Before the start of the 2016, f1.com asked their Twitter followers to predict how the season would go for the drivers and their teams. This is what they predicted and how it corresponds to the results in Australia.
Before the start of the season, fans saw the fight at Mercedes going in the current world champion’s favour, as 68% of people predicted. At first, this prediction became reality, with Hamilton topping the practice session and claimed pole at Melboune. However, the situation during the race changed, leading Rosberg to grab the victory to lead the championship for the first time since September 2014.
Fans saw Vettel having the comfortable edge over teammate Kimi Raikkonen in 2015, which followed suit after a stroke of bad luck at Melbourne following a fire. Vettel also was faster than Raikkonen on Saturday morning and again in qualifying, when he out-paced the Iceman by almost four tenths of a second. Both also finished strongly in qualifying with a 1-2.
A mere 15 points spilt Bottas and Massa at the end of the 2015 season, with the two claiming 5th and 6th place in the championship. The Finn had the edge over Massa in qualifying, which prehaps resonated with the fans, who chose Bottas as the favourite for the season. However, Australia panned out differently. Bottas was eliminated in Q2 (and then received a grid penalty), whilst his teammate ended up at 6th place on the grid. Bottas did gain some ground back on Sunday, finishing 8th, however was unable to catch Massa.
Only 3 other team battles (Ferrari, Haas, Renault) were seen as more one-sided than the fight between Daniel Riccardo and Daniil Kvyat when the fans voted during the pre-season. However, Riccardo was in fact beaten by Kvyat in 2015, and was behind his teammate in the first session of the 2016 season, but from then on, Riccardo began to ascend. This was reflected in qualifying, when Daniil Kvyat was out in Q1, blaming fading tyres and traffic. His luck didn’t improve, with his car grinding to a halt, disabling him from being able to reach the grid. Riccardo, on the other hand, managed to finish a solid fourth, so far meeting the fans predictions for this season.
Romain Grosjean demonstrated why fans voted him the favourite in the team battle to win at Australia on Sunday; he did so well in fact that he claimed the ‘driver of the day’ award. Grosjean’s advantage over Gutierrez was shown on Saturday, when the pair began at 19th and 20th on the grid, but were split by almost 1.3s. On Sunday, the Frenchman made remarkable progress, which was admittedly assisted by a mid-race stop, to finish in 6th place. Gutierrez was denied the same opportunity, after he was eliminated after the collision with Fernando Alonso.
Said to be the closest inter-team fight bar Manor, Force India’s highly rated drivers met expectations over the weekend with only little time separating them. Perez gained the advantage over his teammate, but only 0.1s separated him from Hulkenburg. The German, however, hit the front in the race, jumping at the start and holding off opposition to secure 7th place- 6 places better than his teammate.
After a triumphant rookie season, it is somewhat unsurprising that the young Russian is seen as the favourite the beat team-mate Sainz this season. The lead swung between the two for the most part of the weekend- Sainz gained 4th in FP3, and was also ahead of Verstappen in Q2. Verstappen was the fastest of the pair in Q3 however, and was also ahead in the early stages of the race on Sunday, only for Sainz to steal the lead between the two in the latter stages of the race, which left Verstappen angered by what he saw as a ‘team strategy’. After several heated conversation between Verstappen and his team, Sainz came home to gain 9th, beating his team-mate at the chequered flag.
Fans have predicted Renault to be the most one-sided line-up of any team for the 2016 season. However, 2014 GP2 driver Palmer proved that such expectations were wrong with a highly-accomplished drive at the weekend. Alongside some brilliant defending of his position, Palmer was in a handful of seconds of scoring points. Magnussen was not quite in the race after suffering a puncture, but managed to fight back to finish 12th, two seconds after his teammate.
Fernando Alonso’s reputation as one of the best drivers in the sport played into his favour during predictions in the fight to be the best in his team this year, even though Button had the edge in the duration of last year’s season. In Australia, it was shown how closely the two are matched, with Alonso ending up in 12th, and Button in 13th in qualifying. Both drivers also had a similar race pace as well, although Alonso’s typically strong first lap meant that he was on the road to a good result, right up to his tragic collision with Esteban Gutierrez.
Out of the 11 occurrences when Sauber scored points last year, six were though Nasr and five though Ericsson, but when it came to points, it was Nasr who led, scoring three times as many points of that of his teammate. Which means that it is no surprise that fans voted him to be the favourite out of the two for the 2016 season, but this was another case of the predictions being far away from the truth. For example, Ericsson had the edge over Nasr in qualifying, both finished in Q1, but the Swede was more than half a second faster than his teammate. However, during the race, Nasr got the jump, before Ericsson was forced to retire, 2/3’s into the race.
With an all-new line up for Manor this season, Manor were seen to be the closest line-up out of all the teams for this season according to fan’s predictions. Haryanto was seen to have the slight edge over his teammate, but by a very narrow margin, which was true again in qualifying, where the edged teammate Wehrlein by 0.015s. The race itself, however, was less conclusive, with the Indonesian forced to retire on the 17th lap, however early indications suggest that the two are closely match, as the fans predicted.