The start of the new Formula One season is just round the corner. Now Ferrari has retained Kimi Raikkonen, at ALA GAP Insurance we’ve decided to predict the line-ups of the F1 teams in 2016.
Cue the status quo or could there still be some surprises in store?
The competition must close the gap with Mercedes in 2016 if we are to have any chance of a true inter-team battle. Last year Ferrari mounted an admirable fight against the Silver Arrows. However, try as they might, the team in red finished the world championship 275 points behind Mercedes.
2016 is set to be a transition year for many – Lotus becoming Renault and Haas finding their feet in the world championship are just two story lines to pick out.
The much-discussed regulation changes planned for 2017 will remain in the minds of engineers up and down the pit lane, meaning we may have a few surprises this season as teams split their focus between 2016 and looking ahead to the challenges facing them in 2017.
So then, Mercedes, back-to-back Constructors World Champions and two world-class drivers in the form of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Throughout the last two seasons it’s fair to say that the two drivers haven’t seen eye to eye both on and off the track, and it’ll be very interesting to see if Rosberg is able to continue his strong form seen at the end of the 2016 season as he battles the now three-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton.
Mercedes are sure to bring improvements to their car this season, but this will not put off competitors such as Ferrari, Red Bull and Williams.
Ferrari are rumoured to have continued to close the gap in the engine department and will capitalise on their technical partnership with the American Haas team. The technical agreement goes further than pure mechanics – the young Mexican driver, Esteban Gutierrez joins the American newcomers from a test-driver role at Ferrari and will have everything to prove if he is to take over the 2017 race seat at Ferrari currently occupied by Kimi Raikkonen.
From a British perspective, we’ll have the skilful Jolyon Palmer at the wheel of a works Renault. Palmer, along with his new teammate Kevin Magnussen, will be hoping that the French arm of the team will have seen performance upgrades from their engine package.
With an unchanged driver line-up for this year, Red Bull Racing will hope that by taking elements of the power unit production in-house and a performance partnership with TAG, they will see gains this year. Since the introduction of the V6-Turbo engines in 2014 they have lost the competitive edge they and Renault held between 2010 and 2013.
Finally, expect to see a strong battle between the two youngsters at Toro Rosso. With their rookie year under their belt, Sainz and Verstappen will be aiming to impress the management at Red Bull Racing. With rumours circulating around the paddock that Ferrari have already put in an early offer for Verstappen, perhaps this vote of confidence will allow the driver to relax and continue to impress fans and teams alike.
So in conclusion, who’ll win the World Championship? It’ll take a big effort for anyone to beat Mercedes to the constructor’s title, so we’re going to put our money on a third successive season of Mercedes leading the way.
We think the driver’s championship will be slightly more open this year – a strong showing from Sebastian Vettel will keep him in the title hunt to the bitter end – and with four World Championships to his name already, why not add another in 2015?
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