With the first ten races of the season behind us, the Formula 1 World Championship looks as though it’s going to be as exciting as last year. Nico Rosberg had moved quickly into a substantial lead, but with many experts rightly refusing to write off Lewis Hamilton, that lead has now been cut to just 1 point. But can anyone else make a real move into contention? Are there shocks down the line or will the season fall into a similar vein to last year?
Leader or winner?
After three races, Rosberg had 75 points from three wins at the start of the season and his Mercedes team mate Hamilton sat in second on 39 points. Closely behind him was Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull with former world champions Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen in the Ferraris in 4th and 5th position.
At the start of the season, Rosberg had been the leader in most of the races for most of the time and had hit only a limited amount of trouble. Hamilton, on the other hand, had had a rockier ride, including starting from the back of the grid at the Chinese Grand Prix. He was also caught up in the chaos on the first lap that saw the two Ferraris colliding with each other. By the end of lap one, both Hamilton and Raikkonen had been in to the pits to replace their front wings.
But how things have changed, with one of the keys to Hamilton’s change in fortune and the resurgence of his title challenge being the 2016 Monaco Grand Prix. The randomness of the street circuit at Monaco always has the effect of shaking things, and Hamilton has won three of the four F1 Grand Prix races since his win in the principality – how many more will he have one by the time we get to the curtain closer that is the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix?
For most experts, the winner of the championship will most likely be one of the two Mercedes drivers and Rosberg might take some comfort from the fact that no driver has failed to win the title having won the first three races. But in the upper and midfield areas, things are less predictable.
Daniel Ricciardo and his Red Bull looks well placed to make the most of a slip by the Ferrari or Mercedes drivers and many think he will figure on the podium more often this year, just as his team made Daniil Kvyat managed in China, although is more recent fortunes have not lived up to this promise.
One of the biggest surprises so far has been the success of the new American Haas team, particularly in the form of Romain Grosjean. His sixth place in the opening Australian race and impressive fifth in Bahrain has shown that the new team have moved straight into the midfield area and are competing well.
Everyone was talking about Max Verstappen last year as the most amazing new talent to arrive on the circuit for a number of years. His win in Spain seemed to back this up, but he needs to continue his development and add a little more consistency to his repertoire. A number of new young drivers have arrived this year and are already impressing including Pascal Wehrlein, with his 13th place finish in Bahrain in the Manor. Britain’s Jolyon Palmer has caught the eye and now needs to prove he is worthy of his seat and more over the rest of the season.