A bluffer’s guide to the 2016 Formula 1 season



This month saw the start of the Formula 1 season – the world’s biggest and most lucrative motor racing championship– kicked off in Melbourne  for the Australian Grand Prix –  we have a bluffer’s guide writes Geraldine Herbert

What is it all about?

  • Eleven teams are contesting the season,  each fielding two cars so this means that 22 drivers will line-up to compete for the 2016 Formula 1 World Championship.
  • The German Grand Prix returns at Hockenheim at the end of July, while the European round at Baku brings the number of races to a record 21 in the season and makes it the longest series in F1 history, with two more races than last year.
  • The winner of each race receives 25 points, with the lowest-scoring position – 10th – receiving one point.
  • Both cars entered by a team score points towards the Constructors’ title, Mercedes are the reigning constructors’ champions after winning 16 of 19 races last season.

Race Weekend?
A race weekend consists of three practice sessions, qualifying and the race itself.

Qualifying on Saturday?
• A frantic one-hour Qualifying session takes place on the Saturday afternoon before each Grand Prix – this determines the starting grid for the following day’s Grand Prix with the fastest cars at the front.

For 2016  qualifying has been changed and while it will be still be split into three sessions, it will now follow an elimination style format to mix things up and to ensure constant running

Q1 – 16 minutes, After 7 minutes, slowest driver eliminated then  the slowest driver eliminated every 1 minute 30 seconds thereafter until the chequered flag- 7 drivers eliminated, 15 progress to Q2
Q2 – 15 minutes, after 6 minutes the slowest driver is eliminated. Slowest driver eliminated every 1 minute 30 seconds thereafter until the chequered flag in total 7 drivers eliminated, 8 progress to Q3
Q3 – This leaves the remaining cars to fight it out in Q3. 14 minutes, after 5 minutes, slowest driver eliminated. The slowest driver eliminated every 1 minute 30 seconds thereafter until the chequered flag then 2 drivers left in final 1 minute 30 seconds

The race on Sunday?
• All races – aside from Monaco – should not be longer 350km in distance. As all circuits are different lengths so are the number of laps the race is run over. In addition to the number of laps there is also a maximum time limit of two hours for a race.

• In the case of an accident or poor track conditions a race may be red-flagged, if this happens the total duration of the race including the time lost due to the flagging cannot exceed four hours. In less dramatic circumstances the official may choose to deploy a pace ‘Safety Car’ to control speeds for a period of the race. This year sees the introduction of the virtual safety car.

• Teams are allowed to stop as many times as they want during a race for tyres and fuel.


Teams and Drivers?

  • Mercedes (first in 2015 constructors’ championship)
    Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg
  • Ferrari (second in 2015 constructors’ championship)
    Drivers:Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen
  • Williams (third in 2015 constructors’ championship)
    Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas
  • Red Bull (fourth in 2015 constructors’ championship)
    Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat
  • Force India (fifth in 2015 constructors’ championship)
     Drivers: Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg
  • Renault (sixth in 2015 constructors’ championship as Lotus)
     Drivers: Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer 
  • Toro Rosso (seventh in 2015 constructors’ championship)
    Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr
  • Sauber (eighth in 2015 constructors’ championship)
     Drivers: Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr
  • McLaren (ninth in 2015 constructors’ championship)
     Drivers: Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso
  • Manor Marussia (10th in 2015 constructors’ championship)
     Drivers: Pascal Wehrlein and Rio Haryanto
  • Haas (debut season)
    Drivers: Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez


Winner and Points
• At the season’s end they put all their points together and the team with the most takes the overall Championship.

•  Top ten finishers in every race get points on a sliding scale : 1st place – 25 points; 2nd -18; 3rd – 15; 4th -12; 5th – 10; 6th – 8; 7th – 6; 8th – 4; 9th – 2; 10th – 1.


For 2016  Pirelli will now nominate three dry compounds rather than two for race weekends. The Italian firm will allocate two sets of tyres for the race (only one of which must be used) and one set of the softest nominated tyre compound that can only be used in Q3. Each driver will then be able to choose 10 further sets from the three compounds to take their weekend allocation to 13


Need to know

  • Lewis Hamilton started the season as the defending Drivers’ Champion for the second year running and while he is likely to dominate this year again changes to the rules may shake things up.
  • Former McLaren racer Kevin Magnussen makes a returns in place of Pastor Maldonado at Renault (formerly Lotus).
  • This season sees three rookies: Jolyon Palmer, the son of former F1 racer Jonathan Palmer, at Renault; DTM champion and Mercedes protege Pascal Wehrlein at Manor, where he will partner Rio Haryanto, who will become the first Indonesian to race at motorsport’s highest level.



2016 Calendar

March 20 – Australia
April 3 – Bahrain
April 17 – China
May 1 – Sochi
May 15 – Spain
May 29 – Monaco
June 12 – Canada
June 19 – Baku*
July 3 – Austria
July 10 – Great Britain
July 24 – Hungary
July 31 – Germany
August 28 – Belgium
September 4 – Italy
September 18 – Singapore
October 2 – Malaysia
October 9 – Japan
October 23 – USA
October 30 – Mexico
November 13 – Brazil
November 27 – Abu Dhabi



Geraldine Herbert

29th March, 2016


Author: Geraldine Herbert

Contributing Editor and Motoring Columnist for the Sunday Independent and editor of wheelsforwomen. Geraldine is also a regular contributor to Good Housekeeping (UK) and to RTÉ Radio One, Newstalk, TodayFM and BBC Radio. You can follow Geraldine on Twitter at @GerHerbert1

Share This Post On