By: Charlie Mascia, and Henry Tyndall
Spring is here, and with it comes the much anticipated opener to the 2017 World Drivers Championship. Following Mercedes’ dominance in the 2016 season, a few small rule changes may ignite one of the most exciting shake-ups in recent Formula 1 history. Tracks have been widened by 200mm, inciting enormous changes in chassis design and aerodynamics among different teams. These enlargements will play a big role in the upcoming Australian Grand Prix
This rapturous track change and its reverberating design adjustments will result in discernibly quicker lap times, likely up three seconds from the 2016 season. The more visible oriented results of these tremendous changes will be in car design; endplates, tires, and body plates will be widened. These adjustments will undoubtedly result in a sleeker, lower and more aerodynamic field of cars. Aerodynamic and mechanical grip are surely going to be increased following these widenings and expansions.
As The Australian Grand Prix approaches in late March, one can expect a strong reckoning for the new cars. The widened autos may lead to trouble overtaking on the street track’s infamous first few turns, and with some cockpit changes, G-force could be a problem. Accelerating out of these first sections and into a more steady zone is where one can expect the most astonishing overtakes. ECHO projects a victory in the Australian Grand Prix by the terrifically dominant Mercedes team, most likely with the victor being the consistent favourite Lewis Hamilton. However Mercedes has strong competition this year from the Force India team. The unveiling of their aerodynamic monster of a drag-killing automobile marks a potential rise to success in the 2017 season. Featuring a thumb tip nose and a sharkfin engine cover, drivers for Force India, Hulkenberg, and Perez, project a strong improvement in lap times. The introduction of Force India’s supremely low and maneuverable automobile will allow them to prevail through the slipstreams at the track based courses in Melbourne and later at the Shanghai International Circuit.
The threat to Mercedes’ dominance comes in the wake of Nico Rosberg’s retirement from the sport. Rosberg, whose father won the first Australian Grand Prix ever, won the World Drivers Championship in 2016, beating the favourite—teammate Lewis Hamilton—after finishing second to him for the past two years.
“It was nothing to do with anyone else,” Hamilton concluded of his disappointing performance at the European Grand Prix in 2016, “it was just me not doing quick laps.”
In 2016, Mercedes won every race but two, both of which were won by Red Bull-Tag Heuer. Save these two races, Hamilton and Rosberg swept the season. The two upsets came in the Spanish Grand Prix and the Malaysian Grand Prix, each time from a member of Red Bull-Tag Heuer. Eighteen-year-old prodigy Max Verstappen—who was inducted into Formula One at age 16, before he had even earned his driver’s license—finished first in the Spanish Grand Prix, while his teammate Daniel Ricciardo claimed victory in Malaysia.
With enthralling new car designs and strong podium hopefuls, 2017’s Formula 1 season will be underway on March 26th at midnight. The 58 high octane, rushing laps that will ensue are sure to excite. With enormous potential for upsets and an array of fantastic tracks, be on the lookout for a strong season of racing.