Australian Grand Prix Preview: Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg eye F1 records
Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton
Posted By: Alex Kalinauckas  |  16 Mar 2016   |  5:41 pm GMT  |  79 comments

With the 2016 Formula 1 season just a few days away, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg both enter the first Grand Prix of the year on the verge of equalling long-standing records in the sport.

Rosberg, who won the final three races of 2015, is aiming to join Hamilton, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher as the only drivers to take seven consecutive pole positions.

The German’s current qualifying streak stretches back to the Japanese Grand Prix in October last year.

Nico Rosberg

Speaking ahead of the race in Melbourne, Rosberg explained that he was raring to get racing again and hopes to extend his victory streak into 2016

He said: “I’ve had a great winter and done a few things differently for this year. I’ve never felt more ready to go. It’s going to be a great battle.

“I’m really hoping to bring back a couple of wins from the first flyaways to reward everyone at the factories for their hard work.

XPB.cc Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton won the Australian event in 2015 and if he leads the Grand Prix for one lap this year the Briton will equal Senna’s tally of 86 races led, which is second only to Schumacher’s 142.

The world champion is also still one pole position short of becoming the third driver to reach 50 pole positions after Senna and Schumacher, a mark he has been stuck on ever since last year’s Italian Grand Prix due to Sebastian Vettel’s pole in Singapore and Rosberg’s subsequent domination in the final six qualifying sessions of 2015.

But Hamilton believes he still has more to give in Formula 1 as he seeks a third successive world title and the 31-year-old explained that he would need to make another step up to overcome Rosberg’s positive end to last season and the potential threat from Ferrari in 2016.

XPB.cc Lewis Hamilton

He said: “I know there’s still more to come from me – I think I’ve shown that in the past two years. There certainly needs to be some extra in my tank, as the competition will be stronger than ever this year.”

Mercedes impressive mileage in testing – 3743 miles in total – stood out above the rest of the grid, and the team’s executive director (technical), Paddy Lowe, described how the W07 had completed more pre-season laps than its predecessor despite the lower number of test days in 2016.

He said: “We saw an unprecedented level of reliability during pre-season testing, almost the same mileage in eight days as we achieved across twelve days last year, demonstrating clear progress in our ability to prepare for a new season.

XPB.cc Nico Rosberg

“However, it’s still early days, and there are no Championship points for testing.”

If Rosberg and Hamilton qualify first and second again, it will be the first time in F1 history that the front row has been exactly the same for seven races in succession.

McLaren brings updates to Melbourne – but is still playing catch up

At the other end of the grid, McLaren, which finished ninth in the constructors’ championship last year to record its worst finish since 1980, enters 2016 seeking to make progress with its engine supplier Honda.

Eric Boullier

The squad’s racing director, Eric Boullier, believes that McLaren arrives in Melbourne better prepared than in 2015, but he explained that it did not manage to complete its full programme of pre-season testing.

He said: “We are certainly a step ahead of where we were this time last year in terms of preparation – we have much more mileage under our belts and we’ve performed most of the necessary system checks that we were still working on during race weekends in 2015.

“That said, we didn’t manage to complete our final configuration and set-up work for the first race, so we go to Melbourne with a number of unknowns.

“It won’t be an easy start to the weekend in that sense, since we’ll need to concentrate on setting the car up for each session and readying the final specification of our package as soon as we get to Albert Park.

XPB.cc Jenson Button

“Since the final pre-season test, there’s been a huge effort back in Woking to bring new parts to Australia and it’ll be good to finally get to the track on Friday and see how we fare.

“Our priority is to focus on extracting the most out of our own performance, while still maintaining reliability.”

Fernando Alonso returns to the Australian Grand Prix for the first time since 2014 – where he finished fourth – as the Spaniard missed the 2015 event as a result of concussion sustained in pre-season testing. Kevin Magnussen, who replaced him, did not take the start after his car broke down before the race began.

Fernando Alonso

But Alonso does have an impressive history at Albert Park. As well as his win in 2006, the 34-year-old has never retired in his 13 starts in Australia and has not finished lower than fifth since 2003.

Alonso explained that while McLaren is still not hitting its desired performance levels, podium finishes are a realistic target for the British team in 2016 and he still believes the McLaren-Honda partnership can win the world championship together.

He said: “I think at the beginning of the year it will be difficult [because] after winter testing, we still miss a little bit of performance. But the championship is very long – 21 races [in] 10 months.

Fernando Alonso

“I am sure our developing will be quite high and I think a podium possibility will be possible, but we want more than that.

“We go step by step but to be world champion is the final target with the team and myself. This year it seems that that will be extremely difficult but, next year or whenever it comes, we need to work with that target in mind.”

What do you think the Mercedes drivers will achieve in Australia? And what do you make of McLaren’s start to 2016? Do you expect the British team to improve this season? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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1

[Mod] Rosberg is incapable of saying sorry. It’s 100% his fault in Austria, and before that then before that OHHH and the time before that and even in the Monaco qualifying the other year. There is a pattern here. Rosberg needs to man up and take control of his desperate driving. After all, the only reason he in with a chance is he in that car.

2

I have always red and find the articles here informative and good but I can’t help but notice the bias against Hamilton, which is borne out recently when Mr Allen tipped Rosberg to be on pole for the Australian GP.
How could it be possible that Hamilton is always being compared to Nico despite Nico not having a single F1 title to his name, and was beaten 3 consecutive seasons he has paired with Hamilton? As a Hamilton fan it pains me to have to endure the constant lack of respect and support he gets from his fellow British compatriots in the F1 media.

3
Alex Kalinauckas

Can you elaborate on where you have found any bias in this article?

4

i have a feeling this wont be hamiltons best season overall..he will be distracted by wins from previous seasons..

5

There is one record we are likely to see this year.

Rosberg is pretty close to the record of the most GP wins for a driver that never wins the championship.

He will, inevitably, win a few races this year.

He won’t win the championship.

6

I honestly don’t know what to make of Rosberg. I often feel he is in F1 for the glamour and the money. I’ve seen very little actual racing from Rosberg that made me think “this guy is the real deal”

Fast without a doubt, but lacking that killer/overtaking instinct that Hamilton has.

7

Just testing my new email James.

8

What people people have to realize is that, Most often than not, when Lewis leads Ros, he does so, comfortably, and I extremely rare to see Ros leading Hamilton comfortable. Ros usually spend time defending with the help of tight circuits. I’m excluding the times when one of the drivers is experiencing complications of course.

9

Got my Mercedes team kit ready (thanks Stu!) and ready to see those records fall this weekend!

Will Rosberg bring more of a fight to Ham this year? Looks more likely somehow. I’ve not seen a driver take his foot off the pedal after winning the title as much as Hamilton did last year, it’ll be interesting to see which of the two looks more up for it.

As for McLaren… Eh. No-one likes to see it, but podiums are never going to be a realistic prospect this year outside of a freak result. A wet Monaco is their best bet!

10

He took his foot off alright.

And came in second in every race after with nary a single error? Unlike others.

What a statement to make – that championship was dead regardless of the hat histrionics of NR.

LH could have come in second for the last six races without a difference frankly.

11

Truth is we don’t know what to expect until Q3 on Saturday. I still think Merc have a qualifying advantage, so i guess it will be a Merc 1/2 on the grid, but if Ferrari have made progress with race pace it could be an exciting race!!! A bit of rain could spice things up too and keep us guessing on the true pecking order a little bit longer… All the negative comments from the usual suspects won’t take this race away from me. I will wake up early and watch all the sessions and thoroughly enjoy it. Australia, come at me!!!

12

Alonso: “This year it seems that that will be extremely difficult but, next year or whenever it comes … “

Whenever means he has mentally closed the chapter McLaren-Honda and is thinking about alternatives, cannot blame him at this point. He still might hang around due to lack of a better alternative.

Hopefully Ferrari can challenge for wins from the start otherwise i see F1 losing more fans as the Hamilton-Rosberg mini feud will have run its course by the end of this year.

13

May be I’m wrong, but I think Mercedes may give this year’s championship to Rosberg.

14

No way ! Toto said it’s even Stevens. Plus it’s Rosberg last season with the team.

15

They’re giving the championship to Will Stevens? There’s a twist 🙂

16

Hmm, I can’t help but feel that Lewis won’t quite be on it this year, and that Nico will be more determined than ever. Having said that, if Lewis shows Nico the way this weekend, that could well be a blow to Nico’s psyche. We know he hates finishing second to Lewis!

On a sidenote, as is a semi-regular occurence at this time of year in these parts, Lewis got himself in trouble in NZ the other day by posting videos of himself riding a motorbike (joining a busy motorway!), filmed on his phone. After an initial investigation, the police decided to take no further action. Once again not setting a good example there, Lewis.

17

Setting a good example. Yep keep enforcing the negatives.
Re: Lewis at start of last year. The usual guff was spouted out. Lewis just went on to dominate. I have no doubt it will be a Lewis & Vettel year with Rosberg picking up a race or two. One thing that Rosberg needs is Radio Love from his race engineer, with even less access this year he’ll be in the wilderness.

18

@ gaz boy….one man? what about rosberg’s three wins on the trot in 2015? oh, they don’t count i suppose? without the superb machine that he has he would not be in such an exalted position. the fact is that ATM there is very little evidence that the mercedes has any superior competition. that may change of course but we will have to wait and see. your last sentence confirms what i have said. if merc delivers – LH delivers.

19

Kenneth, I don’t think they count if you look at the season as a whole. Nico may have won the last three races, but no getting away from the fact that Lewis won the last three seasons!

20

It’s tense…..

Watched a rerun of the 2010 opener which Button won – Hamilton chasing is so much better than Hamilton leading.

But Rosberg is pretty desperate and may well push beyond himself which is interesting – he’ll be much improved this season me thinks. He had to be.
If Vettel plays the ‘Hamilton in a McLaren role’ things could get juicey. But Rosberg also has to be overcome.

Kimi’s role could be fascinating too.

Curious to see how Kyvat fairs against Ricciardio too. And the Perez/Hulkenburg saga is also important one of them will get the call from the emerging Renault works team I’m sure.

I have a good feeling about this season.

21

@ thompson…the entire red bull stable will be interesting to watch. ricci,sainz, vers and kvyat will all be pushing the limits and anything could happen. they are all excellent drivers and they need to be on top of their game to stay within the camp. fascinating.

22

LH for the win, SV second and NR third. Hamilton does look distracted to me to be honest. Just until yesterday, he was in New Zealand on holiday “in a private capacity” riding a motorbike on a motorway (and taking a selfie at the same time – but managed to get away without a police investigation), hitting the casino, etc. It may be how he relaxes before getting into serious business but I’d have thought that wasn’t the best start to the week leading up to a full season ahead.
I’m surprised Merc didn’t mind him riding a bike (and worse, while taking a selfie) just a few days before the season begins…

23

Lewis has been doing all that and winning championships for two years now so I don’t think it’s going to be an issue at all for him

24

One thing is certain, I’m going to be super sensitive to funny business by Mercedes like stacking pitstops or sudden performance issues that result in them not winning or other creativity that’s suspect and looks like surrender. At this point I’d honestly rather see a sweep of the season than have some fake loses by Mercedes that stink, like the 3 did last year.

25

I’m sure if they don’t win you will invent some theory why it wasn’t genuine, you have always managed it before.

26

Seriously dude, how dense are you? I asked you for 2 months not to reply to me, you can’t control yourself?

27

My original reply didn’t appear, surely not modded out?! It’s like this Sebee, this is an F1 fan site, you don’t like the cars, the engines, the rules, most of the drivers or basically anything about the sport. You are of course allowed to come on here every day and express these views, but don’t be surprised if people who do like the sport argue with you about it. You don’t like me replyong to your comments? Well I’m sorry but I am allowed to do that, we don’t get to pick and choose who may or may not reply to our comments, that’s just not how it works. Another thing we are not allowed to do is insult each other, over the past few weeks I have been called “uneducated” a “sheeple” and now “dense” by you. I don’t think this is acceptable, and hardly strengthens your view point.
Ultimately Sebee your posts are relentlessly negative about everything to do with F1, a lot of the facts and figures you quote in defence of your arguments are incorrect, I reserve the right to point this out and will continue to do so.

28

This is developing into the Ham Vs Rosberg battle of JAonF1

29
Spinodontosaurus

If you brush off any failure to win by Mercedes as them being “fake” losses them you are doomed from the start to be frustrated irrespective of what actually happens this season.

30

Maybe you should take a peek at the 3 loses in 2015, their context and timing again. Watch it again as a primer to 2016, see how you feel about it today.

31

Sebee did all your moaning reduce your star rating?

32

Maybe. Or it could be an ESP reflection of my excitement for 2016.

33

This championship will certainly feel very long for you, Fernando.

34

Nico’s possible record is all the motivation Lewis needs, I bet he would love nothing more than breaking that streak…

35

Things sound ominous for McLaren, almost like “wait until next year.” I know they have a reputation for development, but they may get into such a deep early hole that they’ll have work to stay ahead of Manor again. Bottom four awaits unless Honda’s made a major breakthrough.

36

“We are certainly a step ahead of where we were this time last year in terms of preparation”
With statements like this, you heart really sinks. Reading between the lines it means:

“We know we are going to end up ninth again unless we are lucky and Honda does not keep breaking down, leaving along to get a podium”

37

50 poles for Senna? Don’t think so…keep going.

I hope Ricciardo wins this weekend…imagine how big that smile would be!

38

Just wondering regarding the new radio restrictions. Does this mean that a driver can’t be told to push the few laps before pitting? For example, in Lewis’ case, “Hammer time”. Is there a requirement or rule that says the team can let the driver know X laps (2 or 3 or whatever) before pitting to pit?

39

Allowed.
11. “Push hard”, “push now”, “you will be racing xx” or similar.
24. When to enter the pits.

40

I see the Kiwi police???? are already trying to ruffle Lewis up for riding his motorbike. Next it will be the Aussie Police????…again. Antipodean Shenanigans ????. Hamilton for Pole.

41

Lewis got off extremely lightly in Aus when he was caught doing burnouts on the street. The following year we introduced the death penalty for burnouts.

42

The fact that Rosberg could get 7 consecutive pole positions is testament to how mediocre Hamilton is. Could you imagine what Button could do in that car??! Button would make Hamilton look very silly. It’s a shame he has had such bad cars in his career.

Button has embarrassed both Alonso and Hamilton as teammates. I am convinced he would do the same or even worse to Vettel. After all, Vettel got smashed by Riccardio, a non-champion newbie in the Red Bull.

Button has NEVER been outpointed by his teammate (beat Hamilton over 3 years) whilst the ‘big boys’ Ham, Vet, Alo have all been outpointed by 1 teammate over the years.

Just goes to show who REALLY is the best driver 😀

43

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA!!!!! that was funny… I’m on the floor here!

44

Lewis beat Jensen in 2010 and 2012.

45

Gotta be Kimi

46

Ok, I’ll bite, in there 3 seasons together, most wins, most poles(actually destroyed in qually) most podiums etc, in 2011 which was by far his most inconsistent season, again destroyed in qually, matched his teamate with 3 wins, as for 2012, even the most one eyed button fan, would recognise, the points difference in no way a true reflection of there season, button is a mighty fine driver, but beat ham, if they were in the merc together, first he’d have to out qualify lewis and put it on pole, which lets be honest, would be a very rare event

47

Button stated that Lewis is super fast & that if Lewis is on his best mind set he is unstoppable. Button only won a world championship in 2009 when Ferrari & Mclaren took their eye of the ball as they were concentrating on 2008 championship. Button is not in the league of Vettel or Hamilton or Alonso. Rose tinted glasses always promotes rose tinted conclusions.
The holy trinity of Alonso Hamilton & Vettel are in a league of their own.
Button is no where near those chaps.

48

Anticipation is tanking upwards to the start of the season ????

49

My anticipation almost spiked right through the top of my head when I checked the TV guide and saw a two day, wall to wall F1 free-to-air TV broadcast schedule!!! WOOT 🙂
You’re not getting my moolah Rupert!

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