First look: F1’s brand new 2016 cars | Top Gear
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First Look

First look: F1’s brand new 2016 cars

Pre-season test in Spain reveals the team’s new machines and colours for 2016

  • Formula One’s first pre-season test of the year has begun at the Circuit de Catalunya, with all eleven teams in attendance for the four-day shakedown in Barcelona.

    It will give the drivers and engineers the opportunity to see where their cars stand in relation to the opposition, provided that they can decipher rivals’ true performance from the range of programs they’re all likely to be running between now and Thursday.

    While the timesheets may be shrouded in ambiguity, fans can at least digest the variety of liveries that have been unveiled in the last few weeks.

    The evidence so far suggests a mixed bag of hits and misses, with a couple of teams previewing their new looks on old chassis with updates planned for the first race of the season in Melbourne in March.

    So while the colour schemes may evolve again before lights out in Australia next month, here’s how the grid looks at the moment. Be sure to nominate your favourites – and biggest disappointments – below...

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  • Mercedes AMG Petronas – W07 Hybrid F1

    No real surprises from Mercedes, whose 2016 car adopts broadly the same colours as last year’s model...

  • Mercedes AMG Petronas – W07 Hybrid F1

    Technical chief Paddy Lowe has said that a number of “mini revolutions” under the body will build on 2015’s performance. With a gap to work with at the front, dramatic change isn’t required.

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  • Scuderia Ferrari – SF16-H

    Ferrari have freshened things up with an extra splash of white paint around the cockpit, and have reverted to push-rod suspension for the first time in four years.

  • Scuderia Ferrari – SF16-H

    Sebastian Vettel says they will be “even stronger” this season, but can they push Mercedes for race wins?

  • Williams Martini Racing – FW38

    The livery is virtually identical to last year’s car, although Williams say they have made a number of changes which will improve their performance at low speed tracks where they normally fare less well.

  • Williams Martini Racing – FW38

    Team principal Frank Williams says maintaining third in the championship will be a “challenge” but that the team is “determined to keep improving”.

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  • Red Bull Racing – RB12

    Arguably the most striking livery change of the new season. Red Bull have gone for a matt finish on their RB12 with some bold colours to make the car stand out from the rest of the field.

  • Red Bull Racing – RB12

    Team boss Christian Horner expects a “season of two halves” which could see sister team Toro Rosso beat them on the track. Prepare for potential embarrassment.

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  • Sahara Force India – VJM09

    Force India’s new car looks so much like the previous one, Nico Hulkenberg has had to assure members of the press that the VJM09 is indeed a different vehicle.

  • Sahara Force India – VJM09

    The Hulk also says the changes made over the winter have made him “optimistic”, and that he hopes to be “a bit closer to the front”. We’ll see.

  • Renault Sport – RS16

    Renault were the first to launch their new car, although the black and yellow livery previewed at their base in Viry-Chatillon is expected to last only until testing finishes.

  • Renault Sport – RS16

    The team wants to challenge for the title in 2020: until then, progress with the engine is the main focus. It could be a long year for Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer.

  • Scuderia Toro Rosso – STR11

    Another car yet to be formally launched, Toro Rosso’s STR11 will surely be adorned with sponsors logos by the time the first race weekend arrives. The dark blue base colour used in Barcelona doesn’t give away very much, although that may well be the point of it.

  • Scuderia Toro Rosso – STR11

    With 2015 Ferrari engines at their disposal, Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz could have a really good season ahead of them. Drivers don’t normally last more than a season or two at Toro Rosso, so expect the youngsters to push in every race.

  • Sauber F1 – C35

    Eighth in the constructors standings in 2015, Sauber will find it hard to climb the rankings. Their 2016 car won’t be in use until the beginning of next month, which is why they're premiering their new – though not entirely different – livery on last year’s car in Spain.

  • Sauber F1 – C35

    A latest-spec Ferrari power unit could be their saving grace if other backmarkers struggle. Their fortunes this season could rest on how much McLaren improve, and where in the field Manor and Haas will slot into.

  • McLaren-Honda – MP4-31

    McLaren have also gone with continuity, sticking with the effervescent red/orange features either side of the main body. Though after the season they’ve just had, you can hardly blame them for not putting too much thought into the paintwork...

  • McLaren-Honda – MP4-31

    Reports over the winter have suggested significant power gains for Honda’s engine, although the team themselves have played these down. Whether that’s caution or realism kicking in, we are yet to find out.

  • Manor Racing – MRT05

    This is a big year for Manor, who are targeting points having signed a technical deal with Williams and secured 2016 engines from Mercedes. So far the only points they’ve scored came at the Monaco Grand Prix when Jules Bianchi finished ninth in 2014.

  • Manor Racing – MRT05

    The livery certainly isn’t a classic, although Manor deserve credit for delivering something a lot less bland than some of the other efforts on the grid. It’s growing on us, we have to admit.

  • Haas F1 – VF16

    As a completely new entry in Formula One, Haas had no point of reference when putting together their racing colours. Does it show? We’ll let you decide.

  • Haas F1 – VF16

    The US-based team are also after championship points this season and having bought as many parts from Ferrari as possible, there’s no reason it can’t happen. Unless of course they’re several seconds off the pace. In which case there’d be a very big reason.

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