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Mercedes

Mercedes F1 W07

After back-to-back seasons of dominance, testing has gone ominously well. So there’s no reason to look past the Silver Arrows for title-favourite status

Mercedes F1 W07
Starts127
First GPFrance 1954
Wins45
Poles53
Fastest Laps38
20151st

Since the new power units were introduced at the start of the 2014 season, Mercedes has been the dominant force, winning 32 of 38 grands prix. It looks like we could see that level of performance again this year, judging by what has happened in testing, with the car looking quick and completing a vast number of miles straight out of the box. The Mercedes also features some good detail work to find small aerodynamic improvements and to ensure that the best car of the past two years can carry that form into the 2016 season.

It should not come as a surprise if, as expected, Mercedes is still on top.

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More on Mercedes:
44 Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton

Last year's position 1st
Age 31
Starts 167
First GP Australia 2007
Wins 43
Poles 49
Fastest laps 28
More on Hamilton:
6 Nico Rosberg

Nico Rosberg

Last year's position 2nd
Age 30
Starts 185
First GP Bahrain 2006
Wins 14
Poles 22
Fastest laps 14
Ferrari

Ferrari SF16-H

Last year’s biggest improver needs to become a genuine title contender. But based on pre-season testing, it’s still got a step to make to threaten Mercedes

Ferrari SF16-H
Starts902
First GPMonaco 1950
Wins224
Poles208
Fastest Laps233
20152nd

There’s no doubt that Ferrari has progressed since last season, but judging by pre-season testing it’s looking like another race-winning, rather than title-winning, car. So there is some work to be done.

The car has plenty of small improvements, and it’s good to see James Allison and his technical team have adopted the short-nose concept every other serious team has moved towards, plus the pushrod front suspension – for whatever reason, Ferrari didn’t seem able to make the pullrod system work.

The result is a car that is less understeery than last year’s, to the satisfaction of the drivers, but is it fast enough?

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More on Ferrari:
5 Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel

Last year's position 3rd
Age 28
Starts 158
First GP USA 2007
Wins 42
Poles 46
Fastest laps 25
7 Kimi Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen

Last year's position 4th
Age 36
Starts 230
First GP Australia 2001
Wins 20
Poles 16
Fastest laps 42
Williams

Williams Williams-Mercedes FW38

After finishing third in the championship for the past two years, but not managing to win a race, it looks set to be more of the same for the venerable team in 2016

Williams-Mercedes FW38
Starts625
First GPSpain 1977
Wins114
Poles127
Fastest Laps131
20153rd

I was a bit worried about Williams after the first pre-season test. While it usually runs on heavy fuel loads in testing, there wasn’t much evidence that the car was the improvement the team kept saying it was. Things looked better in the second test, so the objective of being best of the rest behind Mercedes and Ferrari still seems perfectly possible. But it’s hard to see Williams doing any better than it has for the past two years.

Good progress has been made recently, but it’s important to remember that Williams is a customer team without the budget of the big squads. I would like to see more progress with the car, which seems to be a fairly standard step forward from last year.

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More on Williams:
77 Valtteri Bottas

Valtteri Bottas

Last year's position 5th
Age 26
Starts 56
First GP Australia 2013
Best finish 2nd
Best grid position 2nd
Fastest laps 1
19 Felipe Massa

Felipe Massa

Last year's position 6th
Age 34
Starts 229
First GP Australia 2002
Wins 11
Poles 16
Fastest laps 15
Red Bull

Red Bull Red Bull-Renault RB12

Formula 1’s erstwhile dominant force came down to earth with a bump last year, failing to win a race for the first time since 2008. This season will also be tough

Red Bull-Renault RB12
Starts203
First GPAustralia 2005
Wins50
Poles57
Fastest Laps47
20154th

Last year could not have been much worse for Red Bull. Not only were the results poor, with no wins for the first time since 2008, but it fell out very publicly with Renault and ended up in the embarrassing situation of having to fight very hard to get any kind of engine deal. The result is we have two Red Bull-TAG Heuer cars on the grid this year, thanks to eating some humble pie and doing a badging deal for the same Renault power units that gave the team so much trouble last year. Don’t expect things to run like clockwork.

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More on Red Bull:
26 Daniil Kvyat

Daniil Kvyat

Last year's position 7th
Age 21
Starts 37
First GP Australia 2014
Best finish 2nd
Best grid position 4th
Fastest laps 0
3 Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo

Last year's position 8th
Age 26
Starts 88
First GP Great Britain 2011
Wins 3
Best grid position 2nd
Fastest laps 4
Force India

Force India Force India-Mercedes VJM09

After finishing fifth in the championship last year, the Silverstone-based squad has its sights set on more giantkilling, and perhaps even a few more podiums

Force India-Mercedes VJM09
Starts150
First GPAustralia 2008
Wins0
Poles1
Fastest Laps3
20155th

After finishing fifth last season, the highest it has been since my old Jordan team transformed into Force India in 2008, testing suggests it is ready to build on that this year. The B-spec car, introduced in the middle of last season and developed with the help of the Toyota windtunnel in Cologne, has created a good foundation point. And, in building on that, Force India looks to have the chance to take the fight to Williams and Red Bull in the battle for the top four in the constructors’ championship.

It’s very positive to see that there has been no attempt to reinvent the wheel with the car – it’s an evolution of last year’s B-spec. That’s the right move, as there is clearly more potential to be exploited from that solid foundation.

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More on Force India:
11 Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez

Last year's position 9th
Age 26
Starts 93
First GP Australia 2011
Best finish 2nd
Best grid position 4th
Fastest laps 3
27 Nico Hulkenberg

Nico Hulkenberg

Last year's position 10th
Age 28
Starts 94
First GP Bahrain 2010
Best finish 4th
Poles 1
Fastest laps 1
Renault

Renault RS16

The team formerly known as Toleman, Benetton, Renault and Lotus is now called Renault again, thanks to the French manufacturer buying back its old operation

Renault RS16
Starts300
First GPGreat Britain 1977
Wins35
Poles51
Fastest Laps31
2015n/a

After so much uncertainty, it is very good to see the chance for some stability at Enstone. The team has lost a lot of good people over the years, but still retains some personnel and a way of working that have made it into a championship-winning team both in the 1990s and the 2000s. Given how late the takeover by Renault and the rebranding from Lotus were completed, it goes into 2016 very underprepared with a car that isn’t a dramatic step forward from last year, so this can only be considered a foundation year.

What will be interesting is how things develop in the second half of the season.

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More on Renault:
20 Kevin Magnussen

Kevin Magnussen

Last year's position n/a
Age 23
Starts 19
First GP Australia 2014
Best finish 2nd
Best grid position 4th
Fastest laps 0
More on Magnussen:
30 Jolyon Palmer

Jolyon Palmer

Last year's position n/a
Age 25
Starts 0
First GP -
Wins -
Poles -
Fastest laps -
Toro Rosso

Toro Rosso Toro Rosso-Ferrari STR11

Red Bull’s second team has switched to 2015-spec Ferrari engines, but this should still be a step forward from the Renault power units it struggled with last year

Renault RS16
Starts185
First GPBahrain 2006
Wins1
Poles1
Fastest Laps0
20157th

There is a lot to like about Toro Rosso, which last year produced a very good chassis under the technical leadership of James Key, and showed what is possible for a smaller team. The only problem was that it was stuck with a Renault power unit that wasn’t up to the standards set by the car.

That weakness has been eliminated this year and, although the switch to Ferrari engines is a positive, there is a catch – it is using the specification of engine that finished the 2015 season, rather than the 2016 version used by the works team and fellow customers Sauber and Haas.

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More on Toro Rosso:
33 Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen

Last year's position 12th
Age 18
Starts 19
First GP Australia 2015
Best finish 4th
Best grid position 6th
Fastest laps 0
55 Carlos Sainz Jr.

Carlos Sainz Jr.

Last year's position 15th
Age 21
Starts 19/td>
First GP Australia 2015
Best finish 7th
Best grid position 5th
Fastest laps 0
Sauber

Sauber Sauber-Ferrari C35

After a terrible first year of the new regulations in 2014, Sauber had a solid season last year. Expect F1’s perennial midfielder to stay firmly in the midfield in 2016

Sauber-Ferrari C35
Starts400
First GPSouth Africa 1993
Wins1
Poles1
Fastest Laps5
20158th

After a terrible season in 2014, Sauber did a solid job last year to recover. But it’s difficult to know where it’s going beyond that, because it’s hard to see the potential for it to climb into the battle involving teams such as Toro Rosso higher up the midfield. The Ferrari powertrain package is a proven quantity and Sauber has good facilities, but it’s no secret that money is tight.

The car itself is more about tidying up the 2015 car than any major steps, although, with Mark Smith coming in as technical director last year, there are signs that things are changing in how the team operates that could help it climb the grid.

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More on Sauber:
12 Felipe Nasr

Felipe Nasr

Last year's position 13th
Age 23
Starts 18
First GP Australia 2015
Best finish 5th
Best grid position 8th
Fastest laps 0
9 Marcus Ericsson

Marcus Ericsson

Last year's position 18th
Age 25
Starts 35
First GP Australia 2014
Best finish 8th
Best grid position 9th
Fastest laps 0
McLaren

McLaren McLaren-Honda MP4-31

After last year’s disaster, things will be better in 2016. But not by enough for a team of this size, resources and history – and Honda power is still the weak point

McLaren-Honda MP4-31
Starts780
First GPMonaco 1966
Wins182
Poles155
Fastest Laps152
20159th

McLaren-Honda needs to do better this year. Based on testing, that will be the case – but it’s only going to be a little better. This is not good enough for a team of this standing, which has the resources, the people and the drivers to be doing far better than fighting in the midfield for minor points finishes.

It’s hard to see McLaren struggling like this – I take no pleasure in it. It has not won a race since 2012. If you put a Mercedes power unit into the place of the Honda, would McLaren be fighting with Mercedes for the world championship? I don’t think so.

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More on McLaren:
22 Jenson Button

Jenson Button

Last year's position 16th
Age 36
Starts 284
First GP Australia 2000
Wins 15
Poles 8
Fastest laps 8
14 Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso

Last year's position 17th
Age 34
Starts 252
First GP Australia 2001
Wins 32
Poles 22
Fastest laps 21
Manor

Manor Manor-Mercedes MRT05

A new livery, a new engine-supply deal, two new drivers and some new faces in management positions adds up to a new start for the ex-Virgin/Marussia team

Manor-Mercedes MRT05
Starts111
First GPBahrain 2010
Wins0
Poles0
Fastest Laps0
201510th

The big change for Manor this year is the switch to the Mercedes engine. Seeing as it’s a minor miracle that the team exists at all, to have the best power unit in Formula 1 is a big step forward. Manor also claims this is an all-new car, so that should mean a big step improvement on last year, when the team ran a 2014 Marussia and a year-old Ferrari engine.

While the future looks more solid for this team, even after the departure of founders Graeme Lowdon and John Booth, that does not mean we should expect anything too dramatic this year.

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More on Manor:
88 Rio Haryanto

Rio Haryanto

Last year's position n/a
Age 23
Starts 0
First GP -
Wins -
Poles -
Fastest laps -
94 Pascal Wehrlein

Pascal Wehrlein

Last year's position n/a
Age 21
Starts 0
First GP -
Wins -
Poles -
Fastest laps -
Haas

Haas Haas-Ferrari VF16

The first American outfit to make it to the Formula 1 grid since the mid-1980s benefits from an alliance with Ferrari, which some argue makes it a 'B-team'

Haas-Ferrari VF16
Starts0
First GPAustralia 2016
Wins-
Poles-
Fastest Laps-
2015n/a

Before the new Haas-Ferrari started running in testing, I was sceptical about this team and its optimistic claims that it would be able to score points in its first year. But, thanks to its partnership with Ferrari, the car looked perfectly capable of running respectably in the midfield bunch.

The approach the team has taken makes a lot of sense, and you can see why Gene Haas has been successful in NASCAR. There was the realisation that it’s incredibly hard to build up an F1 team from scratch, as the new teams that came in for 2010 showed. So, by using building blocks from Ferrari and the knowledge of Dallara, it has short-cut much of that process.

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More on Haas:
8 Romain Grosjean

Romain Grosjean

Last year's position 11th
Age 29
Starts 83
First GP Europe 2009
Best finish 2nd
Best grid position 2nd
Fastest laps 1
21 Esteban Gutierrez

Esteban Gutierrez

Last year's position n/a
Age 24
Starts 38
First GP Australia 2013
Best finish 7th
Best grid position 9th
Fastest laps 1

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