Team prospects for the 2016 Formula One season
Will Mercedes dominate the field once again?
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.