F1 Season Preview - The Front-Runners

Written by Matthew Molver for @Hollywoodbets.





March is upon us and it seems to be flying by, I'm not complaining about this, however, because the time is nearly upon us for the 2016 Formula One season. Soon the pleasant, but boring relaxation of a Sunday afternoon will be shattered by the roaring of V6 Hybrid engines roaring around tracks all over the world. This year's season promises to be an absolute doozy as teams have been rebranded and there is some new blood on the circuit. The cars are looking absolutely stunning and I cannot wait till the 20th of March when it all kicks off in Melbourne.

Bellow we'll take a look at this year's title favourites.


To Win The Constructors Championship Outright
Mercedes 1/8 | Ferrari 4/1 | McLaren-Honda 18/1 | Red Bull 20/1

FERRARI 
Team Ferrari is definitely planning on giving their main rivals over at Mercedes a run for their money this year. Coming back in 2015 with a very decent second place after their dismal offerings in 2014, I'm sure that they plan to keep that momentum up and build on last year's showing.

Their new car the SF16-H has performed admirably in preliminary testing, setting blistering track times on the new ultra soft tyre compounds from Pirelli. Sebastian Vettel and partner Kimi Raikkonen are back as well this year, and will be more determined than ever to oust Mercedes from top spot.

Vettel was Ferrari's saving grace last year and he hasn't done anything to make me think he can't improve this time around. He will need to add some more pole finishes to his name this year however, if his team have any chance of ending Mercedes run of dominance. Kimi Raikkonen has also enjoyed a solid preseason. The Finn will hope his testing performances are not just a flash in the pan as he will want to make up for what was a sub-par 2015.

While Ferrari will be looking to Seb to get the wins, Kimi will be tasked with picking up points scoring finishes. If the Flying Finn can consistently finish in the top four, then Ferrari should be able to exert a lot more pressure on the Mercedes boys.

The development team over at Ferrari have been talking up the improvements made on their car. And while there's always a lot of smoke and hot air floating around at this time of the year, I honestly believe that Ferrari aren't sprouting a proverbial load of bull. The Prancing Stag will definitely provide an interesting challenge to all comers this year and I look forward to seeing how they fare.

MCLAREN
A well respected and established team, with both drivers and constructors championships under their belt. If you had to take a look at their 2015 showing however, you wouldn't believe they had been in the F1 game for more than a year.

McLaren need to bring their A-game this year if they hope to gain the points they need to improve on their dismal performance in 2015. They have experienced drivers Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso in their corner, but the weak link in the team right now is looking to be their new car, the Honda-powered MP4- 31.

Initial tests in Barcelona show their power unit to be lacking performance, despite the improvements Honda has made on it. They completed a respectable amount of laps during the testing, however, hydraulic and coolant leaks during the last day and a half out in Catalunya meant put a massive dampener on what look to be a promising preseason.

Although they have made progress with their troublesome ERS, it is yet to be seen if their car can match up to the top contenders in the competition. They may be looking at a bottom rung place in the constructors championship again if they do not resolve these issues. The bookies seem to know something we don't though, as they've priced McLaren up as third favorites for the constructors title. An oversight on their behalf? Or have the team got something up their sleeve? We'll have to wait and see.

MERCEDES
Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton are the favourites once again to win both the Drivers and Constructors Championships this season. The 2015 season ended much like 2014, with team Mercedes wiping out their competition, and  this year is looking no different, although their main rivals over at Ferrari may be able to apply a bit more pressure on the rampant Silver Arrows.

The preliminary testing in Barcelona has placed team Mercedes firmly in the drivers seat (excuse the corny pun but it just had to be used). In fact, in 2016 they may be even more dominant as their car, the F1 W07 Hybrid, has proven to be incredibly reliable with a good turn of speed to boot.

They set impressive times using the medium soft tires in testing last weekend but were outdone for pace by their rivals over at Ferrari. The previous testing session saw them wrack up the most a staggering 700 laps, which is equal to 10 race distances. This mileage has allowed them to iron out any kinks in their already dominant car so the Silver arrows can once again shoot to victory.

RED BULL - RENAULT
Red Bull may be a young team but they has already made a significant mark in F1 racing. The last couple of years, however, have been difficult for Red Bull. 2014 and 2015 saw them having issues with their power unit, which was underpowered compared to competitors. Dealing with these challenges their drivers, Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo whom they have kept on for 2016 season, managed to salvage three podium finishes last year and ensured a respectable fourth place Constructors finish.

This year will see their new car, the much-hyped RB12, make it's debut. The team has hopefully used the lessons learned in 2015 to improve on their car. They gained respectable mileage and times in the Barcelona testing, but there were minor issues with the car each day, causing them to pull out of testing early on Tuesday and then again on Wednesday. They still have time to get the car in shape before Melbourne though, which will be the true test of whether they have solved their performance issues.

Although their car may be an issue, Red Bulls talisman, Daniel Ricciardo is one of the best drivers on circuit. His partnership with fellow young gun Danil Kvyatt is also one of those fueled by respect and not ego, unlike a certain British and German duo over at Mercedes. The Red Bull boys are likely to cause a few upset this term although, race victories may well prove to be few and far between.

WILLIAMS
Williams have been consistently good for the last couple of years. They've managed to produce third place finishes in the Constructors Championship in the previous two seasons, which has cemented their place among the top runners in F1.

They have retained their drivers, Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas, for a third successive season. The duo works exceedingly well together, as is evident by their sixth and fifth place finishes in Drivers' Championship last term.

Their new car the FW38 is a dramatic improvement on the last years model the FW37; with extra development time going into the car. They took a cautious approach to the start of preliminary testing in Barcelona. Despite the heedful game plan, they were plagued by issues and failed to get a decent amount of laps in.

It must be remembered that all the teams are going to have teething problems at this point in the season, and if the technical issues can be resolved before Melbourne, then Williams will be a happy bunch.

Although they are keeping their cards close to their chest, I think Williams will stay consistent and their drivers will grab a few podium wins. They will, however, struggle to keep up with the two front-runners, who have that extra bit of pace that the rest of the field simply can't conjure up.

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