2017 AT A GLANCE
The top ten major changes as Formula 1 enters a new era
No more Bernie
After four decades in power, Bernie Ecclestone had to hand over control of F1 as Liberty Media completed their $8bn acquisition of the sport in January. New CEO Chase Carey is anked by former Mercedes team chief Ross Brawn, who takes charge of racing matters; and Sean Bratches, a former TV marketing boss, who will handle the commercial side.
Only ten teams
The Manor F1 team went into administration in January. They joined the grid as Virgin in 2010, changing their name to Marussia in 2012 and Manor in 2016, and accrued just three points over seven years. Last year’s drivers have secured seats elsewhere: Pascal Wehrlein joins Sauber, while Esteban Ocon moves to Force India.
This season ushers in a wholesale set of regulation changes that are aimed at making the cars quicker by ve seconds a lap. The 1.6-litre hybrid turbo engines remain, but car, bodywork and tyre width have all increased. The rear wing is lower, the diffuser is larger and the maximum weight has increased by 20kg to 722kg.
No title defence
Nico Rosberg shocked F1 by retiring the week after he won the 2016 title. Mercedes quickly set about nding a replacement, securing Valtteri Bottas on a one-year deal. Bottas’s former team Williams then had to ask Felipe Massa to come out of retirement; the Brazilian veteran will now partner 18-year-old rookie Lance Stroll.
Return of the Stoff
He’s made only one GP start, standing in for Alonso in Bahrain last year, but the talented Stoffel Vandoorne already has an F1 point as a result. He makes a full-time return in 2017, replacing Jenson Button at McLaren. Further down the grid, Nico Hülkenberg moves to Renault, while Kevin Magnussen replaces Esteban Gutiérrez at Haas.
Bigger, grippier tyres
Tyres are now 25 per cent wider than in 2016, with rear width increasing from 325mm to 405mm, and front width raised from 245mm to 305mm. Tyre diameter has also increased very slightly, although wheel rims remain unchanged at 13 inches. Once again, teams will have three compounds to choose from at every GP weekend.
A shorter race calendar
There are only 20 races on the calendar this year now that the nancially troubled German Grand Prix has been dropped. The street race in Baku remains, but this year it’s called the ‘Azerbaijan Grand Prix’ rather than the ‘European GP’. There will also be two in-season tests in 2017, which will take place in Bahrain and Hungary.
Wet-weather standing starts
As of 2017, if a Safety Car is required at the beginning of a grand prix on account of wet weather, a normal standing start will occur once the track is deemed to be dry and safe enough to race on. The new process replaces rolling restarts, and will see the Safety Car returning to the pitlane and the cars reassembling on the grid for the restart.
The main driver line-ups have remained fairly static: it’s the technical chiefs who have been jumping on and off the merry-go-round over the winter. Paddy Lowe has left Mercedes to take up a key role at Williams, with former Ferrari man James Allison taking Lowe’s place at Brackley. Jörg Zander returns to Sauber after a stint in sportscars with Audi.
The sport has abandoned the much maligned ‘token’ system to allow more freedom for in-season engine updates. And teams can no longer accrue grid penalties in a bid to stockpile spare power-unit elements. Toro Rosso have ditched Ferrari power in favour of Renault, while Sauber will use a year-old Ferrari powerplant.