PART 1 – Brought to you by TJ13 contributor @F1TheaJ
With the new season looming fast, we look back to last season and see how the TJ13 Jury rated 2016 in a 3 part series.
How best to approach this article? Part 1 (Australia to Germany) was relatively easy as there were only 12 races and I hadn’t done a previous season review. Shall I start with Rate the Season Part 2 (Belgium to Abu Dhabi,) in which case would the races be ranked out of 9 (for the second part of the season) or 21 (the whole season?)
I decided to go with a whole season review (hence the title) but with an added commentary on how the first half season races either held their own or slipped down the table after the inclusion of the later races.
For this reason the ranking is given out of 21 (for the season) but with the ranking for the races from the first half of the season in brackets, along with their slipped position, the mean reader score (out of 10) and the driver of the weekend along with the driver’s position in the race
e.g. China 5/21 (3/12, -2) 7.77, Daniel Ricciardo (4th.)
I wonder if, with the benefit of hindsight, we would still rate each race the same as we did then? But the numbers are what they are, the readers voted as they did and I write this article as if you still believe Spain to be the best race of the season and Monza the worst……So, here goes:
Race 1, Australia: Rank: 8/21 (5/12, -3), Score: 7.26 Driver of the weekend: Rio Harianto, (DNF)
Australia seems like such a long time ago now, but Alonso’s spectacular crash is still the outstanding memory of this race. Thankfully he did walk away (relatively) unscathed. Ferrari’s poor strategy call still lost Vettel P1 and the memory of the new qualifying procedure is still as bad as ever. First win of the season for Rosberg. The race slipped three places in the overall rankings, with Brazil, Malaysia and Spa all pushing Australia from 5th to 8th.
Race 2, Bahrain: Rank: 10/21 (6/12,-4) Score: 7.04 Driver of the weekend: Romain Grosjean (5th)
Controversy over the new qualifying system still raged as it was first (reportedly) dropped then reinstated. The drivers wrote a letter raising their concerns to the powers that be, which prompted a sarcastic comment from Bernie, expressing how impressed he was that they could actually read and write. Most of the action was in the mid field (but not for Vettel as his Ferrari engine blew up en route to the starting line.) Grosjean was particularly impressive, finishing 5th (hence our Driver of the weekend) even though Rosberg won his second race of the season. Bahrain lost position to Brazil, Malaysia, Spa and Abu Dhabi in the rankings.
Race 3, China: Rank: 5/21 (3/10, -2) Score: 7.77 Driver of the weekend: Daniel Ricciardo (4th)
A dramatic race in the carbon fibre and front wing department, as no fewer than 35 front wings were used in this race. Ricciardo had a tyre failure but managed to cut a swathe through the field to finish fourth in the race and win our driver of the weekend. The podium room provided more than usual entertainment with Vettel berating Kvyat for driving like a madman (more of that later.) Rosberg made it three wins on the trot. China lost two places to Brazil and Malaysia in the season’s ranking.
Race 4: Russia: Rank: 18/21 (10/12, -8) Score: 5.24 Driver of the weekend: Max Verstappen (DNF)
The spat between Kvyat and Vettel continued this race: on the opening lap, Kvyat hit Vettel not once, but twice, causing him to spin off the track and retire (along with several others) from the race. Unlike the last race, public opinion was not with Kvyat. This was to be his last race with Red Bull, swapping places with Max Verstappen who (despite a DNF in this race) made a good enough impression to win our driver of the weekend. Yet another win for Rosberg. Russia lost eight places in the rankings to Brazil, Malaysia, Spa, Abu Dhabi, Japan, Singapore, Mexico and the USA.
Race 5: Spain : Rank : 1/21 (1/12 -0) Score: 8.65 Driver of the weekend: Max Verstappen (1st)
Ranked the best race of the season overall: Max Verstappen won his very first GP on his very first outing in his new team, becoming the youngest ever winner. The two Mercedes had a dramatic collision on the first lap leaving the race open to the rest of the field. Ricciardo, who was covering Vettel, changed from a two to a three stop strategy, handing the lead to Verstappen who held his nerve brilliantly and held position until the chequered flag. Needless to say, Verstappen won our driver of the weekend and the race held its own at the top of the ranking for the rest of the season.
Race 6, Monaco: Rank: 6/21 (4/12, -2) Score: 7.49 Driver of the weekend: Daniel Ricciardo (2nd)
This was a wet race and the advantage Ricciardo would have had of starting the race on supersoft tyres (when the rest of the field would have been on ultras) came to naught as the Race was started on wet tyres under safety car conditions. Red Bull made on gigantic blunder on Ricciardo’s second pit stop, as, pitting from the lead, Ricciardo’s tyres were not ready and he had to wait 13 seconds as the team fumbled their way forward. Ricciardo lost the lead and the race but did win our driver of the weekend. First race win of the season for Hamilton. As with most of the races this season, Monaco lost position in the rankings to Brazil and Malaysia.
Race 7, Canada: Rank: 14/21 (8/12, -6) Score: 6.57 Driver of the weekend: Max Verstappen (4th)
Would Vettel’s bad luck (or bad strategy calls) ever end? Once again he was in the lead when a VSC was deployed (Button’s engine gave up the ghost.) Pitting Vettel at this point could have been an inspired move on Ferrari’s part had not the VSC period ended very quickly after it had begun, leaving Vettel crawling down the pit lane whilst his opponents barreled past at full speed. Verstappen won our driver of the weekend as his defensive driving (reminiscent of Spain two races earlier) against Rosberg was exemplary. Hamilton’s second win of the season under his belt, thank you very much. Canada lost six places in the rankings to Brazil, Malaysia, Spa, Abu Dhabi, Japan and Singapore.