Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Nico Rosberg
Mercedes were brilliant last season. Can they pull it off this year as well?Reuters

The Formula One season is just a few days away as it kicks off with the Australian Grand Prix Sunday. Two more grand prix, German Grand Prix and the European Grand Prix, have been added, which means that the 2016 season will have a total of 21 races, compared to last year's 19.

The 2016 season will be interesting with some changes that has been brought about. One of the biggest changes that one shall witness during the qualifying session. The drivers will be involved in three qualifying sessions, but in Q1, which will be for 16 minutes, the slowest driver after the seven minute mark will be knocked out, after which every 90 seconds a driver is eliminated until the field has 15 drivers, who will head to Q2.

The Q2 will take place for 15 minutes and will only end after seven drivers are eliminated. Q3 will be for 15 minutes, and the slowest six drivers will be eliminated every 90 seconds and it is going to be a virtual knockout for the pole position between the top two fastest drivers in qualifying.

These changes will come into effect from the first race of the season in Australia. It remains to be seen what impact it will have on drivers, as it is a new process.

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, who is the defending champion, is the driver to beat, but he is expecting a challenge from his fellow teammate Nico Rosberg. Besides, Mercedes, Sebastian Vettel in his Ferrari car is expected to push the Mercedes' drivers to the limit.

With Ferrari having undergone some major changes in their power unit, driver Kimi Raikkonen could also pose a serious challenge for the drivers' title. Both the Ferrari drivers – Vettel and Raikkonen – looked good in the pre-season testing at Spain's Circuit de Barcelona, Catalunya. Ferrari was faster than Mercedes, which shows that they are ready to challenge Mercedes. One thing is for sure, Ferrari's car this season will be faster compared to last year.

Apart from Mercedes and Ferrari, who are both obvious contenders for the constructors championships' and their drivers for the title, other teams such as Force India, Toro Rosso, Red Bull and Williams will be keen to go full throttle, and deliver this season. With Force India looking good with their VJM09, they should get a few podium finishes.

With some of the new rule changes and the teams having brought in some fresh changes to their engines, an interesting F1 season is on the cards.

RoundGrand PrixCircuitDate
1 Australian Grand Prix Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne 20 March
2 Bahrain Grand Prix Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir 3 April
3 Chinese Grand Prix Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai 17 April
4 Russian Grand Prix Sochi Autodrom, Sochi 1 May
5 Spanish Grand Prix Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Barcelona 15 May
6 Monaco Grand Prix Circuit de Monaco, Monte Carlo 29 May
7 Canadian Grand Prix Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal 12 June
8 European Grand Prix
Baku City Circuit, Baku
19 June
9 Austrian Grand Prix Red Bull Ring, Spielberg 3 July
10 British Grand Prix Silverstone Circuit, Silverstone 10 July
11 Hungarian Grand Prix Hungaroring, Budapest 24 July
12 German Grand Prix Hockenheimring, Hockenheim
31 July
13 Belgian Grand Prix Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Stavelot 28 August
14 Italian Grand Prix Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Monza 4 September
15 Singapore Grand Prix Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore 18 September
16 Malaysian Grand Prix Sepang International Circuit, Kuala Lumpur 2 October
17 Japanese Grand Prix Suzuka International Racing Course, Suzuka
9 October
18 United States Grand Prix Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas 23 October
19 Mexican Grand Prix Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, Mexico City 30 October
20 Brazilian Grand Prix Autódromo José Carlos Pace, São Paulo 13 November
21 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix  Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi 27 November

TV listing: India: Star Sports. The UK: Sky Sports. Middle East: Bein Sports.The US: NBC Sports. Germany and Italy: Sky Sports. France: Canal+

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