After months of waiting the Formula 1 season is back!
This year will be unique as the current Drivers World Champion Nico Rosberg will not be competing after his shock retirement last December.
2017 will see one of the biggest regulation shake-ups since the introduction of hybrid turbo power units in 2014. This time bodywork and tyres are the centre of attention, with both getting wider in order to boost downforce and grip, making the cars both faster and physically harder to drive. In fact, a reduction in lap time of around 3 to 5 seconds is expected.
Mercedes AMG Petronas
Mercedes have dominated the sport of Formula 1 since 2014. They have been unrivalled for the past three seasons taking the constructor’s championship each season. Their drivers have also taken all the spoils, Lewis Hamilton secured back to back World Championships in 2014 and 2015 with Nico Rosberg completing the hat-trick last year.
This season Lewis Hamilton will be joined by Finn Valtteri Bottas who left Williams to replace Rosberg. Both drivers are among the best on the grid but have been coy about their title hopes this season with Hamilton singling out Ferrari as the front runners. I wouldn’t read too much into this and expect to see both Silver Arrows involved in the title battle.
Red Bull Racing
Red Bull are certainly dark horses heading into this season. The team saw improvements as the season progressed last year and the Adrian Newey designed RB13 could see them challenge Mercedes for the Constructors title. As always a lot remains unknown about the capabilities of the cars – all will be revealed when the lights go out in Melbourne on Sunday!
Red Bull boast one of the most exciting driver lineups on the grid. They shocked the F1 world last season when they swapped drivers before the Spanish GP with sister team Torro Rosso. Teen sensation Max Verstappen replaced Danill Kyvat and the young Dutchman became the youngest Grand Prix winner in his Red Bull debut. He is partnered by the extremely talented Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian driver is a fan favourite for his beaming smile but has shown time and time again on the track he’s not just a pretty face. Expect these two to be in the mix up for the title if the RB13 is as powerful as we believe it could be.
It has been ten long years since a Ferrari driver has won the World Championship and nine years since the Italian team won the Constructors Championship. In this barren period Ferrai fans have had their hopes raised and dashed on numerous occasions. This season is no different. The new rule changes have all their competitors singling out Ferrari as favourites. It’s hard to say what will happen but for the good of the sport alone it would be great to see the Prancing Horse back in a title race.
Ferrari boast an impressive driver line up of four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel and 2007 Champion Kimi Raikkonen. Both drivers are incredibly experienced and are among the most skilled on the grid. If Ferrari are title challengers they certainly have the personnel to take a long-awaited title.
Williams Martini Racing
Williams are one of the mainstays of Formula 1. The team didn’t have a great 2016 and will hope the rule changes will suit them this season. This season will certainly be new beginnings for the team as they welcome a rookie into their ranks.
18-year-old Canadian Lance Stroll will make his F1 debut with Williams this year. It won’t be easy for Stroll as he will have to adapt quickly in a cut throat sport. He will be joined this year by Felipe Massa. The Brazilian retired at the end of last season but when Bottas left for Mercedes Williams were forced to ask the fan favourite to return for one last season. I expect Williams to be in a battle for fourth this season.
Sahara Force India F1 Team
It will be hard to miss Force India this season as they light up the grid thanks to their new sponsorship deal with BWT. Force India had a strong 2016 finishing 4th in the Constructors Championship behind Ferrari ahead of Williams. The team will hope to continue this form and will once again aim to out do Williams.
Mexican Sergio Perez will once again drive for the team but he will be joined this season by Frenchman Esteban Ochon. Both drivers are talented and will look to shake up the grid a few times but its unlikely we’ll see them on the podium too often.
McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team
McLaren have struggled with form in recent seasons much to the public dismay of Fernando Alonso. The team will hope to improve this season but early signs don’t hold out too much hope. The team would love to be in a battle for fourth but a mid-table scrap looks more likely.
Two time World Champion Fernando Alonso will once again drive for the team and will be joined by rookie Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne. Vandoorne has already driven in F1 replacing the injured Alonso last year recording a points finish in the Bahrain GP. Both drivers are highly rated and have the talent to challenge the only thing holding them back is the car.
Scuderia Torro Rosso
Torro Rosso always produce the odd surprise result and certainly don’t like being portrayed as the little sister of Red Bull. Their 7th place finish last season could have been better but and will hope to move up the table this year.
They have retained the same drivers as last season. Danill Kyvat will look to prove his worth after his demotion from Red Bull last season. Spaniard Carlos Saintz Jr. is incredibly talented with some in the paddock placing him on the same level as former teammate Max Verstappen. These two will look to impress the bigger teams this year and should have a great battle between each other.
Sauber F1 Team
Sauber celebrate their 25th year in the sport this season. The team has seen better days in the sport finishing in 10th last season with just two points. Sauber’s main goal will be to pull themselves above Haas and Renault but this is easier said than done.
Sauber do however have two young drivers. Marcus Ericsson has shown promise since he entered the sport in 2015 but his teammate Pascal Wehrlein is the star attraction this season. The German impressed with Manor last season recording a point finish for the team. He is talented but his inexperience and hot head could land him in trouble this season.
Renault Sport Formula 1 Team
Renualt returned to the sport last year and were happy to finish above Sauber. They will hope to continue progressing up the table but in reality it is more likely they will be scrapping with Haas and Sauber once again.
Renault retained the services of Jolyon Palmer but have brought in the talented Nico Hulkenberg from Force India. Palmer didn’t impress much last season but out did his team-mate Kevin Magnussen. Hulkenberg has always shown natural talent but has never taken it to the next level. His goal is simple this season: beat Palmer.
Haas F1 Team
Haas entered the sport for the first time last season and had a dream start recording a points finish in Melbourne. Their eight place finish with 29 points will certainly give the team confidence but the gulf between them and Torro Rosso is likely to remain the same. A battle with Renault and Sauber is more likely.
Haas have kept Frenchman Romain Grosjean who has a wealth of experience in the paddock and he will be joined by Kevin Magnussen. Both drivers are skilled but they will be restricted by the car. The battle between the two of them will be interesting to watch this season.
March 26: Melbourne, Australia
April 9: Shanghai, China
April 16: Bahrain, Bahrain
April 30: Sochi, Russia
May 14: Barcelona, Spain
May 28: Monte Carlo, Monaco
June 11: Montreal, Canada
June 25: Baku, Azerbaijan
July 9: Spielberg, Austria
July 16: Silverstone, United Kingdom
July 23: Budapest, Hungary
August 27: Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
September 3: Monza, Italy
September 17: Singapore, Singapore
October 1: Sepang, Malaysia
October 8: Suzuka, Japan
October 22: Austin, USA
November 5: Mexico City, Mexico
November 12: Sao Paolo, Brazil
November 26: Abu Dhabi, UAE