Formula 1 2016 season: Everything you will need to know
Matt Haynes | December 9, 2015
The dust has just about settled following the climax of another tyre-screeching, fast and furious Formula 1 season, with the curtain coming down at Abu Dhabi under the Arabian sun.
In a province befitting the image the sport has marketed in recent years, affiliations with the jet-set, Prada-clad socialites and A-Listers, it couldn’t have been a more ideal location for chess master Bernie Ecclestone.
While the board isn’t quite set for the 2016 season, the pieces have already started moving into place. Behind the scenes plans have been implemented to include a new circuit, this time the oil-rich nation of Azerbaijan will open the gates on its Baku circuit which intertwines itself through the ancient city. It really does make for an intriguing juxtaposition as old meets the new.
As such, we bring you answers to everything you will need to know about the 2016 F1 season, in a comprehensive go-to guide.
Can Lewis Hamilton win the 2016 Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship?
Having secured a back-to-back title win in 2015, the Brit will be aiming for a third successive victory and is unsurprisingly the odds-on favourite at 8/13 with Coral to do so.
As predicted tensions mounted throughout the season between himself and Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, with the two falling out on a number of occasions, though most notably when Hamilton secured the championship at the USA Grand Prix.
For a Formula 1 driver, Hamilton has everything to continue to win titles for a number of years. Michael Schumacher’s record is seven championships and Hamilton is already just four behind; however, there is good news.
While the London-born driver is 30 years old, Schumacher won five of his championships over this age and many believe that Hamilton is yet to reach his peak. One thing that seems to set him aside from his fellow competitors is a natural instinct, which at times carries an element of danger to other drivers.
Although there is expected to be more of a challenge from other drivers and teams in 2016, Hamilton has what it takes to make it three Formula 1 championship wins in a row.
Who will be the breakthrough driver in 2016?
This previous season has seen a number of younger drivers make their mark on the sport, showing that they potentially have what it takes to be future champions.
In particular 21-year-old driver Daniil Kvyat has shown the kind of pedigree that could turn him into a world champion and having started at Toro Rosso where he learned the ropes, his progression saw the Russian earn a move to Red Bull this year where he is going from strength-to-strength.
Such was his impact that he even beat his teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, in the overall standings so this makes for an interesting duel over the next year.
Dutch teenage Toro Rosso talent Max Verstappen is another one to watch, and the 18-year-old was named ‘Rookie of the Year’ at the 2015 Autosport Awards. Scooping a seventh place finish in only his second start at the Malaysian Grand Prix was an achievement in itself and the Belgian-born driver went on to secure top 10 finishes in over half of the season’s races.
What really caught the eye, though, was his innovative overtaking manoeuvres, arguably on a par with Hamilton’s racing style. There is no doubt that he will be a champion and it may not be long before the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari begin to court him.
Are Ferrari going to challenge Mercedes for the Constructors’ title?
Having improved their engine for 2015, it marked a significant improvement from the Italian team who clawed back some ground on Mercedes.
Sebastian Vettel’s move to Ferrari this year was met with considerable doubt, about whether the German and four-time world champion was the right man to lead Scuderia back to the top, following a miserable year with Red Bull previously.
However, his move appeared to be exactly what he needed and at one point towards the end of the season, it looked as though he was going to split Mercedes to finish second. He secured three first-place finishes, while he made the podium on 13 occasions.
Should Ferrari continue to tweak their engine, this combined with Vettel’s skills could be enough to catch Mercedes, with the team 7/2 to secure the Constructors’ top spot in 2016.
Will there be any engine changes for Formula 1 teams in 2016?
This is an issue which dominates most of the off-season and while teams often make subtle tweaks to enhance their cars’ performance, from a regulatory standpoint for the 2016 season the Formula One Strategy Group has legislated that there will be mandatory changes to exhaust systems in order to improve engine noise.
There has also been talk that teams will be given increased freedom of choice for tyre compounds, in agreement with official supplier Pirelli, in a bid to increase efficiency.
Which circuits could be most decisive?
Every driver will have one or two tracks earmarked over the course of a season, that they is key to competing for the championship.
Hamilton over the past few years has endured a number of frustrations with the Monaco Grand Prix, mainly with tyre trouble and he will be looking to put that right in 2016. It is a key course for most drivers and one of the most mentally demanding with its tight corners and narrow track and is one of the trickiest in wet weather.
Verstappen found this out to his horror in 2015 when the rookie driver crashed out and he will no doubt curb his enthusiasm next time.
The Australian Grand Prix, which opens the calendar, presents a great opportunity to get points on the board with the circuit at Albert Park Lake offering long straights and easy bends. It also occurs at a good time of the year where the climate is perfect for racing and is a Hamilton favourite.
How will Nico Rosberg fare in 2016?
He has shown for the last two years that he is the second best driver in the world, and he will want nothing more than to go one better in 2016 especially with compatriot Vettel breathing down his neck for Ferrari.
What Rosberg must do though, is improve his temperament. In 2015 he was too easily wound up by Hamilton’s antics, which affected his performance on the track. Ultimately, his teammate knew how to get to him and the German has to turn the other cheek if he is going to overthrow Hamilton at the top of the sport.
Formula 1 2016 Constructors and Drivers
Ferrari: Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikonen will once again compete in the constructors’ colours.
Force India-Mercedes: Mexican Sergio Perez is joined by Niko Hulkenberg of Germany.
Haas-Ferrari: A new entrant for 2016 they have subsequently signed Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez.
Lotus-Renault: Pastor Maldonado will be joined by newcomer Joylon Palmer of Great Britain.
Marussia-Mercedes: No less than 10 drivers have been linked with the seats, which are still to be confirmed.
McLaren-Honda: Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button resume their partnership with one of the sport’s biggest teams.
Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will resume their rivalry for German-owned team.
Red Bull-TAG Heuer: Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat go head-to-head once more.
Sauber-Ferrari: Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr (not to be confused with Massa)feature for 2016.
Toro Rosso-Ferrari: Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr look to build on good seasons.
Williams-Mercedes: Felipe Mass and talented Finn Valterri Bottas continue for the British team.
Formula 1 2016 Schedule
March 20 – Australia
April 3 – Bahrain
April 17 – China
May 1 – Sochi
May 15 – Spain
May 29 – Monaco
June 12 – Canada
June 19 – Azerbaijan
July 3 – Austria
July 10 – Great Britain
July 24 – Hungary
July 31 – Germany
August 28 – Belgium
September 4 – Italy
September 18 – Singapore
October 2 – Malaysia
October 9 – Japan
October 23 – USA
November 6 – Mexico
November 13 – Brazil
November 27 – Abu Dhabi
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