FOX Sports Asia takes a look at what’s changed for the new Formula 1 season ahead of the opener in Australia at the weekend.
First, there has been the biggest change in the way that the sport is run in decades after Liberty Media completed its takeover of the F1 Group. Long-time F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has gone, to be replaced by the wonderfully moustachioed Chase Carey as new CEO. Ecclestone is now “Chairman Emeritus” and although he is likely to strapped into the back seat by Liberty, Bernie has said he will still be present at races. Ex F1 team principal Ross Brawn has has been brought onboard as Managing Director Motorsports to focus on the long-term future of the sport.
Lance Stroll (Williams) and Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren) are the two new faces in F1, although Vandoorne already made an appearance in Bahrain last year. Five drivers have made the switch to new teams, with the biggest move being Valtteri Bottas’ jump from Williams to Mercedes. Other moves include Nico Hulkenberg (Force India to Renault), Kevin Magnussen (Renault to Haas), Esteban Ocon (Manor to Force India) and Pascal Wehrlein (Manor to Sauber). Four drivers from last year’s competition will not be racing in 2017. They are retired champion Nico Rosberg, veteran Jenson Button, Esteban Gutierrez, and Felipe Nasr.
The demise of Manor means the grid is back down to 20 cars.
Financial difficulties at Hockenheim mean there will be no German Grand Prix this year, meaning the calendar will feature one less race in 2017 with a nice round figure of 20 races.
The management musical chairs has seen a few moves, with Paddy Lowe’s switch from Mercedes to Williams the biggest. James Allison has joined Mercedes as technical director following his departure from Ferrari last summer.
Welcome to Williams, Paddy!
Most fans will be aware by now of the huge changes that have taken place to the cars ahead of the new season. A huge set of chassis rule changes have been implemented with the aim of making the cars faster and a greater physical test for the drivers, while at the same time challenging Mercedes recent dominance, making the cars more attractive, and the sport more exciting.
To achieve these aims, changes have been made, with the most obvious one being the size of the tyres and the increased width (up to 2,000mm) of the cars.
Morning! ? Another day closer to @ausgrandprix…
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) March 15, 2017
Pirelli has introduced new tyre compounds that are designed for ‘low degradation’, meaning there will be fewer tyre changes than in previous years.
The tyres are also around 25 percent wider than last year, with rear width up from 325mm to 405mm, and front width now at 305mm (up from 245mm).
Usage rules have not changed, but the FIA has mandated that for the first five races drivers will carry the same selection: two sets of hard tires, four medium, and seven soft. The teams can make their own selections starting at Monaco.
Downforce levels have been increased thanks to changes in the rear diffuser. Attempts to make the cars look more aggressive have resulted in a car that overall looks lower and wider.
“T-wings” situated between the airbox and the rear wing, and shark fins on top of the engine cover have also been incorporated into the design of several of the new cars as they experiment with aerodynamics.
Token system gone
Power unit regulations have seen a big change with the token system being scrapped.
Limits on the weight, dimensions, materials of power unit parts, and boost pressure, are being introduced for 2017 and in 2018.
One rule has been changed to stop drivers stockpiling spare power unit elements. The regulations state: “During any single event, if a driver introduces more than one of a power unit element that is subject to a grid penalty, only the last element fitted may be used at subsequent events without further penalty.”
When the track is deemed to be safe to race the field will assemble on the grid for the start, once the safety car has returned to the pit lane.
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