Currently reading: F1 2016 preview: pundits' predictions for the new season
The 2016 season of Formula 1 is just around the corner, so we asked three top pundits for their predictions

If you're unsure of what to expect from the upcoming Formula 1 season, and are still unsure after reading Pat Symonds' predictions for the future of the sport, here's what three top pundits had to say about how things are shaping up this year:

Who are your tips for the two 2016 titles — and why?

Ben Anderson Grand prix editor, Autosport: “Lewis Hamilton should make it three drivers’ titles in a row. At his best, he’s usually too good for Nico Rosberg. Mercedes should be top constructor again, too. Even if Ferrari can be fast enough to get on terms, the Scuderia isn’t at the same level on reliability.”

Ellie Bartley Editor, “The obvious choices are Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes. However, Ferrari could be a serious contender for the constructors’ title, following their resurgence last season. As for the drivers’ title, that is a lot harder to predict because both Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen are excellent drivers in their own rights.”

James Allen F1 journalist and broadcaster: “Driver: I’d like to see Rosberg give Hamilton a harder time, like he did late last year. Vettel might have something to say about it, too. My heart says Vettel, but my head says Hamilton. Constructor: it’s hard to see past Mercedes. Even if Vettel does well, Räikkönen at Ferrari won’t have a strong enough strike rate to support him.”


How well can team Renault do in its first season back?

Ben Anderson: “Don’t expect too much. The deal to buy Lotus came together very late and the Enstone factory requires plenty of reinvestment. This is the first step in a five-year plan to become champion. Top six or seven at the end of the year is probably the best Renault can expect.”

Ellie Bartley: “Renault will be an interesting team to watch because a lot has changed since it was last involved as a constructor, both with the drivers and team management. I expect to see new British driver Jolyon Palmer learning from Kevin Magnussen, with both using their previous experience to propel the team up the grid.”

Back to top

James Allen: “Renault’s team purchase deal came late, so there’s been little time to change from Mercedes to Renault engines, let alone innovate with design. And at a stroke, they’ve dropped 60bhp — around 0.8sec of lap time. They also need to hire 100 engineers. They’ll be thinking about 2017, and this year their cars could be around 15th.”

F1 list 002 0

Can McLaren-Honda do a better job than in 2015?

Ben Anderson: “This team couldn’t have done much worse last year, so it certainly should do better. Honda has improved over the winter, but the engine still lacks power and the latest chassis hasn’t had an easy birth. Expect decent steps through the season and probably a top-eight finish, but no miracles.”

Ellie Bartley: “Any new development is hard for a team to adapt to but now McLaren has had a year to do so. Therefore, I hope that their adjustment to the change of engine supplier will be a lot more visible in 2016. To see Jenson Button or Fernando Alonso back on the podium would be a bonus.”

James Allen: “They need to. The chassis is definitely better but the engine still concedes horsepower. The good news is the regs have been freed up in areas Honda needs, so they shouldn’t have locked-in problems. They won’t win, but I expect them to score regular points.”

Back to top

F1 list 003 0

Can Nico Rosberg get on top of Lewis Hamilton?

Ben Anderson: “He can do it. He’s proved it several times already. The problem is that he hasn’t done it consistently enough to become champion. Rosberg was superb at the end of last season, but the championship was done by then. He needs to boss Hamilton when everything is on the line again.”

Ellie Bartley: “As qualifying master, Nico can be expected to continue to dominate Lewis in that respect. It will be interesting to see whether that changes when the new qualifying format is introduced. However, if Nico is to gain an advantage this season, he must focus on improving his race strategy, which is Hamilton’s strength.”

James Allen: “Well, he has the speed, but Hamilton is the stronger racer, and that won’t change. To succeed, Rosberg needs to qualify ahead of Hamilton and find ways to rattle him. Things could get complicated if Vettel is fast enough to force Mercedes to cover him, which I think will happen. This will be less of a two-horse race.”

F1 list 004 0

Back to top

Who and what will deliver the surprises of 2016?

Ben Anderson: “American newcomer Haas has the potential to do really well this year. Well funded and Ferrari backed, it will be nothing like the last influx of back-of-thegrid fodder we saw in 2010. Also watch out for Toro Rosso’s young superstars, especially while the 2015 Ferrari engine is still relatively potent.” 

Ellie Bartley: “I think the new knockout qualifying format could surprise the F1 community. Although it is due to be more of a strategic contest for teams and could be more exciting for fans, it could lead to meetings being called by the FIA or Grand Prix Drivers’ Association over safety concerns.”

James Allen: “It may seem strange to name Red Bull, world champions as recently as 2013, but I think they’ll surprise. Tyre rules have changed and their car is very good on its tyres. Ricciardo is good, too. They will win podiums. And for those who haven’t noticed, Manor is about four seconds faster than last year.”

F1 list 005 0


Steve Cropley

Steve Cropley Autocar
Title: Editor-in-chief

Steve Cropley is the oldest of Autocar’s editorial team, or the most experienced if you want to be polite about it. He joined over 30 years ago, and has driven many cars and interviewed many people in half a century in the business. 

Cropley, who regards himself as the magazine’s “long stop”, has seen many changes since Autocar was a print-only affair, but claims that in such a fast moving environment he has little appetite for looking back. 

He has been surprised and delighted by the generous reception afforded the My Week In Cars podcast he makes with long suffering colleague Matt Prior, and calls it the most enjoyable part of his working week.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
Andrew 61 17 March 2016

I think Vettel might pinch it this year ?

With Mercedes winning the constructors title. The new quali format looks like a disaster waiting to happen.