Before the F1 season, how teams line up on the grid
While Mercedes’ will be chasing championship, others such as Red Bull and McLaren will be looking to get better and disturb Mercedes’ dominancesports Updated: Mar 12, 2016 01:03 IST
Team by team prospects for the 2016 Formula One season (listed in 2015 championship order, numbers are those the drivers have selected for the duration of their grand prix careers):
44-Lewis Hamilton (Britain), 6-Nico Rosberg (Germany)
Champions, winners of 32 of the last 38 races and absolutely the team to beat. The car ran as if on rails in testing, completing nearly 20 race distances over eight days. Some fear they have yet to show their real pace and could be way ahead. Hamilton is chasing a fourth title, and third in a row, while Rosberg ended 2015 with three successive poles and wins. Out of contract at the end of the year, he must take the fight to Hamilton and try to win a first crown.
Likely outcome: Champions again, maybe not so dominant.
5-Sebastian Vettel (Germany), 7-Kimi Raikkonen (Finland)
The sport’s oldest, most glamorous and successful team closed the gap last season and won three races -- the only team other than Mercedes to claim a victory. The new car has been quick in testing, topping the timesheets more than any team and setting the fastest laps of the eight days. Rosberg suggested they could be very close, others are less certain. Ferrari themselves appear quietly optimistic that the gap has closed further. Raikkonen is out of contract at the end of the year.
Likely outcome: Runners-up with race wins, closer than 2015.
19-Felipe Massa (Brazil), 77-Valtteri Bottas (Finland)
Third for the last two seasons, punching above their budget weight thanks to Mercedes engines and helped by Red Bull and McLaren’s woes with the Renault and Honda power units. Hanging on to third will be hard but the car has looked quick and nimble in testing, ironing out the slow-speed cornering problems of last year. Bottas is overdue a first win and, with a Ferrari seat likely up for grabs, knows this is the time to step up. Massa is looking for a contract extension.
Likely outcome: Third/fourth. More podium appearances, maybe first win since 2012.
3-Daniel Ricciardo (Australia), 26-Daniil Kvyat (Russia)
Likely to be a lot more competitive than last year, even if the first half of the season could see them playing catch-up. The engine is the weakest link, the Adrian Newey-penned aerodynamic package likely to be among the very best. Ricciardo is champing to get back to winning ways, while Kvyat is hungry for a first win. Both will also be looking over their shoulders, with Max Verstappen on the rise at sister team Toro Rosso.
Likely outcome: Third/fourth. A transition year but potential race winners if others drop the ball.
27-Nico Hulkenberg (Germany), 11-Sergio Perez (Mexico)
Last year was the team’s best ever. They have looked quick in testing, but lap times can flatter to deceive with soft tyres and low fuel. Holding on to fifth is definitely possible, but much will depend on how competitive McLaren and Renault (ex-Lotus) are. Both drivers have bags of experience and can win in the right car. They certainly have the right engines (Mercedes).
Likely outcome: Fifth/sixth. Podiums a possibility.
RENAULT (Previously Lotus)
20-Kevin Magnussen (Denmark), 30-Jolyon Palmer (Britain)
Renault bought struggling Lotus in December, leaving little time to ramp up development. The engine has switched from Mercedes which means Renault have less horsepower. The French carmaker has set a target of podiums within three years, which seems unambitious but is probably realistic. New team boss Frederic Vasseur has a stellar track record in junior series. Magnussen has been given a second chance he is unlikely to squander. Rookie Palmer will have his work cut out.
Likely outcome: A year laying the groundwork. Seventh.
33-Max Verstappen (Netherlands), 55-Carlos Sainz (Spain)
Now equipped with last year’s Ferrari engine in place of the Renault, which promises to be a step up in the short term, Toro Rosso are looking to score well in the opening rounds. The later part of the season could be less rewarding. The car has been quick and reliable in testing and is a nice-looking package. The team has the youngest line-up in Formula One but both drivers are big talents with bags of speed and everything to play for.
Likely outcome: Moving up. Fifth or sixth.
9-Marcus Ericsson (Sweden), 12-Felipe Nasr (Brazil)
Tight budget constraints and ongoing financial problems will limit development, while U.S.-owned newcomers Haas have supplanted the Swiss outfit as Ferrari’s main customer team. The Ferrari engine will still keep Sauber competitive and the car has looked reliable with plenty of testing laps.
Likely outcome: Slipping down the table. Points will still be hard to get and Haas have the same engine.
14-Fernando Alonso (Spain), 22-Jenson Button (Britain)
Things can only get better for the struggling former champions after a dire 2015, their worst ever season. Honda have improved the engine reliability, the chassis is good and the performance gap has closed. How much remains to be seen. This could be 2009 world champion Button’s last year, with Belgian reserve Stoffel vandoorne waiting in the wings.
Likely outcome: Fighting for fifth at best. More points, but podiums unlikely.
MANOR RACING (Previously Marussia)
94-Pascal Wehrlein (Germany), 88-Rio Haryanto (Indonesia)
A much brighter season in prospect for last season’s tail-enders, the ex-Marussia team who have only ever scored points in one race. Mercedes engines, new management, new car and a hotshot young driver in 21-year-old Wehrlein -- the Mercedes reserve and youngest ever DTM (German Touring Cars) champion -- have shifted them up a gear.
Likely outcome: Points, perhaps from more than one race if they are lucky.
8-Romain Grosjean (France), 21-Esteban Gutierrez (Mexico)
The new team on the grid, and first U.S.-owned entry in 30 years, Haas are well-funded and working closely with Ferrari. The car has been designed by Italian manufacturer Dallara and got off to a good start in testing. Grosjean brings experience and speed, while former Ferrari reserve Gutierrez has plenty to prove after a year out and two difficult seasons before that at Sauber.
Likely outcome: Points, joining in the midfield battle.