2016 Formula One Preview: Part 1 of 3
In our preview of 2016, we’ll start by looking at the drivers.
November 2015 seems like a long time ago doesn’t it? It’s hard to believe that was the last time we saw a Formula One car take to the track in Abu Dhabi.
The sport returns this weekend after a four-month break, but has anything changed for the coming season?
After two years of Mercedes domination — 32 wins and 36 pole positions — many are hoping 2016 brings a championship battle between the Silver Arrows and the Ferraris.
In one side of the Mercedes garage, Lewis Hamilton looks to be #44 with title number four. And if he attains one more victory this season, it will be career win number 44.
It may prove an interesting year for Hamilton’s teammate Nico Rosberg. His contract runs out at the end of the year, which could give him an extra boost while trying to claim his first title after 14 wins.
After their comeback to the top step of the podium in 2016, Ferrari has made major changes to their car with the SF16-H. A change of front suspension from pull-rod to push-rod and a “thumb” nose, rather than a long nose, are just some of the visible changes.
Sebastian Vettel will surely look to improve on his three wins in 2015. The German is close behind Hamilton in wins – Vettel 42, Hamilton 43 — and an ongoing battle between the two could be a talking point.
Meanwhile, Kimi Raikkonen may have a more pressured 2016. With the constant rumors of Valtteri Bottas or Daniel Ricciardo or a similar driver linked to a seat at the Prancing Horse Squadron, fans may wonder whether this might be Raikkonen’s last year in the sport.
As always, there are potential dark horses who could make headlines. Toro Rosso could start the season strong with Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz. With Verstappen claiming last year that they had “the second best chassis in Formula One,” an improvement on this with the 2015 Ferrari engine could put them ahead of sister team, Red Bull, early in the season.
If the Toro Rosso drivers succeed, with GP2’s Pierre Gasly as the next driver waiting in the Red Bull Junior Team, it will be interesting to see if a driver leaves and a space opens at the team for 2017.
Force India’s Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg look like they could again threaten, perhaps for a third consecutive season, with a podium finish. For Hulkenberg, a man with a Formula One pole position and Le Mans win on his CV, perhaps 2016 will be the year he finally steps onto the podium.
Further down the grid, Romain Grosjean moves from Lotus to lead the introduction of Haas F1 Team into the sport. Renault has taken over Lotus and the team returns to the sport after a five-year absence.
We’ll also see the return of a couple drivers who didn’t compete in 2015. Kevin Magnussen and Esteban Gutierrez will fill seats with Renault and Haas, respectively. There are also three rookies entering the championship: 2014 GP2 champion Jolyon Palmer for Renault, 2015 DTM champion Pascal Wehrlein and Rio Haryanto, the first Indonesian driver to race in the sport, both at Manor.
These are a few of the many on-track battles we could see this year.
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