Pre-Season 2016 Season Preview


Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
A Happy New Year to one and all. Thought I would give us somewhere to discuss the upcoming season. According to the published calendar the 2016 F1 season will offer us 21 races, starting in Australia in the middle of March and ending in Abu Dhabi at the end of November. We see the return of the Grand Prix of Europe, this time at the Baku City Circuit in Azerbaijan. Malaysia has finally been moved out of the rainy season and now sits between Singapore and Japan as race 16. Otherwise all the usual suspects are there including a German GP at Hockenheim after its sabbatical in 2015. The full race list is:
  1. 20th March - Australia
  2. 3rd April - Bahrain
  3. 17th April - China
  4. 1st May - Russia
  5. 15th May - Spain
  6. 29th May - Monaco
  7. 12th June - Canada
  8. 19th June - GP of Europe (Baku)
  9. 3rd July - Austria
  10. 10th July - Britain
  11. 24th July - Hungary
  12. 31st July - Germany
  13. 28th August - Belgium
  14. 4th September - Italy
  15. 18th September - Singapore
  16. 2nd October - Malaysia
  17. 9th October - Japan
  18. 23rd October - USA
  19. 30th October - Mexico
  20. 13th November - Brazil
  21. 27th November - Abu Dhabi
We will have a new team on the grid with Hass Ferrari and they have teamed up Roman Grosjean with Esteban Gutierrez. Jolyon Palmer is lined up to replace Grosjean at Team Enstone who have now been brought by Renault so I presume they will be replacing the Mercedes engines used in 2015 with Renault power units. The only team yet to confirm a driver line up is Manor Mercedes, who must be a much more attractive prospect in 2016 with a new chassis and a championship winning engine. No other team is changing their driver line up from 2015 which must quite a disappointment to all the young chargers coming out of GP2, GP3 and all the other feeder series to F1.

Red Bull, after much speculation, have opted to create their own power unit for this season. It is reported to be called a Tag Heuer, after Red Bull snaffled one of McLaren's long term sponsors away and will be a Renault ICE combined with input from Ilmor on all the other bits which an F1 hybrid engine needs. Sister team Toro Rosso will have Ferrari power to replace the Renault units used in 2015. It will be very interesting to see if Toro Rosso will be allowed to regularly finish ahead of their senior team as you have to worry about the reliability of the mish mash power unit Red Bull are pulling together.

The full team and driver line up is:

Mercedes - Hamilton & Rosberg
Ferrari - Vettel & Raikkonen
Williams - Massa & Bottas
Red Bull - Ricciardo & Kyvat
Force India - Hulkenberg & Perez
Renault - Maldonado & Palmer (TBC)
Hass - Grosjean and Gutierrez
Toro Rosso - Verstappen & Sainz
McLaren - Alonso & Button
Sauber - Nasr & Ericsson
Manor - both TBC

So what are the big changes for 2016? We've covered the new tyre rules elsewhere but in short teams will have the choice of three compounds at each race but have to choose two of them two weeks in advance of the GP and both compounds still have to be used in the race, unless it rains. Teams can choose to run their drivers on different compounds. There will also be a new "Ultra Soft" compound available at some races.

The engines should be louder as the exhaust gases coming out of the waste gate will be redirected through a "screamer pipe" and the teams will have 32 engines tokens to use through the season rather than the 15 which the FIA had originally planned.

There will be three pre-season tests but the first on Jan 25th and 26th will be for wet weather running only . The second and third tests will be at Barcelona on 22nd to 25th February and 1st to 4th March.

Come the races the stewards are supposed to be clamping on drivers exceeding track limits and various technologies are being mooted to monitor the cars around the track. The Virtual Safety Car will be used in practice sessions although I'm struggling to work out why any driver would choose go out and waste rubber when the track speed is limited to 100kph. In the races, as soon as a virtual safety car period ends DRS will be re-enabled rather than the drivers having to wait a couple of laps. Other than drivers causing a started to be aborted having to start from the pit lane there isn't much else new to confuse us.

I'm intrigued to see how the efforts to stop drivers exceeding the track limits will go. If you watch any WEC racing the senior steward is usually very tough on the various competitors and the teams accept these decision with good grace, but then they usually have a few hours to claw back any lost time from a stop-go penalty. Given the tendency of F1 drivers and teams to react to stewarding decisions in a similar way to Premier League footballers do to referees I suspect we will see almost as much action in the pit lane as we do on the track as the team principals run backwards and forwards to the stewards office to plead their case.

So who will win what? Mercedes, if all the between season gossip is to be believed, are struggling to keep their drivers on speaking terms. Many are trying to draw comparisons with Prost and Senna as Nico and Lewis throw items of head wear at one another across the hospitality room. I'm sorry but this doesn't even come close. It's not even Mansell and Piquet, in fact I'm struggling to find a comparison where one driver is so much better than the other but refuses to admit to the fact. Perhaps Vettel and Webber or Schumacher and Barrichello are reasonable comparisons.

I sincerely hope Ferrari continue to move closer to the Mercs and I suspect they will but still not enough to challenge the Mercedes for either title. Other than these two teams I can't see anyone else challenging for race wins which is a great shame. I hope Haas are successful, I hope Williams actually improve during the season and aren't so beholden to their engine supplier, I hope Red Bull enjoy trying to build their own engines and I hope McLaren actually make it in to Q3 a bit more regularly.

What else? Might we see Force India re-badged as Aston Martin? I doubt it as if the team has already registered with the FIA they can't change their name and if if they haven't they will forfeit their payout from FOM as a new team. Or they could become Force India Aston Martin Mercedes!

Here's hoping for a great season but this is probably hope over experience. We can expect a handful of great races so I will enjoy those and try not to be too grumpy at the races where the teams simply go through the whole event formation flying.
Last edited:
There are a few things to look forward to; a completely? new team (Haas), a more polished Verstappen, a better Honda unit? some new rookies, and as you I hope Ferrari continues to close the gap to Mercedes. Out with old in with the new! Welcome 2016.
Great season intro FB.
I'd just like to see less Horner and I'll be happy, my muting finger can't manage too much more action.
I can see no sense in Aston Martin running a F1 car with a Mercedes engine, and very dodgy at the moment to suddenly produce their own unless they know and have something we don't know and the rest of the motoring press don't either.
I am hoping that Horner will discover just how difficult it is to engineer just part of an engine let alone the whole thing. I am sure though that whatever happens and despite spectators seeing what goes wrong they will still blame Renault.
It will be interesting to see just how many races take place this year. At the moment Bahrain looks a bit dodgy with Abu Dhabi a bit behind, but then it is not beyond the realms of possibility that someone at the top could well change their faith to overcome problems.:no:
Gloomy post-Christmas holiday post incoming!

F1 really needs 2016 to be a good season. 2015 went a long way to destroying any passion I have for the sport, by the end of it I was just watching races out of habit more than any sense of enjoyment. My excitement about the new season is probably the lowest it's been since 2006, before I'd say I became a more "hardcore" fan. I know there have been plenty of dull seasons in the history of F1, but with the contrived and ever more complicated/restrictive regulations it is difficult to find much of the essence of F1 left if/when we have uncompetitive seasons/races.

I'm interested to see how things like McLaren/Honda's performance, Haas, Renault works team etc. work out and hopeful that Ferrari can give Mercedes a serious run for their money, but at the moment it's really interest and hope rather than passion and excitement.
I've been away from here for a while, glad to see the site is still going! I'm pretty excited for the season, hopefully Ferrari/Red Bull/Williams/anybody can catch up to Mercedes some. It will be interesting to see if the boys at Enstone finally get proper funding from Renault, they should fare pretty well if they do. And it will of course be interesting to see if Haas manages to immediately come into midfield like they say. I think they'll end up ahead of Manor and right with Sauber and McLaren, barring an improvement to the Honda engine.

Anyways, I haven't seen anything on here or anywhere else, so does anybody have any idea when the 2016 cars will be launched?
Unfortunately, our expectations for this season are so low that, for the first time in over 50 years, we have no plans to attend a single F1 race.

The good news is that I have just read that the Deltawing car will doing the full IMSA season this year, so I suspect we will take in several of the IMSA races.
Red Bull, after much speculation, have opted to create their own power unit for this season. It is reported to be called a Tag Heuer, after Red Bull snaffled one of McLaren's long term sponsors away and will be a Renault ICE combined with input from Ilmor on all the other bits which an F1 hybrid engine needs.

Do you have any more information about this? I thought the Red Bull engine will just be the complete Renault package but branded Tag Heuer instead of Renault. I did see a throwaway comment about Ilmor (who are already closely working with Renault) maybe helping Red Bull go down a different development direction to the Renault works team but can't see anything else. I definitely think it's a long way from Red Bull developing their own power unit.
Dont know why, because it was hard going watching for some of the season but im back looking forward to testing & march for the new season. Must be the optimism talking that will probably disappear by lap 3 on the 20th ;)
I don't think any have been announced yet Westy but the majority will probably be late January (before the wet weather test starting 25th Jan) or mid-late February (before the first Barcelona test 22nd Feb). I'm not sure whether there are any rules about the wet weather test, though. It's really a Pirelli test and maybe the teams will have to run their old cars so Pirelli are likely to get a decent number of laps on the tyres rather than waiting for all the niggles with the new cars to be fixed. If that's the case mid-late February is more likely.
They'll convince none that they're in Europe; in fact by bringing attention to it, they're causing people to point out that they're in Asia.

Call it the Azeri Grand Prix and no-one cares.
Top Bottom