FORMULA 1 CHANGES IT UP
The Formula 1 that’s awoken from its
winter sleep is very different to the one
that clocked off at Abu Dhabi in November,
with major tech changes, driver
upheavals...and an orange McLaren.
On the car side, the differences are
immediately apparent: the front wing is
wider, the rear wing is lower and has been
pushed back, and the tires have been
fattened up (see page 24). A less obvious
change is the leading edge of the
bargeboards, which have been extended
to allow teams more freedom to control
airflow. All of these tweaks are geared
toward lowering lap times by anything from
three to six seconds compared with last
year. Will higher speeds translate into better
racing? That’s the million-dollar question.
For the teams, those million bucks will
be a little easier to come by, thanks to
some cost-saving measures that have
taken place behind the scenes: the price
of an engine supply has been cut, with
further reductions scheduled for next year.
Another thing that’s guaranteed to be
different in 2017? The world champion.
Nico Rosberg perfected the art of the F1
mic drop by winning last year’s title and
retiring five days later. The unexpected
materialization of a vacant Mercedes seat
likely had a few drivers quietly scanning
their contracts for exit clauses, but the
issue was put to rest relatively quickly
after Mercedes managed to convince
Williams to release Valtteri Bottas.
The Finn’s move set all sorts of wheels
spinning elsewhere in the driver market.
Felipe Massa, who’d joined Rosberg in
retiring after the 2016 season finale, was
brought straight back out of retirement to
resume his role at Williams, where he will
race alongside rookie Lance Stroll – who’d
originally been hired to replace him.
Mercedes-backed youngster Pascal
Wehrlein will move from Manor to Sauber
– a jump that paid dividends earlier than
he might have expected when Manor
closed down just a few weeks later.
Stoffel Vandoorne will be promoted
from reserve to frontliner at McLaren,
which is tapping into its heritage by
returning to a traditional orange livery
as it continues its trek back toward the
business end of the grid with Honda.
Fellow ex-Manor man Esteban Ocon will
move to Force India, filling the space left by
Nico Hulkenberg, who’s decamped to
Renault, where he claims the seat formerly
occupied by Kevin Magnussen, who’s joining
Romain Grosjean at Haas. You following this?
On the team side, things remain mostly
static – Manor’s woes notwithstanding –
although Sauber will step back to year-old
Ferrari powerplants, and Toro Rosso swaps
from Ferrari engines to Renaults.
In all, a lot to digest – and that’s before
taking into account the small matter of
Bernie Ecclestone being replaced at the
sport’s helm by Liberty Media. New
season? More like a whole new era.
(TOP) For the first
time in more than
45 years, McLaren
will race in orange.
Over at Ferrari, It’s
a year of relative
stability, but Kimi
focused on trying
to reel Mercedes in.
New Mercedes recruit Valtteri Bottas has
a world champion’s shoes to fill...and a
three-time champ to keep him honest.
Most years, a tech overhaul in Formula 1 would be a big deal. But for 2017, it’s just scratching the surface.
NUMBER OF POLE
POSITIONS LEWIS HAMILTON
NEEDS TO TOP THE ALL-TIME
LIST. REACHABLE IN 2017?