TCF Picks: Team of the year 2016


Team Dynamics/Halfords Yuasa Racing

As unpredictable as the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship is, there’s one thing you can seem to guarantee each season at the moment … a Team Dynamics Honda will be in championship contention come the season finale. When Gordon Shedden overcame an eleven point deficit to win the title at Brands Hatch in October, he secured the team’s fourth drivers title in the last six seasons – a remarkable record in a championship as competitive as the BTCC. In the hands of Shedden and Matt Neal, the team visited the podium on nine of the ten race weekends this season and accumulated seven race victories, an impressive level of front-running consistency that is sure to continue into 2017 and beyond. – Simon Paice

Credit: BTCC Media

Silverline Subaru BMR Racing

Team BMR once again proved just how much an operation can achieve in the British Touring Car Championship when it is run in the correct manner. Warren Scott has steadily built his team from mid-field contenders, to championship fighters and now to the much envied status of a manufacturer backed team. The travails of the first three rounds of the 2016 season, where the recalcitrant Subaru engine was both down on power and blighted by mechanical maladies, were a distant memory come Finals Day. The fact that both Colin Turkington and Jason Plato were able to go to the Brands Hatch GP circuit with a shot at the crown spoke volumes about the progression of the BMR Subaru package as the season went on. Turkington made it all the way to the final race before his hopes were ultimately extinguished, having become the first man to claim two wins in a day during the final meeting of the season. Whatever balancing measures are applied for 2017, the Subarus will doubtless be in the fight from the very first round. Their rivals should be worried. Very worried. – Lee Bonham

Garage 59

Okay, they were the factory McLaren team in the Blancpain GT Series but with just two McLaren 650S GT3s fighting the hoards of Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMSs and HTP Motorsport Mercedes AMGs they held their own in the Endurance Cup and walked away with top honours. With good pit work, strong tactical nouse and some Antipodean muscle in the shape of Shane van Gisbergen the team had a good year not just in the Endurance Cup, but the Sprint Cup as well where Rob Bell found himself not just with the Endurance Cup honours (won alongside van Gisbergen and Come Ledogar) but with a good chance of the overall Blancpain GT Series title within his grasp. That unfortunately didn’t come to pass, but it shows how strong the team was all year. It is also worth remembering that in addition to pros like SVG and Bell, there was a supporting cast of young racers who showed they are more than worthy of their place at the top level of GT3 racing. The support shown to Come Ledogar, Struan Moore, Alex Fontana and Andrew Watson by Garage 59 was repaid in spades with a number of eye-catching displays throughout the season. – Joe Hudson

Credit: Adrenal Media

Aston Martin Racing (GTE)

AMR finally ticked off the World Endurance Championship GTE-Pro title with victory at the season-ending 6 Hours of Bahrain. Despite going up against the turbocharged (and theoretically quicker) Ferrari 488s and Ford GTs, the naturally aspirated Aston Martin Vantage held its own to claim both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ crowns. A late tyre switch to Dunlop at the start of the season forced the Astons to play catch up during the opening rounds with pace swinging the way of its rivals, but as 2016 progressed so too did the development of the tyres and soon enough the British national anthem started receiving more and more airtime on the podium.

Drivers’ champions Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen were near-perfect in 2016: the only major hiccup being a nasty roll for Thiim at the 6 Hours of Spa in May which led to the #95 car’s retirement. Elsewhere in the season, Aston Martin shone despite going up against the ever-changing balance of performance measures imposed by the WEC to even out the GTE competition. Thiim and Sorensen stood on the podium six times, including two wins at Austin and Bahrain, to beat the rival Ferrari pairing of Sam Bird and Davide Rigon by 22 points.

It’s also worth noting that Aston Martin had success on the continental stage, too, with Andrew Howard’s affiliated Beechdean squad claiming the European Le Mans Series title in a tense final round at Estoril. All in all, it was a hugely triumphant year for the Prodrive-run outfit, which has multiple championship defences on the agenda for 2017. – Daniel Lloyd

Toyota Hybrid Racing

The Toyota factory team in the FIA World Endurance Championship have been role models all year. From the opening rounds where they were not quite on the pace but turned up each race with their head held high and a determination to do things the right way. Add to that the way they handled the crushing loss of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and not only came back fighting, but won two great races. Finally, there was the way they parted from their rivals at Audi, showing the respect Audi deserves and the camaraderie of the FIA WEC paddock in one decal. – Nick Smith

Pierre Gasly and Antonio Giovinazzi finished first and second for Prema Racing – Credit: Zak Mauger/GP2 Series Media Service

Prema Powerteam

You cannot ask for more from one team. Whether it is Formula 3 or Formula 4, they were often the team to beat, but in particular, in the GP2 Series they were outstanding, particularly as it was their first year in the championship. They took Pierre Gasly to the championship and Antonio Giovinazzi to second, a feat never before achieved in the history of GP2 in a team’s first year, with nine wins coming their way in the process. Add to that a dominant championship victory for Lance Stroll in the European Formula 3 Championship and the Teams’ title in Italian F4, it was another fantastic year for the Italian outfit. – Paul Hensby

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Just what can PREMA not win? In 2016 the Italian team completed in: GP2 Series, Italian F4, German F4 and European F3 and won the Teams’ Championships in all of the categories but missed out on the Drivers’ titles in Italian and German F4, with Pierre Gasly and Lance Stroll taking the crowns in GP2 and F3. The team has already announced its GP2 line up for next year, where they will replace Gasly and Antonio Giovinazzi for Charles Leclerc and Antonio Fuoco – another strong line up. In F3, so far only Callum Ilott has been confirmed as he moves over from Van Amersfoort. The only question that remains is can they be stopped? – Chloe Hewitt

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Winning a championship is no mean feat, neither is winning in your first season. This year Prema have truly taken the challenge to ART Grand Prix as the greatest Junior single-seater team. With Pierre Gasly winning the GP2 Series and team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi finishing second. Elsewhere, the team also completed a one-two in the FIA European F3 Championship as Lance Stroll took the honours. While the team still has links to Ferrari, it’s quickly becoming untouchable in terms of driver talent. While Mick Schumacher, nor his rookie team-mates could claim any Formula 4 honours, it was another spectacular season from junior Formula’s most successful team. – Connor Jackson

Renault e.dams

Renault e.dams were imperious this year, and it’s hard to look past them in terms of which team performed best. They produced an all-conquering powertrain that proved quick over one lap as well as having the best race pace on the grid. It’s no wonder then that they secured podiums in eight out of the ten races, including five wins, which meant they took the team’s championship by nearly fifty points. They’ve started the 2016-17 season in the same fashion with two wins from two, and at the moment it doesn’t look like anyone is able to get near them in terms of pace. Only a fool would bet against them repeating their title success next year. – Scott Douglas

Credit: FIA World Rally Championship

EKSRX

EKSRX Mattias Ekstrom’s squad were the favourites for the 2016 World RX Teams Title and the intention was made more serious with the signing of Topi Heikkinen before the season began. The team rarely put a foot wrong in 2016 and the Audi S1 Quattro was one of the quickest cars in the field. An amazing acheivement for only the second year of competition for Ekstrom’s squad.– Phil Kinch

Ducati MotoGP Team

Following years of disappointment the Italian giants finally made a return to the the top step of the podium in 2016. Their first win since 2010 came at the Austrian Grand Prix thanks to Andrea Iannone and this was followed by Andrea Dovizioso’s race win in Malaysia. The red duo were up at the front challenging for podiums and victories for the majority of the year and how refreshing it was to see. 2017 looks even better for the team with Jorge Lorenzo joining from Yamaha. – Josh Close

Red Bull Racing

Red Bull improved massively from their 2015 form, and are the only team other than Mercedes to win a race this year. They have capitalised on the mistakes of Mercedes to take victories, and have also displayed serious potential for the future to win races on their own merit. – Megan Cantle

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While Mercedes have ruled the Formula 1 paddock once again, they have also been pushed hard by a charging Red Bull Racing in 2016. The latter gets the vote from me more so for their recovery to race-winning form this season, Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen forming a formidable partnership that avoided fall-out while claiming a pair of victories and a Malaysian Grand Prix one-two. A Monaco pit stop blunder aside, the team have closed a gap to the Silver Arrows that only looked like growing during pre-season testing, so 2017’s regulation changes offer a chance for Christian Horner’s outfit to trim that buffer even further. – Dan Mason

Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez – Credit: Sahara Force India F1 Team

Sahara Force India Formula 1 Team

The Silverstone-based squad have had their best year in F1 so far, with some strong performances, including two podiums for Sergio Perez in Monaco and Baku, have made it highly likely they will take fourth in the constructor’s championship. A fantastic effort for a small, independent team, who have made it their goal to punch above their weight at every opportunity. – Rachel Hack
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No team in world motorsport punched above their weight quite like Force India in 2016. Given their budget, they seem to have been swimming against the tide for a number of years in Formula One but they continue to defy expectations. To finish fourth in the Constructors Championship, with only the ‘big three’ of Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari ahead of them is nothing short of remarkable. Their drivers deserve immense credit too with Nico Hulkenberg putting another consistent campaign while Sergio Perez’s reputation continues to soar with podium finishes at Monaco and Baku emphasising what a superb talent he is. – Louis Suddaby