Formula One 2016 Half-Term Report

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We are 11 races into a tiring 21-race calendar in the Formula One 2016 season. Whilst it appears that it has been the same old story with Mercedes running away with both championships, it has not been quite as simple as that. Collisions on the track between the two drivers and reliability issues have cost both drivers a number of points. However, Ferrari, who almost always picked up the pieces last year, have struggled to do so in the Formula One 2016 season. Up and down the grid we have had stars come to the fore, and a number of drivers starting to come under pressure and without a contract for 2017. As has been the case in previous years, here is the Formula One 2016 half-term report.

Formula One 2016 Half-Term Report

Mercedes AMG

No. 44 Lewis Hamilton

Position: 1st
Highest Grid Position: 1st
Highest Race Position: 1st

This season has seen a very mixed Lewis Hamilton compared to the one which started 2015 off so dominantly. He was simply outmuscled at Australia and at Bahrain, not helped by two poor starts. Hamilton had a myriad of issues at China which was not his fault, and reliability cost him a shot at victory at Russia. He was equally at fault for the collision at Spain as his team mate, however he bounced back by finally getting a bit of luck to take his second Monaco win. Hamilton followed that up by outmuscling and out-strategizing his team mate and his red rival respectively at Canada.

He made a monumental error at Azerbaijan which cost him dearly. However he bounced back with two strong wins at Austria (his first there), his fourth victory at his home race, and his fifth at Hungary. By no means has this been vintage Lewis Hamilton, but five victories in six races has kept him in very much in the championship hunt.

Rating: 7.5/10

No. 6 Nico Rosberg

Position: 2nd
Highest Grid Position: 1st
Highest Race Position: 1st

Nico Rosberg carried his momentum from the end of 2015 very much into 2016. He has done this by taking four very convincing victories on the bounce. He capitalized on Ferrari’s and his team mate’s errors and reliability issues to have a perfect start to the year. Rosberg was not blameless for what happened at Spain, and was unfortunate to suffer brake issues at Monaco and a puncture at Canada. All three races saw Rosberg finish off the podium. He then bounced back with a dominant win at Azerbaijan before making a serious error of judgement at Austria, where the penalty given was right.

He was unlucky to fall foul of the daft radio rules at Silverstone, and as a result only finished third there after a race-long battle with Max Verstappen. Like his team mate, it has been a very mixed season to date and the momentum is very much with his team mate right now, having just lost the points lead after Hungary.

Rating: 7/10

Ferrari



No. 5 Sebastian Vettel

Position: 5th
Highest Grid Position: 3rd
Highest Race Position: 2nd

This was to be the season Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari really put Mercedes under pressure and delivered convincing wins, and a title fight. It has simply not materialised, to the dismay of the neutral. A series of operational errors from the Ferrari pit wall, reliability issues, bad luck and the odd off-day sees Vettel languishing down in fifth, winless.

Strategy at Australia, not even starting at Bahrain, being hit by his team mate at China, being hit twice by Daniil Kvyat in Russia, qualifying issues and strategy again at Spain, more qualifying woes at Monaco, a tyre failure whilst leading at Austria and a gearbox penalty twinned with a poor race at Britain is what Vettel has endured to date this season. The least eventful races for Vettel were Baku, where he finished second on a day where Ferrari was far behind Mercedes, and a strong fourth at Hungary. A miracle is needed now to fight for the title this year.

Rating: 8.5/10

 

No. 7 Kimi Raikkonen

Position: 4th
Highest Grid Position: 3rd
Highest Race Position: 2nd

The Formula One 2016 season has been the strongest we have seen Kimi Raikkonen at since his return to Ferrari back in 2014. Raikkonen has been delivering the bacon when the opportunity has arisen – notably with second place at both Bahrain and at Spain, and delivered two further podiums at Russia and at Austria. In three of those four races, Vettel failed to finish. He has been stronger in qualifying in comparison to recent seasons as well, and had some bad luck at Australia, where he was on course for a strong result until his car failed. He is still prone to the odd off-day however – fifth at China after colliding with his team mate and only sixth at Canada were not good days. With all this in mind, Ferrari has renewed his contract for another season.

Rating: 7/10

Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer



No. 3 Daniel Ricciardo

Position: 3rd
Highest Grid Position: 1st
Highest Race Position: 2nd

A single second place and a single third place does not justify the strong level of performance Daniel Ricciardo has put in again. He started his season with an excellent pair of fourth places behind only Mercedes and Ferrari. He matched that result at China, despite a puncture. Ricciardo was caught up in the mess started by his team mate at Russia, and was hampered by strategy and a late puncture at Spain. He took a brilliant pole at Monaco, before he was finally hurt by a slow stop. He did not have particularly strong weekends at Canada, Austria or at Silverstone but has out-qualified his team mate more frequently than any other driver on the grid. Last time out at Hungary, he pushed Mercedes fairly hard in the race as he took third, bringing back the smile to the popular Australian.

Rating: 8.5/10

 

No. 33 Max Verstappen

Position: 6th
Highest Grid Position: 3rd
Highest Race Position: 1st

It has been tough to judge Max Verstappen – the now-youngest Grand Prix winner of all time in 2016 – with no help thanks to his mid-season switch to the main Red Bull team just four races into the campaign. He had a really solid run with Toro Rosso in the first four races, amassing a number of points there. He then switched to Red Bull ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix, was given an opportunity to win the thing, and did just that. Whilst Monaco was a disaster, and Azerbaijan was a bit so-so, he has been consistently strong since then. Especially with two second places back-to-back. Qualifying is an obvious area where improvements could be made, however, but he has been absolutely blistering in the races.

Rating: 8.5/10

Williams-Mercedes



No. 19 Felipe Massa

Position: 9th
Highest Grid Position: 4th
Highest Race Position: 5th

Veteran Felipe Massa may still not be on the grid next season, despite some really solid performances in 2016 thus far. He was the only driver to score points in each of the first six races, and really had the upper hand over his team mate in the initial part of the year. However since Monaco, he has scored just a single point compared to his teammate. Qualifying has been a notable area where Massa has struggled this season with a crash last time out at Hungary being of note, but when it comes to the races he has been arguably a bit stronger than his teammate.

Rating: 6/10

 

No. 77 Valtteri Bottas

Position: 7th
Highest Grid Position: 2nd
Highest Race Position: 3rd

Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas has been somewhat underwhelming in 2016, following two strong seasons in 2014 and in 2015. A single podium at Canada where he was strong and capitalised on issues for others is his only stand-out result on a Sunday, and his front row start at Sochi was converted into nothing higher than fourth. A really slow start to the season did not help, as did poor races at Monaco and at Silverstone where Williams were simply off the pace. However as a whole he has matched, if not edged his team mate Massa.

Rating: 7/10

Force India-Mercedes



No. 11 Sergio Perez

Position: 8th
Highest Grid Position: 6th
Highest Race Position: 3rd

Sergio Perez has carried on his impressive form from the second-half of 2015 and has translated it into some supreme results in 2016, taking two very strong third places on the streets of Monaco and Baku – the latter despite a grid penalty after damaging his gearbox in a crash in practice. He has matched his team mate in qualifying, which was one area where he has struggled in the past, and despite a slow start (which affected Force India as a whole), has been supreme since then. A strong recovery drive from an early puncture to finish ninth at Russia was the start of his impressive run which has carried on for much of the season so far.

Rating: 8.5/10

 

No. 27 Nico Hulkenberg

Position: 12th
Highest Grid Position: 2nd
Highest Race Position: 6th

The German Nico Hulkenberg has been superb on Saturdays, but somewhat lacklustre on Sundays. However he has not been immune to a bit of bad luck here and there, with retirements in three races so far, notably at Austria where he started a superb second. He was unfortunate at Monaco where his strategy didn’t work, and got caught out by a virtual safety car at Silverstone. Hulkenberg has done more than 100 races in Formula One now, and he is still yet to stand on the podium. It almost seems as if Hulkenberg’s progress in F1 has somewhat stagnated.

Rating: 6.5/10

Toro Rosso-Ferrari



No. 26 Daniil Kvyat

Position: 13th
Highest Grid Position: 6th
Highest Race Position: 3rd

This season has been absolutely shocking for Russian Daniil Kvyat. Two poor qualifying performances under F1’s ridiculous elimination qualifying system and a non-start signalled what would be a tough second campaign at Red Bull Racing. But it wasn’t to be. To Kvyat’s credit, his move at the start in China was borderline too aggressive. Ultimately, he was there to pick up the pieces from his team mate’s misfortune to secure his second podium finish. His home event, however, was just a disaster. This led to him being demoted back to Toro Rosso and it is clear that since then the young Russian has not quite been the same, mentally.

Horrendous luck, paired with more unnecessary collisions, has seen him fall behind his new team mate in the points standings. He has led his team mate for fewer laps than all bar two drivers. Kvyat has denied that he requires a sports psychologist or a move away from the Red Bull family, but it is clear that the current situation is not ideal. Especially with Pierre Gasly finally winning a race after more than a thousand days.

Rating: 5.5/10

 

No. 55 Carlos Sainz

Position: 10th
Highest Grid Position: 6th
Highest Race Position: 6th

Carlos Sainz is a name being thrown about quite a bit at the moment, notably linked with the likes of both Ferrari and Renault. It is clear why that is the case. His performance this season has been absolutely astounding. His stock has risen astronomically with both his and his ex-team mate’s performances this season, as the two were fairly well-matched last year. Sainz has somewhat unsurprisingly been confirmed for a third season at Toro Rosso. Since Spain, he has outscored Kvyat 26-2, and has been consistently around or in the top ten, even on circuits which should not suit the Toro Rosso.

Rating: 8/10

McLaren-Honda



No. 14 Fernando Alonso

Position: 13th
Highest Grid Position: 7th
Highest Race Position: 5th

Better reliability from McLaren-Honda has given Fernando Alonso a better indication of how he shapes up to his team mate than was the case back in 2015. The season did not start well, with that almighty shunt at Australia, which forced him to sit out the race at Bahrain. Alonso has only scored three times this season: fifth in tricky conditions at Monaco and sixth in the chaos at Russia and seventh at Hungary. This shows that when there is a sniff of a good result, Alonso usually delivers.

The key exceptions, however, were Austria and Britain, where he failed to capitalize on difficult conditions there. Regardless, he has generally had the upper hand on his team mate across the season.

Rating: 6.5/10

 

No. 22 Jenson Button

Position: 15th
Highest Grid Position: 3rd
Highest Race Position: 6th

One man whose future is unclear is Jenson Button’s. He has been outperformed fairly frequently by Alonso so far in 2016, especially in qualifying. However it is Button who was the one who was able to stick his McLaren in an unlikely third on the grid at Austria and translated that into a sixth in the dry. It was also Button who outraced Alonso at Silverstone. Whether this will be enough to secure his future at the Woking-based squad, however, is yet to be seen.

Rating: 5.5/10

 

No. 47 Stoffel Vandoorne

Position: 18th
Highest Grid Position: 12th
Highest Race Position: 10th

Stoffel Vandoorne replaced the injured Alonso at Bahrain. He out-qualified his team mate and drove a sensible race to the points. It was a really solid effort on debut for a man who should be racing in F1 full-time.

Rating: N/A

Haas-Ferrari



No. 8 Romain Grosjean

Position: 11th
Highest Grid Position: 9th
Highest Race Position: 5th

Romain Grosjean has delivered some absolutely stunning drives so far this season. A plucky no-stop race at Australia saw him deliver points for Haas on debut. He then followed that up with a very aggressive strategy at Bahrain, finishing fifth. Points have been a bit less frequent than that, and he has been troubled by his team mate at times. However, on Sundays it has been Grosjean who is very much high up in the classification.

Rating: 8.5/10

 

No. 21 Esteban Gutierrez

Position: 19th
Highest Grid Position: 11th
Highest Race Position: 11th

Esteban Gutierrez was blighted by bad luck early into the season, and then was unwell for the races at Monaco, Canada, and Baku. Ironically he out-qualified and outraced his team mate 2-1 during that stint. He has come close to getting into both Q3 and the points lately, so it may be a case of when, as opposed to if, that happens. However, he has been comprehensively outdriven by his more experienced and star driver team mate.

Rating: 5.5/10

Renault



No. 20 Kevin Magnussen

Position: 16th
Highest Grid Position: 14th
Highest Race Position: 7th

Dane Kevin Magnussen got a much-deserved second chance in F1 at the expense of Pastor Maldonado. Although, he has not been given a car which he can do a huge amount with. Nonetheless, he capitalised on chaotic events at Russia to drag the yellow machine into a good points-paying position. This has been the only time Renault has scored this season. He has soundly beaten his team mate in both qualifying and race sessions this season, but the gap has often not been significant. However, Magnussen has done a really solid job in what is a building year.

Rating: 6/10

 

No. 30 Jolyon Palmer

Position: 20th
Highest Grid Position: 13th
Highest Race Position: 11th

Another man under pressure is rookie Jolyon Palmer. He delivered a great performance in his first qualifying session, but other than that he has been fairly soundly beaten by Magnussen. Arguably his best performance came at Hungary, where he was on course for points before he spun off. Rumours that he will be dumped for Frenchman Esteban Ocon have not come to fruition yet. Palmer’s future in F1 is currently very much uncertain.

Rating: 5/10

MRT-Mercedes



No. 88 Rio Haryanto

Position: 23rd
Highest Grid Position: 16th
Highest Race Position: 15th

To give credit to the first ever F1 driver from Indonesia, he has outqualified his highly-rated team mate on a number of occasions. Does that make Rio Haryanto, a driver who secured just two poles in six years of GP3 and GP2 a good qualifier? Absolutely not. On Sunday he has been absolutely nowhere. Consistently being behind his team mate, and never finishing ahead of him. If rumours are to be believed, he will at least see out this F1 season.

Rating: 3/10

 

No. 94 Pascal Wehrlein

Position: 17th
Highest Grid Position: 12th
Highest Race Position: 10th

Of all the drivers in F1 this season, no driver has been ahead of his team mate more frequently during races than Pascal Wehrlein. His entry into F1 via the German Touring Car scene did not come without scepticism. He has looked out of place at times – especially on a Saturdays. However, Wehrlein was given an opportunity to deliver a good result when the Manor was quick at Austria. He duly delivered a point from a fine 12th.

Rating: 5/10

Sauber-Ferrari



No. 9 Marcus Ericsson

Position: 21st
Highest Grid Position: 15th
Highest Race Position: 12th

In complete contrast to last season, Swede Marcus Ericsson started the season off by very much having the upper hand over his team mate, but the pendulum has swung a bit in recent races. However he has not dragged an undeveloped Sauber into the points yet this season.

Rating: 4.5/10

 

No. 12 Felipe Nasr

Position: 22nd
Highest Grid Position: 15th
Highest Race Position: 12th

Felipe Nasr’s second season in F1 has been pretty poor. He has been soundly beaten by his team mate more often than not, and it is clear that he is unhappy with life at Sauber. To his credit, he has fought back in recent races, and currently looks more likely to score points than Ericsson. He shone in the wet at Hungary, but the pace in the dry was simply not there. It does seem as if a wet race will be required for Nasr to drag the Sauber into the points.

Rating: 4/10

Driver ranking:

  1. Ricciardo
  2. Vettel
  3. Verstappen
  4. Perez
  5. Grosjean
  6. Sainz
  7. Hamilton
  8. Rosberg
  9. Raikkonen
  10. Bottas
  11. Alonso
  12. Hulkenberg
  13. Massa
  14. Magnussen
  15. Button
  16. Gutierrez
  17. Kvyat
  18. Wehrlein
  19. Palmer
  20. Ericsson
  21. Nasr
  22. Haryanto

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