How It Has All Changed In Formula One
February 27, 2017
Most of us are still recovering from the exhilarating title race that unfolded last season as Nico Rosberg held off a spirited challenge from Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to lift his maiden F1 world championship. In an unexpected twist, the German announced his retirement from the sport just days after his long-awaited victory which was only settled on the final lap of the final race in Abu Dhabi.
Preparations are already underway ahead of preseason testing next week in Barcelona as the sport enters a new era following a string of transformations and takeovers. The 40 year reign of tycoon Bernie Ecclestone as F1 head chief is officially over following Liberty Media’s acquisition of the establishment.
Whilst new supremo Chase Carey and his corporation spearhead the direction of elite motorsport, there have been several other high-profile departures ahead of the 2017 calendar which has reverted back to 20 contests following 2016’s record-breaking 21 races.
Mercedes have also been rocked by the exit of technical boss Paddy Lowe who has opted to join Williams after three triumphant years in which he guided the team to three consecutive drivers’ and constructors’ championship doubles from 2014 to 2016.
This space has been filled by James Allison who is best known for his two stints with Ferrari, the first coinciding with Michael Schumacher’s run of five consecutive years at the summit of F1.
Plugging the void vacated by Rosberg was never going to be a straightforward task for F1’s dominant manufacturer, but the recruitment of Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas from Williams could prove to be a shrewd ploy given his reliability and relationship with Hamilton.
Bottas has only failed to register points 11 times over the course of the last two campaigns and will provide Mercedes with an amicable partnership – light years away from the astringent rivalry that has encapsulated the sport and Mercedes team in recent years.
Another of the British teams in Williams were the first to unveil their new car for the 2017 season with all vehicles set to be weightier and powerful, therefore enforcing a greater physical demand on the drivers with lap times set to fall by up to five seconds.
Their line-up has also changed ahead of the new season following Felipe Massa’s decision to perform a retirement u-turn and join Williams. The 35-year-old Brazilian will be racing alongside the raw potential of Canadian youngster Lance Stroll.
Renault and team principal Frederic Vasseur are another collaboration that have parted ways in the off-season. The Frenchman left his position at the Enstone-based marque by mutual consent after disagreements with team personnel.
Despite finishing ninth in the constructors’ championship last year, Renault are targeting a place in the top five and are boosted by the arrival of highly-rated German driver Nico Hulkenberg following his move from rivals Force India. The addition of former four-time world champion Alain Prost as a ‘special advisor’ is another facet of Renault’s newfound optimism as they look to return to the front of the grid.
Other noticeable changes include 2009 World Champion Jenson Button stepping down from the McLaren-Honda race seat and being replaced by Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne. Felipe Nasr is bizarrely no longer in control of the wheel at Sauber despite scoring the team’s only points in 2016.
2017 promises to be another spectacular spectacle in F1’s glorious history. The sport may have lost some of its most influential names and loved drivers, but the competition shows no signs of slowing down.