F1 2016: The low-down on this season’s rookies

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It’s less than two weeks now until the lights go out in Melbourne, Australia and the 2016 Formula One season is underway, and this year features a trio of exciting rookies making their debut.

Sometimes a crop come along who change the face of the sport, just like in 2001 when Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya burst onto the scene.

A similar vibe was felt last year when Toro Rosso handed debuts to Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen, with the latter producing some stunning performances to belie his teenage years.

Then you get a group like 2005, when no fewer than six men all failed to make an impression in their inaugural campaign.

How will this year’s bunch get on? We won’t know for a while yet but here’s the low-down on the class of 2016…

Jolyon Palmer

Englishman Jolyon Palmer is the 2014 GP2 champion, but had to bide his time before stepping up to the big league.

Now with Renault in their first season back as a constructor, Palmer has an excellent chance to show off his abilities in a car which is likely to be scoring regular points.

MONTMELO, SPAIN - MARCH 02: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been created using digital filters) Jolyon Palmer of Great Britain and Renault Sport poses for a portrait during day two of F1 winter testing at Circuit de Catalunya on March 2, 2016 in Montmelo, Spain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

What’s more, up against Kevin Magnussen, Palmer has a team-mate rated very highly in the F1 fraternity, so the 25-year-old has an excellent benchmark to be noted against.

It’s been ten years since the Enstone-based team won successive world titles with Fernando Alonso, but Romain Grosjean’s podium finish for the squad in Belgium last year showed they have the capability to get back to the front.

Pascal Werhlein

Germany’s Pascal Werhlein owes much of his place in F1 to Mercedes, and it’s through their deal to supply Manor with engines that he has a drive for this season.

But to hold that solely against him that would be detrimental to a man with bags of talent.

MONTMELO, SPAIN - MARCH 01: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been created using digital filters) Pascal Wehrlein of Germany and Manor poses for a portrait during day one of F1 winter testing at Circuit de Catalunya on March 1, 2016 in Montmelo, Spain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

The 21-year-old won last year’s DTM title with a blend of speed and intelligence to pick up points when they came his way.

Pace in testing showed he’s likely to have the edge over team-mate and fellow debutante Rio Haryanto, and with Manor expected to step up and cause some upsets this year, Werhlein is set to be everyone’s favourite underdog. All he needs now is to show his talent and make good on that expectation.

Rio Haryanto

Rio Haryanto will become the first Indonesian driver to take part at a Grand Prix in Australia, and with it come the eyes of 250 million people.

It is understood that the 23-year-old brings significant backing from his nation’s government, which saw him oust last year’s drivers Will Stevens, Roberto Merhi and Alexander Rossi for the drive.

MONTMELO, SPAIN - MARCH 02: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been created using digital filters) Rio Haryanto of Indonesia and Manor poses for a portrait during day two of F1 winter testing at Circuit de Catalunya on March 2, 2016 in Montmelo, Spain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Haryanto is no stranger to Manor though, having tested for the team in recent years, and that could prove mightily useful if he’s to keep up with team-mate Werhlein.

Get ahead of his well-esteemed rival in the garage next door however, and the Indonesian’s stock will rise significantly this season.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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