How F1™ Teams Are Shaping Up For 2017

    By Darragh Farrelly

    With the start of the new Formula 1™ season just days away, fans and teams level of expectancy remain high ahead of the first race of the season in the Australian Grand Prix on March 26th.

    In a sport which will take in 20 races cross five continents over eight months, teams are now in the final stages of preparation following eight days of testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Here, we recap on each teams’ look and what testing in Spain told us to expect from each team.

    Ferrari:

    Are they really title contenders? On the back of testing in Barcelona, that is the inescapable conclusion. Though it is very hard to pre-determine an exact order from testing, Ferrari look like they have everything in order for what they hope will be a fruitful year. Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest time of the off-season on the final day of testing (1:18.634). While many variables should be considered, including engines modes and fuel loads, the signal of competitive action will tell us if they are for real.

    Ferrari car, 2017.png

    Mercedes:

    Even with defending world champion Nico Rosberg’s surprise retirement, Mercedes remain the team in everyone else’s sights. Though Mercedes best lap of testing was 0.676 seconds slower than Ferrari’s, many experts will point to consistency with new upgrades on the car. In pre-season testing last season, Ferrari were 0.3 seconds slower than Mercedes, but Lewis Hamilton proved that to be a false dawn when going 0.8 seconds quicker in qualifying at the first race.

    Mercedes car, 2017.png

    Red Bull:

    Take Red Bull’s pre-season form with a pinch of salt, that is usually a given. Throughout testing, Red Bull appeared to be on pace with Ferrari and Mercedes before Daniel Ricciardo went a full second slower than Sebastien Vettel. Questions remain about the reliability of their Renault engine, but the team remain at the head of the pack.

    Red Bull, 2017.png

    Williams:

    Many foresee the 2017 F1 season becoming a two-tiered, with Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull fighting it out for the top six placing and the remaining teams scrapping away for back-end points. It appears Williams are at the top of that totem pole. Felipe Massa posted the fifth fastest lap in 1:19.420, and the car showed reliability by covering 800 laps over eight days, the third most of all teams. 

    Williams car, 2017.png

    Sauber:

    Sauber were reliable in Barcelona (788 laps completed), but consistently slow. Despite reassurances from driver Marcus Ericsson claiming “the car has more potential which we haven’t unlocked yet,” the team are running on a year-old Ferrari engine. Realistically speaking, the team are ninth out of ten in team rankings, with a long season on the horizon for Ericsson and his teammate Pascal Wehrlein.

    Sauber car, 2017.png

    Toro Rosso:

    In terms of pace, the team finished testing in Barcelona as strong as they could have hoped for, with Carlos Sainz’s lap of 1:19.837 the fifth fastest on the final day. Prospects, it seems, will rely heavily on the reliability of their upgraded engine in Australia, with team boss Franz Tost citing the STR12 as a “fast, competitive car” with the Renault-powered team’s ability to last the pace a “weak point.”

    Toro Rosso car, 2017.png

    Force India:

    In week one of testing, Force India appeared to have everything in order. By week two, the team had fallen down the charts. While the subject of engine reliability does not seem to be an issue, and two drivers in Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez even matched – they were separated by less than a tenth on their individual fastest laps, Paddock talk suggest weighting issue suggest the team have a lot still to do.

    Force India car, 2017.png

    Haas:

    All signs point to Haas having a consistently midfield running car for the second year in a row. Kevin Magnussen’s best lap time of 1:20.504 was good enough for the 15th fastest lap during off-season testing, with the team completing 715 laps, proving the Ferrari engine they are carrying to be reliable. Low-speed corners and braking are issues which need to be solved before progression can be made.

    Haas car, 2017.png

    Renault:

    Perhaps occupying the lower echelons of the perceiving middle pack, both Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer enjoyed some fast lap times during testing (8th and 12th fastest overall respectively). Issues with their power units and energy recovery systems remain concerns ahead of Melbourne. Progress has been made in their second year back, but plenty of ground remains between them and the leading teams.

    Renault car, 2017.png

    McLaren:

    Simply put, anything that could have went wrong for McLaren in testing went wrong. Posting a meagre best time of 1:21.348 by Kevin Magnussen, the team completed 159 laps lesser than any other. To put that into context, their longest stint of testing was a shambolic 11 laps, which equates to roughly one-sixth of the Australian Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso placed the blame on Honda’s power unit, with the team coming to a halt on four separate occasions over the final two days of testing. McLaren are in the midst of a crisis, and 2017 looks certain to be an uphill battle.

     McLaren car, 2017.png 

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    About the Bloggers

     Victoria Barnett

    QE-2016_Headshot-Victoria-Barnett.pngVictoria Barnett is originally from High Point, NC. She received her B.A. in Communication Studies and minors in Business and Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. In her spare time, Victoria enjoys watching baseball, baking and hanging out with her golden retriever, Kaaya. She loves to travel to Florida and is a die-hard Miami Hurricanes fan. 

     

    Darragh Farrelly

    410-Blogger-Darragh-Farrelly-48eb94555a7e887e43b7859670f8fa79Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Darragh made the move to North Carolina a little over three years ago. An avid sports fan, he earned his BA in Journalism from Griffith College Dublin, which led him to various roles covering sports in Ireland. When he's not watching the New England Patriots win, Darragh enjoys going to concerts and following the English Premier League.

    Allie Shriver

    409-Blogger-Allie-Shriver-e536dee79691b3447e6d05ac1df44749Allie Shriver is a North Carolina native. A proud graduate of the University of North Carolina Wilmington where she received a B.A. in Communication Studies. In her spare time, Allie enjoys hanging out at the beach, watching football, and exploring new cities. As a die-hard football fan, you can catch Allie at local sports bar cheering on the New York Giants and frantically checking her Fantasy Football scores.  

    Kristen Doolan

    Kristen Doolan was born and raised a Florida State Seminole. Making her way from Florida to North Carolina, Kristen achieved her B.S. in Business Adminstration, Marketing at The University of North Carolina Wilmington. She is an avid traveler, college football addict, beach bum and loves spending time with her family and friends. 

    Jazzy Morgan

    Jazzy Morgan is originally from London, England. She grew up in Connecticut and made the move down south in 2011. She attended Winthrop University where she received her B.S. in Family & Consumer Sciences and a minor in Marketing. Jazzy enjoys traveling, working out, reading Vogue & Cosmo, keeping up with fashion trends and watching her favorite soccer team, Manchester United.