With many fans often left down in the dumps, this Formula 1 season wasn’t the most spectacular one. Yet it still provoked many changes to how the elite racing world championship is going to take shape in the coming years.

With what many people call Hamilton’s easiest season of his career, he snatched the World Championship up 2 races before the the final race in Abu Dhabi. His teammate Rosberg flourished from the moment the pressure was off, winning all races after Hamilton taking his 3rd world championship title.

With the dominance of Mercedes, who also won the manufacturers title, this year’s season was sometimes far from exciting. Never in F1 history did the race leader get so little broadcasting time. The simple lack of action surrounding the Mercedes cars means that it might have been more effective to sponsor teams like Red Bull and Ferrari this season, since that’s where the magic happened. Nevertheless, Mercedes started 18 out of 19 races from pole, winning 16, proving their absolute dominance this season.

Thus the FIA decided to make some changes for next season that should bring the field closer together once again. Let’s see what happened in the last period of F1 racing.

Hockenheim_Panorama

The last corner before the long straight of the Hockenheim racing track, that will return to the calendar in 2016. Photo Credits: Wikipedia/Hockenheimring

Engines

Red Bull became the Miley Cyrus of Formula 1 for a short two months, crying out threats of leaving the F1 and making drastic comments towards their possible engine suppliers, which many saw as Red Bull acting against their own interests. Also, the very well-performing rookie team, Toro Rosso, would be going down with the ship.

Luckily, the F1 gods have shown Red Bull mercy, since Red Bull has shortly confirmed a TAG-branded Renault engine for 2016, after striking a naming rights deal with Swiss watch manufacturer, TAG Heuer. This allowed RB-fans to heave a sigh of relief, since an exit of Red Bull could have major effects on the sport. This split between Renault and Red Bull also means they will be saying goodbye to the Infiniti sponsorship deal, and the US$70million that comes with it.
Despite how complicated this all seems, it is not an unseen phenomenon in the F1. In 1983 TAG Heuer had a very similar deal with McLaren, badging the engines McLaren-TAG until 1987. The same trick has been done by Sauber-Petronas, Mindardi-European, Prost-Acer and Williams Mecachrome.

This slightly incomprehensible deal did allow Toro Rosso to execute their own contingency plan, letting Ferrari supply them with 2015-spec engines that did increasingly well this season. With the performance of Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr. this year, we can expect a lot from those impressive rookies, having Ferrari-powered automobiles under their seats.

Race Calendar 2016

On December 2nd, the FIA officially ratified a 21-race calendar for 2016, running from March to November. The extended calendar features one new race – in Baku, Azerbaijan – and the imperative GP of Germany, with  Hockenheim rather than the Nürburgring  hosting the race. As usual, Australia will open the season and Abu Dhabi will stage the final race for a fifth consecutive time. For the mathematicians among us, you’ll notice a whopping six back-to-back race weekends, with the USA slot remaining provisional.

March 20 – Australia
April 3 – Bahrain
April 17 – China
May 1 – Sochi
May 15 – Spain
May 29 – Monaco
June 12 – Canada
June 19 – Baku*
July 3 – Austria
July 10 – Great Britain
July 24 – Hungary

 

July 31 – Germany
August 28 – Belgium
September 4 – Italy
September 18 – Singapore
October 2 – Malaysia
October 9 – Japan
October 23 – USA**
October 30 – Mexico
November 13 – Brazil
November 27 – Abu Dhabi

*race start to be scheduled to avoid conflict with the conclusion of the 24 Hours of Le Mans
**subject to agreement with the promoter and the ASN

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 10.55.17

Locations (black dots) of all 21 races of the 2016 Formula 1 season. White dots are previous races. Photo Credits: Wikipedia/F1season2016

 

Driver changes

Few changes have been made so far,  and it’s unlikely to see many for the 2016 season anyway, since the top-teams already secured their current drivers for next season.

With the introduction of the Haas F1 Team, Romain Grosjean left Lotus to become the main man for this Ferrari-powered team. Second driver will be Ferrari test driver Esteban Gutierrez, who showed promise during his time with Ferrari as third pilot.

With the exit of Grosjean, Lotus signed Jolyon Palmer to accompany Pastor Maldonado. Palmer won the 2014 GP2 championship with 12 podiums, impressing at least the Lotus F1 team.

Red Bull Racing, Williams, Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren, Sauber, Toro Rosso and Force India all stuck to this season’s driver setup. This also left this season’s drivers Magnussen, Rossi, Stevens and Mehri with empty hands.

Regulations

Every year, the FIA tends to make many changes and tune-ups to the regulations. With the many major changes of last season, the FIA consolidated a little with the amount and magnitude of next year’s adjustments, revising only the necessary:

Technical regulations:

  • Cars will be required to be designed with a separate wastegate for exhaust gasses to pass through — colloquially dubbed the “screamer pipe” — in a bid to increase the noise of the cars following criticism since the introduction of the 2014 generation of engines.
  • Tyre supplier Pirelli will introduce a fifth tyre compound known as “ultrasoft”. Pirelli will change their approach to tyre supply in 2016, bringing three compounds to races instead of two, allowing teams the freedom to choose which two compounds they use.
The-full-range-of-F1-show-tyres

The introduction of Pirelli’s “ultrasoft” means their arsenal will be expanded to 7 difference compounds. Photo Credits: Formula1.com

Sporting regulations:

  • The stewards will be given greater powers in enforcing track limits, with drivers required to stay between the white lines marking the edges of the circuit, except in cases of driver error.
  • The Virtual Safety Car system will be used in practice sessions as well to avoid the unnecessary use of red flags and session stoppages.
  • Starting in 2016, the number of pre-season tests will be reduced from three to two.

Team changes and speculations

Haas F1
Haas will be entering F1 next year on the back of a technical partnership with Ferrari, which is supplying numerous parts, and made its windtunnel available for use.

Force India – Aston Martin
Allegedly, Force India is on the verge of announcing a close partnership with Aston Martin – who needs no further introduction – which will result in the rebranding of Force India to Aston Martin Racing. Simply uttering the name will give true motorheads shivers down their spines, as this move will bring the British sportscar manufacturer back to F1, over half a century after its previous brief foray in 1959 and 1960.

Lotus – Renault
As Renault is out for revenge on Red Bull, the French car manufacturer is closing the purchase deal of the Lotus F1 team by December 16th, as the principle contracts are already signed.

Toro Rosso – Ferrari
The most successful debutants-team will be switching power units to Ferrari, making it Ferrari’s fourth supplier team (including themselves), after Sauber-Ferrrari and Haas F1 Team.

 

As you see, the coming Formula 1 season has some nice new features to offer, and with the upcoming drivers of Toro Rosso, the gamble of Red Bull and with Ferrari closing the gap on Mercedes, we can be sure of some amazing racing next year!

 

 

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