The 2016 Formula 1 season has drawn to a close and it was Nico Rosberg who emerged as the champion after a grueling contest with Lewis Hamilton. Along the way, the Formula 1 paddock witnessed plenty of tight duels, dramatic failures, tense moments and raw emotion. It’s now time to take a look back at the standout moments of the 2016 season.
Rosberg Claims Maiden Title
Mercedes were always the frontrunners going into the season, but few would have predicted the rollercoaster ride that eventually saw Rosberg take the championship on the final laps of the last race in Abu Dhabi.
Rosberg’s campaign got away nicely with wins in Australia, Bahrain, China and Russia while Hamilton fell 43 points behind following a series of poor starts and mechanical failures. A crash between the pair in Spain only heightened tension among the teammates but Hamilton found his winning ways in Monaco, Canada, Britain, Hungary and Germany. By summer, the Englishman was leading Rosberg by 19 points.
Rosberg bounced back taking wins in Spa, Monza, Singapore, Malaysia and Suzuka – assisted by further mechanical problems with Hamilton’s car. Down by 33 points, Hamilton won the remaining four races but Rosberg did enough to claim his maiden championship at the Abu Dhabi night race – despite Hamilton’s “games” and blatantly disobeying team orders.
Hamilton’s season was undoubtedly hindered by mechanical problems but Rosberg’s consistency and composure made him a worthy champion. Perhaps the biggest surprise came after the final race when the German unexpectedly announced his retirement from Formula 1.
“When I was six years old and started out, the dream was very clear: I wanted to become Formula One world champion and that’s what I pursued all along and it’s mission accomplished for me, I’ve done it. It’s a dream come true and now it’s on to other things, with family first. We’ll see what the future holds just following my heart.”
Verstappen Emerges; Kyvat Takes Bakes Seat
Red Bull had another strong season ousting Ferrari for second in the constructors’ championship but it was their driver line up that got most of the attention.
Daniil Kyvat started the season driving for Red Bull but only five races later found himself in a Toro Rosso car. The young Russian couldn’t get through Q1 in the opening race in Australia and struggled through Bahrain.
Kyvat sealed his fate at his home race in Sochi where he nudged the back of Ferrari’s Vettel who lurched sideways into fellow Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo. With Vettel driving cautiously out of the corner, Kyvat again hit his rear at speed and forced the Ferrari into the barrier and early retirement.
With Kyvat resigned to Red Bull’s sister team, the highly rated Max Verstappen was promoted and made an immediate impact by winning in Spain. The Dutchman proved over the remainder of the season that he fully deserved his place in the Red Bull car often out-qualifying teammate Daniel Ricciardo and pulling off some inspired overtaking moves.
With a young Verstappen and an experienced Ricciardo at the wheel, Red Bull could now claim the best driving pair and will again be solid challengers in 2017.
Haas Makes Mark While Others Struggled
The American based team Haas joined Formula 1 in 2016 and picked up a remarkable 29 points in their debut season. Romain Grosjean’s sixth place in the opening race in Australia was Haas’ best result but the foundations have certainly been set for 2017.
Sauber spent most of the year fighting for its survival and a splendid drive by Nasr in Brazil secured them crucial points and valuable additional funds.
Meanwhile, most of the other established teams struggled through the season.
Ferrari ended without a win dogged by team in-fighting and poor race strategy.
Williams also went backwards in 2016. With an eye already on 2017, their 2016 car never really hit the mark and the mid-season updates didn’t help the setup but actually magnified their inefficiencies.
Qualifying Knocked Out
2016 saw the introduction of a controversial new knockout format for qualifying. The aim was to inject uncertainty into qualifying and give the back markers a better chance of starting higher on the grid. In reality, the system caused confusion and often left cars stranded in the pits unable to get back on the track in time to set a fast lap.
The knockout system lasted only two races before being consigned to the Formula 1 history books.