Can you believe it? It is that time of year everyone, we’re back on the Formula One rollercoaster for another year, back in the now traditional starting place of Melbourne.
Yes, we are a little earlier than was originally planned for this season, but it is going to be an epic one – the longest ever season in terms of the number of races taking us all the way to Abu Dhabi in late November.
It is always hard to read a season from the first race, but it is usually those who start the season well take the momentum through the year. More often than not the winner of the first race then becomes the world champion – Jenson Button’s winning year in 2009 is a great example of that.
So Melbourne will become the starting point after just eight days of testing over a two week period in Barcelona, which many believe the order of the grid won’t dramatically change with Mercedes at the front of the field.
You have to look at Ferrari thought. They have made large changes to their car in order to compete with the Mercedes. Many believe that the gap has now closed with both Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen happier with the change in geometry in the front suspension along with another engine upgrade over the winter.
Williams could be the third fastest team, although the pack behind them including Red Bull, Force India and Toro Rosso could cause problems for them this season. The Grove based team believe they have got on top of the problems with the 2015 car, especially those in slow speed corners which really did hamper them in Monaco. Red Bull seem happier in their relationship with Renault (now badged TAG Heuer) and Force India are hitting the ground running with their 2016 car.
The next group includes McLaren, Haas, Sauber and Renault. McLaren still are down on power with straightline speeds from Barcelona looking like they have gained a little, but not enough. Melbourne might help them a little, but it isn’t going to be enough to get them solidly in the top 10.
Haas, with all their backing from Dallara and Ferrari look to have a decent package, and should be challenging for points in their first race if all goes well, niggles in testing though may not have been ironed out.
Renault have a comprimised package. The car is esentially a rehash of the Mercedes powered 2015 car, although this time with the new Renault engine. For a car that wasn’t overly competetive last year, the engine could hold them back especially in the first half of the season. You could even see them at the very back of the field early doors. Sauber also has a comprimised package with their funding woes of late, and would be unlikely to see the competitive start they had to 2015.
Manor are back, and this time with a Mercedes engine coupled with a completely new car and driver line up. It looks faster, but exactly how much faster and if it can attack the midfield is yet to be seen. So watch this space.
So there we have it, back on the road again starting this Friday in Melbourne. Follow of the latest important news on here – or follow at twitter.com/speedmajor.