We are barely a few hours away from the commencement of the most ecstatic racing fest of the year. The 2016 Formula One season is about to unleash itself on the kaleidoscope of our dreams, hopes and king sized bets. Beating the cacophony of everyday life, F1 is back again to instill hope, belief and music of the screeching engines to the frenzy of television sets and the ensemble cast at the pit crew and team garages.
A promise to enthrall drivers and spectators alike in a competition that is second to none in the magnanimity of what's at stake, March 20th will be the place to party as Melbourne will witness the sensational season opener.
Putting things into perspective
As always, the stakes are incredibly high in a contest where man, machine and technology unfurl an incredible intermingling to demonstrate the thrill and gravitas of perhaps the world's most interesting sport. With 2014 and 2015 being ruled by the pairing of Briton, Lewis Hamilton and German, Nico Rosberg, F1's herculean talents, such as Williams and Red Bull fell flat on their face in front of a dominant Silver Arrows show.
At the same time, no mention of 2015 season can be ever rendered complete without mentioning Ferrari's sporadic revival. Sebastian Vettel, powered by a gradually resurgent Raikkonen managed to draw some aces in a largely Mercedes-dominated show. But, this is Formula One. At the end of everything, unpredictability reigns supreme. And as the laconic Finn Kimi Raikkonen said, races aren't won on paper.
While Mercedes will be aware of the looming threat of a Ferrari keen to settle score with their arch-rivals, the Totto Wolff and Niki Lauda powered thinking station at Brackley will throw caution to the winds.
Can Ferrari overtake Mercedes?
In the 66th year since the inception of Formula One racing way back in 1950, the odds are seemingly stacked in favor of the most popular racing team, and also F1's most successful one. Ferrari upsetting Mercedes is evidently the tagline, the optimists are resorting to. While 2014 was a bitter nightmare and quite possibly Ferrari's worst competitive season in several decades, 2015 spurred a revival and many positives, truth be told.
Four-time World champion, Vettel's impressive form in his first ever season for the Maranello based outfit lifted the spirits of the Italian team. Those 10 hefty podium finishes certainly made the champagne taste better than before. One thing is sure that the lover of speed and some Vodka, Kimi, who managed to bag 3 podium finishes when compared to none in 2014, too enjoyed the party.
But, despite their impressive showing Ferrari didn't manage to curtail the vociferous form of Lewis Hamilton, who despite losing out to Nico in the final three races at Texas, Interlagos and Yas Marina, lifted the driver's title for a second consecutive time, taking his tally of world championships to 3, having first tasted glory in 2008.
What's changed for Ferrari and Merc?
But, this is a new season. At the completion of the 21 high octane races in the pinnacle in the world of motor-racing, we shall have amongst us a truly deserving victor. Who knows whether that may or may not be from the Silver Arrows. While talk is cheap and performance counts, the grapevine has it that Ferrari have produced a thumping speed wagon that will give zesty boost to Sebastian Vettel, who will be keen to dominate over Lewis.
In the pre-season testing at the elegantly designed Circuit de Catalunya (Barcelona), Ferrari fielded what many call a radical, even revolutionary upgrade from the last year in the form of the brand new SF-16 H. The red and white livery comes with an impressive push-rod suspension that enabled Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel to lead the pecking order.
Mercedes' Paddy Lowe, emphasized on the Brackley-based outfit's revolutionary new product in the form of the F1 WO7 Hybrid for the 2016 season, stating that the team have another championship winning car. Is Vettel listening?
The new addition to the tally of 21 races
In a season where one is to witness extravaganza and unparalleled excitement, the inclusion of the Baku City Circuit, at Azerbaijan will only add to the thrill. The inclusion of the Azerbaijan G.P., slated for June 19, is being keenly anticipated. The circuit, marked with 20 turns and a track length of 6.006 km, shall bring in plenty of excitement and, drifts and turns in the abundantly beautiful European Caucasus.
That said, let us deep dive into the driver arrangement to understand the 2016 season with greater comprehension.