It’s going to be the longest ever season this year with a total of 21 races. Let’s hope it’s competitive racing because 21 processions could really damage the sport.
With there being so many races this season, reliability is going to be paramount. The mere fact that the Mercedes cars just kept on going and going through the two testing weeks indicates few problems on that score. Reliability is so important, if you can get your car to the finishing line and pick up some points that gives you a great advantage over the team that keeps on having to retire,
The fact the Mercedes did so many laps also gives them an advantage in terms of data built up on how their car works. With some good times recorded on slower tyres than their rivals it’s looking like another good season for Hamilton and Rosberg.
What will happen between the two Mercedes drivers this year? Will there be more tension as has been witnessed in the past couple of years. A bit more cap tossing for example? What will be interesting is whether Rosberg can close the gap on Hamilton. There were times last season when the German did appear to have the upper hand on his teammate. But can he keep that up long enough to seriously challenge for the title? It’s important for Rosberg that he learns how to dominate Hamilton at a time of the year when Lewis hasn’t already won the title as was the case at the end of last season.
There have certainly been some interesting comments made in the build-up to the new season. Sebastian Vettel won’t have put himself in Lewis Hamilton’s good books that is for sure. He claims that the way Hamilton has dominated the sport over the past couple of seasons has made Formula One boring.
Now isn’t this a prime case of the pot calling the kettle black? Vettel won four World titles in a row and by wide margins. Wasn’t that in the slightest bit boring?
Yes, the Mercedes domination has turned a few people off the sport. The past two years have seen Mercedes win 32 out of 38 races. In Vettel’s opinion this “took away a lot of excitement for the fans.” Perhaps the same emotions were felt when in 2011 Vettel won the title with four races to go, lots of excitement in the final quartet of races that season.
One area where Vettel may be right though is in his opinion that the rules for the sport are “overcomplicated.” His fear is that “F1 is just too complex and we’re lacking sound.” The ability for the audience to “be able to identify with our cars again” is important to Vettel and I think he’s right.
Ferrari have made strides in the past year, that cannot be doubted, but they are far from the finished product. A big feature of last year’s championship was Ferrari trailing behind Mercedes when it came to qualifying. If they want to be winning more races this season, it’d be helpful if they didn’t have to continually be playing catch-up. Saturday is going to be a very important day for Ferrari if they really want to start worrying Mercedes.
Saturday’s are bound to be interesting anyway with a new qualifying format this season. There’s a new knock-out system being employed that could well be the subject for a blog all to itself sometime during the season. Mistakes will prove costly this season but let’s hope it doesn’t become predictable when getting down to the final stages of qualifying.
It’s also important that Ferrari have both their drivers challenging Mercedes. Raikkonen was 0.4 seconds down on Vettel last year and needs to be closing that gap. Vettel may well get into some position where he could challenge for the drivers’ title but Ferrari would love that constructors’ title too.
Williams and Red Bull are both expected to be able to show consistency this season and Force India could do well. What about McLaren though after last year’s catalogue of disasters?
Testing didn’t go that well and overall performance of their engine is still about a couple of seconds off the pace. That might improve as the season progresses but other teams will get better too. Just how they get on in Australia is going to be fascinating. Will it be 21 painful races or 21 races in which some significant improvement can be shown?
2016 promises to be an interesting season on and off the track. I’ll be back with another blog at the weekend as it all kicks off in Australia.