivers are all ready, the teams are all ready and so are the fans. Everyone wants to hear those roaring engines come back to life again, those five lights eliminating at the start, the rush of overtakes and a world class battle for the championship.
We at EssentiallySports have narrowed down most exciting things to look forward to, in the 2016 season.
With the new controversial and confusing tire rules, Pirelli’s hopes to spice things up from their side by allowing drivers to tweak their strategies. This has opened up whole new possibilities of combinations, by allowing each driver a choice of their own compound.
Out of the thirteen compounds available for a team every race, three will be fixed and based on the two compounds that Pirelli pre-decides for each team. The remaining 10 compounds have to be picked by each driver separately, allowing them to go as aggressive as they may desire, leaving room open for a lot of different unpredictable strategies.
This may sound odd at first, but if it does the job it is being asked to do, it might be a successful idea. With drivers requested to talk about their preferences of compounds way before the actual date of the race, it makes things even more troublesome for the teams, since they have to plan an entire strategy well in advance.
The street circuit at Baku, Azerbaijan, is something every ardent Formula One fan is looking forward to. It is a cramped circuit layout that will run at the twilight, that is start at 6 PM local time. The race will take place from 17-19 June, with the race day clashing with the Le Mans 24h Racing.
The circuit is made within the cramped streets of the city of Baku, which makes everything even more interesting.
Fernando Alonso got the opportunity to walk the track recently and very proudly declared the race at Baku to be a very memorable one. He was mighty impressed with the layout of the circuit, much like the other F1 pundits themselves.
The new qualifying system approved by the FIA to be implemented from the Australian Grand Prix itself, is sure to spice things up and offers no room for error.
It works on an elimination process with the new structure as follows:
Q1: The first part of the Qualifying will now take place for 16 minutes with the slowest driver getting eliminated after 7 minutes. This will be followed by the elimination of one other driver after every 90 seconds until the chequered flag, bringing the total to 7 eliminated drivers.
Q2: The second part of the qualifying with 15 drivers will take place for a total time of 15 minutes with the first driver getting eliminated after 6 minutes following which, 6 more drivers will be eliminated after every 90s.
Q3: The final part of qualifying involving 8 drivers will last for 14 minutes with the first driver getting eliminated after 5 minutes following which the elimination of drivers every 90s. For the final 90s, two drivers will be left fighting for the pole position.
This certainly is a very radical move, something that will take time getting used to. Let’s hope it gets the job done of making every minute of the qualifying process more exciting.
The Season of 2015 didn’t give us a lot of battles up at the top, but there was always so much happening in the midfield. With two new players: Renault and Haas, and with McLaren getting a little better (if pre-season comments are to be believed), we will have incredible battles for the top 10 this season.
McLaren have so much to prove. Investors have lost their cool with them already, and it won’t be long before Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button do the same. The Honda Power Unit has made some significant gains this season, but whether it is enough to push them at the top of the ladder, fighting Williams or Red Bulls for the top 5, still needs to be seen.
After a horribly frustrating season last year, season 2016 might be the year of ‘do or die’ for Honda. Currently they’re just wasting the talents of two world class drivers who could very well be fighting for podiums somewhere else.
Williams and Red Bull look close to each other and certainly the best behind Ferrari and Mercedes. The two pre-season testing sessions didn’t reveal much about their progress in the Winter, but that has always been their case.
Force India, riding high on their success of 2015, will aim to replicate what they did last year – Create a surprise. Their drivers did brilliant last year, and certainly are full of hope and confidence at the moment. Their close competitors this year might be Toro Roso, with their switch to the 2015 Ferrari engine instead of the new Renault engine. Their drivers, Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr, did wonders last year and exceeded all expectations. Will they be able to do better with a more reliable engine, is something to look forward to.
The most exciting team of this year is definitely the new kid in the block: Haas F1. They have two talented drivers, all the technical support from Ferrari including their 2016 Power Unit and a chassis that they’ve worked on for more than a year now. They might lack experience right now, which we might see during the first few races, but they should be up and running for points very soon, possibly before the onslaught of the European season.
If the pre-season testing gave us any concluding remarks, it was that the Mercs are still at the top and the team to beat, but Ferrari are not far behind. They’ve also increased their game and with the world class talents of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, they can definitely challenge the Mercedes at the top.
Nico Rosberg with his brilliant form in the closing stages of the 2015 season proved that he can’t be taken lightly, and he knows that this is his last chance to showcase his talent, considering there are rumours that Mercedes is looking for other options for 2017. If season 2015 proved anything, it was that Nico Rosberg can deliver, but he needs to do that more often. Many at times, he lost the plot too easily compared to Lewis Hamilton, succumbing to pressure and failing to make a big impact. Let’s see what the Nico Rosberg of 2016 has under his belt.
Lewis Hamilton, despite his third title in 2015, has a lot of critics to prove wrong this season, who blamed his social life for his sudden downfall during the ending of the season. Any wrong move here and there, and these critics will be up on his head. Lewis Hamilton himself accepted that he lost his way after his championship win in the US Grand Prix last year, which allowed Nico Rosberg to regain form. If he is to win his third consecutive title, he will need to be at his 100% again.
The two Ferrari drivers have absolutely nothing to lose, it seems. Sebastian Vettel is enjoying his time in the Ferrari garage, enjoying the car, which now certainly is a lot closer to the Mercs than last year. The two Mercedes drivers can never call Vettel off from the race or the championship, because he has that fighting spirit within him and the talent to win from nowhere.
The iceman, Kimi Raikkonen, should be thankful for the Ferrari drive this year, as there were mighty rumours of Ferrari going for Bottas. He was mighty impressive during pre-season testing and should aim for better performances on Saturday for any significant gain on Sunday. Whether he has done enough to challenge the Mercs for the top 2 spots, is still not sure.