Without fail the most anticipated car on the 2016 grid will be Ferrari’s. With such a leap in performance last year, after the dismal start to the new turbo/hybrid era in 2014, most of the grid is expecting Ferrari to compete with Mercedes on true pace for at the least some of the 2016 circuits.
That anticipation, it is safe to say, is even more genuine than in the years Fernando Alonso came painfully close to winning the championship with the reds. Back then I think the genuine consensus was, and more than likely still is, that the Spaniard out drove the cars Maranello produced in the five years he was there. A mis-calibrated wind tunnel, a management structure that was left over from the Schumacher glory days, and several other issues that plagued the team ensured championships would remain elusive.
It’s always something, right? It’s not enough to be the fastest driver, an excellent passer, and great with your tires. Several other parts of racing have to come together and most of the time these are the parts that a driver has no control over. One can very easily say a driver will inspire a team or a driver that becomes a true team leader can make all the difference and I am obliged to agree, but that still does not compete the puzzle. What needs to happen for championships is something magical in the very first stages of chassis design. On the computer, or in the case of Adrian Newey on the drafting table, and in the machine shops, those early origins of a race car determine its championship potential. The magic is just not something that can be added on later.
This is what sets the winning ones apart from the also-rans. And I get the feeling that this new Arrivabene/Allison/Vettel era is the real deal. Red Bull’s four-year run was a result of that early designer magic, a summation of all those super cool, tricked out things that Newey and company came up with (to start the year) that provided that little something extra, just enough to stay ahead of the competition. For the last two years it has been Mercedes’ turn and we are all in agreement that the all conquering W06 and W07 was/is tricked out to the max from the moment testing started back in 2014.
So now everyone is waiting to see what is up Allison’s sleeves next. For myself personally, If Ferrari can close the gap to Mercedes and be a real contender this year for either or both of the titles, then it will quite honestly be bittersweet. I am not really interested in seeing another year of Mercedes drivers week in and week out claiming yet more victories but the prospect of Vettel and Ferrari winning the championship is also not my idea of a great season, given that Alonso would have had that title, had he served out his contract with the Scuderia.
Hey, I am just being honest. Such is the case of a die-hard Alonso fan. But then again the die-hard Formula 1 fan in me wants and always wants the team and driver combination that gets it the most right and makes the least amount of mistakes over the course of the season to claim the championships, regardless of who they are, so Mr. Allison and Mr. Vettel, let’s see what ya got…