2016 Formula One Grid Lineup

The countdown to the 2016 Formula One Season has started in earnest after the Barcelona winter testing. With a mouth-watering challenge between Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg and teammate Lewis Hamilton shaping up, you can bet the first race of the season at Melbourne will be great to watch. In fact, things have been spiced up by Ferrari’s impressive form which was evident on the last day of testing where Vettel posted the fastest time.

But before the action starts at the Australian GP, why not look at the drivers’ lineup. After all, nothing is as exciting as watching the races with all the facts at your fingertips. Take a look at the confirmed lineup:

2016-mercedes·         Mercedes: The new W06 will be driven by the same lineup of drivers led by championship holder Lewis Hamilton and German Nico Rosberg. Both drivers are expected to fight tooth and nail to win the title and exciting and aggressive racing is expected again this year.

·         Red Bull: Daniel Ricciardo, the impressive Australian driver, is going to team up with Russian-born Daniel Kvyat. The team expects to fare better than in 2014 with Ricciardo, already having joined the F1’s elite drivers’ club.

·         Ferrari: The Scuderia team is leaving nothing to chance and with Kimi Raikkonen teaming up with Sebastian Vettel, the team can boast one of the most experienced driver line-up on the grid. If the showing at the Barcelona pre-season testing is anything to go by, you can bet that Ferrari will feature at the podium more regularly and might just surprise Mercedes at the end of the season.

·         Williams-Mercedes: For another year running, Valtteri Bottas will team up with the experienced Felipe Massa as Williams tries to rekindle the vigor it had shown in the first races of the 2015 season.

·         McLaren-Honda: This is another team powered by a strong driver lineup in the person of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso. Unfortunately, the Honda Power unit which was the Achilles heel of the team in the 2015 season still seems to suffer from reliability issues as was evident in the pre-season testing.

·         Toro Rosso-Ferrari: To say that Toro Rosso has the most exciting drivers to watch would be an understatement. Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz have repaid the faith Ferrari honchos showed by picking rookies to compete on the big stage. Clearly, Sainz and Verstappen will be moving to a more competitive seat in the course of their blossoming careers.

·         Renault: It might not be the team of old, but Renault wants to make a mark and they have picked the modest experience of Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer to test the waters in their return with the new Renault Sport RS16.

·         Haas-Ferrari: Romain Grosjean surprised everyone by leaving Lotus but during pre-season testing, it was obvious that Haas might be a better place to try luck for points. The Frenchman will partner with Esteban Gutierrez.

·         Manor-Mercedes: Pascal Wehrlein will team up with Rio Haryanto to help Manor gain traction in F1 this season.

·         Sauber-Ferrari: Marcus Ericsson will once again partner with Felipe Nasr in the 2016 F1 season.

Well, nothing much has changed except the departure of crash-prone Pastor Maldonado in the drivers’ line up. It is now time to get a ticket for your favorite race and enjoy the F1 drama as it unfolds.

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Who Can Win The Monaco F1 2016?

Lewis-hamilton-nico-rosburg-F1-2015What was your most interesting bit in the 2015 F1 championship? Most likely you were always looking out for Lewis Hamilton vs. Nico Rosberg drama. While not much happened this year between the two on the track, there was some drama during the Monaco GP which is one of the most outstanding circuits on the calendar.

So, is Monaco F1 2016 going to spice up things again this year?  Well, to be sure you just have to look at probable winners and the teams that will be behind them to appreciate what lies ahead.

If you are like most F1 enthusiasts, you must have enjoyed the intrigues of Pastor Maldonado who continued to amaze not for winning, but for his propensity for crashing. Then, there was the Max Verstappen revelation which won even the earlier skeptics.

But who can really ace it at the legendary Monte Carlo Streets? Here are the prospects:

1.       Nico Rosberg

The German is always on top form on this circuit and has his adopted home’s crowd behind him. For the last two years, he has frustrated his closest challenger and team mate Lewis Hamilton. He already has 3 wins in the principality, and there is no doubt the Mercedes driver wants to win records. He has proven in the last three races of the 2015 season he can win pole and transform it to a win comfortably, ‘Lewis be warned.’

2.       Lewis Hamilton

Has Lewis relaxed or has Rosberg discovered his form? One thing for sure is, that the hunger and ambition that drives raw drivers like Hamilton and Ayrton Senna, is still there in the Briton. While he has lost to Hamilton in Monaco, you just need to remember his 2008 win in the rain to appreciate what kind of a daring driver he can be.  This year, an ill-judged pit stop clearly stole his second title on Monte Carlo Streets and you can bet he will go for revenge in May next 2016.

Daniel_Ricciardo_20153.       Daniel Ricciardo

Could the Australian be the most underrated Formula One driver today? Just looking at his 2014 inaugural season as a rookie, it is obvious that the Red Bull driver deserves more recognition. While 2015 has been frustrating for him, you have to appreciate that the entire team has struggled with a frosty relationship with engine maker Renault; almost ending the team’s F1 participation. With a new agreement, the car will obviously be better and you can bet Ricciardo can ace it at Monaco.

sebastian-vettel4.       Sebastian Vettel

The German might not have been very lucky in Monaco with his only win back in 2011. With Ferrari expected to pose a stronger challenge next year, Sebastian who is rated among the best F1 drivers on the grid today can go on and win the Monaco F1 2016. He has the thirst, ambition and is one of the most rounded drivers on the grid apart from Alonso and Hamilton.

Even before FIA confirms the actual dates for the race, there will be a lot of anticipation for track action. Though five races will have gone down, there is no denying that the iconic Monte Carlo Streets will be the highlight of the season.

King of Monaco GP Michael Schumacher

msThe date was 29th December 2013 when a hush spread throughout the sporting fraternity and indeed the whole world. There was a sense of gloom as the holidays came to a close after news from the French Alps came in about Michael Schumacher’s serious skiing accident.

Everyone was shocked and if this was not a reflection of how greatly Schumacher had wowed the world with his racing prowess, nothing could mirror it better. The King of Monaco GP who has won five times on the Monte Carlo streets had survived by a whisker and everyone sighed with relief.

Recounting the Path to Glory

Well, there is no gainsaying the impact of winning on one of the most arduous tracks five times, almost equaling the record of another racing legend, Ayrton Senna. As he continues recovering from the head injuries, the best way to hail his achievements is by recounting how he charted his path to success. Here are some highlights:

A legend is born in 1969: When Rolf and Elisabeth Schumacher welcomed their bubbling son to the world in the cold January 3rd of 1969, they probably never imagined the impact he would have on millions of people. He took to karting early, even obtaining a license at the age of 12 years, going on to win the German Junior Kart Championship.

Early racing: After joining the Adolf Rubert Karting team, he went on to win the German and European Championships by 1987. He joined Weber Formula 3 team and won the title in 1990. He later had a stint at Mercedes joining the prototype championship, and performed excellently. It was only a matter of time before Formula One gurus noticed the amazing talent.

The start of a mercurial Formula One fantasy tale: As fate would have it, the rain king, as Schumi would come to be known throughout his career, got a break with Jordan when their driver was imprisoned. His career started properly with Benetton and impressed with a first podium finish at the Mexican GP later winning his 1st race at the Belgian GP in 1992. He finished 3rd in 1992 and later 4th in 1993.

Reign of the champion: 1994 heralded the birth of the real Monaco GP king, which he won and went on to win the championship with Benetton. In 1995 he still defended his title with the same car. Moving on to Ferrari, which has almost become synonymous with him to date, he went on to win the championship in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004.

Controversies and retirement: If there is any driver who knew how to stoke controversy it has to be Schumacher. From 1994, during his tight race with Damon Hill where he deliberately caused a crash in order to win,  to the 1997 European GP race against Villeneuve where he attempted to cause an accident, but retired handing the championship to his rival, which caused his disqualification from the entire championship, he always knew how to spice up trouble.

King of Monaco Grand Prix: To date, the German is rated as one of the legends to ever drive on the Monte Carlo streets with 5 wins in 1994, 1995, 1997, 1999 and 2001.

No one can forget the ‘packing incident’ in the 2006 Monaco GP to block Alonso from snatching pole position. But as they say, legends also have their Achilles’ heel. Whatever the case, there is no denying the king of Monaco GP will inspire many more racing enthusiasts.

I’m really going to try and get to Monaco this year.

A Sneak Preview into Formula One Hall of Fame

The 2015 F1 starting grid is chocking with talent. Add to that the fact that Mercedes has a superior car on the track, and it is virtually impossible to guess who between Hamilton, Alonso, Vettel, Rosberg, Massa and Button will emerge tops.

Proper racing, since the pre-war period, has produced amazing talent, and while these racing greats will one day have their imprint in the history books of F1, let’s take a look at who is already in this hallowed circle. Here is a sneak preview of past legends:

FangioJuan Manuel Fangio: If you know your Grand Prix well then this icon must be an inspiration to you too. His record of five championships, most of them at an old age, and a record of 47% of wins in all races he entered, underlines his genius.

Ayrton Senna: To say he was a daredevil on the track is an understatement because he set out to win every race. His personality might have been on the dark side at times, but his 3 championship titles, 65 pole positions, 41 wins and a 25% rate of wins in all races made him a legend. His death in a 190mph crash at Imola at the age of 34 years still shocks the racing fraternity.

jim-clarkJim Clark: When you think of gentleman behaviour in sport, golf comes to mind, but Clark in his racing days had proven that indeed one can be fast and courteous. He had a 34% rate of wins in all races and won two world championships and multiple records before his death in a crash in 1968.

Alberto Ascari: The Italian racing driver won two world titles in a Ferrari, but his style of winning almost every race made him an icon. He died in 1955 not in a race but while trying out a Ferrari with a friend at Monza.

LaudaNikiNiki Lauda: Even after almost burning to death while racing in 1976, Niki showed what endurance is all about. Under his belt he has 3 world championship titles and 25 wins in all. His return from near death to continue racing shows his spirit of fighting and is a defining moment in F1 history.

Alain Prost:  Four championships clearly speak of a legend and this is exactly what Prost was. His record 51 victories were only surpassed in 2001 by another great, Schumacher. His World Sports Awards of the Century proves his impact on the sport and the reason he is adored to date.

Other greats include Michael Schumacher, James Hunt the playboy, Graham Hill the King of Monaco, Stirling Moss and Jack Brabham the genius, who raced in his own cars, among others.

The question is, does the current crop of F1 drivers possess the almost mythical character these earlier drivers had? Sit back and let time decide.