The Judge13 contributor Dane Hansen takes a moment to reassure you – Formula One’s ultimate fans – that despite the long wait of more than 100 days before Melbourne, there is much to look forward to in 2016.
1. The most bountiful calendar in Formula One history
Next year, Formula One turns sixty-seven. From its inaugural event on the retired airstrips of Silverstone in 1950, to the Abu Dhabi’s desert heat in 2016, the F1 band camp has been gifted thirty-two world champions. Each new driver is a motoring artisan who utilises his car as a brush to paint frisk streaks across canvas that is already smitten with beauty – the backdrop is of course the many and varied grand prix circuits. Next season Formula One will return to its culture of yesteryear with the reintroduction of the European Grand Prix, and the return of a nostalgic German feature on the calendar. The Grand Prix of Europe is set to be hosted by Baku of Azerbaijan and will be the twenty-first addition to the F1 itinerary should the revised schedule remain intact.
2. One new team
One word: ‘Merica! Formula One came close to having an all-American team on the grid in 2010, which was to be co-headed by fellow writer and journalist Peter Windsor. The team asked to miss the first four races of the season, but was later forced to withdraw completely from the championship after failing to muster enough finances to remain sustainable. Now, Gene Haas of all-American sport NASCAR, will be putting his neck on the line and two more cars on the F1 grid in 2016, extending the used-driver-market to twenty-two. Ferrari, acting as a kind of surrogate father to Haas, will be supplying the squad with Ferrari Engines – Haas will be a kind of Scuderia diminutive…or Mustang if you enjoy a pun. Several months ago Gene Haas was asked what colours he will dress his cars in next season. Gene suggested that F1 doesn’t currently have a yellow team. Could we see the return of a bumble bee yellow line-up, reminiscent of a certain Jordan car? Let’s wait and see.
3. Ferrari rearing again
Over the last season, Ferrari made it clear they were done licking wounds, and made pretty strides forward to take three victories. With the prancing horse back on rears, next season will be one you cannot afford to miss. With Sebastian Vettel tugging on the reigns of success, both he and his Ferrari veteran teammate Kimi Raikkonen, are confident their 2016 challenger can meet Mercedes on the front row of the grid, and the front lines of wheel-to-wheel racing. Hawthorne vs. von Trips, Hill vs. Schumacher. The world has been treated to countless seasons of British-German battles on track. Next year the fighting continues. The age-old conflict will ensue with new fighters, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.
4. Turning up the volume
2016 could be time to put the T.V volume back down to ten. The revs of a modern hybrid Formula One car can barely match the wheezing pitches of an industrial vacuum cleaner. Yet, next year, a change in regulations stipulate that cars need to be designed with a separate wastegate for exhaust gasses to pass through. Translate this into layman’s terms, and the cars are set to be a little louder in four months time. But do we want a louder version of an already dull noise? We will find out in February.
5. The colour purple (hopefully with less drama)
Because super-soft just isn’t soft enough is it? Formula One’s sole tyre manufacturer is set to introduce an even softer compound next season. Branded as the new “ultra softs” the Italian rubber giant will assign purple to this tyre as part of an already busy colour palette. Before a race weekend, Pirelli will provide three compounds out of thirteen; teams can then choose any two of the three options for the race weekend. Williams Esler describes the rule change as such: ” Of the 13 sets of dry tyres available to each driver, the tyre supplier will choose two for the race (only one of which must be used in the race), and one set (the softest available) that may only be used in Q3. Each driver may then choose their remaining 10 sets from the three available compounds.” This should bring some good variety to pit strategies and will be accompanied by a less predictable race.
6. The Mclaren Honda Dynasty
The East. The West. Historically, the two halves have been divided by an obscure, invisible margin which viciously cuts a jagged line through Africa. One side that is typically built on profitability and capital, whilst the other that finds itself on foundations of respect and tradition. In 1988, two forces of converse nature combined their expertise to create a team that later became unstoppable, and hosted one of the most infamous driver parings of all time. They pioneered in a spectrum of opposites, black and white, fire and rain. This year, Honda and Mclaren founded a dismal attempt to recreate the success of previous years, and instead of rising like a phoenix from the ashes, these very embers were swept from the funeral pyre, thwarting the rebirth of this unique mythological bird. Mclaren’s final triumph some three years ago, is so distant in history of a sport that deals in milliseconds, it almost seems like a story of mythology. Jenson Button believes the Woking outfit understands the cause of woes, and have the skills and time necessary to antidote their faults. The team aims to take flight once again and perch itself on the lower steps of the podium at least once in 2016.