Gearing up for F1 2016

With the 2015 F1 season finished, the (fairly loooong) wait for the 2016 season has started. With round about 90 days to go (if it doesn’t sound like much, you don’t really love the game much) there’s not much activity or excitement for your regular F1 fanatic. The only way to quench this thirst for a classy scotch like F1, is to read articles, watch old races and highlights, playing the official F1 games and possibly, do some kart-racing. The good thing about Formula 1 is that there’s always something to talk about, be it controversial or otherwise.

The Friendly Feud Continues

Yup, you read that right. Although the name doesn’t exactly mean what it says. Let’s go back a couple of months to the incident that had everyone talking- The cap-gate.

It’s well known that the relationship between Rosberg and Hamilton has been skating on thin ice. From really close buddies back in their karting days to being very ‘close’ friends in the present day, their friendship has reached such a stage that the two of them literally had to be threatened that either of the two shall be released from his respective contract if things continue to go on the way they’ve been, by Toto Wolff himself. If one can’t identify the tension, the cap-gate is a very good indicator of it. After Hamilton won the race, and hence the Championship, in Austin, he gently threw the second place cap to Nico. Assuming that this was meant to rub in the fact that he lost, Nico lost his cool and chucked the cap back, leaving Sebastian Vettel feeling awkward. After Austin however, a spark plug was ignited within Rosberg, who won the last three races of the season with upmost control. When asked who would be the happier of the two, Hamilton indignantly said that his championship meant more than Nico’s resurgence, while Nico suggested that he’d be happier as the momentum would be on his side come next season. So, as the 2016 season approaches, it will be interesting to see how the two can keep doing their jobs without ruining their friendship.

Williams’ Potential

After an impressive season in 2014, considering the rule changes, one would have felt a little let down with their performance in the next one. While they did really well under the able hands of Massa and the ever cool, calm and collected Bottas, Williams certainly wasn’t as close as they’d have liked. 2016 is the year to look out for as Williams promises a significant improvement.

Fiery Ferrari Returns

2014 was an absolute nightmare for the Prancing Horses. Finishing 4thin the Constructors’ Championship, 2014 was what could only be described as their worst ever season in F1. The Prancing Horses have come a long way since then. Retaining the ever cool and calm Kimi Raikkonen and pairing him up with the Quadruple time world champion Sebastian Vettel proved to be a masterstroke for the Maranello-based team. The atmosphere in the garage has never been better. Kimi and Seb get along very well, and the fact that they have performed a whole lot better this season is evidence that their partnership is aiding the team. They finished a fairly distant, but a lot more respectable 2nd in the Constructors’ Championship. With three wins in the season, all from Vettel, and 16 podiums in all, Ferrari will be a whole lot more pleased going into the next season, considering the fact that they’re the closest rivals to Mercedes. If they manage to upgrade their car to the level of the Mercs, we’ll definitely be seeing a lot more red on the podiums next season, and more wins too. Their aim to beat Mercedes is certainly a reality next season.

Will McLaren’s woes continue?

Well, a name that had, for a long time been associated with rave wins and podiums is now being associated with an unreliable car that can barely get them through to Q2. Although Alonso keeps stressing that they’re constantly improving and that he feels he’s better off at McLaren than at Ferrari (because who would want to finish second when you can finish in the bottom 3?), they can’t hide the fact that they’re struggling to such an extent that Button was thinking of retiring. McLaren needs to get their act together soon, before teams like Manor begin to overtake them     (which seem more probable than them winning a Constructors’ title in the next five years, atleast).

Champion in the Making

If you haven’t guessed it by now, then the driver mentioned above is none other than the 18 year old Max Verstappen. A lot of sceptics said that it was too early for a 17 year old to race in Formula One. But he had the support of his fellow racers like Alonso, Raikkonen, and Button. He backed up all the hype with some really strong race finishes. He never failed to impress. His overtakes have been lauded by the best of the best, the most notable one being the pass on Nasr at Blanchimont. Such daring moves have been missing in F1 for a little while, but he just brought it back to the sport. The maturity that he displays, along with his performances in a relatively sub standard Toro Rosso just prove that he’s a Champion in the making.

Tired of Tyres 

What would present day F1 be without a discussion on tyres? Tyres, tyre management, and tyre strategies are topics that are always discussed during races. Some drivers end their race after a long stint on the primes while others choose to go for a shorter and faster last stint on the options. Next year, yet another topic will be added to the discussion on tyres- tyre selection. In an attempt to improve the racing, Pirelli has offered free tyre selection to the teams for the race weekend. This will play an important role in how the race pans out. Frankly speaking though, one would prefer if they’d just bring back refuelling and/or the V8s.

Haas F1 got a new contender? 

Gene Haas confirmed that the American based team would be on the grid next season, with Ferrari engines, Ferrari exhausts and many more Ferrari parts, in addition the Ferrari’s test driver Estaban Gutierrez, who will be driving alongside future Ferrari hopeful Romain Grosjean. Haas clears that their car will not only be different, but also better than Ferrari’s title contender. Although this is a far-fetched claim, you can expect them to be involved in the mid field squabbles. It will be an interesting season for the newcomers.

Watch out for Red Bull

Red Bull and Renault have built an infallible partnership, winning four consecutive world titles under Sebastian Vettel, until they fell down. 2015, though not completely bad, was a disappointing season for RBR. The season was so bad for them that they had a fall-out with Renault. This lead to speculation of as to what engine they’d run in 2016. They threatened to leave the sport if they couldn’t get a competitive and desirable engine. At long last, Red Bull finally announced that they would be running Tag Heuer branded Renault engines. As fancy as Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB-12 sounds, how they fare in the 2016 will be interesting to see.

Renault Takeover

Lotus had been fairly inconspicuous until they were brought to the limelight in 2012. Winning one race each in 2012 and 2013 as well as multiple podium finishes with the help of the returning Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, though with a not so competitive car, were doing well until they ran out of cash. Failing to pay Raikkonen towards the end of the season, they were desperate for the money, which Pastor brought to the team because of the lucrative sponsors. But yet again, at the end of the 2015 season, the cash strapped team was desperate. This is where Renault came in and decided to takeover Lotus. With the deal being recently sealed, and their driver line-up confirmed, the Renault team will look to improve their fortunes (pun intended).

Toro Rosso’s Prancing Horsepower

There’s not much to say in this segment. Toro Rosso has secured 2015 spec Ferrari engines. Seeing as it was pretty competitive in 2015, Toro Rosso might just finish higher up on the grid.

With the conclusion of the wet tyre testing at the Paul Ricard Cricket and Ferrari showing very positive signs, and Mercedes developing an already dominant car, the season looks to be a whole lot more interesting than the last.

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