1. Which race has been the most exciting?
Rob W – Monaco, it had everything! Rain, safety cars, overtakes, a surprise podium finisher (Perez), and a justifiably grumpy podium finisher (Ricciardo) after an epic fight with Hamilton for the win! Who said Monaco was boring?
Charlie – For me, Spain, with the insane first lap shenanigans and the suspense of Max keeping Kimi back. Epic stuff. Monaco a close second with Austria not far back either.
Adam – Spain. Max Verstappen’s incredible win, and a major turning point in the Mercedes teammates saga.
Ben – Austria, as much for the fact that I was enjoying it in a sports bar in Poland with friends as the incident-packed race itself. It felt like a pivotal moment at the end for the Championship too.
Rob C – Spain was a thriller this year. Both Mercs out on the first lap showed us what the rest of the field could do given a sniff of victory.
Sarah – The British Grand Prix. The weather really threw a curve ball although the Safety car start wasn’t popular. I enjoyed seeing Verstappen and Rosberg battling and I’ll add soaking up the atmosphere whilst watching Lewis embracing his home win with the local crowds.
Joe – In a list of things I didn’t think I’d ever say, the Spanish Grand Prix being the most exciting race of the season so far probably tops it. From the shock of Mercedes imploding at the Repsol curve to the anticipation of Max Verstappen claiming a win on his Red Bull debut, it was a cracker!
Craig – I found Monaco to be intriguing and enthralling throughout the whole weekend, from Daniel Ricciardo’s maiden pole position to the cat-and-mouse game he and Lewis Hamilton played as the track dried out. Yes, it became a bit more routine as the race wore on, but it had me gripped.
Jaap – As a Dutchman, definitely the Spanish Grand Prix. Verstappen’s defence against Raikkonen towards our country’s first win in Formula One was thrilling.
2. Which driver has surprised you the most?
Rob W – Max Verstappen. I thought he might do something special this year, but I never imagined he would win a race. His drive in Spain was exceptional and I think Ricciardo has raised his game as a result.
Charlie – Nico Rosberg. I didn’t think he was capable of four consecutive wins; nor did I think he was capable of losing his form so quickly.
Adam – Daniil Kvyat. Some good results, some critical, demotion, and then really has not performed since. He may not be in a good place, but I’m surprised just how poor his season has been.
Ben – Lewis Hamilton. It might sound a strange pick but I tipped Nico for the title on the simple fact that Lewis might have lost that little bit of motivation after his third WDC. I looked spot-on four races down but the turnaround has been remarkable and Hamilton possibly looks a stronger driver with better focus than he ever has previously.
Rob C – We all knew Verstappen was good but blimey! Unexpectedly thrown straight into the big team and snagged a win first time out. And that overtake on Rosberg at Becketts!
Sarah – Fernando Alonso. He walked away from a massive crash in Australia that would be enough to shake the foundations of any driver. He showed a determination to drive in Bahrain despite the injuries sustained, staying around to mentor Vandoorne, as well as scoring points this season in a much improved McHonda.
Joe – Daniil Kvyat, for both the right and wrong reasons. The Russian’s P3 finish in China and the way he stood up to an aggrieved Vettel post-race was admirable, however, his shock demotion to Toro Rosso, a sharp dip in form and a shattered confidence has been hard to watch, never mind surprising.
Craig – I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the maturity shown by Carlos Sainz, especially in the wake of Max Verstappen being promoted and winning first time out. He showed a mature head proceeding that to record his best ever result, and I can’t help but feel that he’ll drag more points out of the Toro Rosso as the season wears on.
Jaap – Carlos Sainz. We knew how good Verstappen was, but Sainz’s proving himself to be a stellar driver as well.
3. Which driver has disappointed you the most?
Rob W – Palmer has struggled, but for me, the biggest disappointment has been Daniil Kvyat. He’s been consistently and soundly beaten since returning to Toro Rosso, and he badly needs to get his head together if he is to stay in F1 next year.
Charlie – Jolyon Palmer. To be fair, he’s not got the best of equipment, but you expect more from a GP2 champion. Maybe that year out of racing slowed him down.
Adam – Jolyon Palmer, just what has he been up to. Sure he’s had bad luck, but I like the guy and want him to prove himself on the track.
Ben – Esteban Gutierrez. I realise he isn’t particularly talented but that Haas was a golden ticket for the back of the grid and he has done little or nothing with it. No championship points and a bitter whinge at Hamilton sealed the deal.
Rob C – Poor Daniil Kvyat. Not entirely his fault to be fair but the guy has just imploded since his demotion to Toro Rosso.
Sarah – Marcus Ericsson. I like Marcus, he always greets me with a smile, and whilst I know being at the back of the grid doesn’t always allow for the most exciting performances, I was hoping to see a race where we could say he had outperformed the car he was driving. I’m hoping that knowing his future is secure at Sauber will see him approach the second part of the season with renewed confidence.
Joe – As a Brit, it’s always great to see a fellow countryman make it in F1, however, Jolyon Palmer’s debut season has been nothing short of disappointing. Out-qualified and out-raced by his teammate, Palmer has done very little to justify his race seat. Spinning out of P8 at Hungary and missing out on a first points finish of the season was arguably his lowest ebb.
Craig – Nico Rosberg. I felt his winning streak would galvanise him when it came to taking on Hamilton one-on-one, instead, he’s become less confident in his race craft. When not driving into his teammate, he’s ended up in little scraps and been giving a real schooling, especially in Canada. Can’t help but feel he’s shot himself in the foot and won’t be able to recover any sort of title challenge now.
Jaap – Felipe Nasr. It’s not just his pace, as he’s been bested a lot by Ericsson, but his whole grumpy attitude of not being a team player when his team needs it the most. Disobeyed team instructions in Monaco.
4. Which team has surprised you the most?
Rob W – Red Bull. Given how they ended last season, I really didn’t expect them to be in P2 right now with a win and eight podiums. I really think they’ll challenge Mercedes and take another win or two before the year is out.
Charlie – Red Bull. After the engine dramas last year, it looks like they’ve somehow pulled Renault, ahem, TAG Heuer performance out of thin air, and the chassis underneath is great too.
Adam – Red Bull. Their comeback has been great to watch, good to see them giving Mercedes something to think about.
Ben – Haas. They’ve shown that if you are willing to be realistic and not too idealistic then you can prosper. I’m also impressed how they have responded to a slight dip if form after the magical start in Australia and Bahrain.
Rob C – Haas have done well this year. Admittedly dropping back in the development race now but to be scoring points from their first race was seriously impressive.
Sarah – Haas. We all like to see a rookie team do well, and ahead of the season, all talk was of the hope they’d score points. I was elated to see them do so in the opening races, and it was due to smart strategic calls that we saw Ro Gro finish 5th in Bahrain. I just hope the second part of the season sees them overcome difficulties of late.
Joe – Force India are really very good at this. Every year they produce a middle-of-the-road car, yet every year they enjoy a strong run of form, often culminating in a podium or two. In the hands of Sergio Perez this year, the VJM09 has been class, offering up podium finishes at Monaco and Baku to leave the team just 15 points shy of Williams in the constructors’ standings.
Craig – Haas and Force India share this one for me. I didn’t think we’d see much more than a few opportunistic results in the first few races, but Haas did that and more to score some healthy points on merit, while Force India threatened to be an also ran in the midfield and have ended up with a brace of podiums.
Jaap – Mercedes, really. We thought Ferrari and Red Bull might catch up, but they’re still the most dominant force in Formula 1. Job well done.
5. Which team has disappointed you the most?
Rob W – Renault. I thought this might be a difficult year for them, but I’m surprised by just how poor they’ve actually been. The way things are going they’ll be lucky to score points in the second half of the season.
Charlie – Sadly, Williams. After two years of looking like threatening the front of the grid once again, they’ve made huge backwards progress and look like being usurped by Force India for P4.
Adam – Ferrari. All that promise and not much to show for it. Keeping Kimi is a mistake too, get some fresh blood in that car!
Ben – Ferrari. In all fairness, the pundits and experts expecting them to bridge the gap to Mercedes might have been asking too much but I did expect it to close. Instead, they’ve dropped behind Red Bull. I also can’t understand their loyalty to Raikkonen, they’re a team I expect to be brave and bold but they are failing dismally.
Rob C – Ferrari. What happened? So much confidence and promise of being Merc-beaters this year and now you’re maybe the third best team.
Sarah – I deliberated over this question for some time, as in many ways, I can identify disappointing moments for all teams, however, I have gone for Renault. I knew this year would be difficult for them as the investment came too late, and that a rebuilding process would take time, but I still thought that with K-Mag on board, and the “never give up” Enstone stance, we’d have seen more.
Joe – It’s a toss up between Ferrari and Williams, for me. Both were expected to at least sustain the gap to Mercedes on the stopwatch, however, both have fallen back, and at the cost of Red Bull surpassing them. Williams are arguably behind Force India too, which doesn’t bode well for a team desperate to return to the top step of the podium.
Craig – This has to be Williams. They were on the cusp of race wins in 2014 and 2015, but they’ve just not shown up in 2016, despite having a strong package and driver lineup. You can argue until you’re blue in the face that their pitstops are the best in the pitlane, but it means nothing when it gets your drivers out in front of the man in 12th place.
Jaap – It’s hard to look past Ferrari as the most disappointing team.
6. Which rule change was the biggest success?
Rob W – The decision to relax the rules on radio contact was needed. I don’t want to hear drivers being told when and where to brake, but situations like Hamilton’s in Baku and Button’s in Budapest were just ridiculous.
Charlie – Does the change from elimination qualy to knock-out count? Nah, it’s gotta be the three compounds per weekend change; it’s livened things up a lot. Great job!
Adam – The multiple tyre compounds have added great variety to strategy. Finally a good call from the FIA!
Ben – Tough question. I’m going to cheat slightly and say the Virtual Safety Car which I know was in place before 2016 but continues to help races flow in what is understandably becoming a very safety conscious sport.
Rob C – More tyre options for each race has been BRILLIANT! So much variation in strategy and having all FIVE possible compounds on track at once in Monaco was incredible.
Sarah – With the ridiculous situation in Hungary with Jenson being the icing on the cake of further tweaks to the rule, the relaxing of the radio regulations has been the biggest success for me. When I’m watching a race, I want insight but not coaching… that’s not too much to ask! Thankfully sanity prevailed, so whilst initially a failure, I’d now class this as a success.
Joe – The addition of an extra tyre compound at each race has been excellent in providing an extra dimension of strategy, often leaving one plucky runner surprising the established order at the front. It threatened to bring yet MORE unnecessary complication to the spectacle, but in reality, it has provided a refreshing tweak to the formula.
Craig – The option of a third tyre compound choice for drivers has massively opened up the strategy on race day and has seen many benefits already. Would Haas have scored points on their debut without it? Probably not, and anything that can cause upsets and stories that can keep fans interested is not a bad thing at all.
Jaap – Getting rid of elimination qualifying.
7. Which rule change was the biggest failure?
Rob W – Without a doubt, the absolute farce that was elimination qualifying. The FIA were warned what would happen and chose to proceed with it anyway. Hopefully, that rule stays in the same bin as grooved tyres and Bernie’s medal system.
Charlie – The radio rules have been crap this year. JB’s miserable German GP the epitome of how stupid it is. F1’s proclivity to govern itself to death is still going strong!
Adam – So many failures, too many rules, general inconsistency and indecision is frustrating and pointless.
Ben – Qualifying. However, they (very slowly) listened and changed back to the old format. I wish the powers-that-be would be more adaptable, more often. I’d probably have better luck with a lottery ticket!
Rob C – ELIMINATION QUALIFYING. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHA oh dear what a fiasco!
Sarah – The Quali format change. I’m pretty sure that one thing all fans want to see is CARS ON TRACK, and this is something that should be considered with any rule change. What made this a bigger failure was the way it was then handled going forward – as fans, we hate to see F1 being ridiculed, and there it was, gaining extra column inches for the wrong reasons. I’m so glad they eventually saw sense. It was poorly thought out.
Joe – Is this a trick question? The ridiculous elimination-style qualifying lasted just two race weekends in 2016, leaving the sport with egg on their face and without an answer to a question that no one was asking in the first place. That said, I can’t wait for the next idea to get pushed through. To-the-death paintball, anyone?
Craig – Elimination qualifying, plain and simple. Badly thought out from the start, it devolved from a mistake F1 needed to jettison quickly into a political football that the FIA stubbornly refused to let go of, exposing all the flaws in the sport. Good riddance.
Jaap – The failure to find a solution to keeping drivers within track limits.