F1 2016 Review

A tense, emotional, draining title fight and season was settled in one the most tense races of the season in Abu Dhabi. And it was Nico Rosberg who emerged as the victor after 21 gruelling races.

21/12/16

The Season

The season started off in Australia with a new and disliked Qualifying format. Nico Rosberg won after a horrific and potentially fatal crash between Fernando Alonso and Esteban Gutierrez. Alonso has minor injuries and had to sit out the next race in Bahrain. The first race was also a great one for newcomers Haas F1. Star driver Romain Grosjean finished 6th on the team’s debut.

Rosberg then took 3 consecutive race wins in Bahrain, China and Russia and the gap from Rosberg in 1st and Lewis Hamilton in 2nd, would be 43 points. The Russian GP would be the last race for Daniil Kvyat at Red Bull. Kvyat collided with Sebastian Vettel and was replaced with Max Verstappen for the Spanish GP.

One of the most defining and anticipated moments of the season came during the race on lap 1 where at turn 4, Rosberg and Hamilton collided. This collision left Verstappen in the lead and the eventual winner. This made Verstappen F1’s youngest winner and Red Bull’s first win of the season.

Hamilton would then win in Monaco and in Canada. Rosberg would finish 7th and 5th but he bounced back and triumphed in F1’s newest location in Baku. Hamilton struggled all weekend and only came 5th in the race.

On the final lap of the Austrian GP, Rosberg and Hamilton would collide again. A comfortable 1-2 finish was thrown away when both collided when fighting for the lead. Hamilton limped home in 1st while a 10 second penalty for causing the incident left Rosberg in 4th. This would also be a crucial race for Manor F1 and Pascal Wehrlein as the German would finish in 10th and give the team a valuable point.

Hamilton would win his home race at the British GP and also win at his most successful track at the Hungarian GP.  By winning the next race in Germany, Hamilton would lead the championship for the first time this season, 19 points ahead of Rosberg.

Technical failures over the course of the season so far would result in a penalty for Hamilton as he entered the Belgian GP. He started near the back and in the race, he fought and finished 3rd with Rosberg winning. Rio Haryanto at Manor was replaced by Esteban Ocon for the rest of the season due to Haryanto’s sponsors falling behind on payments.

Rosberg would win again in Italy and would put in a great drive in Singapore to win and lead again by 8 points.

The Malaysian GP would also be a turning point in the story of the season and a crucial one for Hamilton. Comfortably leading the race, Hamilton’s engine blew with smoke and flames coming out of the back. Rosberg was involved with a collision with Sebastian Vettel at the start and this left Rosberg near the back. He fought back to 3rd but could not stop Daniel Ricciardo winning. This would be the second and last race that Red Bull would win this season. Hamilton’s retirement would mean Rosberg’s gap grew to 23 points.

Rosberg would take his last win in Japan with Hamilton 2nd. For the final push in the championship with 4 races to go, Hamilton would win with Rosberg second in America and in Mexico.

Heading into a wet Brazilian GP, Rosberg’s lead was 12 points. Hamilton would win the disrupted and thrilling GP with Rosberg 2nd. But the drive of the season would come from Verstappen as he went from 13th to 3rd in only a few laps. It was also a great race for Felipe Nasr as he scored his and Sauber’s first points of the season finishing in 9th.

Heading into the final race in Abu Dhabi, Rosberg led by 12 points. Hamilton would have to win and Rosberg to finish outside the top 3 for Hamilton to win. Hamilton led from the start and had Rosberg bearing down on him all race. Hamilton slowed and allowed Verstappen and Vettel to close up and put Rosberg under pressure. The tactic didn’t work and Hamilton came home 1st but it was Rosberg who took the championship. Hamilton was criticised after the race for slowing down while Rosberg celebrated.

Just 5 days after winning in Abu Dhabi, Rosberg announced his retirement which shocked the paddock and fans. He would be one of three drivers retiring along with Jenson Button and Felipe Massa.

The season would be remembered by its key moments: Alonso barrel-rolling in Australia, Rosberg and Hamilton colliding in Spain with Verstappen taking the win and Hamilton’s engine blowout in Malaysia. 2016 was better for F1 than 2015 but with the new regulations coming into play and fresh faces such as Stoffel Vandoorne and Lance Stroll, F1 2017 is likely to be as thrilling and unpredictable!

 

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Changes at Williams for 2017

Felipe Massa postpones retirement to come back and race for 2017 alongside Lance Stroll and Pat Symonds will leave the team at the end of the year.

20/12/16

Symonds, 63, who joined the team in 2013, is “stepping down at the end of 2016”, the team said in a statement. Symonds’ departure precedes the expected arrival at Williams of Mercedes executive director Paddy Lowe, who is to join next season.

Symonds has been in F1 for 25 years and won a total of four world titles with Michael Schumacher at Benetton in 1994-95 and Fernando Alonso at Renault in 2005-6.

Felipe Massa has accepted an offer with Williams to stay for an extra year, paving the way for Valtteri Bottas to replace world champion Nico Rosberg at Mercedes. Williams has signed 18-year-old rookie Lance Stroll as one of its drivers for the 2017 season, and departing technical chief Pat Symonds had said earlier this month that it was “crucial” to retain Bottas given Stroll’s inexperience.

Williams: Felipe Massa & Lance Stroll

My View

Bottas has always been a front running contender along with Manor driver Pascal Wehrlein. Mercedes have been concerned that Wehrlein’s inexperience would hurt the team after only 1 year in the sport. Bottas however is a great fit for the seat alongside Lewis Hamilton as he is quick and has been destined for a top seat for a long time since joining the sport in 2013.

French GP to return in 2018

The French Grand Prix will return to the Formula 1 calendar in 2018 after an absence of 10 years.

06/12/16

Paul Ricard, which is situated in the south of France near Marseilles, last hosted a grand prix in 1990 with the French GP switching to Magny-Cours before being axed eight years ago. The French Grand Prix was last held at Magny-Cours in France in 2008.

Paul Ricard hosted a wet-weather 2017 Pirelli tyre test in September and is considered one of the most high-tech venues in world motorsport.

Haas F1’s French driver Romain Grosjean tweeted: “Really super happy for French fans who will have their Grand Prix and who can come support us!”

Unsure future in Europe

Other European countries are struggling to meet the demands for ever-higher fees from F1 to hold a GP. The long-term future of the German GP remains uncertain after the race fell off the calendar for 2017 for the second time in three years. It is expected to return for 2018 though.

Rosberg’s shock retirement announcement

world-champNico Rosberg has announced that he is to retire from F1 racing on the day he will collect the trophy for winning the 2016 driver’s world championship.

02/12/16

The 31-year-old German won his first world title on Sunday, beating Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton by finishing second in the final race in Abu Dhabi. Rosberg won nine of this season’s 21 grands prix, beating three-time champion Hamilton by five points.

The turbulent season between Hamilton and Rosberg saw both of them crash at the Spanish GP and also made contact at the Austrian GP.

Since starting his F1 career back in 2006, Rosberg has raced with Williams and Mercedes contesting in 206 grands prix winning 23 and finishing on the podium 57 times.

Rosberg’s statement in full

“Since 25 years in racing, it has been my dream, my ‘one thing’ to become Formula One World Champion. Through the hard work, the pain, the sacrifices, this has been my target. And now I’ve made it. I have climbed my mountain, I am on the peak, so this feels right. My strongest emotion right now is deep gratitude to everybody who supported me to make that dream happen.

“This season, I tell you, it was so damn tough. I pushed like crazy in every area after the disappointments of the last two years; they fuelled my motivation to levels I had never experienced before. And of course that had an impact on the ones I love, too – it was a whole family effort of sacrifice, putting everything behind our target. I cannot find enough words to thank my wife Vivian; she has been incredible. She understood that this year was the big one, our opportunity to do it, and created the space for me to get full recovery between every race, looking after our daughter each night, taking over when things got tough and putting our championship first.

“When I won the race in Suzuka, from the moment when the destiny of the title was in my own hands, the big pressure started and I began to think about ending my racing career if I became World Champion. On Sunday morning in Abu Dhabi, I knew that it could be my last race and that feeling cleared my head before the start. I wanted to enjoy every part of the experience, knowing it might be the last time… and then the lights went out and I had the most intense 55 laps of my life. I took my decision on Monday evening. After reflecting for a day, the first people I told were Vivian and Georg (Nolte, from Nico’s management team), followed by Toto.

“The only thing that makes this decision in any way difficult for me is because I am putting my racing family into a tough situation. But Toto understood. He knew straight away that I was completely convinced and that reassured me. My proudest achievement in racing will always be to have won the world championship with this incredible team of people,the Silver Arrows.

“Now, I’m just here to enjoy the moment. There is time to savour the next weeks, to reflect on the season and to enjoy every experience that comes my way. After that, I will turn the next corner in my life and see what it has in store for me…”

F1 in shock

Rosberg’s announcement has sent shock waves throughout the F1 paddock including fans and pundits. Driver’s and fans have poured in support for the new world champion as he exits the sport joining Alain Prost, Sir Jackie Stewart and Nigel Mansell in leaving the sport when they won the title.

Sky’s F1, Martin Brundle said: “I find it absolutely extraordinary, a big surprise,” said Brundle. “I don’t know what’s tormented him that much to want to call it a day right now. It’s obviously a personal decision and it’s bad for Formula 1 because we haven’t got a world champion through the winter and next season. “It’s also bad for Mercedes-Benz, they can’t roll out their world champion. Quite clearly now he’s ticked the biggest box of all as a racing driver, a world champion, and he’s called it quits.”

What do Mercedes do?

Last Sunday, Mercedes were celebrating Nico Rosberg becoming World Champion for the first time. Now they are trying to find a replacement in light of Rosberg’s shock retirement. As Mercedes are probably one of the best teams in the sport at the moment, the level of calls they must be getting from other drivers will be high.

In contention for the second seat at Mercedes alongside Lewis Hamilton is Pascal Wehrlein. Wehrlein, raced for Manor this year and scoring their only point for the season. He is also part of the “Young Driver” program at Mercedes and he has also done a lot of testing for the Silver Arrows throughout his career.

McLaren Honda driver and 2 time world champion, Fernando Alonso and Williams driver, Valterri Bottas are also rumoured to be linked to the seat.

The 2016 Season may be over and the Champion may be crowned, but the shock of the year will change the face of F1 for 2017!

 

Abu Dhabi Race Round 21

Lewis Hamilton wins the Abu Dhabi GP but 2nd place is good enough for Nico Rosberg to take the championship with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel 3rd as Jenson Button retires from potentially his last F1 race.

27/11/16

Tyre choice

Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen, Esteban Gutierrez, Daniil Kvyat, Felipe Nasr and Carlos Sainz will start on the Supersoft tyre. Jenson Button, Romain Grosjean, Kevin Magnussen, Esteban Ocon and Marcus Ericsson will start on the Soft tyre with everyone else starting on the Ultrasoft tyre.

Race

The lights go green and both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg get off the grid cleanly but Daniel Ricciardo gets a poor start and gets jumped by Kimi Raikkonen for 3rd. Max Verstappen and Nico Hulkenberg touch tyres with Hulkenberg on the outside and Verstappen on the inside. Verstappen spins and continues but falls down last place. Lap 5, Hamilton leads ahead of Rosberg, Raikkonen, Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel as Verstappen has made his way up to 13th place.

Lap 7, Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and Jolyon Palmer pit for the Soft tyre. Lap 8, Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel, Nico Hulkenberg and Felipe Massa pit for the Soft tyre. Lap 10, Daniel Ricciardo pits swapping the Supersoft tyre for the Soft tyre. He appears back out in 5th. Lap 11, Rosberg is told by Mercedes to take care in trying to overtake Max Verstappen. “Don’t take any risks” is the call made. Lap 13, Jenson Button’s final F1 race is looking to be over as his front right suspension seams to be broken. The replay shows he hit the kerb at turn 9 far too hard and that broke the suspension. He limps back to the garage and gets an applause from the fans in the grandstand. Lap 15, Daniil Kvyat retires and his gearbox looks to be the reason for retirement. Lap 17, Fernando Alonso overtakes Romain Grosjean for 10th place into turn 11.

Lap 20, Nico Rosberg goes up the inside of Max Verstappen into turn 8. Verstappen hangs it round the outside but gets a poor exit from turn 9 and Rosberg overtakes before the DRS zone and is up into 2nd place. Lap 21, Verstappen finally pits swapping the Supersoft tyre for the Soft tyre as Rosberg sets the fastest lap of the race of a 1:46:022. Lap 25, Daniel Ricciardo pits going for an undercut on Kimi Raikkonen ahead. Ricciardo goes onto the Soft tyre and Raikkonen pits the next lap. Ricciardo emerges ahead of Raikkonen on another set of the Soft tyre.

Lap 28, Lewis Hamilton pits and goes onto the Soft tyre. Lap 30, Nico Rosberg pits and emerges on the Soft tyre and ahead of Max Verstappen. Lap 31, Sebastian Vettel, who has not pitted for a second time leads ahead of Hamilton, Rosberg and Verstappen. Lap 32, Mercedes ask Hamilton: “Why so slow, currently unsafe to Vettel”. Lap 35, Nico Hulkenberg overtakes Fernando Alonso for 7th place into turn 8. Lap 36, Sergio Perez overtakes Alonso for 8th place into turn 8. Lap 37, Esteban Ocon and Felipe Nasr collide and Jolyon Palmer behind hits the debris. Ocon has the inside for turn 12 while Nasr tried to hang on but contact was inevitable. Lap 38, Vettel pits and goes onto the Supersoft tyre. Lap 39, Palmer overtakes Marcus Ericsson for 13th place into turn 8 and Ericsson pits at the end of the lap for his first pit-stop.

Lap 41, Sebastian Vettel overtakes team-mate Kimi Raikkonen. Lap 42, Jolyon Palmer hits the rear of Carlos Sainz into turn 17 and Sainz spins. The replay shows Palmer locking up and hitting the rear of Sainz. Palmer pits immediately as Sainz looks to be out with a gearbox issue. Lap 44, Lewis Hamilton receives another team call from Mercedes:”Okay Lewis, We really need to pick up the pace, Vettel an imminent threat. Lap 45, Palmer receives a 5 second time penalty for the collision with Sainz. Lap 46, Vettel overtakes Daniel Ricciardo into turn 11 and up into 4th place, Max Verstappen is his next target.

Lap 47, Lewis Hamilton receives yet another radio call from Mercedes: “Ok Lewis, this is an instruction: we need a 45.1 (lap time) for the win.” Hamilton “I suggest you let us race” is his response, Things are getting really tense down at Mercedes. Lap 50, there is on 2.9 seconds between Hamilton leading to Sebastian Vettel in 4th with Nico Rosberg and Max Verstappen in the middle. Lap 51, Vettel gets a good run out of turn 9 and overtakes Verstappen under braking for turn 11. Lap 52, ” Lewis, this is Paddy (Lowe). We need you to pick up the pace to win this race, that’s an instruction.” “I’m actually in the lead now, quite comfortably” is Hamilton’s response.

Lap 54, “Right now I’m losing the world championship, so not bothered if I win or lose this race” says Lewis Hamilton as Sebastian Vettel is pressurising Nico Rosberg. Lap 55, the final lap and Vettel has a go at Rosberg into turn 11 but Rosberg fends him off. The chequered flag is out, Lewis Hamilton wins but NICO ROSBERG IS THE 2016 DRIVERS WORLD CHAMPION! Rosberg comes over the radio “We did it. We did itttt!” Felipe Massa finishes 9th in his final F1 race and does doughnuts along with Vettel and Rosberg.

Race result

1.Hamilton  2.Rosberg  3.Vettel  4.Verstappen  5.Ricciardo  6.Raikkonen 7.Hulkenberg  8.Perez  9.Massa  10.Alonso  11.Grosjean  12.Gutierrez  13.Ocon  14.Wehrlein  15.Ericsson  16.Nasr  17.Palmer  DNF Sainz, Kvyat, Button, Bottas and Magnussen.

Race stats

  • Nico Rosberg becomes the 33rd F1 world champion with him and his father, Keke Rosberg join Graham Hill and Damon Hill on being the second father-and-son world champions.
  • Rosberg is only the 3rd German to win the title, following in the foot-steps of Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel.
  • Rosberg has also contested 206 Grands Prix in total – the highest number of career starts before becoming champion.
  • Sebastian Vettel’s 3rd place was his first podium appearance since the Italian GP in Monza.
  • With Nico Hulkenberg 7th and team-mate Sergio Perez 8th, Force India have easily safeguarded their fourth position in the constructors’ stakes – the team’s best-ever championship finish.

Final Standings  – Drivers Championship

  1. Nico Rosberg 385pts
  2. Lewis Hamilton 380pts
  3. Daniel Ricciardo 256pts
  4. Sebastian Vettel 212pts
  5. Max Verstappen 204pts
  6. Kimi Raikkonen 186pts
  7. Sergio Perez 101pts
  8. Valterri Bottas 85pts
  9. Nico Hulkenberg 72pts
  10. Fernando Alonso 54pts
  11. Felipe Massa 53pts
  12. Carlos Sainz 46pts
  13. Romain Grosjean 29pts
  14. Daniil Kvyat 25pts
  15. Jenson Button 21pts
  16. Kevin Magnussen 7pts
  17. Felipe Nasr 2pts
  18. Jolyon Palmer 1pt
  19. Pascal Wehrlein 1pt
  20. Stoffel Vandoorne 1pt
  21. Esteban Gutierrez 0pts
  22. Marcus Ericsson 0pts
  23. Esteban Ocon 0pts
  24. Rio Haryanto 0pts

Final Standings – Constructors Championship

  1. Mercedes 765pts
  2. Red Bull 468pts
  3. Ferrari 398pts
  4. Force India 173pts
  5. Williams 138pts
  6. McLaren 76pts
  7. Torro Rosso 63pts
  8. Haas F1 Team 29pts
  9. Renault 8pts
  10. Sauber 2pts
  11. Manor Racing 1pt