A genuine sense of the unknown is what we go into this weekend with – the start of the 2017 Formula One season at Albert Park in Melbourne, Australia.
This is an unknown we haven’t had for a few years now. With the regulation changes coming in and lessons learnt from pre-season testing, I get the feeling that the field is now a bit more closer, a bit more tighter, a bit more unpredictable.
Photo credit : Sky Sports
How will the teams fare?
In terms of results, who knows?
Nobody does. I’ve written a fair few posts regarding pre-season testing and general build up to this first race and there have been some significant stories that have emerged.
To sum it up really quickly..
- Mercedes haven’t gone anywhere. They’re still at the top.
- However, Ferrari seem to have made massive progress and could be on par with or even better than Mercedes.
- Red Bull Racing are expected to make up the “top 3” but have some ground to make up on Mercedes and Ferrari.
- The midfield is a lot tighter with Williams seeming to have made improvements.
- Force India, Renault, Toro Rosso, and Haas F1 are to be in a tight midfield battle with Williams looking like they’re “best of the rest”.
- McLaren Honda are in all sorts of trouble with their reliability issues with an engine that won’t work. (Read the one million articles I’ve written ranting about the same).
- With Manor having perished, Sauber look like they’re the sole backmarkers.
So, what should I expect as a fan?
If you’ve been a fan of Formula One before this, you’ll enjoy this season. This is because as I said there’s an unknown factor we have lacked in the recent past. We’ve known coming into the previous few seasons that Mercedes would dominate it. However, it is simply not the case this year. The Ferrari threat is real. Red Bull could close the gap very quickly.
It isn’t Lewis Hamilton’s title to lose as early as Melbourne. That is exciting. Which says a lot about what the sport has come to these days.
Photo credit : Getty Images
Apart from results, you should expect faster cars. Because F1 is going to be fast this year. Things are lower, the bodywork is wider, the wings are wider, and the tires are wider. The engines are better too. This means a lot more grip in the high speed corners and you shall see the lap times tumbling down.
The cars look better visually too. We have different colour schemes and liveries on the grid this year as opposed to last year where essentially everyone decided to be boring. This year, we’ve got a fantastic looking Toro Rosso, an orange McLaren, a pink Force India! How about that!
We’ve got more fan access thanks to Liberty Media. I don’t expect them to implement very dramatic changes just yet, but allowing video to filmed in the pit lane is a great bit of access and outlet for F1 teams.
Racing is going to be physically exhausting for the drivers and will push them to their absolute physical limits. And this is what we want. Exactly what we want. F1 is the pinnacle of motor racing, it shouldn’t be easy.
As for the race itself..
I mean, listen. It is the first race of a season coming off the back of a whole load of regulation changes.
Photo credit : Red Bull Racing
So, all teams will essentially be trying to just get their cars to the chequered flag. I will talk about strategy and upgrades and updates and where everyone is in terms on development when I get into previewing the coming races. But for the first race, what am I going to tell you? Even the teams themselves don’t know where they are in comparison to everyone else.
I think Qualifying 3 on Saturday is when we will see true potential of these cars (well Q2 for midfield teams). Nobody will be sandbagging then.
As for me..
I can’t wait for qualifying when the top teams turn up their engines and have a go at pole. I really can’t wait. I’ve spent the longest time speculating about who is hiding true pace and all of that, I just want to see the drivers flat out. I don’t think that’s a lot to ask from a fan’s standpoint.
I look forward to this weekend. It has been a long time coming, this shakeup. Let us see if it has actually shaken anything up.
My predictions for the 2017 F1 season will be up tomorrow (23 March), so come back for that and leave me your predictions!
All aboard the hype train, because #F1isBack.
(Feature image courtesy : Formula 1 – Sutton Images)
– Aditya Bhat.