THE HOT TOP­ICS OF 2016 HAMIL­TON ROS­BERG

We pick out some of the main talk­ing points of the F1 sea­son ahead

Motor Sport News - - F1 Preview: Themes -

The head­line-grab­bing ri­valry of last sea­son will un­doubt­edly rekin­dle at some point this year, and could po­ten­tially be even more dra­matic se­cond time around.

Lewis Hamil­ton and Mercedes team-mate Nico Ros­berg’s, at times, very pub­lic spats have pro­vided the story of the sea­son for the last two years – whether it’s intra-team col­li­sions at Spa, ag­gres­sive pass­ing moves and post-race cap throw­ing at Austin, or sim­ply a war of words in the me­dia – the duo have brought a good dose of ri­valry back to the sport.

Mercedes has reg­u­larly had to hold ‘clear the air’ talks be­tween the two driv­ers to try and pro­tect its stand­ing as F1’s bench­mark, but with Fer­rari seem­ingly clos­ing in even fur­ther for this year, any flare-ups in the Hamil­ton/ros­berg ri­valry could open the door for the Scud­e­ria to steal some even big­ger re­sults.

But Mercedes has re­cently cooled on the idea of its driv­ers re­main­ing docile at all times, as team head Toto Wolff said late last year: “It’s a great sit­u­a­tion – what the sport needs: emo­tions.

“Do you want us to put a hand on them and say ‘don’t show any emo­tion, we don’t want con­tro­versy?’ It’s the op­po­site, it’s great. It’s the psy­cho­log­i­cal game that al­ways hap­pens be­tween team-mates who com­pete on an equal level.”

big­gest dif­fer­ence though is Red Bull’s part­ner­ship with the Il­mor tun­ing firm, which will al­low the team to pur­sue a dif­fer­ent de­vel­op­ment strat­egy to the Re­nault fac­tory team.

Toro Rosso should start ahead, but a lack of de­vel­op­ment to the old en­gine could catch up with it later in the year.

VJM09 Mercedes-benz PU106 Hy­brid

Aus­tralia 2008 Races: 150 Wins: 0 Poles: Fastest laps: 627 Driv­ers’ ti­tles: Con­struc­tors’ ti­tles:

NUM­BER 11 SER­GIO PEREZ (MEX)

De­but: Aus­tralia 2011 Races: 93 Wins: 0 Poles: 0 Fastest laps: 3 Points: Best re­sult:

Car: VF-16 En­gine: Fer­rari 059/5 First GP: Aus­tralia 2016 Races: 0 Wins: 0 Poles: 0 Fastest laps: 0 Points: 0 Driv­ers’ ti­tles: 0 Con­struc­tors’ ti­tles: 0 NUM­BER 21 ESTE­BAN GU­TIER­REZ (MEX) De­but: Aus­tralia 2013 Raced: 38 Wins: 0 Poles: 0 Fastest laps: 1 Points: 6 Best fin­ish: 7th

NUM­BER 8 RO­MAIN GROS­JEAN (FRA)

The Mercedes will duel again

Will the Bulls be chas­ing?

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