Mercedes F1: A Stroll to Success or the Road to Ruin?

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Following a string of success in 2015 and winning the World Drivers’ Championship for the third time and the second successive year, many will be wondering whether Lewis Hamilton can again triumph over his Mercedes teammate, Nico Rosberg, to become a four-time Formula One world champion. Doing so would put his name among the greats such as Senna, Prost and Fangio. However, despite the dominance that was evident throughout 2014 and 2015, it is likely that Mercedes will face threat from other teams on the grid in 2016, no longer being in a league of their own at the top of the table. There is one team that can pose this threat and propel the Silver Arrows from their glory. A team with history. A team with passion and prowess. A team that can make their opponents shudder at their knees – Ferrari.

Maintaining their driver line up in 2016 with four time champion Sebastian Vettel, and 2007 champion, Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari will be looking to return to their former glory, aiming to emulate the days of Michael Schumacher in the early 2000s. But can they do this? It is undoubtable that they will pose a threat to Mercedes in this upcoming season. Following a disastrous 2014 season after adapting to the next generation of Formula One car, Ferrari said that they would not be truly competitive until at least 2016. After having some pace in 2015, securing three grand prix victories in Malaysia, Hungary, and Singapore. With the pace of the Ferrari being particularly evident in the latter, one can only be curious as to what Ferrari have created for the upcoming season in the form of their title challenging ‘SF16-H’. Despite only being released on February 19th, Ferrari have already proven their reliability, having completed 353 laps in the first pre season test in Barcelona, with pace also being evident with the Ferrari being fastest on three of the four days of the test. Further reliability and pace was also evident in the second pre season test in Barcelona, with Ferrari leaving Spain with the fastest overall time over the two weeks.

After a torrid 2015 season, finishing second to last in the constructors championship, McLaren will be looking to build on prior results again in 2016, hoping to advance further up the grid to where they belong with their new Honda power unit. Unlike the MP4-30, the MP4-31 has already shown signs of improvement over the winter, completing a surprising 257 laps over the four days of the first pre season test. Furthermore, reports over the winter of massive power gains have also been published, reporting gains of up to 200 horsepower from Honda, of which would place the Woking based team just beneath Mercedes in the power game. Alongside this, McLaren also have one of the strongest driver line ups they have had in recent years in the 2016 season, maintaining their drivers in the form of Britain’s Jenson Button and Spain’s Fernando Alonso, having two of the strongest Formula One drivers in this modern age. With the already evident reliability of the new McLaren Honda, the acclaimed advancements and developments in the engine that held them back in 2015, and a very strong driver pairing, it will be interesting to see the extent of the threat that McLaren can pose in this forthcoming season, hoping to return to the infamous pairing of McLaren and Honda that marked the team’s period of dominance in the late 1980s and early 90s.

With the threat that Ferrari can pose and the ever present past of McLaren returning to Formula One, 2016 will certainly be an interesting season, with the gap to Mercedes hopefully being narrowed, providing the excitement and unpredictability that Formula One needs in this time of desperation.

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