The wait is almost over. The 2016 F1 season is almost upon us again, and this year really does look like it may well live up to the hype.
With new drivers, teams, rules and circuits all making their debut this year, there is certainly genuine cause for optimism that there won’t be a repeat of the–it has to be said–non-vintage season we witnessed last year, as the jaw-dropping incidents and heart-pounding races have been very much the exception rather than the rule.
Out with the Old, in with the New (and some of the old-old)
So what’s changed, and what’s new for 2016? First of all there are the usual rule changes and tweaks, and this year they do actually look like they are heading in the right direction, with a certain amount of logic behind them. One change that will be welcomed with open arms almost unanimously is the stipulation that all cars must have a separate waste gate for exhaust gases to pass out. In other, simpler terms we are set for a return of the louder, throatier engines of pre-2015 races.
The FIA are sticking to the 21 race calendar, and are handing a debut to Baku in Azerbaijan, while an old favorite, the German Grand Prix, is back on the schedule.
As well as a surge of precocious young talent and a seemingly rejuvenated Vettel and Ferrari, one of the most anticipated additions to 2016 is the US’s full entrance into the sport in the shape of Team Haas. Owned by successful NASCAR team owner Gene Haas, they will be not only bringing his winning mentality and credentials onto the grid but the team will also boast Ferrari engines and a Dallara chassis. The jury is out on whether they will make much of a splash in their inaugural year, but it will certainly be interesting to watch. Will the Americans manage to impress the Formula 1 circuits?
We are blessed with following a sport that is not only one of the most entertaining and enthralling on the planet, but also one that travels to every far flung and fantastic corner of that planet. Those of us not lucky enough to have a job related to F1, or rich enough to be able to take the year off and combine the season with a world tour to beat all world tours, this time of year is when plans are made, favors are called and dreams are hopefully put into reality. The F1 tour takes in some of the most spectacular cities there are, so even if your partner isn’t a dyed-in-the-wool petrol head, it shouldn’t be too hard to convince them to take that weekend city break that just happens to tie in with the arrival of the F1 to their shores.
This small island just off the western shores of the Persian Gulf is a modern, forward looking Arab country that is also proud of its history and culture that dates back 5000 years. Boasting several stunning ancient temples, mosques and forts–including the UNESCO World Heritage Site Qalat Al Bahrain–it is also a very popular destination for scuba divers, who will find that the early April dates of the Bahrain Grand Prix offer great weather for their adventures.
The jewel in the crown of the F1 season has to be Monaco. For sheer history, glamour, glitz, splendor and the chance to rub shoulders with AAA listers, this really cannot be beat. The beating heart of the principality–only when F1 isn’t in town!–is of course the casino, and it’s still worth a visit during the Circuit de Monaco. The race starts at the Casino Square, home of the Monte Carlo Casino, initially built in the mid-19th century to save the debt-riddled House of Grimaldi from ruin. It soon took off and became the leading casino destination of the 1900s. Today it’s still popular as ever, with its baccarat and roulette tables being gamblers’ favorites.
Azerbaijan might not be the first place on most people’s holiday bucket list, but that may well change. The return of the European Grand Prix in the guise of the inaugural Baku GP in 2016 is the ideal opportunity to explore this oft ignored part of the world. The country’s capital has been described as “the architectural love child of Paris and Dubai”, and offers a lot for the race fan and tourist alike. Lying on the Caspian Sea, or rather below the sea – Baku is actually 92 feet below sea level making it the largest city in the world–and the only capital–located below sea level. It boasts some stunning ancient architecture, with many of the walls and towers of the old walled city still surviving.
Racing at night under lights brings a whole new dimension to the sport, making the Singapore Grand Prix a truly unique occasion. The Marina bay circuit rivals Monaco for splendor and glamour, with the advantage that the street circuit offers the drivers more opportunities for overtaking. Perched on the end of the Malaysian mainland, and only measuring two thirds the size of New York City, this island state has forged itself a reputation as one of the world’s foremost cities for finance, dining and shopping, and is the perfect base for exploring South East Asia. Don’t forget to visit the world-famous Pangaea night club, located in the Marina Bay Sands’ Crystal Pavilions for a night of dancing and excellent drinks.
After 2014’s Football World Cup and with the Olympics heading to Rio this year, Brazil has been center stage of the sporting world for several years. F1 has always been close to the hearts of the locals, with the Brazilian GP boasting some of the most passionate and noisy fans out there. It really is one to attend at least once in your lifetime, and has very often seen the crowning of the champion in recent years. Sao Paulo has plenty to offer alongside the race, but no trip to Brazil would be complete without a visit to Rio de Janeiro – surely one of the most amazing and vibrant cities on earth. Depending on time, a visit to the Amazon Rainforest would be the perfect end to an unforgettable trip.
Whatever happens on and off the track this year, there are so many ways to make the 2016 F1 season one to live in the memory for many, many years to come.
Sources & References for further reading:
Jobs in F1 – Useful Resources
PokerStars – Montel Carlo, Casino History
Lonely Planet – Introducing Baku
World Wild Life – Amazon Rain Forest