F1 2016 is taking shape

AS the year winds up to the start of a new Formula 1 season there are still many issues to settle before it can get going proper.

Most of the teams will be putting the final touches on their respective cars ahead of their not too distant launch date and the crucial fist testing sessions.

However, some are still lining up a driver pairing which they hope will strike just the right balance in combination with their meticulously built machinery.

At the end of this month Pirelli will conduct a test at the Paul Ricard circuit. But don’t expect to see any 2016 pounding around the circuit as it will be a wet weather performance test for the Italian tyre manufacturer. It means that proper testing for the 2016 season has been pushed back three weeks from when it would normally have run. The testing is set to commence at Spain’s Circuit de Catalunya on February 22.

A second test, still at Catalunya, is scheduled to run from March 1 to 4. It leaves the teams with only eight days of proper testing before the season starts in Australia.

Williams Martini Racing are happy with the early performance of their car for the 2016 Formula One season which is currently in development.

Williams’s head of vehicle performance Rob Smedley says that the target for the upcoming season is to “get back to the front,” and that the Williams F1 team are definitely hitting targets.

“The 2016 car we have in the wind tunnel and the 2015 car are significantly different, so there’s nothing we could do from an aerodynamic point of view. Other parts of research and development and the mechanical design we are trialing all the time,” Smedley said.

“We think that everything we are seeing at the minute is good. We’re hitting targets. We are always looking, not just at numbers, but in other areas aerodynamic development as well, other significant areas.

“Of course, it’s all relative. Williams could have a stellar development and Ferrari and Red Bull could have an, even more, stellar one.

“But everything we are seeing at the minute is good; we are hitting targets. We are always looking not just at headline numbers but in other areas of aero development, other important areas.

Smedley described the 2015 season as “lacklustre” despite finishing third in the Constructors’ Championship and said constant development had been the reason for the stronger showing in 2014.

To move up the field in 2016 the Sauber team is following an aggressive design concept for its new Formula 1 car.

“The concept looks very different. We know the areas we have to improve and we have to give it a try. We need to try something,” said the team’s Brazilian driver Felipe Nasr, who scored three-times the number of points of team-mate Marcus Ericsson.” Sauber scored 36 points in 2015 and finished eighth in the constructors’ standings.

For others it’s still about securing a drive in a Formula 1 car. Mercedes F1 reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein is still awaiting his racing fate.

The 21-year-old driver is tipped to join the Manor F1 team in 2016 thanks to an engine supply deal between the team and his current Mercedes employers. The German driver made history in 2015 when he became the youngest ever DTM champion.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff confirmed that talks are being held with Manor F1 and a potential seat for Wehrlein.

“He definitely has the ability to be in Formula 1, to be one of the very successful ones, but it needs to be the right place for the right value,” Wolff told Autosport.

The first pre-season test starts on February 22 at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain.

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