It’s only been 120 days between the final race of the 2016 Formula One World Championship and the start of the 2017 season but a lot has changed. The low-downforce, allegedly passing-friendly formula of 2009 has been replaced by a new high-downforce, high-speed aero formula. The caps have been taken off engine development. Tyres are wider and have been constructed to be more durable. Basically, what you remember about F1 last year is different this year.
That includes the team in front. While it sure looked like the new rules would only result in the same old, same old, there was a new car at the head of the field: A Ferrari SF70-H named Gina piloted by Sebastian Vettel who started the newest era of Formula One with a win.
My predictions last season could have been a bit more correct. I hadn’t expected the massive improvement to the Renault power unit that allowed Red Bull to finish 2nd in the WCC. I also hadn’t counted neither Williams nor Force India really making significant improvements their 2015 cars into 2016 and I didn’t expect Haas to rack up points that early in the season.
So watch as I go ahead and make those same mistakes all over again. This season’s predictions come down to the number of sandbags that teams offload from their car after pre-season testing. Everyone thinks that it’s down to Ferrari and Mercedes with both teams believed to be sandbagging each other so the other doesn’t have an accurate performance target.
So who will win the 2017 Formula One World Drivers’ and World Constructors’ Championships? I have a punt at it today.
Never one to save teams money for too long, Formula One is undergoing another major rules change this season. Having introduced the hybrid V6s in 2014, the teams are now going through a major overhaul of the aero formula to increase the speed of the cars. While the cars look new, it may actually make the racing worse.
Just because the blog has been quiet for the last couple of months doesn’t mean that we’re not still here at Lowdown HQ. Another Formula One World Championship season is about to begin and we’re not about to let it pass by without more news and analysis from F1 most insider outsiders.
With a new aero formula changing the look of Formula One, this season has a good chance for upheaval. A new World Drivers’ Champion is guaranteed as Nico Rosberg retired before turning a wheel with the #1 on his car. While there are two fewer seats on the grid this season, there are two new drivers replacing two retiring World Champions.
The question coming into the season is whether behind the scenes and rules changes at Mercedes will derail their run of three consecutive World Drivers’ and World Constructors’ Championships. Testing suggests that it’s possible but we aren’t sure how likely it is.
In one of the biggest surprises of a very topsy-turvy 2016 Formula One World Championship, the biggest twist hit us after the season concluded. World Drivers’ Champion Nico Rosberg announced his retirement from motorsport less than a week after clinching his championship. While Mercedes had a couple of days notice, it caught the F1 fraternity off guard.
So what happens next at Mercedes and how will that impact the grid going forward?
Like it or not, the Formula One World Drivers’ Champion is the driver who scores the most points over the course of the season. Sure, older championship formulae saw some low results eliminated so only the best finishes counted but that’s not the system we have now. You have to be consistently fast to be the WDC today.
While Lewis Hamilton may be the fastest driver in F1, he wasn’t always at or near the front of the field. Love him or hate him, that’s why he isn’t the champion for the third-straight year. The consistency, speed and luck of Nico Rosberg won him a well-earned first Formula One World Drivers’ Championship.
No matter how boring the race might be, all eyes will be on the two championship leaders. With a 12 point lead in the championship, all Nico Rosberg needs is a podium to win the championship. For Lewis, he needs more luck than skill to win the title. No one expects the Red Bulls to factor into the championship battle except Christian Horner but Lewis needs two Red Bulls between he and Nico to have a prayer.
So while the F1 Power Rankings take the grid for the final time this season, the Rankings won’t directly try to predict the outcome of the championship, just the race. But the Rankings’ favour the Championship leader.