In Formula 1, the first driver you must beat is your team mate.
Lewis HAMILTON 55% vs. Nico Rosberg 45%
Hamilton begins a new season as the favourite to win and dominate his third world driver’s title. Rosberg’s end-of-season three race win streak, though, suggests a much closer battle than in previous seasons. The German has worked hard to close the gap on the Briton since they were first paired together at Mercedes in 2013. Hamilton struggled with last year’s Mercedes W06 developing more understeer near of the end of last season, but work has been implemented to avoid the same issues recurring.
Sebastian VETTEL 53% vs. Kimi Raikkonen 47%
In contrast to frosty relations between the Mercedes drivers, Ferrari have a partnership considerably more rosy. Raikkonen has struggled massively since returning to Ferrari, unable to replicate his Lotus form. Many believe the Prancing Horse’s return to a conventional pushrod suspension will help the Finn, but he still lacks pace over a single lap in comparison to Vettel. The German will most likely continue his rich vein of form from last season, closing any opportunity for the Iceman to defeat him over this season.
Valtteri BOTTAS 60% vs. Felipe Massa 40%
Over at Williams, we have the up-and-down pairing of Bottas and Massa. The Finn displayed great glimpses of his racecraft in 2014, but last year saw the veteran Brazilian close the gap with strong qualifying performances. Bottas should re-open the gap to Massa again this season, but he needs to do far more than just that to convince top teams of hiring him.
Daniil Kvyat 37% vs. Daniel RICCIARDO 63%
The odd couple at Milton Keynes appeared to have similar performances when one glances at last season’s championship table, but a further in-depth analysis proved the Australian dominated the young, but shy Russian in terms of race performance. Kvyat will need to start beating Ricciardo more convincingly if he is to convince his critics of being a serious championship contender in the future.
Sergio Perez 49% vs. Nico HULKENBERG 51%
Big and small return for another season with Force India, with the results of last season proving a major surprise. Perez pulled off some stunning performances, including his podium at Russia, whilst Hulkenberg saw himself involved in a worrying number of collisions. Many see Perez as the master of prolonging tyre life, which is vital in regards to the characteristics of the Pirellis, but Hulkenberg having the greater outright pace. This is a team-mate battle worth keeping your eye on.
Kevin Magnussen 48% vs. Jolyon PALMER 52%
The battle between the Renault young guns could be prove to be a near-imitation of Force India’s duo. Magnussen shares similarities with Hulkenberg, with many seeing them with the outright pace over their team-mates, but Palmer, like Perez, proved to be an adept expert of caressing the heat sensitive Pirellis in his 2014 GP2 championship winning campaign. Magnussen struggled with dealing the Pirellis in his first season of F1 when he drove for McLaren, often excelling in qualifying but deteriorating in the races in a vein similar to Jarno Trulli from a not-so-distant past. Plus Palmer spent last season partaking in free practice sessions for this team when they were badged as Lotus, so he has a better knowledge of the team than K-Mag does. The Dane will share the majority of the spoils in qualifying, but the Briton will come to the fore in the races.
Max VERSTAPPEN 61% vs. Carlos Sainz 39%
The battle of the Dutch puppy and the Spanish puppy could prove to be a major red herring in disguise. Verstappen’s driving style bears a resemblance to that of Lewis Hamilton, whilst Sainz carries the hallmarks of a classic oversteering, tail-happy type of driver. The Spanish prospect displayed raw pace in qualifying, but his races were littered by inconsistency and reliability issues. His young Dutch team-mate caught the eye with daring overtakes on the likes of Felipe Nasr and Pastor Maldonado. However, Verstappen incurred the wrath of senior drivers such as Felipe Massa & Romain Grosjean for his antics at Monaco and some believe controversial headlines will be a recurring theme of the Dutchman’s 2016 season.
Felipe NASR 72% vs. Marcus Ericsson 28%
Nasr impressed many with his P5 in his debut Grand Prix at Melbourne last season, whilst Ericsson endured a baptism of fire in his first season within the midfield ranks. The young Swede urgently needs to improve if he has any hopes of a future in F1, whilst his Brazilian team-mate needs to maintain his form to encourage interest from rival team owners.
Fernando ALONSO 68% vs. Jenson Button 32%
McLaren’s world champion pairing deserved more than their paltry points total of 27 last season, but pre-season testing has promised some improvements. Alonso continues to express doubts over the longevity of his future within the top level of motorsport, whilst questions over whether McLaren will renew Button’s contract for 2017 remain. In terms of this team-mate battle, as long as Alonso maintains his motivation, he will defeat Button by a comfortable margin.
Romain GROSJEAN 85% vs. Esteban Gutierrez 15%
Grosjean returns this season after a glittering 2015 with Lotus, where at Spa he took their first podium for two years. Gutierrez returns after having spent last season as Ferrari’s reserve driver, but his track record in F1 is poor. Heavily trounced by Hulkenberg in 2013 when he made his debut for Sauber, but equal to an average Adrian Sutil in 2014, little is expected of this genial Mexican.
Pascal WEHRLEIN 99% vs. Rio Haryanto 1%
Manor start another new season with two rookies, but this time it’s overwhelmingly obvious who is the lead driver (i.e. not the one on the right).