Pre-season testing – the calm before the storm.
It’s been a quiet week for Formula One. Sebastian Vettel had an innocuous crash whilst testing Pirelli’s new wet tyres at Fiorano. Renault have signed a new head of Aerodynamics. They have poached a wind tunnel engineer from Red Bull, who will start work in July, so we will not see much of his input until 2018 realistically. Nico Rosberg has won the Laureus Sports breakthrough of the year award, congratulations to him. My twitter feed has been littered with pictures of sweaty F1 drivers working hard in the gym, and the sounds of turbo hybrid power units being fired-up.
A new season on the way.
This relative quiet is just the calm before the storm. Monday will see the first 2017 machine unveiled when Sauber release the first images of their new car, the C36. This will be the first real sight of what the new regulations have spawned. I will be mashing the refresh button on Monday morning as I struggle to control my childish excitement to see how it looks. The rest of the grid will be unveiled over the course of the week.
I wouldn’t put it past either Williams or Haas to steal Sauber’s thunder however. The last couple of seasons have seen surprise reveals by Williams and Renault. McLaren have been the centre of attention, with every sign pointing towards a return to their historic Orange livery. Fans everywhere have been speculating hard about this topic for weeks.
Speculation, anticipation and excitement.
Areas of conversation have been tyres, overtaking, and team performance. All of which will remain unknown until the chequered flag in Melbourne.
Pirelli have been clarified their position as tyre suppliers. Emphasising the fact that they produce tyres dictated by the sport. After their requirements have been amended once again, Pirelli are looking to ensure they are not subjected to the kind of criticism they have received in the past. The tyre suppliers were quick to deflect all negativity towards the racing in 2017 towards the changes in the technical regulations.
This seems to be another hint that those in the know are not optimistic about the on-track action. A huge factor in this theory are the new, beefy tyres. Should the rule-makers have got it right, we could be treated to plenty of close and exciting action. This appears to be an incredibly small window though. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that the gains in mechanical grip are going to overcome the increased aerodynamic dependence.
Ferrari in trouble?
The final question, one that will only intensify between now and Melbourne, is each team’s performance in 2017. Mercedes and Red Bull are the favourites looking at recent form. As the only two teams to win World Championships in the current decade, they have to be contenders.
Ferrari seem worried. Their recent application to FIA for clarification on the legality of an advanced suspension system, which is not on their car, indicates they are panicking. Both Mercedes and Red Bull utilised the system last year, and look set to gain an advantage with it again this season. Clearly Ferrari are struggling to make such a system work on their own car.
With less than a fortnight until testing finally gets underway, I am very much ready to go. The winter has provided some drama, thanks to Nico Rosberg, but it’s definitely time to kick start the new season.
(Morio CC BY-SA 4.0)
((1) Phil Guest CC BY-SA 2.0)
(Morio CC BY-SA 4.0)