Deep breaths, the 2017 Formula 1 season is almost upon us, and ThePitCrew are all over it.
‘The pinnacle of motorsport’ well that’s what we’ve been told for as long as I can remember. I’m sure our Tin Top team will have plenty to say on that topic. However you feel about it Formula 1 has had a major shakeup, fatter rubber, wider and meaner looking cars and supposedly a more aero formula, but will it make any difference or will Mercedes still be on top? One thing is for sure, Manor won’t be at the bottom having ceased trading, so we are back down to 10 teams.
Mercedes have lost Paddy Lowe to Williams and with Nico’s surprise retirement the team look to have a very different dynamic. Much as I believe Valtteri Bottas is a fantastic driver it’s probably too much to ask for him to be as competitive as Nico against arguably the fastest driver on the grid in Lewis Hamilton. Personally, I can’t see anyone but Lewis being WDC or for that matter another team taking the constructors title.
The Scuderia are looking strong in Barcelona but as ever testing lap times can’t be taken too seriously. Has Sebastian Vettel still got the desire to win, or is Kimi back to his best? I think if Ferrari produce a competitive car Seb will push the team to achieve, and in turn Kimi, but if it’s more of a donkey than a stallion I expect both drivers will quickly lose drive and interest. Another up and down season but surly in the mix for wins.
Williams have had a shake up and not just on the driver front with the young Stroll and a freshly faced Felipe Massa dragged out of retirement can they improve on last season? They still have the Mercedes power plant so it’s all down to Paddy Lowe and his team. Points and more podiums but let’s hope they are back in the mix for wins.
Great things are expected of the Red Bull boys in their Adrian Newey designed car. Will his magic be able to overhaul the genius working at the Brixworth Mercedes engine plant? Surely they have the strongest driver line-up in Daniel Ricciardo and the exciting Max Verstappen. I can see them winning races and being in the mix.
And what for the elephant in the room? Yes, I’m talking about McLaren Can Honda provide them with an engine worthy of the McLaren Honda partnership that brought such success to them during the Senna Prost Heyday? I for one hope so. Again, a very strong driver pairing or Fernando Alonso and the young pretender Stoffel Vandoorne. They will improve on last season but wins and podiums may still be beyond them.
Sahara Force India, feel the Hype! With an impressive 2016 and still using the Mercedes that drove them to great success last term I can see them pushing the grandiose teams on much bigger budgets. The impressive and reliable Sergio Perez is joined by Esteban Ocon. Let’s see what he can do. Podiums and fighting for their maiden victory has to be their goal.
Renault F1 are now in their second season back. Jolyon Palmer has been joined by Nico ‘The Hulk’ Hulkenburg. Unless they have made a giant stride forward they will be fighting to score regular points at best.
Toro Rosso have changed engine supplier and moved to Renault power. Carlos Sainz Jnr is another immense talent in the Red Bull stable. In my opinion totally underrated by most casual fans. Daniil Kvyat will fight on trying to save his Formula 1 career. Regular points scoring has to be their target .
HAAS will be in their second season, so it’s surly a matter of building on their success. Romain Grosjean is partnered with Kevin Magnussen. But they could struggle to match last terms success.
Sauber have a lot of work to do with a Ferrari engine behind them and not a huge budget. I would guess they will remain towards the back of the grid. In Marcus Ericsson, they have a steady hand, and he’s joined by Pascal Wehrlein an exciting young talent who needs to draw on all his experience in DTM and Manor to get the most out of the Sauber.
Let’s hope for a thrilling season with lots of overtaking and inter team battles. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook and join the conversation on one of our groups. Lastly, enjoy it, don’t let your passion for one driver or another cloud the way you see the race. Instead sit back and enjoy. In twenty years time you’ll be telling stories of how you watched the greats Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel, Kimi and Verstappen fight it out for glory and become legends.
Image courtesy of the relevant teams