The Australian GP – What’s Changed in F1 Going Into the First Race of 2017?
The F1 machine roars into action in Melbourne, Australia, this weekend, for the first Grand Prix of the new season. So what new developments can motorsports fans expect to see at the 2017 Australian GP?
The 2017 F1 Season – Carey Takes the Helm
It’s all change for Formula 1 this year, as the organisation has been acquired by Liberty Media. The new owners, who will be changing their name to the Formula One Group, have already confirmed Chase Carey’s appointment as Chief Executive Officer.
Former head of F1, Bernie Ecclestone, has effectively been ousted from the sport. Although he has been given the role of Chairman Emeritus, he recently told the Mail on Sunday that he “can’t do anything”.
The 2017 Formula 1 Rule Changes – How Will They Affect The Cars?
Some of this year’s key rule changes have been designed to ensure that the drivers can secure faster lap times, making for a more exciting racing experience.
The changes have enabled the teams to build cars with wider tyres, giving the drivers more grip and enabling them to corner faster. This year’s vehicles also boast larger bargeboards and wider diffusers to improve their downforce and, in turn, their speed.
The cars are wider overall and feature wider rear wings, however; changes which could affect the drivers’ ability to overtake, particularly on straights.
During pre-season testing, Lewis Hamilton told the Guardian that the cars “look fantastic and they drive amazingly but, as you get behind another car, it has pure air in front and the car behind [is] in the dirty air.”
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, however, did not seem as concerned. “I think it’s the same like last year,” he told the press. “I’ve done some today so it’s OK. It works, you can overtake with the car.”
Teams and Drivers – What’s New at the 2017 Australian GP?
As usual, there have been a host of team changes prior to the start of the season. One of the most significant developments has been the loss of Manor Racing. Former Manor driver Pascal Wehrlein has replaced Felipe Nasr at Sauber, while his former teammate, Esteban Ocon, will compete for Force India, following Nico Hülkenberg’s move to Renault.
The second major change has been the retirement of the reigning World Champion, Nico Rosberg, less than a week after winning the famous motorsports trophy. Lewis Hamilton’s new teammate will be former Williams driver, Valterri Bottas, while Felipe Massa, who retired at the end of last year, will be returning to Williams to replace the Finn. Massa will compete alongside last year’s European Formula 3 Champion, Lance Stroll.
Kevin Magnussen, meanwhile, has moved from Renault to Haas, replacing Esteban Gutiérrez, who has left Formula 1. Jenson Button, who announced that he would be taking a sabbatical from the sport last year, has been confirmed as McLaren’s “third driver”, but his vacant seat has been filled by the team’s former reserve driver, Stoffel Vandoorne.
It’s not just the faces that have altered either – some teams have made dramatic livery changes. McLaren’s 2017 car is unmissable in orange and black, while Force India’s VJM10 is pink.
Are you looking forward to the new Formula 1 season? Who do you think will win the Australian GP? Let us know what you think about the team and rule changes in the comments section, or tell us on Twitter or Facebook.