How good will Haas F1 be in 2016?
I think they’ll be pretty good. If there’s one obvious factor relating to team performance in F1, its that he who spends the most, tends to win the most. And Gene Haas is a multi-billionaire, who’s already admitted he’s willing to lose $100m a year to make this happen. I don’t expect them to immediately slot into the midfield, or anything, but as time goes on, their financial muscle will come to fruition, especially if they can prove themselves to be viable, and they can rope in other established names. Having an elite driver in Romain Grosjean definitely helps too.
Like I said, I don’t think they’ll be good right away, there’s too many variables in that for me, but I think by the end of Year 1, they could be semi-regular points scorers, like Sauber pretty much are at the moment.
- Can Ferrari catch Mercedes?
I mentioned this before in a previous edition of “Ask Dre”, but it boils down to what’s known as “The Law of Diminishing Returns”. The theory goes that the more you invest in something in terms of resources, like time, effort, money, the less difference it’ll make it terms of results. And I wonder how much Mercs have left to find in their next W06, not to mention, how much Ferrari have left to find after their massive gains in their 2015 car.
I was dead certain on Mercs retaining, until I read Sky Sports’ report from Pete Gill, saying that Toto Wolff and friends may completely redesign the car for 2016, and it’s a dangerous game of “Stick or Twist”. Now, I don’t believe it, as why would you ever change a winning formula, but hey, speculation is always fun, right?
James Allison said they need another gain like this year to catch Mercs. I disagree. If they can find three tenths, I think they have a real shot, and with Sebastian’s continued input, if they can build the team around him, I think there’s a chance. A small one, but a chance. Their race pace is actually pretty darn close, but I think given the nature of dirty air in F1, if they can get some more Quali pace, I think that should be their priority. Track position is king in this new era.
- Will Renault change their drivers?
Now this is an interesting one. With Renault finally confirmed to be taking over the Enstone branch (Thank God), they’ve also said that their driver line-up isn’t definite for 2016 yet, with Jolyon Palmer and Pastor Maldonado tentatively in the seats for now.
Now, me personally, I hope Jolyon gets his chance. As I’ve said in videos before, I think we in F1 get really snooty when it comes to “pay drivers”, and given that Jolyon’s Dad is arguably the most powerful man in British Motorsport, it makes his son an easy target. But he’s one of GP2’s finest ever drivers, still only 24, and he knows the car better than Kevin Magnussen or Jean-Eric Vergne does, due to his extensive amount of practise time with the team. Jolyon was the natural, sensible decision, despite not being the fan favourite, and I’m perfectly okay with that. God forbid we give so much emphasis on fixing the ladder system and the people who graduate from it, but then piss on the talent that actually makes it through, like Felipe Nasr did last year.
I’m not so endorsing of Pastor, on the other hand. Now, I’m not one of those guys who rips him at every given opportunity (Because man, that would be really easy if I wanted to), but from a logical standpoint, I’m finding this hard to justify. His funds were frozen by the Venezuelan government after the death of their Prime Minister Chavez, and he now works for a Factory team, who don’t really need the extra sponsors if they want to build a team that could potentially be stronger on paper. Not to mention, Pastor got smacked around by Grosjean this season. He’s 31 years old in March and in heading into Year SIX of his career, and if anything, has regressed from the raw potential he infrequently showed in 2012. Like, what are you getting from Pastor now, and is he ever going to be anything better than mediocre?
I’m not one of those die-hard “Kevin deserves a seat!!!!!!!!1one!” dudes, but I can’t help but shake the feeling that he or Vergne would be a nicer fit at this point.
- Will Marc Marquez ever get his following back?
Honestly, probably not. MotoGP is a fickle business, and Valentino Rossi rules the sport with an iron fist. As I’ve said many times, from the moment Rossi had that rant in Sepang, he planted the seed of suspicion so deep in his millions of fans, that I doubt anyone will ever again look at Marc Marquez in the same way because of Sepang 2015, and “Not passing Lorenzo” at Valencia 2015. Marquez is Rossi’s new scapegoat.
Rossi’s fanbase is the worst in all of Motorsport. It’s a vicinity where Jorge Lorenzo still gets boo’ed because he was one of the few who has legitimately beaten Rossi on the same machinery. It’s the nature of a sport that revolves around one guy, and it’s not healthy. The people who appreciate Marquez, will always do that. And that should be all that matters.
- How will the Red Bull Family cope?
About the same as they did last year. Again, I’ve already spoken before about Red Bull and how they politically tried to fiddle while Milton Keynes burned while throwing their engine supplier under the bus at every given opportunity, and now they have a “Tag Heuer” power unit in their car, which is basically an unbranded Renault, with Red Bull having creative freedom to develop their engine how they so choose.
It’s quite the arrogant display, it’s Red Bull saying: “Sod your sponsorship, we think we can build an engine better than you can”, and it’s going to be intriguing to see if Red Bull can fight back against Ferrari, Williams and obviously Mercedes. Red Bull are more than willing to spend big to try and make this happen, but now, so can Renault, so I wonder who’s going to be better at what, Red Bull at engine development, or Renault at chassis development. Hmm.
Glad Toro Rosso get to run on Ferrari power-units next year. Their biggest issue was by far their Renault units constant reliability issues, so hopefully it’ll be the platform for their great drivers to show what they can really do, especially in the case of Carlos Sainz.
As for Max Verstappen, I’m not buying anyone taking him for a better seat in 2017. Why in God’s name would you think Red Bull would ever give in on what is a highly respected prospect, arguably the best we’ve seen since they had Sebastian? Nah, you don’t pass up that kind of guy.
- Will Manor be the bottom feeders still?
Probably. Manor just don’t have the long-term budget in my eyes to be real competitive. And even so, they’re still so far back, that even with a Mercedes power unit, I don’t think that alone will be enough for them to be lifted above Sauber, Renault, and an inevitably better McLaren-Honda. And even if the chassis is better, the engine is better, and the possibility of better drivers remain on the table, there’s still the questions internally about the management, with John Booth and Graeme Lowdon, staples of the team, moving on to pastures new. Hard to ignore that level of uncertainty.
I’d like to see Manor survive, but there’s still so ground to make up, I wonder if they can survive before their moment comes.
Got anything else generic enough you think I should add to this list? Comment below, let me know!