Before Melbourne starts…

The 2017 changes in summary by TJ13 contributor @F1TheaJ

The 2017 season is almost upon us, so as we wait with baited breath for lights out let’s take a quick look at what’ll be different in F1 this year:


There will only be ten teams racing in F1, as sadly Manor didn’t make the cut this year. This leaves us with (in 2016 finishing order) Mercedes, Red Bull Tag Heuer, Ferrari, Force India Mercedes, Williams Mercedes, McLaren Honda, Toro Rosso Ferrari, Hass Ferrari, Renault, Sauber Ferrari.


Mercedes: With the reigning World Champion, Nico Rosberg, announcing his retirement a couple of days after winning the title, this left Mercedes with an empty seat for 2017: but not for long, as Bottas was on the phone quicker than you can say ‘what the ……. ‘and secured himself the most coveted seat in the paddock. Will he give Lewis Hamilton a run for his money?

Red Bull: Maintain their 2016 line up of Daniel Ricciardo (the honey badger) and the wonderkid that is Max Verstappen.

Ferrari: Retain the services of four times world champion Sebastian Vettel (can he make it WDC5 this year?) and of course the oldest (and possibly most popular) driver on the grid, none other than the Iceman himself, Kimi Raikkonen.

Force India: They’ve lost Nico Hulkenberg and gained Esteban Ocon (from the now defunct Manor of 2016) and retained the inimitable Sergio (I really know how to look after my tyres, and let’s face it this year I’ll have a lot more tyre to play with) Perez.

Williams: Having tried retirement and found it not to be to his liking, Felipe Massa is back behind the wheel of his beloved Williams again this year (was that the shortest retirement in F1 history?) Having worked supremely well for both Toro Rosso and Red Bull, Williams thought they’d try their luck with having the youngest driver on the grid this year in the guise of Lance Stroll, the newest rookie on the grid this season.

McLaren: Will Fernando Alonso achieve his dream of a third world championship title this year? Let’s not read TOO much into pre-season testing, because let’s face it, the season hasn’t actually started yet. What can I say about Jenson Button’s replacement, the Belgian that is Stoffel Vandoorne other than ‘watch this space’ (and ask the question ‘Is he a rookie or not?’)

Toro Rosso: Will the (in my opinion) underrated Carlos Sainz Jr make it onto the podium this year? Not if his Russian team mate Daniil Kvyat has anything to do with it!

Hass: Said farewell to Esteban Gutierrez and hello to Kevin Magnussen this year and an enthusiastic ‘Bonjour vieux ami (bien moins de l’ancien….) ‘ to Romain Grosjean.

Renault : Nico Hulkenberg saw the writing on the wall and decided he’d look far better in yellow and black than pretty in pink and defected from Force India to Renault this year , keeping the Brit Jolyen Palmer company in the Renault garage.

Sauber : Last but not least we have Marcus Erricson pairing the newly recruited Pascal Wehrlein (from Manor), replacing Felipe Nasr (who saved Sauber’s bacon last year gaining their only points of last season. )

Races :

Having lost Germany from the calendar this year we are left with 20 races, namely : Australia, China, Bahrain, Russia, Spain, Monaco, Canada, Azerbaijan, Austria, GB, Hungary, Belgium, Italy, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, USA, Mexico Brazil and Abu Dhabi.

Livery :

Just when we thought the livery couldn’t get more shocking than the newly adopted orange of this year’s McLaren, Force India gave us pink, yes, pink (very pink in fact.) Not to worry, though as Toro Rosso saved the day and pulled a rather fetching blue and silver number out of the bag.

Which brings us onto the business end of the article, the cars themselves and the regulations . The engine development restrictions have been eased, placing more emphasis on aerodynamics as a means to gaining the upper hand.

Cars :

Tyres : The most obvious change to the way the cars look this season is the tyres. They are 25% wider than 2016, giving them a much greater surface area and hence more mechanical grip. The front tyres have increased from 245mm to 305 while the rear tyres are now 405mm, up from 325mm. Although the tyre compounds will be called hard, medium. soft, supersoft and ultrasoft (the same as last year) the composition of these compounds has been changed, making them more durable than previously.

Bodywork : The overall width of the cars has increased from 1800mm to 2000mm. The size of the front wing has increased from 1650mm to 1800mm curving back towards the rear of the car and the nose is slightly longer. The rear wing is now lower and wider, having decreased in height from 950mm to 800mm and increased in width to 950mm from 750mm. The sidepods are wider and more dramatically ‘sweeping’ in appearance and the ‘shark fin’ has reappeared on the engine cover. There are lots of other changes, which are far too complex for me to write about here (or anywhere else for that matter.)

Weight : Maximum weight of the car is up 20kg to 722kg.

Fuel : Increased from 100kg to 105kg.

Engines : The development tokens have been shelved but the number of engines per season remains at four per driver.

Regulations :

Clutch :The driver now has to find the best bite point of the clutch at the start of the race, making bogging down of the engine or increased wheelspin more likely and there are restrictions as to how much movement is allowed on the clutch paddle itself and its position relative to other elements in the cockpit.

Wet Race Starts: If the race is deemed to be wet and a safety car required, once the track is dry enough the safety car will peel off but the cars will then line up on the starting grid for a ‘normal ‘ start.

In short, the cars are expected to be wider, heavier, have more downforce and mechanical grip, be faster on corners, generate higher G forces, and be faster (by up to five seconds per lap) overall, so placing more emphasis on the driver’s physical fitness. All the above is said to make overtaking more difficult, so will the racing be better in 2017 than in previously?

We’ll just have to wait a little while longer to get an answer to that one…..


8 responses to “Before Melbourne starts…

  1. Re Wet Race Starts.. .

    So if it rains torrentially, Suzuka-style, and a SC is needed and it NEVER gets dry enough for standing start, are we going to wait till the SC finishes the race? Does it even have enough fuel for a complete race distance? (Imagine a 1st lap mayhem.)

  2. Looking forward to a post-SC wet race grid start where half the field is on an almost dry line and the other in standing water.

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