In three weeks’ time F1 testing will begin at Barcelona. Unlike previous years when there have been three testing sessions in advance of the new season, this year there are just two before the teams head off to Melbourne.
It was this time last year that the full horror of Honda’s return to the F1 paddock first started to be revealed with the engine units regularly packing up after only a few laps, leaving Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button frustrated but optimistic, a state of affairs that was generally whittled down through the course of the year.
At the outset both drivers thought a win might be possible and a podium would be expected from the Mclaren-Honda MP4-30. Indeed, a dip into the archives reveals that the bookmakers thought that they also had a strong chance of winning the Constructors’ Championship. In 2015 Mercedes were strong 1-6 favourites, with the yet-to-run McLaren-Honda partnership at 8-1, Red Bull at 9-1, Williams at 12-1 and Ferrari (with their two World Champion drivers) at 14-1.
Ferrari became the good news story of the year and McLaren became the bad news story, finishing second last in the teams’ competition and setting new records for ‘worst performances’ since the team were formed. This year Honda say they have learnt many lessons and will bounce back.
One look at Paddy Power odds going into 2016 and it would seem that the bookies believe them. Mercedes are still overwhelming favourites to take the Constructors’ title at 1-6, Ferrari are at 4-1, but next up it’s McLaren at 11-1 (maybe someone should tell their sponsors!), followed by Red Bull at 20-1 and Williams at a slightly bizarre 50-1.
Despite Force India finishing fifth in 2015 they are back at 500-1 along with Lotus (Renault), Haas, Sauber, Toro Rosso and Manor.
Bets we’d like to see Paddy Power create some odds for
There might be some interesting sidebets you could have in 2016. For example – what would be the odds of Haas finishing above Manor? Similarly, what odds could you get for the new Lotus-Renault team beating the Red-Bull-Renault team (or should that be the Red Bull-Tag-Heuer team?)
Which of the 2016 grands prix is likely to fall off the calendar? At the moment, the USGP at Austin is in a state of flux after Texas reduced its funding for the event. Also, the debut GP in Azerbaijan has had question marks raised over its viability.
Who will be Manor’s drivers in 2016? With a Mercedes engine and the technical ability of ex-Mclaren men Dave Ryan and Pat Fry now on hand, the team could well start troubling those higher up the grid. Will Pastor Maldonado leave Lotus for Manor – and do the team have enough spare parts?