Qualifying: 19th March; Race: 20th March 5AM
Formula 1 is back, and the new season should get off to a flyer with this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.
The arrival of Haas as a manufacturer sees the grid increase to 22 drivers for 2016, and they’ll all be entering the season opener with high hopes and optimism. But only one man can clinch the 25 points.
It should be a fascinating battle to get the new season started, and it’s always exciting to see how the new cars perform. Bring it on!
Hamilton Out To Stamp Early Authority
Defending champion Lewis Hamilton started 2015 with a fantastic victory here at this stage last term, and the Mercedes driver will be eager to take the initiative by racking up 25 points in the season opener.
The three-time F1 champion is the firm favourite to win both this race and the drivers’ championship in general. And he could go a long way to starting the season in style by claiming pole position from Saturday’s qualifying, which is something we fully expect him to do. If he does, it would be his career 50th. That’s not a bad way to start the new campaign.
In truth, as is often the case with the first practice session of the season, Friday’s event was conducted at noticeably slow pace by every driver. However, Mercedes will be out for another constructors’ championship in 2016. The news coming out of the camp is that their car is ready to thrive once morel; with Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in their two cars, it would be a huge shock if they don’t boast a winner here.
If Hamilton edges his teammate, he will be fancied to win. We’re not prepared to back him for the race at odds on, simply because you can never be too sure how the new car perform. Nevertheless, the 31-year-old has a great shot at starting the season with a bang.
Elsewhere On The Grid
Hamilton is the main attraction of F1 right now, with his Mercedes teammate seemingly providing the only real challenge to his bid for a fourth title. However, the start of a new campaign brings fresh hope for every driver and everyone will be looking to seal points.
Ferrari are likely to come up short over the season, but former champions Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikonnen are more than capable on any given day. If the duo qualify well, then they can each think about at least gaining a podium finish on the opening weekend.
However, plenty of others will be hoping to start the season with a top 10 points position. We’ve naturally got eyes on Jenson Button, and are backing the McLaren-Honda driver to sneak in alongside a couple of others in this tempting treble
Whatever happens it’s set to be a thrilling weekend, starting with Saturday’s qualifying and ending with 58 laps of adrenaline and excitement in the early hours of Sunday.
F1, we’ve missed you.