Looking ahead to the 2016 Formula 1 season

With just days until the Australian GP begins in Melbourne, it’s time to start looking ahead to the 2016 Formula 1 season.

Without our regular fix of high-speed, high-drama action, the off-season is a tricky time for us petrol heads. However, the world of Formula 1 has been decidedly active since the close of the 2015 season with new(ish) teams, new drivers and new rules and regulations. Very exciting times!

If you haven’t been following the developments, fear not – we’ll cover the main highlights in this blog, as well as throw a few predictions into the ring.

How will the technical changes impact the races?

Looking ahead to the 2016 Formula 1 season

Substantial changes have been made to engine regulations over the break. Areas of the engine where no modifications were previously allowed have now been opened up to manufacturers.

This is going to be a boost to both Renault and Honda, whose engines struggled for optimum performance in 2015 and a good thing for spectators wanting to see more competitive racing.

Spectators will also be pleased that this is set to be a far noisier F1 season than in recent years due to changes to the cars’ exhausts as well as even more powerful engines (we’ve heard 1000 BHP talked about in motorsport circles).

There are also changes to tyres and tyre selection. Pirelli have introduced a fifth tyre compound to their range of dry-weather rubber. Not only that, but Pirelli will nominate two sets of tyres for each race and one set for qualification.

The remaining tyre selection will be down to the individual drivers, and it’ll be interesting to see how their choice reflects a balance of race circuit, weather conditions and driving style.

You can see the drivers’ choices for Melbourne here.

What are the changes to qualification and the schedule?

After much deliberation, Formula 1 bosses are pressing ahead with the introduction of a new elimination-style qualifying system starting this weekend.

It was only after a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, that agreement for the new format was reached, with a view to more effectively mixing up the grid as well as adding excitement.

Under the new rules, drivers will be eliminated every 90 seconds in the closing minutes of each qualifying session.

Seven drivers will be knocked out in the final minutes of a 16-minute first session and another seven in the last few minutes of a 15-minute second session, leaving eight for a 14-minute battle for the top positions.

Not everyone is happy with the new rules though. Current world champion Lewis Hamilton stated: “the changes we’ve made don’t make sense to me in my head right now” although he agreed to pass proper judgement until after Melbourne.

Claire Williams, deputy principal at Williams is more positive: “I think it’s really important to remember the whole purpose of looking at qualifying was to try and shake up the grid to go into the race and make races a little bit more exciting.”

As well as changes to qualification, we’re also set for the longest ever F1 season with a whopping 21 races including races at Hockenheim and Baku.

Who are the new drivers?


There are some exciting new drivers joining the roster this year.

A Formula 1 legacy is continued in Jolyon Palmer, the son of former F1 racer Jonathan Palmer at Renault. Yes, Renault! They’re back after their competitive hiatus with Palmer, and also the highly-rated Dane Kevin Magnussen in the cockpits.

Two young drivers looking to make a statement, and a supposedly improved engine… Although unlikely to be near the front of the grid, Renault could be worth keeping an eye on this season.

You might not have heard of Pascal Whrlein who is racing for Manor this year, but this Mercedes protégé is DTM champion and looks set for a healthy future in F1.

We’re also looking forward to seeing Manor’s other rookie driver in action, Rio Haryanto. Haryanto will be the first Indonesian to race at the top tier of motorsport – further signs of the globalisation of F1.

Who is going to win this season?

Looking ahead to the 2016 Formula 1 season - will Mercedes dominate?

Last year saw Mercedes repeat their dominance of the sport. Can any other constructor get near them this year?

Ferrari appear to be the closest rivals to the German outfit. They’ve made significant improvements to their engine over the last two years and posted the fastest lap times in pre-season testing last month.

Champion Hamilton will likely have his attention set on ever-present rival and team-mate Nico Rosberg.

Hamilton has had the edge over the German for the past two years, but Rosberg finished the 2015 season in fine form and looked excellent in testing. Toto Wolff says the shackles are off this season, and we can’t wait to find out who’ll come out on top.

However, several drivers are going to be desperate to ruin the Mercedes party.

Sebastian Vettel, a four-time world champion, in a greatly improved car is going to be a serious force to be reckoned with. Likewise, his colleague Kimi Raikkonen has been tipped by some to do well in a car that would seem better suited to his race style.

Mark Webber has backed compatriot Daniel Ricciardo to perform well, but the talented Aussie may be hindered by on-going performance issues at Red Bull.

Looking ahead to the 2016 Formula 1 season

We don’t think there’s been such an unpredictable F1 season for several years.

The changes to regulations, both in terms of the cars, as well as qualifying, could really shake things up.

Furthermore, there are a number of drivers who’ll be on the start grid with big points to prove.

Whatever happens, it’s set to be a thriller, and we can’t wait!

If you’re keen to join us at any of this year’s Grand Prix events, check out our packages here. We even offer unique Paddock Club and VIP experiences – do give us a ring if you’d like more information.

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