2016 F1 Teams’ Review of the Season: 11: The Prancing Farce

REJECT TEAM OF THE YEAR

11. Ferrari (3rd, 398 points (Sebastian Vettel: 4th, 212 pts/ Kimi Raikkonen: 6th, 186 pts)) 3.5

Absolutely awful… where do I begin?!

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2016 F1 Teams’ Review of the Season: 1-10

  1. Mercedes (1st, 765 points- Nico Rosberg (1st, 385pts)/Lewis Hamilton (2nd, 380pts)) 10.0

A third consecutive season of processional dominance for the boys from Brackley. Out of 59 Grands Prix since the start of 2014, they have won 51 races, 56 poles and 34 fastest laps.  Out of an accumulated total of 3,551 laps, they have led 2,969 of them- a whopping 83.6%. They have consistently maintained a qualifying lap average of 0.7 seconds over their rivals, so there have a few conspiracy theorists, who have suggested that the Mercedes hierarchy secretly harboured to see a Nico Rosberg WDC victory to prove their accomplishments stemmed from the engineering solely. No team has sustained such dominance within such a time frame- not even Ferrari succeeded in doing this between 1999-01 and 2002-04, when they won an unprecedented six consecutive constructors’ world championships.

From 1999-2001, Ferrari won 25 races, 24 poles & 14 fastest laps out of 50 Grands Prix. Out of 3,139 laps, the Scuderia led 1,531 of them (48.8%). From 2002-2004, Ferrari won 38 races, 30 poles & 34 fastest laps (66.6%) (this is the only statistic higher than Mercedes’) out of 51 Grands Prix. Out of 3,230 laps, the Maranello boys led 2,033 of them (62.9%). During these years, F2002 & F2004 were their two most prominent cars, which were praised for their excellent mechanical grip, neutral handling and near bullet-proof reliability- F2002 recording just one mechanical failure, whilst F2004 clocked up none.

Red Bull, from 2011-13, won 32 races, 37 poles & 29 fastest laps out of 58 Grands Prix. Out of 3,456 laps, they led 1,985 of those laps (57.4%). During these years, RB11 & RB13 were their two most prominent cars, which were estimated by aerodynamicists as producing the most amount of downforce seen in any F1 cars before or since.

Williams, from 1992-1994, won 27 races, 36 poles & 29 fastest laps out of 48 Grands Prix. Out of 3,127 laps, they led 1,829 of them (58.5%). During these cars, FW14B & FW15C were their two most prominent cars, acknowledged by experts to be the most technologically complex machinery- active suspension, ABS brakes, traction control plus numerous other gizmos, leading Alain Prost to describe FW15c as a “mini Airbus”.

McLaren, from 1988-1990, won 31 races, 42 poles & 23 fastest laps out of 48 Grands Prix. Out of 3,122 laps, they led 2,376 of them (76.1%). In qualifying, their two prominent cars MP4-4 & MP4-5 blew their rivals away, capable of defeating the fastest non-McLaren car by up to three seconds in the hands of one-lap master Ayrton Senna. If the relationship between Prost and Senna hadn’t been so acrimonious and reliability wasn’t such a prevalent issue, it is possible the statistics in this period would match or even beat what Mercedes have achieved.

In terms of what Mercedes have achieved compared to rival teams in the modern era, it is similar to the astounding dominance achieved by individual drivers such as Juan Manuel Fangio, Jim Clark, Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel. It is unlikely we’ll ever see such supremacy from a team on such a totalitarian scale, so that should be a welcome sigh of relief for fans.

Of course, the 10.0 mark was not only awarded for their car’s third consecutive year of crushing superiority, but also the team’s management. Despite controversy in Spain, Canada & Austria, relations remained stable between their star drivers, allowing them to seal the WCC at Suzuka with four races to spare.

2. Red Bull-TAG Heuer (2nd, 468 points- Daniel Ricciardo (3rd, 256 pts)/Max Verstappen (5th, 204 pts)/Daniil Kvyat (14th, 25 pts)) 9.0

After last year’s debacle, which led to Red Bull badging their Renault engines after their new sponsor, 2016 showed a huge leap forward. 2017 should present a permissible opportunity to return to the front, with Ricciardo and Verstappen hogging the headlines. It is expected star designer Adrian Newey will pen a chassis to exploit the aggressively increased downforce and tyres regulations to the absolute maximum, whilst Renault provide a power unit with ample grunt.

3. Force India-Mercedes (4th, 173 points- Sergio Perez (7th, 101 points)/Nico Hulkenberg (9th, 72 points)) 8.5

The Silverstone-based team’s gradual ascent through F1’s hierarchy was richly rewarded with their best-ever WCC finish of 4th. It is unlikely such a result will be achieved in 2017, but credit where credit is due. The designers exploited the current regulations’ need for drag reduction and straight-line speed, which permitted the chassis to lap quickly thanks to the invaluablely-endowed Mercedes power unit. It is debatable that in the hands of the best drivers (i.e. Alonso, Hamilton & Verstappen), the VJM09 could have pushed Ferrari for 3rd in the WCC. Loyal stalwart Hulkenberg will leave for Renault, so for 2017, promising talent Esteban Ocon takes his place.

4. Toro Rosso-Ferrari (7th, 63 points- Carlos Sainz (12th, 46 pts)/Daniil Kvyat (14th, 25 pts)/Max Verstappen (5th, 204 pts)) 8.0

A second consecutive season of progress for Faenza boys was rewarded with another 7th in the WCC. If Verstappen had remained at the team for the entirety of the season, they might have caught McLaren for 6th, but their 2015-spec Ferrari power unit proved their Achilles’ Heel. It is expected for Toro Rosso to move up in 2017, with the excellent Carlos Sainz spearheading their challenge.

5. McLaren-Honda (6th, 76 points- Fernando Alonso (10th, 54 pts)/Jenson Button (15th, 21 pts)/Stoffel Vandoorne (20th, 1 pt)) 7.5

A steady, if unspectacular, second season of the reunited fabled McLaren-Honda partnership. The car still suffered from a fair degree of understeer and the Honda power unit underwhelming in its overall output, but reliability was a welcome boost. Alonso did his usual miracle job, whilst Button floundered, scoring just five more points than last year. In his place for 2017 will be Vandoorne, who lit the paddock with illuminating reviews with his dazzling performance at his sole outing at Bahrain, whilst deputising for Alonso. The Spaniard will be not be feeling too comfortable, though, as memories of a particular rookie tearing his reputation to shreds will see its tenth anniversary.

6. Haas-Ferrari (8th, 29 points- Romain Grosjean (13th, 29 pts)/Esteban Gutierrez (21st, o pts)) 7.0

In their first two races, America’s newest team became the first team since Toyota in their debut consecutive Grands Prix to score points. What’s more, Grosjean finished P6 in Melbourne, then P5 in Bahrain thanks to excellent pit calls. As the season progressed, though, Haas ran through the typical stumbling blocks every new team encounters in their early hurdles of the unforgiving environment of F1. Lack of experience of set-ups and the narrow operating windows of the Pirellis, as well as dubious feedback from their drivers exacerbated their acute struggles at certain races, with Mexico being their nadir with P19 & P20. Gutierrez finished P11 five times and did well to beat his French team-mate during mid-season, but he never appeared to have the spark to produce a vital points finish. In his place for 2017 will be Kevin Magnussen, who will be hoping to improve upon his lacklustre 2016.

7. Williams-Mercedes (5th, 138 points- Valtteri Bottas (8th, 85 pts)/Felipe Massa (11th, 53 pts)) 6.5

After two years of enjoying the fruits of a remarkable revival with two consecutive 3rds in the WCC, my prediction of a third consecutive P3 was pathetically wrong. Strategic errors remained prevalent, which were exacerbated further by lack of development and critics slamming their low-drag, low-downforce design philosophy as one-dimensional. Lance Stroll will be a welcome addition with exorbitant funding by his billionaire tycoon father, but with Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement, the second seat is a major conundrum. Will Bottas go to Mercedes? And if he does, will Felipe Massa postpone his retirement for one more season?

8. Renault (9th, 8 points- Kevin Magnussen (16th, 7 pts)/Jolyon Palmer (18th, 1 pt)) 5.5

Were they racing in 2016? It was a poor return to F1 for the double WCC-winning French marque, who insisted upon using a revised 2015 Lotus chassis as their challenger this season. It is understandable that due to cash flow issues Lotus suffered, as well as time constraints linked with their late buyout, that the car was hurried, but development did not produce desired improvements. Cyril Abitedoul stated an intent to sign a “charismatic” lead driver, so it remains to be seen if Nico Hulkenberg can live up to such a lofty position.

9. Manor-Mercedes (11th, 1 point (Pascal Wehrlein (19th, 1 pt)/Esteban Ocon (23rd, 0 pts)/Rio Haryanto (24th, 0 pts) 5.0

A decent season for the Banbury-based squad. In spite of a car that lacked downforce, it topped top speed sheets regularly thanks to drawing inspiration from technical partners Williams, who sourced out their suspension and transmission. Wehrlein impressed in parts, whilst Pertamina-backed Haryanto lost his drive when the dollars dried up, as his race performances were inadequately under par. Ocon took his place, producing a great drive in Brazil before he spun. The point he lost for P10 proved academic as Sauber’s Felipe Nasr scored two vital points in P9, thrusting the Hinwil squad into 10th in the WCC. So that left Manor languishing in 11th for a second consecutive year. As ever with the backmarkers, their driver line-up will announced at the last minute before next year’s much anticipated tests.

10. Sauber-Ferrari (10th, 2 points- Felipe Nasr (17th, 2 pts)/Marcus Ericsson (22nd, o pts)) 4.0

In a season of mounting financial pressures, further burdened by two mediocre pay drivers and a bland corporate image, it was a miracle Sauber escaped the wooden spoon in the WCC and on this list. To be frankly honest, Monisha Kaltenborn clearly has a lucky charm somewhere. The car was rehash of last year’s decent contender, so it was inevitably predictable how poor this season was going to be.  All year, the Hinwil team appeared destined to see a 11th finish to darken their worries over the long-term existence of Sauber, but the heavens opened in Interlagos and the rest is history. Marcus Ericsson is confirmed in one of their seats for 2017, but it remains to seen whether Nasr has the funding to continue.

The next article will focus on this year’s Reject Team of the Year. Don’t miss it!

2016 F1 Driver Review of the Season: 1 & 2: The Squire & the Master

  1. Max Verstappen (5th, 204 points- Red Bull-TAG Heuer/Toro Rosso-Ferrari) 8.5

The list of superlatives are never ending for this sparkling Dutch prodigy. He has won Racing Acid‘s Driver of the Year award partly due to no single driver having a truly flawless season, but his invigorating performances have revived interest in a series which has alarmingly become renowned for stale and processional driving. Max started his year in a Toro Rosso, but controversy over Daniil Kvyat’s collisions with Sebastian Vettel in consecutive races at Shanghai and Sochi elevated him into the senior squad.

Melbourne saw the Dutchman start his season in an irascible fashion, where his pleas to his team to order then-team mate Carlos Sainz to waive him past were ignored. He’d outqualified Sainz to start a then-career best of P5, but questionable strategy and tyre wear issues saw him drop behind his canny Spanish team-mate, in a race interrupted by Fernando Alonso’s horrendous smash. Bahrain, however, saw Verstappen return to his halcyon days of yesteryear, where he finished an almighty P6 ahead of Kvyat’s Red Bull and both Williams cars.  Again he’d outqualified Sainz, although perhaps he had been assisted by the severely-maligned elimination format, which was canned at the consequent Chinese Grand Prix. Despite Sainz qualifying ahead at Shanghai, Verstappen finished five seconds ahead with P8 as his race result. Russia saw Max beat Sainz in qualifying again, but the race saw him retire with power unit maladies on lap 34, whilst running an impressive P6. In comparison, Sainz could only finish P12, one lap down.

With apprehension developing over Kvyat’s performances in the senior squad emerging, Helmut Marko and the Red Bull board exploited his latest collision with former Red Bull champion Vettel as perfect timing to bring Verstappen into his seat in time for Barcelona. The Dutchman qualified a steady P4 behind new team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, who’d admitted relishing the prospect of dicing wheels with the F1’s hottest teen. The race witnessed the inexplicable sight of the Mercedes drivers colliding at Turn 4 on lap 1, leaving Ricciardo leading Verstappen, whose ex-team mate Sainz followed them in the heady heights of P3. Inevitably both Ferraris overtook Sainz, with the race unfolding into one of pit strategy. Thanks to Red Bull’s adroit gamble to place Max on a two-stopper, with only Kimi Raikkonen following his lead as Ricciardo and Vettel chose three-stoppers. The final twenty-three laps witnessed a nail-biting encounter between the Dutchman and the wily Finn, who could not compete with the Red Bull’s superior exit speed. The chequered flag would witness one of the most astonishing fairytales completed, as Max succeeded in winning in his first time out with Milton Keynes-based squad, a feat never completed before. In doing so, he broke many records, some of which will almost certainly will never been touched again thanks to the FIA’s age restrictions, which had been implemented subsequently in response Max’s startling Grand Prix debut at just 17 years of age.

Monaco would foresee F1’s youngest race winner granted a scathing humbling, though, as a crash in qualifying saw him start in P21. He would make steady progress in the treacherous conditions that bestowed the Monte Carlo circuit the following day, but after having switched to slicks once the track dried sufficiently, he crashed out of the race for a second consecutive year at the Principality. Montreal would witness Ricciardo maintain his superiority in qualifying, but it was Max who would grab the headlines again when he pressured championship leader Nico Rosberg into an embarrassing spin, clinching P4 in the progress. A visibly downcast Ricciardo finished ten seconds behind in P7. The complexities of F1’s varying track layouts began to expose the Dutchman’s lack of experience when the circus visited a new track in Baku, Azerbaijan. Qualifying would see his Australian team-mate grab P2 after Perez’s gearbox change, whilst Max languished in P9. The lack of horsepower from the Renault engine combined with substandard tyre management would prove costly for Ricciardo, however, as the more powerful Mercedes and Ferrari engined cars inevitably beat him, leaving him to finish P7, just one second ahead of Verstappen. Despite freak wet-dry conditions in qualifying, Verstappen again lost out to Ricciardo. The race would witness a mesmerising return to form for the youngster, though, as he drove to P2 having driven the last 56 laps on soft compounds and a gigantic 25 seconds ahead of his team-mate. Verstappen finally succeeded in outqualifying Ricciardo at Silverstone and the race witnessed a fascinating battle between the Dutchman and Rosberg. Controversy over Max’s blocking became apparent as Nico implored his team to complain to FIA and demanded a punishment to be applied to the then-18 year old. Unfortunately for the German, gearbox selection headaches emerged, so a post-race penalty was applied to him for having received radio assistance to reset his system, gifting Verstappen a mightly P2.

The next five Grands Prix would prove to be a struggle for Verstappen. Ricciardo would outqualify him in four of these five races, with Belgium being an exception. The race at Spa would witness some truly belligerent driving from the Dutchman, as his poor start saw him exploited the full use of the inside kerb to wallop the Ferraris. After all three dropped outside the top ten, Verstappen unscrupulously swerved in front of Raikkonen on the Kemmel Straight on successive laps, whilst later pushing Perez off the track at Les Combes. It was a miracle the Dutchman would emerge from the weekend unpunished, but the damage to his reputation was appearing. After all, the critics were unforgiving when Ferrari fans were furious when Max chopped off Raikkonen twice in the braking zone at at Hungary. The German race also saw further altercations with Rosberg, whilst Monza and Singapore witnessed uncharacteristically abject performances from the Dutchman. On the weekend of his 19th birthday, Lewis Hamilton’s untimely engine failure would present an opportunity for Max to win his second race of the season at Sepang, but after an exhilarating tussle through turns 5 and 6 with Ricciardo, he was forced to settle for second, gifting Red Bull their first 1-2 in three years.

The final five races witnessed a return for the Dutchman. Suzuka would display a ruthless execution of defence from him, as Hamilton would emerge as the latest critic of Verstappen’s exploitation of the grey areas within the sporting regulations. Austin would witness communication issues between Max and his team, as the Dutchman arrived in the pits a lap earlier than scheduled, but this proved academic with his farcical attempts to pull his stricken vehicle off the track. It arguably wrecked Ricciardo’s prospects of catching Rosberg for P2, but Mexico would witness even further controversy in the closing laps. Once Max learned of the news he’d have five seconds added to his race time, he proceeded to delay an irate Vettel, permitting his team-mate to catch them. Vettel, a major of Verstappen’s antics throughout 2016, would ironically replicate the Dutchman’s weaving when Ricciardo attempted to overtake him. Max would cross the line in P3, but it would be Vettel who appeared on the podium, only for officials to award the last spot on the rostrum to Ricciardo hours later.

Interlagos would momentously foresee the greatest performance of Verstappen’s short career thus far. In a display of dazzling car control, despite spinning on the start-finish straight, Verstappen would exploit his fresh wet compounds to overtake car-after-car to finish P3, but again not without controversy. It was agonising to see the Dutchman seemingly escape from punishment after pushing his frustrated rival Vettel off the track on the exit  of turn 12, but quite simply the only other driver on his wavelength that day was race winner Hamilton. Abu Dhabi would see Verstappen spin on the first corner on lap 1, only to somehow stretch his flatspotted supersofts until lap 21 and then drive remaining 34 laps on new softs to finish P4 ahead of Ricciardo and Raikkonen.

It was utterly devastating in its execution. There is simply plenty more to come from the newest superstar of Formula One.

2. Fernando Alonso (10th, 54 points- McLaren-Honda) 8.0

Mr. Consistency once again excelled in 2016. Speculation over his future at McLaren again arose when news of Rosberg’s retirement broke out, but the Spaniard and manager Flavio Briatore are adamant that his future remains at the Woking squad. A P6 at Russia, a pair of P5s at Monaco & Austin and four P7s at Hungary, Belgium, Singapore & Malaysia once again illuminated the 35 year old’s status as F1’s most hard-nosed competitor. Not much else needs to be said.

2016 F1 Driver Review of the Season: 3 & 4: The Champion & the Tyro

3. Nico Rosberg (1st, 385 points- Mercedes) 8.0

“Is he a deserving champion?” asked many Lewis Hamilton and non-LH44 fans alike when the 31 year old German crossed behind his triple world champion team-mate when the chequered flag waved at the conclusion of this season at Abu Dhabi. In short, yes he is a deserving champion. Not one of the sport’s greats in the vein of Juan Manuel Fangio, Michael Schumacher or even contemporary Kimi Raikkonen, but he accomplished his life ambition. Many Hamilton fans must ask themselves this question: if Nico Rosberg truly was a poor driver, then surely it must reflect Lewis’ past two championships in a miserly fashion. The truth is that Rosberg was an above-average midfielder in his Williams, who only scaled the heights intermittently with his drives at Melbourne and Singapore in 2008, then gradually raised his game and confidence through beating Schumacher and consequently escalated the intensity of his aggression and commitment to defeat Hamilton. Nico definitely fails to fit the purists’ ideal fit of a venerated hardened racer; often articulating over fine details that would evoke an ordinary man with tedium, but his meticulous planning of his approach towards race paid dividends.

Undoubtedly, he was a beneficiary of impregnable reliability, but it must be remembered how Rosberg suffered a gearbox and an electrical failure respectively at Britain and Singapore during pivotal moments back in 2014, as well as his concoction of mechanical issues during the infamous double-points finale at Abu Dhabi. His luck was equally as bad in 2015, where he suffered the ignominy of being tagged by Daniel Ricciardo at Hungary, where an almost certain P2 became P8 due to the resulting puncture. Finishing behind an erratic Hamilton did his morale no good and this was followed by untimely engine and throttle breakages at Monza and Sochi, forcing an early surrender of his 2015 challenge. For Hamilton, he suffered engine and brake failures during the races at Melbourne and Montreal, as well as brake failure and a fire during qualifying at Hockenheim then Hungaroring respectively during 2014.

2015 saw just one mechanical failure with his power unit malfunctioning at that year’s peculiar Singapore Grand Prix. In the realms of 2016, other than his flabbergasting engine disintegration, his gearbox change during qualifying at Shanghai was his only mechanically-issue which impeded him in the hunt for the WDC. The wheel-to-wheel collisions of the two Mercedes drivers cannot be ignored; tensions initially arose at Bahrain 2014, when a thrilling fight emerged when the safety car withdrew, as both pushed the boundaries of legality within track limits. Monaco saw Nico’s infamous swerve to the left at Mirabeau after his pole lap, forcing the mandatory yellow flags to annul a final attempt for Hamilton to clinch pole. Hungary was marred by Lewis’ staunch refusal to give way to Rosberg, with some believing his selfishness lost a potential victory for Mercedes and his German team-mate.

Many therefore saw Rosberg’s slice at Hamilton’s rear left tyre as revenge at the consequent Belgian race; however, others claimed team orders at Monza had forced Rosberg to drive wide at Variante del Rettifilo to permit victory for Hamilton. Hamilton then pulled off magnificent overtaking manoeuvres at Suzuka and Austin, dismantling Rosberg’s pride and took a merited 2nd WDC. The following season saw less confrontation on the track, but more bitter verbal recriminations between the pair. Nico aimed accusations of egotism after China, slamming Lewis for “driving too slowly,” but it wasn’t until Suzuka when Rosberg would take another swipe at Hamilton’s antics. The Briton cunningly hugged the inside at the first corner, then gradually moved to the outside whilst manoeuvring his car through the optimum racing line. Likewise a stubborn Rosberg refused to give way, but ran wide of the rumble strips at the exit, consequently dropping to P4. Acrimony re-emerged when Hamilton clinched his 3rd WDC at Austin, as the race start saw Lewis blatantly understeering into turn 1 so that Rosberg would be forced onto the run-off to avoid a costly collision. The post-race pre-podium dressing room saw Hamilton throw a cap to Rosberg, only for the German to petulantly chuck it back into the re-crowned champion’s direction.

This season saw the two arch-rivals finally crash each other out of a race at Barcelona, although there was no clear intention from either to destroy each other’s Grand Prix in an unsporting manner. Austria saw arguably the last true confrontation before this season’s finale at Abu Dhabi, where Rosberg clearly attempted to block Hamilton from overtaking at the hairpin by taking the widest line possible. If there is any argument of bad luck that can be made in favour of Rosberg, his impaired brakes forced him to finish a lowly P7 at Monaco, whilst Hamilton’s understeering manoeuvre at Turn 1 at Montreal forced Rosberg off the road, where his Mercedes F1 W07’s inability to drive well in heavy traffic became prevalent and his spin whilst defending P4 from Max Verstappen left critics in hysterics. Silverstone witnessed late-race gear issues for Rosberg, who required urgent assistance via team radio to fend off a rampant Max Verstappen, but the dubious regulations of radio messaging reared its ugly head, leaving Rosberg penalised by time penalty which saw him cede P2 to the Dutchman.

The German’s poor start followed by another arbitrary penalty for desperately running Max Verstappen off the hairpin at Hockenheim exacerbated his woeful month of July, where Hamilton became the first driver to win four races in a calendar month. His stirring performances from Belgium to Japan saw him win four races to regain the WDC lead, whilst Malaysia saw a champion’s fightback, where after being punted at Turn 1 by a foolish Sebastian Vettel, his fierce and ruthless overtaking of mid-pack cars followed by his audacious manoeuvre on Raikkonen was punished by another arbitrary penalty, albeit rendered academic when Nico succeeded to pull a 13-second gap over the Finn at the chequered flag. Some were left underwhelmed by the German’s four consecutive P2 finishes in the last four races of his career, but by this crucial stage it would have been foolhardy and naive to push further than required.

Nico Rosberg will not be remembered as a gung-ho, guns blazing, crowd-pleasing, Roy of the Rovers type of champion. He will be remembered for his cultured persona, subtlety and due diligence in difficult circumstances to maximise his equipment and application of his driving aptitude to achieve his objective and retire from F1 as a fulfilled man. He will not be remembered for his passion, as his countless long faces and lethargic performances during his vapid seasons have displayed his need for perfection, which maybe demanded a level of attainment beyond reasonable expectations. Apart from memorable incidents, he breached the unwritten rules of being a ballsy, old school racer with innumerable radio requests such as asking details of Hamilton’s driving lines during a wet Q3 at Malaysia in 2015 or when he selected medium compounds during the Hungarian race that same year, feeling best to cut into Hamilton’s WDC lead rather than pursue Sebastian Vettel for a vital race victory. 2016 witnessed a more single-minded Rosberg, but he did profit from a noticeable descent in commitment from the other side of the garage, whose mindset has been patently divided by non-F1 excursions.

It is palpable to see that he retired when he realised he no longer stomached an appetite for another fight; the prospect of a hard-charging novices such as Verstappen and Stoffel Vandoorne sniping at his heels, and facing questions from a merciless media over and his worthiness of his champion status haunted his conscience. It may sound like a cliché, but he was simply too humble and nice to cement his reputation as a domineering, unrelenting, winner-takes-all racer in the vein of many contemporaries. Ultimately, the fatigue of possessing the indelible objective of defeating an all-time great team-mate, friend and enemy who had won every battle until now, was a beckoning to call upon a ceasefire.

4. Carlos Sainz (12th, 46 points- Toro Rosso-Ferrari) 8.0

On the subject of drivers being viewed as a replacement for F1’s departing new WDC, this young Spaniard’s name has been framed. His debut season in 2015 displayed flashes of speed, but not the same level of virtuosity of a certain highly-esteemed Dutch prodigy. Thankfully, the agony of being Verstappen’s team-mate ended early this season, when Daniil Kvyat was demoted to the junior team after his embarrassing double collision with Vettel at Sochi. From thereafter, Sainz has flourished with flying colours with numerous scintillating drives. A smattering of P6s at Spain, America and Brazil have underlined his reputation, whilst dominating a deject Kvyat, who either lost motivation or is a genuine inferior talent to Sainz. The Spaniard broke in Q3 nine times in a chronically underpowered STR11 chassis, which relied upon a 2015-spec Ferrari power unit, succeeding to qualify a career-best P6 twice at Silverstone and Marina Bay. He outscored Kyvat 42-4 in points and outqualified 11-6, which represents a real headache for the willowy Russian during the winter break, who has this year’s GP2 champion Pierre Gasly snapping at his heels as reserve.

He may not command the overnight sensation status that his illustrious ex-team mate has attained, but he is preparing himself well to be the Dutchman’s future championship contender. With the likes of Esteban Ocon, Lance Stroll & Stoffel Vandoorne, as well as Lando Norris, Charles LeClerc and Mick Schumacher to emerge eventually, F1 has a bright future ahead of itself. Let’s hope Liberty Media capitalise upon this.

2016 F1 Driver Review of the Season: 5-8: What-Ifs & Maybes

5. Lewis Hamilton (2nd, 380 points- Mercedes) 8.0

In a season of fine margins, Hamilton excelled on his best days, but struggled persistently with his Mercedes F1 W07’s clutch. This meant his slow starts at Australia, Bahrain, Italy, & Japan costed him any chance of victory at those races, but his hampered start at Spain lead to one of the sport’s most infamous collisions in its history. His relationship with embattled team-mate Nico Rosberg had already plummeted to point zero long before, though, so conspiracy theories escalated when the German waived Hamilton past en route to his Monaco victory, the Briton’s first of the season. Debate over whether whom benefited from favouritism swung continuously throughout 2016, but throughout the four-year partnership of Rosberg & Hamilton at Mercedes, mechanical failures and poor starts were incredibly close statistically. In addition, his abysmal performance at Singapore, where Daniel Ricciardo outqualified him and Kimi Raikkonen overtook him and would have beaten if it was not for an unnecessary third stop, and his crash at Baku followed by radio restrictions compounding software issues, meant Lewis did not come even remotely close to driving a flawless season. His fans may point to his qualifying record (12-9),  superior win count (10-9) and total of podiums (17-16), as well as his engine failure whilst leading at Malaysia, but Hamilton’s WDCs in 2014 & 2015 contained fewer driver errors and his annihilation of Rosberg on his best days was much more devastating than this season.

6. Daniel Ricciardo (3rd, 256 points- Red Bull-TAG Heuer) 7.5

All-in-all, a topsy-turvy year for the Honey Badger. He defeated new team-mate Max Verstappen 11-6 in qualifying, but the Dutch prodigy improved swiftly throughout 2016. The Australian will not be needed to be reminded, but he faces by far the toughest winter of his career. In his first two weekends at Spain & Monaco with Verstappen as his team-mate, he lost his chances due to pit strategy and then slow pit reactions in the latter, where his post-race demeanour was that of an uncharacteristically ashen-faced loser. His performances in the first three Grands Prix at Australia, China & Bahrain displayed exemplary consistency, clocking three consecutive fourth places. If it was not for an early puncture in China, where he had been leading, the Australian could have claimed four victories in 2016. Sadly, Ricciardo began to appear staid and ordinary, as Max increasingly grabbed the headlines with stellar drives.

7. Sebastian Vettel (4th, 212 points- Ferrari) 7.5

By the quadruple world champion’s standards, 2016 was a mediocre, unfulfilling season. He suffered his fair share of bad luck (engine failure on the formation lap at Bahrain, clobbered by Daniil Kvyat at Russia, a sudden tyre blowout at Austria and countless times he lost positions due to Ferrari’s pit strategy), but his racecraft came under scrutiny thanks to squeezing Raikkonen at Shanghai and Spa, where Red Bull’s Kvyat and Max Verstappen were involved in collisions with the Ferrari pair at these respective races. In addition, his outlandish dive bomb on Rosberg at Malaysia was absurd to say the least, adding weight to his critics’ belief that his once potent mojo is terminally waning. His flagrant criticism of the driving of Kvyat and Verstappen became major talking points, so rival fans sneered in amusement at the 29 year old’s radio rants, especially during his meltdown in the closing laps of Mexico. These messages became a regular nuisance for his Ferrari pit crew to hear, as his apparent annoyance at the slightest hesitation from backmarkers to yield when blue flags were being signalled, went viral on social media. There is no doubting the German’s passion, but his patience and concentration is becoming a source of concern, as some would not be surprised if he was to follow compatriot Rosberg into an early retirement from F1. He lost the qualifying battle 11-10 to his ageing team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, so it appears Vettel will need to up his game if he wants a fifth world championship.

8. Kimi Raikkonen (6th, 186 points- Ferrari) 7.5

The Iceman enjoyed a remarkable resurgence during 2016, where the Ferrari SF16-H provided better handling characteristics with the design team reverting to a traditional pushrod suspension design. His season began ominously with a fiery turbo failure at Australia, as viewers were stunned to see flames smoke from the Finn’s airbox as he exited his vehicle. From thereafter, Raikkonen was able to enjoy a season that was not marred by mechanical failures, but poor luck remained a perennial headache. He was twice squeezed excessively at the first corner by Vettel at the start of races at Shanghai and Spa, leading to compromised races with a damaged car and Ferrari’s discombobulated pit crew did Kimi no favours with pit strategy. Despite a general reversal fortunes, the lack of progress and ingenuity in the development of Ferrari’s chassis meant the 2007 world champion was restricted to just four podium finishes, which should have been five if it was not for an unnecessary stop to fit used supersofts at Singapore. At the age of 37, it remains to be seen if the Iceman has the energy left to muster one last championship fight in 2017. For Kimi to challenge, he will probably need a deterioration in the relations between best friend and team-mate Vettel and the Ferrari hierarchy, as well as a refreshed car design and team structure. His taciturn, apolitical, yet endearing, personality could help him in the notoriously intense political turmoil at Maranello to reach his goal of a second WDC.

A summary of Kimi’s 2003 F1 season by “Formula 1 Yearbook, 2003-04”

“Through the magic of the new points allocation system, he was Michael Schumacher’s only rival come the final race, even though he only had that one win in Sepang, back in March. It was the first of his career, followed by his pole position at the Nurburgring, but none of this seemed to move him. His temperament meant he was never really disappointed, nor was he ever ecstatic. In fact, the Ice Man made his compatriot and predecessor at McLaren, Mika Hakkinen seem like an over-emotional extrovert. Raikkonen still lacks a perfect understanding of the technical nuances of the sport and, although capable of beating him on the track, he still relies on David Coulthard, who helped him have a great season.”

Formula 1 Yearbook, 2003-04, Luc Domenjoz (Page 26)- A summary reviewing Kimi Raikkonen’s 2003 F1 season with McLaren-Mercedes driving MP4-17D

Pole and fastest lap records per decade

POLE POSITIONS

2010s poles (until 2016)

1) Lewis Hamilton 44
2) Sebastian Vettel 41
3) Nico Rosberg 30
4) Mark Webber 12
5) Fernando Alonso 4
6) Jenson Button 1
= Nico Hulkenberg 1
= Felipe Massa 1
= Pastor Maldonado 1
= Daniel Ricciardo 1

2000s poles

1) Michael Schumacher 45
2) Fernando Alonso 18
3) Lewis Hamilton 17
4) Kimi Raikkonen 16
5) Felipe Massa 15
6) Juan Pablo Montoya 13
7) Rubens Barrichello 12
8) Jenson Button 7
9) Ralf Schumacher 6
10) Mika Hakkinen 5
= Sebastian Vettel 5
12) David Coulthard 4
= Jarno Trulli 4
14) Giancarlo Fisichella 3
15) Nick Heidfeld 1
= Mark Webber 1
= Robert Kubica 1
= Heikki Kovalainen 1

1990s poles

1) Ayrton Senna 23
= Michael Schumacher 23
3) Mika Hakkinen 21
4) Nigel Mansell 20
= Damon Hill 20
6) Alain Prost 13
= Jacques Villeneuve 13
8) Gerhard Berger 8
= David Coulthard 8
10) Riccardo Patrese 5
11) Jean Alesi 2
= Rubens Barrichello 2
= Heinz-Harald Frentzen 2
14) Thierry Boutsen 1
= Giancarlo Fisichella 1

1980s poles

1) Ayrton Senna 42
2) Nelson Piquet 24
3) Alain Prost 20
4) Rene Arnoux 16
5) Nigel Mansell 12
6) Keke Rosberg 5
= Patrick Tambay 5
8) Didier Pironi 4
= Gerhard Berger 4
10) Alan Jones 3
= Riccardo Patrese 3
= Elio de Angelis 3
= Teo Fabi 3
14) Jean-Pierre Jabouille 2
= Jacques Laffite 2
= Carlos Reutemann 2
= Michele Alboreto 2
18) Bruno Giacomelli 1
= Gilles Villeneuve 1
= Andrea de Cesaris 1
= Mario Andretti 1

1970s poles

1) Niki Lauda 24
2) Mario Andretti 16
3) Jackie Stewart 15
4) Ronnie Peterson 14
= James Hunt 14
6) Jacky Ickx 10
7) Emerson Fittipaldi 6
8) Clay Regazzoni 5
= Jacques Laffite 5
10) Carlos Reutemann 4
= Jean-Pierre Jabouille 4
12) Jochen Rindt 3
= Jean-Pierre Jarier 3
= Jody Scheckter 3
= Alan Jones 3
16) Chris Amon 2
= Rene Arnoux 2
18) Jo Siffert 1
= Peter Revson 1
= Denny Hulme 1
= Patrick Depailler 1
= Tom Pryce 1
= Vittorio Brambilla 1
= Carlos Pace 1
= John Watson 1
= Gilles Villeneuve 1
= Jack Brabham 1

1960s poles

1) Jim Clark 33
2) Graham Hill 13
3) Jack Brabham 12
4) John Surtees 8
5) Jochen Rindt 7
6) Phil Hill 6
7) Stirling Moss 5
8) Dan Gurney 3
= Chris Amon 3
= Jacky Ickx 3
11) Jackie Stewart 2
12) Mike Parkes 1
= Wolfgang von Trips 1
= Lorenzo Bandini 1
= Jo Siffert 1
= Mario Andretti 1
= Eddie Sachs 1 (INDY 500)

1950s poles

1) Juan Manuel Fangio 29
2) Alberto Ascari 14
3) Stirling Moss 11
4) Giuseppe Farina 5
5) Mike Hawthorn 4
6) Jose Froilan Gonzalez 3
= Tony Brooks 3
8) Eugenio Castellotti 1
= Stuart Lewis-Evans 1
= Joakim Bonner 1

INDY 500 poles
1950- Walt Faulkner
1951- Duke Nalon
1952- Fred Agabashian
1953- Bill Vukovich
1954- Jack McGrath
1955- Jerry Hoyt
1956- Pat Flaherty
1957- Pat O’Connor
1958- Dick Rathmann
1959- Johnny Thomson

FASTEST LAPS

2010s F1 fastest laps (until 2016)

1) Lewis Hamilton 28
2) Sebastian Vettel 25
3) Nico Rosberg 18
4) Mark Webber 16
5) Fernando Alonso 9
6) Kimi Raikkonen 8
= Daniel Ricciardo 8
8) Jenson Button 6
9) Felipe Massa 3
= Sergio Perez 3
11) Nico Hulkenberg 2
12) Bruno Senna 1
= Romain Grosjean 1
= Kamui Kobayashi 1
= Robert Kubica 1
= Vitaly Petrov 1
= Esteban Gutierrez 1
= Valtteri Bottas 1
= Daniil Kvyat 1
= Max Verstappen 1
= Michael Schumacher 1

2000s F1 fastest laps

1) M. Schumacher 37
2) Kimi Raikkonen 35
3) Rubens Barrichello 17
4) Fernando Alonso 13
5) Mika Hakkinen 12
= Juan Pablo Montoya 12
= Felipe Massa 12
8) Ralf Schumacher 7
= David Coulthard 7
10) Lewis Hamilton 3
= Sebastian Vettel 3
= Mark Webber 3
13) Giancarlo Fisichella 2
= Jenson Button 2
= Nico Rosberg 2
= Heikki Kovalainen 2
= Nick Heidfeld 2
18) Jarno Trulli 1
= Pedro de la Rosa 1
= Adrian Sutil 1
= Timo Glock 1

1990s F1 fastest laps

1) M. Schumacher 39
2) Damon Hill 19
3) Nigel Mansell 17
4) Mika Hakkinen 13
5) Gerhard Berger 12
6) David Coulthard 11
7) Alain Prost 9
= Riccardo Patrese 9
= Jacques Villeneuve 9
10) Ayrton Senna 6
= Heinz-Harald Frentzen 6
12) Jean Alesi 4
13) Thierry Boutsen 1
= Roberto Moreno 1
= Bertrand Gachot 1
= Giancarlo Fisichella 1
= Eddie Irvine 1
= Alex Wurz 1
= Alessandro Nannini 1

1980s F1 fastest laps

1) Alain Prost 32
2) Nelson Piquet 22
3) Ayrton Senna 13
4) Nigel Mansell 13
5) Alan Jones 10
= Rene Arnoux 10
7) Gerhard Berger 9
8) Niki Lauda 8
9) Didier Pironi 5
= Michele Alboreto 5
11) Riccardo Patrese 4
12) Jacques Laffite 3
= Carlos Reutemann 3
= John Watson 3
= Keke Rosberg 3
16) Derek Warwick 2
= Patrick Tambay 2
= Teo Fabi 2
19) Gilles Villeneuve 1
= Marc Surer 1
= Brian Henton 1
= Andrea de Cesaris 1
= Alessandro Nannini 1
= Satoru Nakajima 1
= Mauricio Gugelmin 1
= Jonathan Palmer 1

1970s fastest laps

1) Niki Lauda 16
2) Clay Regazzoni 15
3) Jacky Ickx 10
= Mario Andretti 10
5) Ronnie Peterson 9
6) James Hunt 8
= Jackie Stewart 8
8) Gilles Villeneuve 7
9) Denny Hulme 6
= Emerson Fittipaldi 6
11) Carlos Pace 5
= Jody Scheckter 5
13) Jack Brabham 4
= Patrick Depailler 4
= Jacques Lafitte 4
16) Chris Amon 3
= Carlos Reutemann 3
= Jean-Pierre Jarier 3
= Alan Jones 3
20) Francois Cevert 2
= Jochen Mass 2
= John Watson 2
= Rene Arnoux 2
24) Henri Pescarolo 1
= Jo Siffert 1
= John Surtees 1
= Jochen Rindt 1
= Mike Hailwood 1
= Jean-Pierre Beltoise 1
= Gunnar Nilsson 1
= Vittorio Brambilla 1
= Nelson Piquet 1

1960s fastest laps

1) Jim Clark 28
2) Graham Hill 10
= John Surtees 10
4) Jack Brabham 7
= Jackie Stewart 7
6) Dan Gurney 6
7) Phil Hill 4
= Jacky Ickx 4
9) Richie Ginther 3
= Stirling Moss 3
= Denny Hulme 3
= Jean-Pierre Beltoise 3
= Jo Siffert 3
14) Bruce McLaren 2
= Lorenzo Bandini 2
= Jochen Rindt 2
17) Ludovico Scarfiotti 1
= Tony Brooks 1
= Giancarlo Baghetti 1
= Richard Attwood 1
= Pedro Rodriguez 1
= Jackie Oliver 1
= Jim Rathmann 1 (INDY 500)

1950s fastest laps

1) Juan Manuel Fangio 23
2) Stirling Moss 16
3) Alberto Ascari 12
4) Jose Frolian Gonzalez 6
= Mike Hawthorn 6
6) Giuseppe Farina 5
7) Bill Vukovich 3 (INDY 500)
8) Tony Brooks 2
= Phil Hill 2
10) Piero Taruffi 1
= Luigi Villoresi 1
= Hans Hermann 1
= Jean Behra 1
= Onofre Marimon 1
= Karl Kling 1
= Roberto Mieres 1
= Luigi Musso 1
= Bruce McLaren 1
= Maurice Trintignant 1

INDY 500:
Johnnie Parsons (1950)
Lee Wallard (1951)
Jack McGrath (1954)
Paul Russo (1956)
Jim Rathmann (1957)
Tony Bettenhausen (1958)
Johnny Thomson (1959)

2016 F1 Driver Review of the Season: 9-16: Stars, Sloggers and Sayonaras

9. Sergio Perez (7th, 101 points- Force India VJM09-Mercedes) 7.5

A rather mixed season for the mercurial Mexican. One moment, he looked ordinary, but at venues such as Monte Carlo and Baku, he seized his opportunity. However, even at Baku, with two minutes of FP3 to go, he pursued a faster lap where there was no need and landed his car in the barriers. The extensive damage forced his mechanics to fix his car within only two hours before the qualifying session, which leaves a question mark over his mental forecasting and restraint as a driver. Perez is a more complete driver than he was during his miserable season at McLaren, but plotting his potential is tricky for predictors.

He outperformed Hulkenberg in the races, but he lost the qualifying battle 12-9.

10. Valtteri Bottas (8th, 85 points- Williams FW38-Mercedes) 7.0

Before Nico Rosberg’s retirement announcement, I thought I would be writing a standard end-of-season for every driver involved this season. However, with such a huge bombshell dropped, one of his potential replacements has come under scrutiny. This affable Finn drove as well as he could, but fiscal restraints limited his results. He picked up his and Williams’ only podium at Canada, where he maximised the FW38’s straightline speed, but the chassis philosophy showed its age. Winning the qualifying battle 17-4 over retiring Felipe Massa will do his chances of a Mercedes seat no harm, though.

11. Romain Grosjean (13th- 29 points- Haas VF-16-Ferrari) 7.0

The erratic Frenchman had his typical dips-and-troughs over the course of the season; when the car was fine, he exploited it to score great results, but when it had problems, he was nowhere. Come mid-season, he was being beaten for pace by his much-maligned team-mate Esteban Gutierrez, whom he beat 12-9 in the qualifying battle. In many ways, this season proved Grosjean is destined to be a nearly-man of his generation; too good to be running in midfield, but not quite complete enough to be a front-runner. His team-leadership skills were heavily criticised, too, as he allowed his short temper to be his worst enemy, as seen at Lotus. Whatever floats your boat, Romain.

12. Felipe Nasr (17th- 2 points- Sauber C35- Ferrari) 6.5

The sturdy Brazilian had  a rather quiet second season of his fledgling F1 career, however when car issues were not an issue, he smashed Marcus Ericsson to a pulp. His qualifying performance in Q1 at Baku saw him outpace Ericsson by almost 0.7 seconds, whilst Q1 at Hungary saw him ranked 7th in wet conditions. His adept wet-weather driving rewarded with two points in Brazil, but his sponsor Banco do Brasil had already called it quits, so his future may rely upon Bottas vacating a seat at Williams. He lost 13-8 in the qualifying battle against Ericsson, although a prevalent handling issue in the early part of the season played a factor in this.

13. Felipe Massa (11th- 53 points- Williams FW38-Mercedes) 6.5

The popular Brazilian had a consistent, if unspectacular final season of F1. Massa will be remembered for his brilliant 2008 season, where won six races and possibly two more in Hungary and Singapore, if it was not for engine failure and a trapped fuel rig. World champion for 20 seconds until Lewis Hamilton crept passed a dry tyre-shod Timo Glock, an emotive Felipe stood on the podium with courage and grace. A good sportsman will be missed.

14. Jenson Button (15th, 21 points- McLaren MP4-31-Honda) 6.0

Like Massa, Button will be missed sorely, but he arguably had an even more disappointing farewell year. Only scoring five points than he did in last year’s shambles of a car, the Frome veteran intermittently showed his old spark in Austria and Germany, but his peak years are past. Once derided as a playboy, Jenson matured into a heavily-feared hard-charger, who used his brain and guile to compensate for his lack of raw pace. From 2009-12, his wins displayed a verve for fluid thinking under pressure and ability to judge adverse conditions better than anyone else. Sadly, his team-mate Fernando Alonso demolished him 14-5 in the qualifying battle, so it is perhaps best to allow Stoffel Vandoorne his belated full-time debut.

15. Nico Hulkenberg (9th, 72 points, Force India VJM09-Mercedes) 6.0

Year after year, the lanky German is rated as one of the best midfielders in the sport, but this season has been underwhelming. Outraced and outscored by his diminutive team-mate Perez, Hulkenberg will need to up his game to deliver the goods for Renault. It’s becoming a cliche to say Hulkenberg drove well despite narrowly missing out on a podium. His dreadful start from P3 on the grid at Austria sums up the mishaps which have become alarmingly prevalent in the 29-year-old’s driving. For a driver so highly-regarded, winning the qualifying battle 12-9 over a driver not renowned for raw pace is lamentable.

16. Pascal Wehrlein (19th, 1 point- Manor MRT05-Mercedes) 5.5

As you’re well aware, if this year’s world champion hadn’t shocked everyone with his intention to depart the sport immediately, last year’s DTM champion would probably be seeking a second season at Manor or a move to Sauber. With extensive testing experience with Mercedes and Force India, the golden child of Silver Arrows has a satisfactory debut season. His sole point at Spielberg underlined his talent, but he won the qualifying battle by just 7-5 over his paying team-mate Rio Haryanto. He raised his game to beat 7-2 in the qualifying war against replacement Esteban Ocon, but his race performances became static and concerning. Thanks to Rosberg’s announcement, Wehrlein may land the hot seat at Mercedes, but that is hypothetical and many feel his confidence could be destroyed by being paired with a ruthless Hamilton. Due to the dire financial circumstances Sauber and Manor find themselves in, and how Mercedes have admitted dismay over his perceived self-centred and stubborn personality, the starlet may find himself dedicated to solely testing next season.

2016 F1 Driver Review of the Season: 17-21 plus part-timers

17. Marcus Ericsson (0 points- 22nd in WDC, Sauber C35-Ferrari) 5.0

It was never going to be an easy season at Sauber for the Swede, who needed sponsor Ikea to bail out the Hinwil-based squad early this year when wage payments to employees were defaulted for two months. Ericsson had the upper hand on Nasr until Canada, who was stricken by an ill-handling chassis. Their relationship deteriorated when the Brazilian’s refusal to obey orders at Monaco infuriated the Swede, causing Ericsson to take matters into his hands and wallop Nasr at Rascasse.

From thereon, Nasr regained his impetus in race performances, although Ericsson won the qualifying battles 13-8. Neither Sauber driver dominated each other much; Ericsson took an excellent P11 in Mexico, beating both McLarens and his team-mate, but Nasr scored two vital points in Brazil which elevated Sauber to P10 in WCC and $20 million in prize money.

18. Kevin Magnussen (7 points- 16th in WDC, Renault RS16) 4.5

With considerable experience and success behind him, it’s safe to say 2016 was underwhelming for the Dane. He was impeded by the Enstone squad divesting resources into their 2017 challenger, however, more was expected. K-Mag started brightly when he finished close behind Jolyon Palmer after losing a lap due to stalling and his P7 in Russia promised occasional points. However, he scored only once more in Singapore and news of his departure to Haas was announced. Palmer outperformed him in the last few races, perhaps a sign of Magnussen struggling for motivation and consistency. He beat Palmer 12-9 in the qualifying battle.

19. Daniil Kvyat (25 points- 14th in WDC, Toro Rosso STR11-Ferrari/Red Bull RB12-TAG Heuer) 4.5

In yesteryear, the Torpedo’s career would be currently spoken in past tense, but Helmut Marko’s reluctance to promote GP2 champion Pierre Gasly to F1 means the Russian will drive in 2017. Time will tell if Kvyat really has what it takes to carve out a long career in F1, as his feisty dice with Verstappen in Singapore was his only highlight of a depressing season. His first corner move on Vettel at China raised eyebrows, but his clumsy misjudgement on lap 1 at Russia proved expensive, as Dany suffered the ignominy of demotion to the junior team from Catalunya onwards. Losing the qualifying battle 11-6 to Sainz, Kvyat has a crucial winter of rebuilding.

20. Jolyon Palmer (1 point- 18th in WDC, Renault RS16) 4.0

The heavily-panned Horsham driver can count his lucky stars that there is indeed one driver who embarrassed more than he did, as Palmer appeared out of his depth against a developing talent in Magnussen during his early outings. Finishing bog last out of 22 finishers in China granted him the dubious honour of joining illustrious names such as Hermann & Karthikeyan, in being the last man to greet the chequered flag in races where all starters finished. His untimely spin in Hungary costed Palmer his first ever point, but he would make amends in Malaysia. His performances improved steadily, but Magnussen was never going to be a benchmark of his talent. Come 2017, Nico Hulkenberg will prove where Palmer truly stands in the F1 pecking order.


REJECT OF THE YEAR

21. Esteban Gutierrez (o points- 21st in WDC, Haas VF-16-Ferrari) 3.5

Five P11 finishes and a bucketful of excuses later, my bewilderment in Gene Haas’ selection of the 25-year-old Mexican has been proven correct. Considering a much worthier talent in Jean-Eric Vergne was up for grabs, it always appeared the choice of Gutierrez was a commercial one. Losing the qualifying battle 12-9 to Romain Grosjean, faring better than what Pastor Maldonado achieved against the Frenchman at Lotus last year (17-2). However, the Mexican struggled for consistency in races and his observation of blue flags bordered upon non-existent. Was he stunned to have been given a third stab at the highest tier of motorsport? Most of us, including his countrymen, would agree.

At least Maldonado scored 27 points to Grosjean’s 51 in 2015.


 

N/A Esteban Ocon (0 points- 23rd in WDC, Manor-Mercedes MRT05)

The 20-year-old Frenchman’s Grand Prix career may only be nine races old, but he has landed a prize seat at Force India as acknowledgement of his determined drives. He threw away P10 in Brazil, but his subtle style impressed insiders and his ability to learn quick will prove useful. He did lose the qualifying battle 7-2 to Pascal Wehrlein, though.

N/A Rio Haryanto (0 points- 24th in WDC, Manor-Mercedes MRT05)

Never deserved a chance in F1, but out-qualifying highly-lauded Wehrlein five times in twelve races is either credit to the Indonesian’s will or something the German improved upon when paired with Haryanto’s replacement Ocon. Haryanto harbours wishes of a return in 2017.

N/A Stoffel Vandoorne (1 point- 20th in WDC, McLaren-Honda MP4-31)

The 24-year-old GP2 extraordinaire finally made his belated F1 debut in Bahrain thanks to Alonso’s rib injury, thrilling viewers with precise moves on Perez and others in machinery powered by more grunt than his feeble Honda. He outqualified Button in their sole outing as team-mates, so let that be a warning to his grizzled two-time champion team-mate.