Pre-season testing. The first impressions are good, now these 2017 machines are set to go.
Another week down. One week closer to lights out, and it has proven to be another pretty exciting and eventful week. Seven of the teams have now unveiled their 2017 machines, which has just raised the hype another notch. The aerodynamic changes to this year’s cars are not quite living up to the “aggressive” look that was touted.
Aside from the changes in the front and rear wing dimensions, I struggled to find many differences on the Sauber and Williams cars. And although the required width of the chassis has been increased quite dramatically, there are some pretty large areas of floor being left exposed where the side-pods ought to be. This is a testament to the huge advances that have been made in the packaging of the power units. The rear end bodywork on these new cars is incredibly tight.
It’s not just the aerodynamics that have changed either. There have been some positive changes to all of the liveries in comparison to last year. I have felt, particularly in recent years, that the designers have been failing to excite aesthetically. Sauber, Renault and McLaren have certainly addressed that point this year. Let’s hope the remaining teams keep up the trend.
A lot of questions to answered
I’m looking forward to getting testing underway now. The rest of the teams are set to reveal their cars over the weekend, then all of the focus switches to the track. Seeing these wild beasts in their natural habitat for the first time is always the highlight of the pre-season build up. The first indications of what to expect in the coming year.
These new regulations remove all past experience and knowledge. Tear up the pecking order. It is a truly clean slate for the teams, the drivers and the fans. There is no way of knowing who has made the best interpretation of these new cars. Frustratingly, the teams will know a whole lot more than we do after this first week at Barcelona. Us outsiders are doomed to be kept out of the loop until everything is laid out in Melbourne.
Having heard what each of the teams and drivers has had to say over the course of the week, I will be keeping a very close eye on how these new tyres perform. The consensus among those in the know is that these new cars look set to make the racing worse. Only with vastly superior tyres is there any hope of being able to overtake one another. The hopes of the rule makers are resting heavily on whether the tyres provide the grip and support that the drivers need, because if they don’t, this season could turn out to be a dud. Therefore, at this stage, I am keeping my expectations as low as I can. Surely, they can’t have made it worse?
Is identity important?
I am slightly averse to all the changes being made to helmets these days. I find myself thinking about Senna, Mansell, Prost, Hakkinen and all the rest whose helmets became their identity. They will forever be remembered by the colours of their helmets. Drivers these days seem to have forsaken their own legacies. These drivers will not have that kind of legacy in years to come. I’m not so sure that is a good thing.
Anyway, this time next week, I’m sure there will be a whole lot more to think about and discuss. The buzz for this season is growing quickly now. Let’s get on with it.