Following another record-breaking season in 2015 that culminated in both championships being won with races in hand, Mercedes enters the new campaign with a lot to live up to.
Drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg look poised to battle for the drivers’ title once again, but Mercedes faces a big challenge to keep its own intra-team rivalry in check will maintaining an edge over the chasing pack.
In the first of our team previews ahead of the start of the 2016 Formula 1 season in Australia this weekend, we look at the task awaiting Mercedes and its drivers. Will it make history or become history this year?
TEAM: Mercedes AMG Petronas
CAR: Mercedes W07 Hybrid
Pole Positions: 18
Fastest Laps: 12
Laps Led: 936
Drivers’ Championship Positions: 1st (Lewis Hamilton); 2nd (Nico Rosberg)
Constructors’ Championship Position: 1st
44. Lewis Hamilton (GBR)
6. Nico Rosberg (GER)
2015 TEAM RECAP
Following its rise to the front of the field in 2014, Mercedes delivered yet more crushing dominance throughout the 2015 season. Learning from the mistakes that slipped in at times the previous year, the German manufacturer picked up all but three victories and had just one weekend – Singapore – where it seemed to be truly outpaced. Tensions between Hamilton and Rosberg boiled up from the very beginning of the season, but it proved to be a one-sided year in the favor of the Briton who eased to a third straight title with three races to spare. Rosberg rallied to pick up a hat-trick of wins, but it meant little in the grand scheme of things.
Given the nature of its success over the past two years, anything but another peerless year would come as a surprise to the F1 paddock. The new W07 Hybrid looked ominous in testing, boasting near-bulletproof reliability and given Mercedes such confidence that it did not even take the soft tire compounds to Barcelona. Neither Hamilton nor Rosberg unleashed the one-lap pace of the car, but again, the signs point towards more of the same from 2015.
In terms of bettering the 16 wins and 703 points from 2015, much of this depends on the threat that Ferrari poses. Both Hamilton and Rosberg insist that the Italian marque does represent a serious challenge this season, yet in reality, it is hard to see the drivers having anyone except each other to battle with for the championship.
With Rosberg’s contract up at the end of the year and tension still evident between the two drivers, and with the technical regulation changes set to shake up the pack once again next year, 2016 is a hugely important year for Mercedes. It has the chance to truly embed itself in F1 history as one of the all-time great teams. Few would bet against it exactly doing that.