Toro Rosso to be ahead of Renault, and maybe Red Bull right at the start of the season, but only at the start. This one may be a bit far fetched, but given that Toro Rosso will race with 2015 Ferrari engines next season, I wouldn’t be too shocked to see them ahead of, or at least matching the Renault powered cars early on in the season. Remember how far Renault were behind on the engine front by the end of last season? A repeat of the last winter break where Renault failed to make the needed progress on the engine front could well see the year old Ferrari unit starting 2016 still the more powerful. The jury is still out on how well Red Bull will develop their engine over the course of the season, but with Horner already playing down their chances in 2016, we can assume their engine won’t be a Mercedes beater. Over the course of the year I expect Renault to finally make some inroads on the engine front and eventually overhaul Toro Rosso.
Jenson Button to retire come the end of year. It would be sad to see JB go, but given how close he was to announcing his retirement at the end of 2015, I can’t see him wanting to stick around for more than one more season. Button has been a great ambassador for F1, Mclaren and motorsport in general and if he did retire, he would be sorely missed. With Vandoorne waiting in the wings, I feel Button has often been treated with a lack of respect from McLaren boss Ron Dennis and whilst the majority in the garage may want the 2009 champ to stay on, Dennis may finally have his way. His latest protege Magnussen was replaced after just one season in the car, and then unceremoniously dumped by McLaren just a year later, and with Vandoorne storming to the GP2 title in the way he did, you can’t imagine Dennis letting another young gun slip away from him.
Toys will be thrown out the pram at Mercedes. Judging by how 2015 finished, and even with Toto Wolff’s warning, we can expect even more bickering from Hamilton and Rosberg in 2016, especially if Rosberg’s stunning end of season form is carried over to Melbourne. Even with the championship sewn up with time to spare, Hamilton didn’t seem to take too kindly to Rosberg’s end of season winning streak, and all eyes will be on the couple as they line up on the grid in Melbourne. Whether they are in a class of their own, or joined by Vettel and Ferrari remains to be seen, however Rosberg and Hamilton are sure to be evenly matched, and how Mercedes deal with these two extremely competitive drivers will be a fascinating sub plot to 2016, especially if the racing is a processional as last year.
What do you think of my predictions for 2016? Do you have any of your own? I’d love to see them so feel free to pop them in the comments below!