by Matthew Roddan
The 2016 F1 season started with an action packed race in Melbourne and featured a cart-wheeling McClaren which in turn sparked more debate about the halo and it’s safety.
For those who did not watch the event, the results do not tell the tale of the day. Although we ended up with a Mercedes one two, this was by no means a likely outcome before the race was stopped to clear the debris from Alonso’s crash.
At the restart the Mercedes opted to put both cars on the medium compund giving them the ability to go to the end of the race without further stops whilst the Ferrari team opted for the soft tyres in the hope that Vettel could pull away and make a gap sufficient to change tyres and come out ahead.
As it turned out the Mercedes cars were able to keep pace with the Ferrari on soft tyres and it is this fact which gives us the most significant pointer to the rest of the season. If the Mercedes can work the medium tyre this effectively, they are going to be arguably more dominant this season.
Whilst the gap on soft and super soft tyres may be marginal in qualifying the introduction of a third tyre choice this season is going to help Mercedes and now explains why so much track time in testing was done by Mercedes on the medium tyre.
The ability to run a longer stint at a similar pace to the Ferraris on different tyres will make all the difference. Time after time this season we will see the Mercedes start on super soft tyres and then go to the end of the race on the mediums leaving Ferrari with little option than to copy this strategy.
The fact that the Ferrari’s did not use the mediumm tyre at all over the event would suggest that they are not comfortable with their pace on the mediumm tyres – a big worry for Ferrari fans.
by Matthew Roddan