A classic 2016 Formula 1 title fight
The Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 team has dominated both the Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championships every year since the hybrid power units were introduced back at the start of the 2014 season and won 19 of the 21 Grand Prix last year. However, we witnessed a tremendous season-long battle between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg for the Drivers’ title which continued right to the end of the last lap of the last race of the year, with some excellent supporting action provided by a truly talented grid of racers.
Before we look ahead in future blog features to this year’s F1 season featuring even faster cars and a new team-mate for Lewis, let’s first glance back at how the 2016 title fight developed and was ultimately decided. It all began began in Melbourne, Australia on March 20 followed by the Bahrain GP a fortnight later and on each occasion Rosberg won following poor starts by poleman Hamilton. With further victories for Nico in China and Russia as Lewis suffered technical woes in qualifying the reigning champion was up against it when they arrived in Spain in mid-May, but conflict was to follow as the pair made contact on the opening lap and crashed out of the race.
The good luck fell Hamilton’s way in Monaco though as a late pitstop error by the Red Bull team gifted Daniel Ricciardo’s almost certain victory to Lewis. Come June the Mercedes duo shared victories in Canada and Azerbaijan before four consecutive wins for Hamilton in July gave him the championship lead ahead of the summer break.
Rosberg came back refreshed though and won the next three races as his rival suffered technical problems before the Belgian Grand Prix. Lewis then suffered a major blow to his title aspirations in Malaysia when his power unit expired whilst leading and Nico dominated in Japan. Undeterred, Hamilton fought back with wins in the USA, Mexico and a very wet Brazil before the controversial title decider in Abu Dhabi.
To take the title Lewis needed to win and have Nico finish outside the top three, whereas merely finishing in the top three would be good enough for his team-mate. Mercedes wanted another 1-2 finish whereas Hamilton wanted a 1-4 or worse result and against team orders tried unsuccessfully to back Rosberg into the clutches of the chasing Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen.
So, Nico Rosberg fulfilled his lifelong ambition of emulating his father Keke and becoming an F1 world Champion before shocking the world by announcing his immediate retirement just five days later, leaving Lewis Hamilton to fight on for a fourth world title this year.