Thoughts on the Formula 1 year that lies ahead in 2016
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Posted By: James Allen  |  02 Jan 2016   |  11:21 am GMT  |  127 comments

Happy New Year to all readers!

The turning of the page from 2015 into 2016 offers new opportunities for some, while others will face new struggles and there are some big changes for the sport in the pipeline. So let’s take a look at what lies ahead this year in the F1 world.

Toto Wolff

Mercedes in a dilemma over driver favouritism
Mercedes has dominated F1 since the change to hybrid turbos in 2014 and looks set to start ahead in 2016 again, with all hopes pinned on Ferrari bridging the gap of around 2/10ths in race pace and 6/10ths in qualifying pace, which we saw at the end of last season.

The weak point of this team is the relationship between the drivers and its potentially negative effect on team spirit.

Over the Christmas break Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has acknowledged that Mercedes domination has been bad for the sport and even floated the idea that they could change policy on race strategy if 2016 looked like being another Mercedes whitewash; he would sanction a free-for-all on strategy during races, allowing Hamilton and Rosberg to do what they wanted. This is very much against the way Paddy Lowe and strategy chief James Vowles have run things thus far.

“I want the dominance to continue but if it were to continue like this, I need to think what to do so we do not become the enemy and how we can help the show,” Wolff said.

“Maybe it’s about unleashing the two of them completely. Make them have their own strategy. That would be a solution.”

This is dangerous talk as far as the team is concerned and the resolution of this matter is likely to be one of the key themes of 2016.

Mercedes F1 team

Both drivers at various points last year asked for a special strategy to get one over on the other and were refused. The team’s policy is to try to find two strategies which give both drivers an equal chance to win, but without favouring either. Sometimes during a race a strategy opens up that gives one driver a clear advantage over the other. Mercedes has been reluctant to go down that route because they know it always leads to recriminations and bad blood after the race.

We saw the return of the feud between Rosberg and Hamilton towards the end of the season and if the team changes policy and sets up two independent strategy teams, while it will lead to better racing for the fans, it will also split the garage down the middle, ramp up the hostility and divide the team.

It will be very interesting to see what Mercedes decides to do.

Ferrari F1

Pressure at Ferrari
Former Mercedes engineer Jock Clear starts work at Ferrari this month in his new role as head of race operations on the engineering side. The first thing he will notice is the pressure inside Maranello to win.

The Italian squad has not won a championship now since the 2007 Drivers’ and 2008 Constructors’ and last season’s renaissance with three wins and 16 podiums gave them back their belief. But that can be a dangerous thing at Maranello, because for them it’s a short step between belief and pressure to deliver a title, which historically has proven to be the point at which things start to go wrong.

This time Ferrari have some great assets: a very strong technical leader in James Allison, for whom this will be the test he has spent his career building towards and they also have a strong leader in the cockpit in Sebastian Vettel, who has four world championships behind him to back up any big call he makes.

Jean Todt Maurizio Arrivabene

New team boss Maurizio Arrivabene gained some admirers in 2015 and has to build on that this year. He knows his strengths and his weaknesses. But the key strength he needs to show this year is the ability to protect the team from excessive expectation from above – especially from its ruthless chairman Sergio Marchionne – and not interfere. If he does that, Ferrari has a chance.

Guenter Steiner, Romain Grosjean

Reasons to be cheerful
F1 always reinvents itself, even during lean years and for 2016 we have two “new” teams on the grid, or rather one brand new one in Haas and one ‘retread’ in the Renault team. The grids will therefore feature 22 cars.

Haas has had a controversial build up to its entry with the row over Ferrari’s clever use of its wind tunnel to develop the car without the restrictions that face existing teams.

But no-one begrudges Haas taking the benefits of its clever strategy. The car will be pretty solid, with a good engine and at least one very good driver in Romain Grosjean. The jury is out on Esteban Gutierrez, but the next couple of seasons give him a chance to show what he’s got, up against one of the fastest drivers in F1.

I’d expect Haas to race against Sauber as a benchmark, as both are powered by the same Ferrari engine. If they are consistently ahead, they have done a very good job. If they are behind, then catching them is their target.

Sauber scored 36 points last year. Haas would be very happy with a total like that in their first season. Haas’ relationship with Ferrari could well lead to Sauber breaking with Maranello and going with Honda power from 2017 onwards, keep an eye out for that.

Jolyon Palmer

As mentioned on these pages earlier this week, Renault is now rebuilding the team after the lay-offs and redundancies at Lotus in the last couple of years. It’s a popular place to work and the core group of engineers is largely still there, so they should have no problem recruiting talent. Then it’s about improving the Renault power unit, which will happen now that they’ve decided to turn the money tap on and commit properly to F1. Renault’s involvement has been badly mismanaged in recent years, but the hope is that now they can show that ingenuity and flair which brought them the 2005 and 2006 titles.

In Pastor Maldonado and Jolyon Palmer they have one of the weaker driver line ups, but both have a chance to show what they can do in a manufacturer backed team, for one year at least, before the Regie makes some bold moves on drivers for 2017 and beyond, which is good news for some of the young talent.

The Toro Rosso pair will continue to excite. Max Verstappen was 2015’s most prolific overtaker and Carlos Sainz showed great speed. This year with a well sorted Ferrari 2015 engine in the back, the cars will be reliable and that means both drivers will get plenty of chances to see the chequered flag in points paying positions. I’d expect one or both to get a podium, perhaps early on in the season, while others are still sorting out their packages. They will lose out in the second half of the season, due to engine development, but by then both drivers will be in the thick of discussions about their next teams with Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull and Renault all in the market, potentially.

XPB.cc Bernie Ecclestone Jean Todt

Reasons to be worried

Off track, this will be a heavy year politically, possibly the heaviest since 2009. Last year closed with the FIA World Council giving Jean Todt and Bernie Ecclestone a mandate to do whatever is necessary to bring down the cost of engines and that puts them on a collision course with Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault and Honda. The first two in particular will take on the challenge.

Like the battle in 2009, which nearly ended in a teams’ breakaway, this battle is about the same things; money and excessive manufacturer control. It will be handled differently by a different generation of team bosses, but you will read some apocalyptic headlines and hear some heavy threats in 2016.

It all starts with a deadline of the middle of this month for the manufacturers to come up with a plan to dramatically reduce the cost of engines to customer teams and to make F1 engines simpler and more fan friendly.

Then we have some external forces that could shake up the sport; the European Union will decide in the next few months whether there is a case to investigate in F1, after Sauber and Force India made an official complaint that the money is unfairly distributed and that this skews the competition in F1. They have a strong case.

If the EU decides to investigate and finds against F1, then the winners will be Bernie Ecclestone, who loves operating amid uncertainty and chaos, and the smaller teams, who ultimately should get a fairer slice of the money. The losers will be fat cat teams like Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes and McLaren as well as F1’s majority owner CVC Capital Partners, which has decided not to sell F1 at present but to hold on for around two more years.

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What do you think? What are you most and least looking forward to in 2016? Leave your comments in the section below

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127 comments

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1

But disappointing to see JB saying the extra tyre choices won't make any difference because people will just choose the same thing.

I'm not so sure. I think we'll see some intra team differences and I'm really hopeful that Hamilton and Rosberg will turn up having chosen different compounds to a few races.

2

There should be an effect in the few races that have very high temperatures (Hungary, Malaysia etc..), but apart from that probably not so much.

3

If JB says so, then surely the extra tyres won't make any difference for he does know what he is talking about. Another meaningless regulation change? Lets hope it does not turn F1 into an even more tasteless circus.

4

Sad to hear JB and Jess heading for "El Divorcio" - perhaps the strain of the fall out of the less than spectacular McHonda effort has taken it's toll on even personal relationships...........

5

Gaz Boy, the point in fact the Anglo-Saxon culture does not go hand in hand with Japanese culture one would think.

6

"Maybe it’s about unleashing the two of them completely"

Do it do it do it!

Equal strategies and treatment might be in the best interests of the team, but it's as boring as biscuits to watch.

We've had two seasons of that, we know Mercedes is the best, Lewis now has the 3x WDCs he always wanted, so please Mercedes - In 2016 just let them go at it.

7

It would be nice to see.

Couldn't they minimise any inter-team split by leaving the 'different' decisions just between the driver and his engineer? so the team will still put together the 'optimum' strategy, and a bunch of alternatives as they surely do anyway, garage/mechanic/data teams all work together for the best car.

but as they get into the race, the '2nd' driver will speak with his engineer and they might decide 'let's go option 2/3/4'

8

So far as I know that's exactly right and that's what Hamilton and Rosberg have asked for at various races, so hopefully Toto gives it the go ahead for 2016.

9

I say Do it too! Finally we will be able to see how much better Lewis is than Nico! (yes I am a pom and a Lewis fan) 😉

10

I agree.

And I don't agree with James that it would be a negative thing for the team. Sure it would need managing carefully, so that rivalry was friendly and it did not descend into bitterness, but it could be great for both the sport and Mercedes. it would certainly get my, and a lot of other F1 enthusiasts', respect.

11
Matthew Cheshire

I think so too. If they manage the team well, internal competition would be better than the stagnation of another dominant season. All team members are driven to compete, or they wouldn't be there.

Bonuses are paid on team success, so everyone is happy at the end of the season anyway.

12

Other series take independence in the same team as given, Indycar and NASCAR most prominently, and there's no talk of splitting the garage. I've never understood why F1 teams can't do the same thing.

I think some of it's a matter of space. F1 pit crews are so huge that having a separate crew per car would be too cramped. And for some daft reason (ridiculous when you consider how few cars are on the grid), F1 has only ONE pit box per team. Why? Tradition?

Some of it, also, must stem from memories of the Senna/Prost feud. People shudder at that kind of tension.

In any case, this issue further demonstrates that F1 abhors simplicity. Make like other series and Give each car its own crew and crew chief/race engineer. Re-do the pit lanes so that EVERY car has its own pit stall. Limit the number of people who can work on pit stops if you want more space.

Simple.

13

The danger is if the garages/strategies are split then it follows tec data will not be shared...!

This could end in further dominance from one side of the garage - not going to suggest one driver/garage is better than the other at car set up etc but we have seen one driver able to pull over 10secs on the other in race trim.(SC's not withstanding)

Shared info kinda guarantees the cars are close and leading into the 1st corner being crucial for both drivers.

Changes within, splitting the team may not deliver the results many seem to be hoping for and actually widen the gap between the drivers.

14

To be filed under –

‘. . . external forces that could shake up the sport . . .’

Mass migration of fans to other forms of entertainment if F1’s competitive lop-sidedness continues.

Hope it doesn’t happen so here’s wishing all on JAonF1 a happy and productive New Year.

15

happy new year everyone, i am looking forward to the new season with no expectations. looking forward to the first images of the new cars and the first sets of testing results as well as the first few races.

as the say, it's a new slate which will not disappoint me..

rubbing palms!

16

That's right aveli, how rude of me, Happy New Year fellow commenters!

17

Thank you Sebee, that was nice of you. I have been very rude too for posting without ever wishing a very happy new year to everyone and particularly to jamesallenonF1. Sorry guys! I wish you all a cracking 2016.

18

you know it makes sense sebee.

19

What would happen if the rules said every power plant design would be published 6 months after it first raced? That might make engines a bit more like aerodynamics, where the best innovations tend to be copied after a while.

Manufacturers might not spend so heavily if any advantage they bought would soon be shared with their rivals. And it ought to make F1 a lot more appealing to new engine manufacturers.

20

I think this stuff does get published, and available to all tests to see. At least at some level of detail. I know for sure that teams making a change to their PU send documentation to the FIA, and teams are cc'd in on that correspondence, during the entire process.

21

I think you would find the manufacturers publishing false blueprints.

22

I'm looking forward to RB getting a competitive engine (wishful thinking maybe), with RIC taking a few victories. Honda getting more competitive with a victory by ALO and BUT. More engine noise and faster lap times. Great coverage by JA on F1 and maybe attending a trace this year.

I'm least looking forward to is another year of MERC dominance, that'll be another nail in the coffin as they say.

23

I hope Redbull do not get a Honda engine in 2017 after the hard work by McLaren. If they do, hope it's a "customer" engine and firmly second priority to the works team!

Would Christian Horner have tried to block other leading teams take the Renault engine had it been a winning success??

24

Which is why no sport can have its members rule itself. There needs to be an independent governing body, which tells everyone what they need to do. Including making engines available to more than one team, perhaps to be decided by ballot.

25

Of course he would've!!!

26

Wishing happy new year to the fans and the JA on F1 team.

Now, what I would like to see in 2016 is what progress top teams such as Red Bull and Mclaren would have made.

Secondly, would like to see the new tyre selection making a difference with some teams taking risks.

Thirdly, I am looking forward to the better looking cars that we shall enjoy unlike the 2013 motors.

27

Renault will use the Lotus drivers for a season before dropping them like a sack of coal chucked out of Herculean Transporter.

Mercedes will be Top Dogs & Lewis will be the lead driver.

Rosberg replaced with Bottas mid way through season. Swap around with Rosberg. That'll end the funding.

Werhlein drives for Manor Mercedes.

Ferrari salivating on the cookies Jock Clear brings to Ferrari HQ & Holes hiding in the bushes chucking data over the fence (mum's the word).

Williams still "The Maybe Would be Should be" up there team.

ToroRosso to beat Red Bull.

Sauber/ Force India will moan & groan to the EUROPEAN UNION & then bow to Bernie (who'll be avoiding his fried September Blatter & the Federal Bureau & the German Banks).

Run of the Mill season will commence.

Lewis Champion

Vetted 2nd

Versteppan 3rd

Sorted 2016 now let's move onto...what....oh..m.m.m.

Mclaren Honda well that's really not my remit that's one for the Racing Gods & Japanese Emperor to unravel.

28

Speaking about Mercedes, from what I have seen the biggest cause of problems has been due to Monaco 2014 and Spa 2014 clashes and not necessarily about strategy favoritism

So no I don't expect a big fall out due to the long friendship of Lewis and Rosberg.

Besides strategy rarely leads to success at Mercedes as Lewis has only won British race 2015 and Monaco 2008 through strategy whereas Rosberg has won Monaco 2015 through strategy.

29

A few weeks ago Pat Symonds sat down with editors at Motorsport Magazine and was asked about there being so many boring races. He responded that it didn't seem that way from where he was sitting. Exactly the problem for F1, which is now set up to entertain the handful of engineers who can see on their computer screens the actual race. It's not happening on track anymore beyond the first turn unless the rain comes down.

This is the year I may finally make my break from F1. But let's see what the EU and Bernie can do about pulling back in the likes of me who have only been interested for decades.

30

I think we should wait until 2017. Chances are 2016 will be very similar to 2015 so you might as well give up now.

However 2017 they are apparantly going to go several seconds quicker per laps. And Lord knows hopefully they'll not only be driving them harder but it might shake the order up as well.

31

I hope 2017 is a great year too, however with the rules they have outlined it seems they are still going down the 'full aero' route rather than mechanical grip.. meaning it may be even harder for cars to follow each other. I believe the teams want this as they have invested hugely in state of the art wind tunnels. Shame.

32

I have to agree. With all the changes apparently coming up in 2017, it looks like 2016 is going to basically be a "null" year with everyone more or less sitting on what they've got while getting ready for 2017.

33

As for Ferrari, their biggest task is to bridge the qualifying gap because a good qualifying car is essential to success as a number of tracks are difficult to overtake on.

For sure, Ferrari need success for the employees' sake because new boss Sergio isn't shy to fire employees who don't bring home the trophies.

34

On the topic of the Haas project, it will be interesting to see what results Grosjean can achieve after he left Lotus.

I mean, ever since Grosjean partnered a teammate with the number 13 car, the team struggled quite a bit.

Last but not least, the Torro Rosso lads are sure to give the fans pleasure with a better and more reliable engine

35

If Toto does this, he will tear the team apart from inside.

On the other hand if Ferrari do offer a challenge, he will need to back 1 driver more.

36

"If Toto does this, he will tear the team apart from inside"

I'm not seeing a down side here Sebee 😉

37

Indeed Random. However, in this case The Treasurer (KRB) I think is correct above.

38

I think it's a free throwaway line from Toto, because he knows there won't be the same gap as in the last two years. So he gets to say it, without ever having the intention of implementing it.

39

Exactly this.

40

Oh...CVC "decided" not to sell? Is that what you say when there is no buyers willing to pay your asking price?

41

@Sebee

willing to pay your asking price?

I told you that Bernie was just shaking the tree a couple of months ago - as I recall you were adamant that was not the case and that a sale was imminent. All it needed was a helpful banker and a billionaire that was a mug......

42

Your Honor, I've been busted.

In plead insanity. Do you require proof? No?

The Court finds Sebee innocent by reason of mental disorder.

Yeah, I'd rather go down like that then be proclaimed busted on some half baked claim! 🙂

43

@Sebee

You don’t see the “selling the growing business” as questioning valuation?....

No - still Busted 🙂

44

Busted? BUSTED? Outrageous. I'm going to use one of your frequently used lines C63.

"How fast was I going officer?"

You don't see the "selling the growing business" as questioning valuation? After all, if valuation had any growth potential CVC wouldn't sell. And if buyers saw that potential, they wouldn't be just kicking the tires and walking on by.

45

@Sebee

perhaps you'd be kind enough to point out the section of the posts [which you have copied and pasted] which show you as being 'on record as saying no one liked the valuation put on F1'. I can't see it.

Until then you remain busted 😎

46

Oh C63, you know my OCD and ADD will make me hit that article and show just how out of context you took this one post you cling to.

Guess you forgot to copy this one above it that lead right to the one you posted...

>

Sebee says:

October 7, 2015 at 2:44 pm

Buy it leveraged, chop the 9B pie accordingly on the other side, leave the bank holding it when loans can’t be repaid. They are not equipped to run it. Valuation drops quickly, Bernie buys it back 20 cents on a Euro, musical chairs start again.

Or go even higher in that chain and see this:

Sebee says:

October 6, 2015 at 7:42 pm

If you see question marks around those points, you’d want to sell, right? Because if growth was the order of the day – why in the world would you sell a growing business?

Come on, you know I'm ready for a good "whizzing" match on a slow news day! 🙂

47

C63, backtracking? I've said that oil states and F1 go together. If an oil state bought F1 they'd dump this Hybrid PU immediately to not only return F q to what it needs to be, but to align it with its promotional interests.

And you still didn't tell us what the post you took that out of was, including listed valuation. You just took a blurb out of context. 🙂

48

@Sebee

petrol only cars with larger displacement engines may very well be interested in F1...

Eh? Of all the posters on this site I would have thought you'd be the last who needed reminding that F1 uses small capacity hybrid engines.

You've been busted and no amount of twisting and backtracking will change that 😎

49

What was the post, what valuation did it mention? I know I kicked the valuation down number of times, and I know I've seen various valuations. But I don't doubt that oil rich countries in who's interest it is to prolong oil consumption and create an aura of excitement around petrol only cars with larger displacement engines may very well be interested in F1 indeed. In the end I did outline that point, and I feel that is the most likely sale destination.

50

@Sebee

I am on record as saying no one liked the valuation put on F1....

That's not quite true 🙂

C63 says:

October 7, 2015 at 10:48 pm

@Sebee

Do you really believe, anyone who is smart enough to have access to the sort of cash required to buy the F1 group – would be daft enough to pay the price being asked ?.....

and your reply

C63, you’re assuming logic will decide. You’re giving no room to greed, pride, bragging rights, and also assuming that money and smart logical people go together. Look at all the oil money kicking the tires. This is going to happen.....

oops 😎

51

I am on record as saying no one liked the valuation put on F1. I was cheering on DM to buy F1, it makes total sense in my view. Finally, on the banker, leverage thing you mention - yes, that's what will happen now. It just needs to be set up, within the next 2 years as CVC says perhaps?

52

Yep.

In related news McLaren have decided not to have a title sponsor 🙂

53

And also in the news, Ferrari will allow both their drivers to race each other!

54

Nice one.

55

Mercedes needs to drop one of their drivers. Equal strategy is not racing, next thing you know they'll be giving everyone a "participation trophy" like they do with kids now. This is why they run the races, this is not a computer game that can control the outcome. Fill up the gas tank, put on the tire of your choice, tires that will go 200 miles or 2 hours and go racing, no pit stops, no on board starters, no reverse gear, just enough laps to wear out the tires. I realize Formula E is the future but until they outlaw gas engines let's have some racin'!

56

That would work Tony, but there would be one very cross driver making bad news for Mercedes if they did.

No one has mentioned that a sport with the majority of the teams in the UK will have no free-to-air in the UK and a continuing threat to the UK race...

57

When one driver has established himself as the clear number one in a team as did Hamilton by beating Rosberg comprehensively since his move from Mclaren, there should not be such a problem as to who to favour or not. Redbull did just that in there dominant years with Vettel and it has always been the policy at Ferrari.

58

Least looking forward to another unearned drivers championship in a dodgem car that is today's car. Most hoping for a key solution to this which would be allowing engines to be developed all through the year with no limitations (no token rubbish). Most looking forward to seeing a return to close exciting racing, more teams, multiple winners, and a deserving champion (sadly all unlikely).

59

close exciting racing and unrestricted development are incompatible objectives...

60

You were doing great right up until the very last comma 🙂

61

C63, while F1 will squabble over what happens in 2017, 2019 is not far off.

http://www.news.com.au/technology/apple-tipped-to-leapfrog-tesla-google-and-launch-apple-car-in-2019/news-story/6658c881fed7557da7a3186dcba80601

TimW, remember how I told you that one day you'll wake up and petrol cars will be EOL? We now appear to have a target date. Guess what? It will be here in a blink. Guess what else? Do you doubt that Apple becomes #1 car company 5 years later? Automotive brands, Captain has advised of turbulence ahead, buckle up.

62

Sebee, I have never doubted that road cars will become all electric in time, just that it won't happen as quickly as you think.Please read this article again,I admire your enthusiasm for the subject but you realise that your proof is a speculative article talking about what might perhaps maybe will happen at some point in the future and even includes a denial from the boss of Apple?!

63

The fact remains Sebee that if you would like to indulge in a bit of range anxiety, then you have a choice of electric vehicles in which to do it! Did BMW sell 30000 i3s last year? That is maximum capacity and considering they only sold 16000 in 2014 it seems unlikely, what is your source? Even if 30k units was managed it hardly seems that significant when you think that they sold 2 million units in total does it? The market share in the UK and USA remains less than one percent, yes it is growing, but very slooowly!

64

We know about Tesla TimW.

Nissan Leaf and Renault are one and same.

What else is out there? Not much as car companies protect their petrol and hybrid product lines.

For BMW i3 is the only mode as i8 is a hybrid i3 is a great seller too, nearly 30k units sold in 2015. Production can't keep up with demand. Don't forget Volt with generator. But that's it. Not really much choice. Tesla X is the only SUV.

65

Sebee, no one serious about making an electric car?! You can stroll down to your local BMW, Renault, Nissan, Tesla etc etc etc dealership and buy one today! Obviously there won't be much of a queue,,,,,

66

@Sebee

Just like turning on a light switch....

You really think so? Electric cars, quite simply, are not the choice of the vast majority of buyers - they sell in tiny, tiny (comparitive) numbers and this is despite generous Government incentives. Look how many sell in countries which don't offer tax breaks and the like.

You think sticking an Apple logo on one will change that? I can't see it myself. It will take decades before public opinion changes.

67

TimW, when has Apple ever spoken of a yet to be released product? Tim Cook will no doubt have to leak the cat out of the bag sooner than he'd like on this one, because the reality is you can't keep a car under wraps this long. It has to be road tested, crash tested - too many people will see it before launch. But don't count on that Tim to admit plans that are a few years ahead.

My point is simple and relates to our chat a while back, just to show you that no one had been serious about really making a mass produced electric car. But Apple has $200B in cash! They can make it happen on a scale of no other company, quickly, with no legacy, no unions, no baggage. My point was simply that one day you'll go to sleep, the next Tim Cook will take the stage somewhere in SanFran at 10AM, someone will drive the Apple Car on the stage, people will clap, and by the end of that week Apple will take 2M unit orders for the Apple Car on it's website. That's how it will play out. Just like turning on a light switch. For now it's fiction. But I hope it's true sooner than later.

68

@Sebee

Do you doubt that Apple becomes #1 car company 5 years later?...

Yes I do. There is not the faintest ,remotest, slimmest of outside chances that Apple will become the #1 car maker within 5 years of their proposed launch date in 2019. They would have to go from 200,000 predicted sales (they haven't actually sold a single car) to over 10,000,000 in just 5 years - ROFLMA.

69

not so funny...

Yes it is. If anything it's funnier watching you try to redefine #1 car maker in an attempt to back up your wild prediction.

Still ROFLMAO

70

C63, I looked into it briefly, well, because Google makes it easy. 10M cars is Toyota to be #1 by volume. According to financials, $25K USD is the average car unit price for Toyota. So, while I'm not saying that Apple will ramp up to 5M cars in a blink, but with a single model priced at double that $25K as goal, Apple would match #1 Toyota's revenue. And that with a single car model that would be way more profitable than what others offer. And $50K would be only $10K more than average car price in the US - not a big step for consumers to make an automotive revolution purchase. How eager do you think would China be to have 100% of this car's production? What earth and mountains would they move to ramp up to high volume? How about I put to you a forecast that China/Asia takes 3M of that 5M target volume alone? Things just got a bit less funny, no?

71

Of 1 model C63. Made in China, by factories eager to ramp up and consumers eager to have it. Many ways to measure #1 C63, by revenue for example instead of units. What is the average unit price VW or Toyota get for the 10m cars? If Apple triples that AUP, 3.3m cars needed to go to #1. Not so funny and out on reach suddenly perhaps?

72

Much like their attempt to take over the wristwatch industry, I don't think Apple will succeed in automotive.

73

11m watches, $5B in revenue or so. Not a bad failure.

Just for perspective, in searches I'm seeing Rolex come in at $4.6B-$7B revenue range. Rolex has been making watches for over 100 years. Apple? It took them 1 year to match Rolex's revenue. Can we declare it a success? 🙂

74

Indeed. If their phones and watches are anything to go buy then the cars will look good, but have rubbish battery life, be over-priced and break every time you go over a speed-bump...

75

Wrist watch was a hobby project, for fun. First version did quite well, no?

76

Happy New Year to all

Hoping Ferrari can show more speed to actually challenge and mess up MBs dominance

Mid field will be fun to watch again I guess and figure it will be the season's main event, as it was last year

Regarding ROS vs HAM, I do not think strategy will change much, HAM is still the better driver overall and as we have seen, whoever gets to the first corner first remains there because of aerodynamic inability to fight a similar car

The only question is will ROS be able/allowed to actually fight HAM to the first corner/lap by both team and fans

77

I have to confess I see no problem with F1 - imo nothing needs to be 'improved' just allowed to evolve naturally.

Hamilton maybe the most devisive driver ever to sit in an F1 car and his detractors the most vocal but he earned his titles without #1 status underhand tactics and the like, to that I say respect.

The rest - without the manufacturers, the engine suppliers there is no F1 don't know what Bernies mumbling about - actually that's the only real change required - time to give Bernie his gold Rolex and shuffle him off into the twilight stage left.

The drivers my bet is Rossi will emerge as the New star of 2016 with Palmer/Renault surprising everyone.

The other drivers......... to bring it!

The competitiveness of today's drivers is the best it's ever been - all the way down to Marussia. (with the exception of Maldanado not a dud on the grid)

Hopefully the 'fixed ceiling' these regs impose will see the others finally catch up - I cant wait.

78

".. he earned his titles without #1 status"

You must be joking.

79

Do you pit your #1 at Monaco when #2 - in 2nd - isn't pitting? Yeah, that's what I thought.

80

May I?

"...Hamilton maybe the most divisive driver ever"

You must be joking!

81

Happy new year James. I know you have good contacts in Italy, and was just wondering have you heard anything about what are Ferrari's chances of genuinely challenging the Mercs this year.

Also, do you see any other team stepping forward this year to challenge?

Many thanks

82

I don't see a consistent challenger other than Ferrari in 2017, no

It's all about being methodical for Ferrari and improving

Key areas are efficient downforce and qualifying modes for engine, if they can start races ahead of Mercedes they can stay there

83

Interesting you said 2017 instead on 2016. So you don't subscribe to what some of the other websites are saying - Vettel to challenge for the 16 title?

84

I hope EU plans to investigate F1 prize money distribution as bernie is waiting to tear off all the previous agreements and do a reasonably equal prize distribution so the smaller teams are safe from going bust. And new teams tempted to join F1 circus.

Though f1 is unimaginable without Ferrari but still Bernie needs to get back more control of f1.

Engine cost should go down and less complicated engines should be introduced.

Well more fuel is burnt in f1 season logistics then trying to save fuel by downsizing the engines

85

And CVC Partners need to take a smaller share of the profits from F1.

86
michael prestia

Happy New Year everyone.

87

I see a 2016 season where the two Mercedes drivers are splitting their team’s share of the points, while Vettel secures most of Ferrari’s points.

Looking forward to a more mature FW39 and Williams and a more developed Bottas.

Those 4 to contend for the WDC.

A Toro Rosso with a more powerful more reliable PU

Significant McLaren gains

RBR in the same place as 2015

FI continuing their 2015 development path

Two new teams

A Manor Merc

And louder PUs?

This could end up being a very dynamic season, which would make the 2017 rule changes something to ponder.

88

As a dedicated US F1 fan I hope your predictions for Haas are correct. But 36 points would be an unprecedented success for a brand new team. There is more to an F1 team than just a good motor (Sorry: PU). Tenth in the Constructors would be a more attainable target. Plus, I don't believe Grosjean has the mental strength to lead a team from the back of the grid.

89

Agreed. I think Haas will bring up the rear though I expect the field to be a lot more bunched up and closer together. They should then pick up a few points along the way but nowhere near 36 points.

90

The Mercedes dilemma is an interesting one, particularly when you look back over the last couple of years.

In 2014 they potentially had the opportunity to try different driver strategies because they were so far ahead of the field. Even a non-optimal route would still land them a 1-2. They typically didn't do so because it was a really important first (sort of) world championship for them,

In 2015 the field closed up and their room for maneuver shrunk. A non-optimal strategy might suddenly get you a 1-3 or a 1-4. Why take a 20% chance (for example) to try and swap the order of your 1-2 when there's an 80% chance it'll result in a 1-3.

If the field is close in 2016 (big 'if' there) then there's an argument it'll just exacerbate that problem more. They may become even more risk averse. But also it could go entirely the other way. If you don't have a guaranteed 1-2 then taking chances to try and get the win looks much better. If you're running 1-3 or 2-3 or pretty much any other combination apart from 1-2 it's much easier to justify rolling the dice. I'd also suspect it could potentially reduce inter-team tension. They wouldn't be favoring one driver to beat the other, they'd be favoring whoever on the day could beat Ferrari.

So a more competitive Ferrari might not only make Mercedes versus Ferrari interesting. It might also make Mercedes versus Mercedes more interesting as well.

-sjp

91

I'm not particularly looking forward to the 2016 season, as I think it will be another Mercedes steamroller. For me the main interest will be the 2017 regulation changes and hopefully something will happen with regard to engines in 2018. I don't know how long f1 can sustain this rather curious marketing strategy where the fans, who want flat out racing, speed, noise, drama and excitement, are instead being fed fuel- saving economy tests in far-flung countries.

92

F1 at it's satirical best :

Spend millions developing highly efficient 'Power Units' and then complain they cost too much money and are too complicated for the fans to understand and need to be made more simple... Please can we have some credit; we love the tech - give or take the noise argument - thats a question of taste.

Give us the tech and tell us about it, and how its going to make everything a little less screwed up in a few years time. Surely the manufacturers have done the hard yards on development, at some point the gains on investment will tail off and they can all go racing at a more predictable cost, esp for the small teams who are justified in their screams about cost. So limit the price they pay already and give them a break, its technology R&D after all.

Bring on the EU investigation, a bit of transparency and humble pie will be a good exercise and F1 will come out of healthier with better recognition of the mid pack.

93

Happy 2016 guys. 3rd year of these hybrids and we should start to see the PU come closer together. I think we will see Mercedes challenged more often with Ferrari and I wont be surprised if a few silver arrows PU go pop as they pushed to use strat mode Z more often. I expect an epic battle between no5 & 7 & 6 and 44. Meanwhile Mchonda will build a top 6 car but I cant wait to see it scrapping with a TR with a year old Ferrari PU in the back and a certain spaniard spitting japanese euros at the press when 2nd season drivers get the better of him yet again.

94

Brilliant analysis James. Can't add a thing.

95

There is what I really want to happen and there is what realistically will happen

What I desperately want is Williams to be back up there, with a new world champion in the form of Bottas or Massa. That is in daydream fantasy land. Whilst it is technically possible, it is technically possible for Haas or Marussia to be Constructors champions next year.

What I will settle for - Williams at least 3rd in constructors and a win under their belts (a 1-2 would be better but a win is a win). I would prefer the win to be on merit rather than circumstance but will take what they get

What I think I want to happen most of all this year, and this must happen otherwise F1 viewership will in my opinion go right down the toilet, if the Mercs are going to win all the races they must at least have to fight hard for it.

Every year, every rule change someone will master it perfectly, I don't mind seeing one team win all the time if they have been made to sweat for it (bit like Brawn vs. RBR in 2009).

Oh and I also want to see less postulating from Hamberg (Hamilton/Rosberg) whenever things don't go their way. Just less postulating from everyone on the grid.

96

I don't understand why there can't be different strategies between Mercs. I dont know the reasons, or if this was a one off for the circumstances, but see link.

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2014/04/06/2014-bahrain-grand-prix-tyre-strategies-pit-stops/

Merc allowed the drivers to split the strategy and Rosberg went the other way (O,P,O). The result was arguably the best race of the new era with a great battle for the finish between two dominant cars. People saying it won't make a difference to the racing, i urge you to watch that race again...

97

That's a different matter, that's giving the guy in second place a chance to run a different order of tyres to offset himself against his team mate the leader and maybe have a chance at the end.

Two separate strategy teams would go much more aggressive and do things like undercut each other. It would get very intense if it were a free for all and there would be recriminations which Mercedes would have to deal with.

Or in a scenario like Hungary last year, where Rosberg saw that Hamilton was coming through the field and was told what tyre he would be taking at his next stop, so asked to come in first for the same tyre, in order to effectively 'block' Hamilton. That's not good for a team, it would be good for the individual.

So is this about the team or the individual? They've won 32 races from 38 starts and two WDC and two WCC using the team approach. For all his complaints at the end of the season about wanting split strategies, Hamilton has been the main beneficiary of the team approach… it has protected his natural pace advantage

I'm not saying they shouldn't do it, just that no-one should underestimate how hard that will be to manage the drivers.

98

HP, I did read it thank you. I particularly enjoyed the "natural pace advantage" part. I assume you think you have found something critical in there, as that seems to be your only motivation for visiting the site. Would you care to share it with the group?

99

Thank you for that reply James!

Hope all the Hamilton fans read it

100

Thanks for the response, James. See what you are saying in terms of the offset and i know that the race was close due to a late safety car, but the excitement of having them on different tyres was what made it for me. If they can't go all out on strategy then maybe thats something they could consider as a compromise?

I guess Toto is just playing the game and being seen to look like he cares about the show. Ultimately his job is to ensure Mercs keep winning.

The best way to get split strategy then might be a consistent challenge from Ferrari and an in form Kimi. Fingers crossed they pull it out of the bag. Maybe a much improved Honda engine this year will add some spice to the Red Bull / Williams fight too?! .

101

The answer lies in the last paragraph, the most important thing for 2016 is to get fair money distribution. I don't think DRS rules will be changed for this year, but at least the power of "Strategy group" should be reduced as soon as possible. For 2017, both illnesses should be cut out completely.

Another positive change is the addition of Haas team. Hopefully this trend continues and soon we will see full 26 car grid again.

102

am surprised at how many fail to understand that the f1 rules were written fairly and all teams had a fair chance of building the race cars and engines?

the only unfair part of f1 is the distribution of money. so long as one team earns more money, they'll be more likely to be more successful..

many teams have dominated in the past and yet f1 has failed to recognise that unfair distribution of funds is the root cause...

103

Great article. Happy new year James.

Thanks for all your hard work last year and looking forward to another season

104

Cheers and thanks for your support

105

There is rarely a change in the pecking order the year before a relatively big rule overhaul, as they are talking about for 2017, so I expect more of the same. I think that Mercedes played things quite conservatively in 2015 and chased reliability above ultimate pace, but I think that this year they'll be working hard to maintain a performance advantage and taking a few risks with the car design.

106

Well I do think the tyre choice could make it more interesting. I have not read JB comments about everyone will make the same choice, but yes I do think they will in terms of the cars looking at winning the races. Mid pack I am not so sure especially as you can set up the car to suit it strengths.

roll on 2016 testing

107

Hny2016

I will drop out this year

If the only way to watch is paying the foxsky guy

When will I be able to pay f1 direct to watch

Or am I behind the times already

And in need of a tutorial

108

I think bringing back refueling would make the Qulaifyings and the races very interesting.

"F1 since the change to hybrid turbos in 2016"

You mean 2014?

Happy New 2016 Year!

109

Looking forward to the progress hopefully by RBR. Least looking forward to the biased commentary by SkyF1. (more to this sport than Hamilton).

110

My wishlist for 2016 is to see Bernie Eccelstone go for the betterment of F1.

111

For the sake of F1, I do hope they get their act together. Both on and off the racetrack.

The automobile industry is on the verge of an unprecedented paradigm shift. I hope F1 does not lose track of this in their quibbles.

112

Many thanks for the continuing excellent reports and sometimes hilarious responses. Happy New Year to JA and everyone contributing. I hope James and his team had a Relaxing holiday and are ready for the fray again.

Mercedes could easily make a set of rules to cover who gets priority to box when. It's time someone grasped the nettle and allowed the drivers to actually compete 😉

113

Last year l watched 10 races live and only 2 replayed. This year will be much the same and most likely the last time I watch F1 since the early 80's. Until Bernie & Co make the sport accessible to people directly they may as well pack it in their wallets and take it home. I dont mind paying for direct viewing but no way on earth am I paying for other rubbish I dont watch from broadcasters I dont like.

So whilst I love F1 and want to see real changes in 17/8 that makes only men drive the cars :/ more downforce, more grip, more power- less gimmicks and interference by the engineers reality it is- nothing matters if I cant watch it & with the last of the real racers retiring this year it makes it even less worthwhile.

114

Not Sure if youre in the Uk or not but if you are NowTV is available. You pay £10 for 7 days of Sky Sports. So £10 per race.... None of the "other" fluff you mention..... that's what I do anyway.

115

@KRB

No, I don't watch that, but he has been in a few other things that I have seen.

Doesn't really surprise me though - Half of American actors seem to be either Australian or British, but I will give kudos to Max Martini for playing a doing a very good job playing an Aussie in Pacific Rim 😉

I think we may have gotten slightly off topic, but it's all good 🙂

116

Elie, Random 79, and kenneth are all part of the JAonF1 Aussie contingent.

Anyone watch Longmire? I just found out the lead actor is Australian; found that surprising.

117

@Dean-No Im in Aus. Still wouldnt pay that to watch anything on tele. Maybe half that would be a consideration. I think F1 has lost touch with the real world. It went from zero to $500 a year almost overnight when it went to pay tv.

Bernies mentality is "oh they'le come around and pay".. But the reality is people have mouths to feed and theyve just said goodbye to F1 and it will continue- regardless of the how good or bad it is... Its a question of priorities and there are more sporting options viewed online these days..UFC is one Im watching more of. MotoGp is insanely good, and most other motor sports are free.

118

I always look forward to the F1 season, even if it's a year of domination by a single team, there's always stories and excitement somewhere in the field.

I fully expect that this year will be a bit closer, but that Mercedes will once again walk away with both titles at the end of it. I expect something along the lines of 2003. Close, but not close enough from the challengers.

And, I may be the only one, but I'm looking forward to seeing what C4 have to offer!

119

2003 was 2pts and Raikkonen would have beat Michael but for reliability. If 2016 is half that close we're in for a cracker!

120

Merc have to let the two boys race. It would be good for the brand as Mclaren have been dinning out on Prost/Senna since then. At the time they might think it's negative for the brand but it will just add mystique.

Let them off the leash, please.

121

hello

I'm looking forward to the first test day and seeing an improvement in Honda McLaren....hopefully

122

Same here! I'd love to see Button take his second WDC, too! But only one can hope.

123

Lets hope so. They should make an improvement as they are way down there at the moment but we shall see. As long as they're in the mix a bit it'll be good for the "show".

124

I like Gene Haas and hope he does well in F1 but I'm worried about his gangster looking friend. He looks like he might have a sixgun in a shoulder holster.

PK.

125

Least looking forward to:

The point at which it starts becoming apparent that the power unit cost cap regulations have a key (and quite familiar) flaw. i.e. technical changes to power units have been pushed back to 2018 at which point they will be frozen for the next three seasons - no doubt freezing in advantages/disadvantages for much of the field.... again.

126

Why are the likes of Bernie and The moaning Minnie's at Redbull SO against Mercedes having a good run of fortune? Are they forgetting that Red bull had more than a few years of dominating the pack? For it to be announced that new qualifying formats are geared towards knocking Mercedes off the top step is of itself somewhat unsporting. The offering today was BORING to watch and removed the thrill of seeing drivers work their way through the pack to move up positions. The whole charade looked like something out of a mediocre dance competition at a holiday camp!! PLEASE PLEASE just let the guys race And demonstrate their skill sets. If you want the Disney experience RACING EVENTS ARE NOT FOR YOU!!!!

127

But there is a lot of favouratism in F 1 with mercedes
Last year mercedes had illegal tyre pressures nothing happend for both, but in gp2 race just before same happened and they had start from back of grid as penalty for tire pressures being illegal (same rules for mercedes?)
Then bahrain 2016 Lewis illegal reverse nothing happens (mercedes not same rules)
Then bottas incident where bottas where in lewis inside and he get the drive through penalty, we say racing incident or even Lewis as he left all wide open on right hand sideand bittas took it fairly lewis cut into him (mercedes always first option to be correct?)
Then everytime mercedes is not in front then a saferty car is out when there is the smallest accident always at time to favour them again to get back in front (is it luck or timing all perfect for mercedes)

Something not right
Well i dont care in watching anymore as i know mercedes gets away with anything and they just have the most money as team to have best development,
Put someone else like Alonso in Hamiltons car and he will smash his times Vettel too
Formula one too much on money which mercedes has the most so can stay there in front, not the drivers its ther cars

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