STILL NUMBER ONE
What if the Manor is fast?
Couldn’t happen? Maybe not. But the
latest Mercedes motor is in the back and
here’s what designer John McQuilliam
– not normally a man noted for hype –
had to say on the car’s launch: “The most
ambitious and the most aggressive car
we’ve ever developed. We had to ‘make do’
last year and that’s not what we’re here
for. The MRT05 (BELOW) is a contender.
We really believe that. The design team
have focused almost exclusively on it
since the middle of last season and it’s
just a whole different ball game to any
of its predecessors. We haven’t left any
performance on the table and right now
I can say there’s not a single part of the
car we’d have designed differently.”
What if Kimi Raikkonen wakes up?
There were glimmers of it last year,
even though he was comprehensively
out-performed by Vettel over the season.
But if he’s given a Ferrari that’s
Mercedes-fast, and the prospect of
victories becomes real, will it re-awaken
the spirit and urge to give him the last
couple of tenths? He’s fighting the arrow
of time, but it would be an immensely
What if Renault’s engine is close enough?
Pre-season the estimates were that it
would begin the year around 50hp down
on Mercedes and Ferrari. That’s worth
around 0.5sec of lap time. But what if the
new Red Bull is more than 0.5sec better
than anything else aerodynamically?
Couldn’t be? How comfortable would
you feel betting against Adrian Newey
and his team being able to do that?
What if Max Verstappen wins a race?
Sebastian Vettel did it in a Toro Rosso-Ferrari in 2008. Might Verstappen (or
Carlos Sainz, Jr.) be able to repeat it with
a car almost sure to be aerodynamically
strong and an engine 80hp up on what
they had in the back last year? Imagine
a full-on wet race at a challenging track.
Imagine Max’s overtaking moves taking
him to the front. Imagine then the
intrigue of seeing if he could hold on
to that place. Imagine an 18-year-old
Grand Prix winner...
What if Romain Grosjean’s Haas is as
good as, well, a Ferrari...?
A car developed by Ferrari
aerodynamicists with unlimited Ferrari
wind tunnel time, a 2016 Ferrari engine
and Romain Grosjean – one of the
outright fastest men out there and
arguably the most audacious overtaker.
It could be mediocre – it’s a brand new
team after all – but then again…
With that delicious pre-season tenor of uncertainty, what shocks might await us? What if, what if…
Most expectations for Manor are modest, but
the addition of current-spec Mercedes power
to an improved car could result in a few
surprises once the season starts.
Can Newey’s magic dust help Red Bull
use aero to overcome any power deficit?
Haas has one of the fastest drivers on
the grid, along with lots of Ferrari DNA.