Wednesday, November 30, 2016

2016 Formula One Predictions: Revisited

Today is the final day of November and before we start the final month of 2016, let's look back on the Formula One predictions made for 2016 seeing as the season that wrapped up a few days ago.

1. There Will Be At Least Four Race Winners and One Will Be a First Time Winner
Correct. I got this one on the money. The Mercedes were locks. The other two weren't. I thought 2016 would be the year Ferrari could take the fight to Mercedes and Sebastian Vettel would threatened for the championship. That didn't happen. The Red Bulls were on the heels of Mercedes all season. I didn't see Max Verstappen's early promotion coming and sure enough he won his Red Bull debut with Daniel Ricciardo picking up a victory in Malaysia. Ricciardo could have won Monaco as well. I thought the first time winner could have been Valtteri Bottas or Sergio Pérez or Nico Hülkenberg.

2. Nico Rosberg Will Not Lead Germans in Victories
Wrong. Like I said above, I thought Ferrari could take the fight to Mercedes this season and I thought the championship would come down to Lewis Hamilton and Vettel. That wasn't the case. Ferrari took a big step back from 2015 but Rosberg didn't fade.

3. There Will Be At Least One Incident Where a Mercedes Retires Because of Contact With Another Mercedes
Correct. And wasn't it a doozy. Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton coming together at Barcelona still has us talking. Was it Rosberg's fault for blocking and being in the wrong engine mode? Was it on Hamilton for trying to pass him in the grass? And it nearly happened again in Austria! Hamilton was able to continue and Rosberg limped home dragging his front wing.

4. Alain Prost Will Still Have A Share Of Second All-Time In Victories After the 2016 Season
Wrong. Once again, I didn't think it would have been as much of a run away. I thought the season would mostly be split three ways with Hamilton, Vettel and Rosberg all getting five to six victories and the other races being split by the rest of the field. I didn't think Hamilton could win eight races in a season let alone ten.

5. Haas F1 Scores At Least One Points Before Hungary
Correct. The team had eight points after Australia. Romain Grosjean's drive in the team's debut was exhilarating and then Grosjean backed it up with a fifth at Bahrain. The team had 28 points by Hungary. They only scored one point after Hungary but it was a great start of the season for Haas. Now can they pick it up for year two?

6. Manor Scores At Least Two Points
Wrong. Manor scored one point thanks to Pascal Wehrlein's tenth at Austria. That was it. The team was quicker than last season but was still toward the back and didn't have the pace to work their way through the middle of the pack. The teams best races outside of Austria was Brazil, where both cars appeared to have a shot at points in the rain and Abu Dhabi, where the teammate ran each other off course but both finished on the lead lap.

7. McLaren Will Be At Least the Second-Best British Constructor
Correct. To be fair, I made this prediction before Renault bought Lotus and there were still four British constructors on the grid. Once the purchase was complete, Williams, McLaren and Manor were the three British constructors left on the grid and being the second-best of those three wasn't all that impressive but McLaren didn't make a noticeable improvement over 2015.

8. A Driver That Has Never Had a 100-Plus Point Season Scores 100 Points or More
Correct. Max Verstappen did it and not only did he break the 100-point plateau, he scored 204 points in his sophomore season. And the good news is Verstappen wasn't the only one to score over 100 points for the first time in his career in 2016. Sergio Pérez ended up with 101 points.

9. There Will Be At Least Two Driver Changes During The Season
Correct. The first was unexpected as Fernando Alonso hurt his back after he barrel rolled in Melbourne and Stoffel Vandoorne substituted for him at Bahrain and he scored a point on his debut. The other was Rio Haryanto being benched by Manor after Germany and replaced by Esteban Ocon.

10. At Least One Driver Who Didn't Score in 2015 Scores At Least 21 Points
Wrong. The closest of those drivers was the Kevin Magnussen and he only scored seven points.

11. A Track On the 2016 Schedule Announces It Won't Be On the 2017 Schedule
Semi-correct? It appears Hockenheim won't be back in 2017. The original deal was Hockenheim hosted the German Grand Prix in even-numbered years and the Nürburgring hosted odd-numbered years but since Nürburgring has negated its responsibility in the deal, Hockenheim doesn't have to take over hosting the German Grand Prix yearly. Hockenheim was on the provisional schedule but it appears it won't return and Interlagos may not return in 2017. Let's not forget that Singapore and Malaysia appear to no longer fancy Formula One. Singapore has a deal through 2017 and Malaysia's deal is through 2018. After the longest season in Formula One history in 2016, the series could fall back to more reasonable schedule lengths in the near future. We will have to wait and see before confirming.

(Update: It has been confirmed that Hockenheim will not be on the 2017 Formula One schedule).

12. Formula One is Agreed to be Sold Before End of 2016
Correct. Liberty Media Corporation has agreed to buy Formula One from CVC and now we gaze into the horizon, uncertain of the future will be.

Let's say seven and a half eight of 12 right now. I will be honest; I am most surprised the first one was correct. Not so much that four drivers would win but there would be a first time winner. There are some good drivers in Formula One who have yet to get to feel the glory of standing on the top step of the podium. I thought it was a stretch but we were bound to have a flukey race where things go wrong for the usual front-runners and someone sneaks through. That happened to be Barcelona and Barcelona just happened to be the first race for Max Verstappen at Red Bull and it just happened he was in the right place on that day.

Don't forget to catch out revisited predictions for IndyCar and NASCAR.