In a few days the wait will finally be over. The F1 season will begin again after what felt like ages. But this time around the excitement is over the roof because of the obvious reasons. The cars are new, they’re approximately 5 seconds faster, they look meaner and the overhaul means a change in the pecking order.
While concerns are being raised that the quality of racing may degrade because of the new levels of aero grip and reduced braking distances mean races could turn out to be a procession. But it’s all part of a big ‘what if’ and we won’t know for sure until a few races into the season. But the new formula is not the only reason be excited about, there are new battles that every fan is eagerly anticipating to be raged to make the sport thoroughly enjoyable again.
The rewriting of the regulations means opportunity for everyone to make a leap towards the front of the grid or fall back in the event they get it horribly wrong. And when there are opportunities like these, there’s competition and competition is good for everyone.
For 2017, dynamics have changed and that means only one thing for the fans i.e. an exciting year ahead. So here’s a take at Battles that are expected to be raged all season long.
Hamilton vs Bottas
The V6 regulations and the resultant Mercedes domination has received a lot of flak. If there was any saving grace for the past three years than it was the rivalry between the two Silver Arrows of Rosberg and Hamilton. Their story felt like a convenient lift off from the script of a Hollywood movie. Childhood friends turned teammates turned foe. A naturally talented but free spirited racer vs a meticulous technical grafter. The narrative between the two kept us engaged for 3 years.Rosberg’s retirement, Valtteri Bottas has stepped in his shoes.
But after lifting the cup last year, Rosberg decided to retire and now Valtteri Bottas has stepped in his shoes.
And if Bottas is so much so even as quick as Rosberg then we can have an engaging battle on our hands for 2017. Mercedes is expected to be leading the pack and it’s two drivers embroiled in a battle for World Champion title. Bottas is no slouch and in a Williams for the past 4 years which has been no better than the third-best car has produced awesome results.
While Rosberg was really great on Saturdays, on Sundays against Lewis he failed to match up to him and that’s where Bottas’s strength is. He is quick and fast on Qualifying and reliable, consistent and aggressive on Race days. The two drivers are more evenly matched and this means one hell of a rollercoaster ride!
Ricciardo vs Verstappen
Now, this is a lineup that is being hailed as the best on the grid. An experienced Aussie who is on the top of his game vs a young and upcoming ‘once in a decade talent’ Dutchman. With the new aero rules, Red Bull will be closer to the front than ever before and engine supplier Renault has adopted the same engine architecture as the class-leading Mercedes so expect them to match the German superpower sooner rather than later and when they do the explosive duo will be at loggerheads.
While Ricciardo is fast and consistent and gives his 100% all year long, Verstappen is in a league of his own and is quickly going from strength to strength. While last year the Red Bull were clearly focused on being beating everyone to be the second best team, this year the team has set its eyes on taking the fight to Mercedes and if they’re successful then that will propel the two into a Championship battle of their own and that is what we all want.
Mercedes vs Ferrari vs Red Bull
Can 2017 deliver what we have been hoping for? A three-way battle for the top honours. Ever since the V6 era began, F1 has become a one-horse race with Mercedes a class apart leading others in its wake. But all this can change in 2017 with the revised aero rules having the effect to help Red Bull mount a greater challenge to Mercedes. However, one more team has been added to the fray. Ferrari has gone more radical than ever before and if testing is any indication then the Italian squad has grown by leaps and bound. If Ferrari has indeed made the progress that everyone is speculating, then 2017 season could be the best season the sport has seen in a long while with three teams and 5 drivers engaged in a battle to be World Champion.
The battle at the starting end of the grid happens far too less and far too between, it’s rather the midfield that satiates the appetite for wheel to wheel racing and close battles. And this year the midfield battle is going to be way more intense.
Testing has revealed that Williams has found pace but their driver lineup is weak in the form of Massa who is past his prime and rookie Stroll for whom it’s a steep learning curve following his switch directly from F3. Force India which was the best of the rest last year is always a tough competitor with its ability to punch above its weight, however, winter testing has exposed certain weaknesses and the fact that the car is a good 10 kg overweight meaning it’ll take time for Force India to be the leader of the Midfield again. Renault has for the first time produced its own car since the last year’s car was essentially a 2015 Lotus. They may be behind in terms of experience but with the vast budget they have, they’re bound to move ahead sooner rather than later.
Toro Rosso has been very good lately with its chassis and this year their chassis has elements similar to that of Mercedes which can only mean good things. Like parent team Red Bull, the only weakness they have is the Renault engine but with the Renault themselves on the grid, the weaknesses are expected to be ironed out by midseason.
However, there’s one team that can turn out to be the dark horse in the midfield and that is Haas. Equipped with a potent Ferrari engine and in close technical collaboration with the Italian squad, Haas could emerge as the leader of the midfield.
With top 3 teams expected to be 1.5 seconds ahead of the rest, the midfield is expected to be bunched up because of troubles that each team is coping with and that means close racing and battles.