The top ten ma­jor changes as For­mula 1 en­ters a new era

F1 Racing - - CONTENTS -

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.

Faster cars

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.

Tech­ni­cal shuf­fles

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.

Power changes

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.











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