Categories
Formula One Open Wheel

THREE TAKEAWAYS: 2017 Singapore Grand Prix

Formula 1 treated fans to one of its most exciting races of the year as Singapore celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Marina Bay Street Circuit with the series’ first wet night competition.

On a circuit which is traditionally Mercedes’ bogey track, Lewis Hamilton led every lap to take his seventh win of 2017 ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas. Hamilton is the first driver to take three in a row this year after Belgium and Italy.

He inherited the victory after a dramatic opening lap crash involving poleman Sebastian Vettel, teammate Kimi Raikkonen, and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. Just 12 of the 20 drivers completed the two-hour distance as the contest had the highest number of retirements in 2017.

The drivers’ championship fight has decreased, with Hamilton extending his three-point advantage to 28, with a maximum of 25 for a win.

Has Vettel Thrown Away The Title?

One of the questions answered after the event was what role Vettel played in the incident.

From multiple viewings of the accident, it appears that the German gradually slides left to try and stop Verstappen from attacking him, with Raikkonen going on Verstappen’s left-hand side to attempt to and snatch first place.

The Finn’s right-rear tire collided with the front left of the Dutchman’s car, sending him speeding without stopping into Turn 1, hitting the side of the Red Bull before Fernando Alonso becomes involved. Vettel continued momentarily before spinning into the Turn 3 wall, destroying his front wing.

The last time before this the German had a DNF was in Malaysia last season. It was then that Hamilton suffered power unit failure and the championship fell away from his grasp and towards Nico Rosberg. Has karma gone back into his direction, with nothing to choose between the two drivers who both have shown strong previous form at the upcoming tracks?

Meanwhile, Alonso was almost up to third early on, but took his ninth DNF of the year, tying his worst career record set back in 2001 at Minardi. Water is wet for the Spaniard.

Hamilton Again Shows Wet Weather Class

The three-time champion is probably one of the few drivers on the grid you would want to drive in damp conditions, and he set multiple fastest laps on his way to victory. His time of 1m45.008s is a new record with the faster 2017 machinery.

He made his way from fifth on the grid thanks to the chaos ahead and an important move around the right-hand side of a slow-starting Ricciardo before carrying on at the very right of the track to avoid becoming a passenger in the debris above.

“I came in and I saw that it was raining and I knew that this balances everything out,” he said. “I love racing in the rain, then everything unfolded in the beginning. Starting on the Intermediates I thought it was going to be much closer pace-wise. These conditions give you the opportunity to really make a difference with your driving.”

Ricciardo’s job to finish 4.5 seconds off the winner seemed impressive when his team principal Christian Horner said after the race that he had to control an issue.

“After the [initial] restart (Lap 5 of 58), Daniel started to lose an awful lot of gearbox oil, which created a lot of problems with oil pressure, and we were feeling that it was looking unlikely that Daniel would get to the end of the race,” he said. “However, he managed to nurse the gearbox of the car incredibly well for three-quarters of the Grand Prix, and though able to hold off any threat from behind from Valtteri, unfortunately he could not attack Lewis ahead.”

It was a familiar story for Valtteri Bottas. Many have wondered whether he can match up in damp or wet conditions after his spin in China earlier in the year, and he finished 8.8s behind in third. Not only that, but his drinks bottle was not fully working in one of the most physically-demanding tracks the series visits.

“In the dry, the car was performing better than expected and the pace was very good for Lewis and me,” he said. “In the wet, I struggled a bit more than him. It’s nice to bring a trophy home after what has been a tricky weekend for me.”

Notable Drivers Suffer Ups And Downs

Days after news of Carlos Sainz swapping Toro Rosso for Renault and Renault powering McLaren next season, all three parties had a solid Singapore night.

Sainz took a career-best fourth-place, while the replaced Jolyon Palmer finished just ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne in sixth. Rumors still say Palmer could have had his last contest with the team, but a positive performance won’t hurt as he looks for a new home on the grid or in another series for 2018.

Two drivers suffered difficult results due to car problems. Nico Hulkenberg was fourth until an oil leak took him to pit lane. He also spent some laps in the top-three, but collects the record for most starts without a podium in F1 history, beating Adrian Sutil’s total of 128. Haas’ Kevin Magnussen was fighting for points until an electrical failure.

What’s Next?

The 10th running doesn’t end Singapore’s story for now, as it signed a new four-year deal before the weekend to continue hosting the sport until 2021, confirming its place on 2018’s 21-race calendar.

Drivers now head to Malaysia for the final event in that country in two weeks’ time as the fight to become champion comes down to the next two months.

EMAIL CAMERON AT @cpatersonf1@gmail.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @PatersonCameron

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
News Open Wheel

Raikkonen, Ferrari Together Again For 2018

One of the biggest dominoes has now fallen in next year’s driver market, as Ferrari made its first signing for the future.

Kimi Raikkonen is remaining a Formula 1 driver in the 2018 season, extending his ‘technical and racing agreement’ with the Scuderia.

There is no word yet on his teammate, with championship leader Sebastian Vettel’s initial three-year contract expiring at 2017’s end.

It is the first time that Raikkonen has been the first announced racer for a seat at the team as he prepares for an eighth season there.

So far, 2017 has statistically been the Finn’s best since 2013, ending his 128-race pole drought in Monaco, an event he only lost in the pitlane when Vettel got passed with strategy.

He has finished nine of the opening 11 rounds, ending second twice and third another two times. His only retirements came as a result of racing incidents with Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas in Spain and Azerbaijan.

The 37-year-old currently places fifth in the drivers’ championship behind Vettel, both Mercedes and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, on 116 points – 86 behind his teammate.

He will become the third person to reach 150 starts with Ferrari power at the Bahrain Grand Prix, a feat only bettered by Felipe Massa (191) and Michael Schumacher (179).

Raikkonen will be 39 by the end of the next season and is set to be the oldest to compete in the sport since Schumacher at the age of 43 in 2012.

EMAIL CAMERON AT @cpatersonf1@gmail.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @PatersonCameron

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Formula One Open Wheel

F1 NOTEBOOK: British Grand Prix Questions Answered

With almost a week passed since the British Grand Prix, some conclusions have been made about the failures experienced in Silverstone.

Teams have just one weekend off before competing in Hungary and then starting the traditional August summer break.

As a result, quick verdicts have been made over notable decisions.

Pirelli Investigates Ferrari Tire Failures

Pirelli says that Sebastian Vettel’s front left tire failure on the penultimate lap of British Grand Prix Sunday was due to a slow puncture.

The German looked set for his 10th straight top-four finish until the extra pit stop dropped him to seventh.

“As appeared clear since Sunday afternoon, a full investigation has now confirmed that the original cause of the failure was a slow puncture,” the manufacturer said in a statement. “The consequent driving back to the pits on an underinflated and then flat tyre led to the final failure.”

Meanwhile, Kimi Raikkonen’s front left tire is needing further analysis after initial tests could not find a clear reason for his failure.

“Further tests and analysis are still ongoing in Pirelli’s laboratories and indoor testing facilities. It will take a few more days to reach a definitive conclusion.”

Renault Developments

Renault’s chassis technical director Nick Chester has in-depth description why Jolyon Palmer did not start the British Grand Prix.

Palmer’s car developed a problem on the formation lap, meaning only 19 drivers took the start, which turned out to come from a piece that could be bought using coins.

“It was something as simple as an O-ring in the hydraulic system,” he said. “We’ve been investigating thoroughly to determine why it failed to ensure we don’t see this again.”

He does believe that the Renaults can make a step forward in the coming races after changes were made with the R.S.17 chassis.

“Both cars will have the new floor we validated [in Hungary],” Chester added. “We will evaluate updated front bodywork and a modified cooling package. We had significant aero upgrades in Silverstone and we expected to see improvements in overall grip and stability. We made the car more drivable with more downforce. It took a big step forward and we could see that in the measurements made in the car, so we are reasonably confident this will carry forward.”

Verstappen’s View

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen also explained where his team is aiming ahead of the Hungarian weekend.

With tight and twisty parts, the track could play to its aerodynamic strengths and help himself and Daniel Ricciardo fight for podium places.

“It’s always a bit too early to say how we’ll do in Hungary but we’re constantly improving, trying to get a better balance and more downforce on the car. Luckily there are not too many straights,” the Dutchman said.

EMAIL CAMERON AT @cpatersonf1@gmail.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @PatersonCameron

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Formula One Open Wheel

Statistical 101: Time Between Raikkonen’s Poles

For years, Ferrari or Lotus fans wondered when Kimi Raikkonen would return to the top of the timesheets in qualifying.

His teammates haven’t always outperformed him – with Felipe Massa and Sebastian Vettel having just four poles for Ferrari since late 2008 – but question marks were put on the Finn and whether he could still find a fast lap when needed.

There were no Scuderia poles in 2009 before his two years break in rallying, but he couldn’t find a time strong enough in five seasons with either team between 2012 and 2016. This intensified as Ferrari pushed Mercedes for fastest lap times in early 2017, with the ‘Can he take pole again?’ thought mentioned more than once.

It took 128 Grand Prix entries and 3262 days, but Raikkonen started at the front of the grid at the best place for it – Monaco, close to the French Magny-Cours track he last succeeded at in June 2008. This marked the first season since 2013 that four different drivers have taken pole (Lewis Hamilton, Vettel and Valtteri Bottas).

These three competitors are on the massive list of racers to have earned the top spot in the 168 races since Raikkonen’s previous best, representing an interesting mark of how the sport has changed since the Finn was the reigning champion.

Hamilton has the most poles during this time, collecting 56, a third of those available, and one in every season. The Brit established himself as a champion just months after Raikkonen’s last and has won the Pole Trophy twice in three years.

Next on the list is Vettel, claiming 47 and all of his poles to date, with Toro Rosso, Red Bull and the Italians. His emergence also came in the same year, when he shocked the sport with a fastest qualifying time and win in Italy.

Retired champion Nico Rosberg finished his career with 30 in five years between 2012 and 2016, while Vettel’s former teammate Mark Webber ended his time in the sport with 13.

Many drivers also have single digits, with now-McLaren duo Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button each having five. You have to think back to 2012 to remember either celebrating in front of cameras after qualifying.

Williams’ Massa has four since 2008, although just one between 2009 and now, topping timings in 2014 at Austria.

A total of eight pilots share one pole – former competitors Heikki Kovalainen, Jarno Trulli, Giancarlo Fisichella, Rubens Barrichello and Pastor Maldonado, alongside current heroes Nico Hulkenberg, Daniel Ricciardo and Bottas.

With this problem off his shoulders, Raikkonen now has the record for largest gap between poles and is set to have it for at least a year, with the next driver possibly claiming this accolade being Hulkenberg.

The German has 105 race entries without starting at the front, since his shock pole in Brazil’s drying conditions seven years ago.

Poles 1poles 2

EMAIL CAMERON AT @cpatersonf1@gmail.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @PatersonCameron

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Formula One Open Wheel

Raikkonen Heads All-Ferrari Front Row in Monaco

Sunday will see Kimi Raikkonen start from pole position for the first time since 2008 after the Ferrari driver dominated qualifying for the Formula 1 Grand Prix de Monaco 2017. Raikkonen was 0.043s quicker than team mate Sebastian Vettel, whose championship rival Lewis Hamilton could manage only 13th.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen will join Bottas on the second row of the grid, with team mate Daniel Ricciardo and Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz filling the third.

Hamilton’s showing aside, the other big shocks were the McLarens of Stoffel Vandoorne and Jenson Button in ninth and 10th. Both have grid penalties, however: Vandoorne three places for his collision with Felipe Massa in Spain and Button 15 for an MGU-H and turbocharger replacement overnight.

Q1 brought the opening round of surprises. The first was when Verstappen inched out Vettel, with 1m 13.078s to 1m 13.090s, with Raikkonen third from Ricciardo and Bottas.

The second was that Hamilton struggled with overheating rear tyres and was only 10th, six-tenths off the pace.

The third that Vandoorne was sixth, ahead of the close-knit Sainz, Sergio Perez for Force India and Kevin Magnussen for Haas, as Button was a respectable 11th, on Hamilton’s tail. Clearly, Mercedes had a lot of work to do and no time left in which to get it done.

At the back, Romain Grosjean’s late improvement for Haas bounced Esteban Ocon’s Force India out of Q2, leaving him 16th on 1m 14.101s. The Frenchman had been lucky to survive a spin at Mirabeau, when Sainz was equally fortunate to avoid him. Jolyon Palmer’s understeering Renault was 17th on 1m 14.696s, ahead of Lance Stroll’s Williams on 1m 16.8963s, Pascal Wehrlein’s Sauber on 1m 15.159s and Marcus Ericsson’s sister car on 1m 15.276s. The Swede’s chances of improving were stymied when he stopped with a punctured left-rear tyre at the chicane.

Hamilton nearly went off at Massenet on his out lap in Q2, and was down in 13th complaining of no grip when he got caught at the weigh bridge as he came in for adjustments. Up front, Raikkonen headed Vettel, Verstappen, Bottas and Ricciardo as the Briton fumed, adjustment time slipping away.

He went into his final lap with a minute to spare, and set competitive first and second sector times, before arriving at the Swimming Pool to find Vandoorne’s seventh fastest McLaren parked in the wall, the Belgian having repeated Ocon’s FP3 error of breaking his front suspension against the inside barrier. The triple world champion was thus 14th fastest – and out.

As Grosjean went to sixth, and Sainz, Perez and Button completed the top 10, Daniil Kvyat was left a disappointed 11th on 1m 13.516s for Toro Rosso, ahead of Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault on 1m 13.628s, Kevin Magnussen’s Haas on 1m 13.959s (he, too, lost out in the Vandoorne yellow flags), Hamilton and Massa whose Williams was stranded on 1m 20.529s.

In Q3 Raikkonen stayed fastest after the first runs with 1m 12.296s, from Ricciardo, Vettel and Bottas, as Verstappen in fifth place pitted complaining that he was losing front grip.

Raikkonen improved quickly to 1m 12.178s on the second runs, but though he moved to second, Vettel’s 1m 12.221 wasn’t enough to dislodge his partner. Bottas really got his Mercedes wound up at last, but his 1m 12.223s just fell short.

Behind them, Verstappen jumped to fourth with 1m 12.496s, with Ricciardo struggling on 1m 12.998s.

Sainz was an excellent sixth with 1m 13.162s, ahead of the ever-present Perez on 1m 13.329s, while Grosjean made up for his weekend woes with eighth on 1m 13.349s. Button’s brilliant return netted him ninth on 1m 13.613s, as if he had never been away.

Categories
Commentary Open Wheel

THREE TAKEAWAYS: 2017 Chinese Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton returned to usual form, dominating the Chinese Grand Prix for his 106th career podium, tying him second all-time with Alain Prost.

This continues Mercedes’ superb form at the Shanghai circuit as they always have at least one top-five each visit – even during development between 2010 and 2013 (Nico Rosberg third (’10), fifth (’11), first (’12, ‘16); Hamilton third (’13), first (’14, ’15, ‘17)).

Hamilton’s fifth career Chinese win means he is the first driver since Michael Schumacher (1992-2006) to win a race in 11 straight seasons.

He completes a ‘grand slam’ – claiming pole position, race win and fastest lap after leading every lap – for just the third time in his career. It is his 11th hat-trick of pole, win and fastest time, putting him second all-time with Jim Clark and 11 behind Michael Schumacher’s record.

The race win was potentially key for Hamilton ahead of his expected championship battle with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel as he has never become champion after failing to win one of the opening two rounds of a season.

DRS Use Changes

This round was seen by many as a true test of drivers still being able to overtake with the new car design.

In the past, you tend to press the DRS button and go straight past drivers and take positions. This time, you opened the flap while behind somebody, and plan where you could attack. DRS has been transformed as a preparation tool to gear drivers up for an overtake.

The only time that DRS gifted drivers the opportunity to pass was when faster cars came up against slower opposition, such as Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas having to go by McLaren’s Fernando Alonso in his recovery from an early spin down the long straightaway between turns 13 and 14.

Not many overtakes happened compared to 2016’s event, but they were worth waiting for.

Verstappen’s Eventful Race

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen once again produced a talented performance in mixed conditions to finish third after starting 16th.

In Brazil last year he produced superb driving to stand on the podium, and he again performed well in damp conditions.

His wet weather start was critical, overtaking nine drivers to be inside the top-10 under virtual safety car and safety car periods.

He then fought with teammate Daniel Ricciardo as they moved into the top three, and managed to keep Ricciardo behind late on again. His defense was similar to the victory in Spain last year, again showcasing the youngster’s skill.

The only thing that took away from his performance slightly was frustration over team radio in the heat of the moment near race’s end. Haas’ Romain Grosjean was a couple of seconds in front of him, with the Dutchman convinced Grosjean should have been shown blue flags to move out of the way.

Ferrari Strategy Error?

Not for the first time in recent history, fans were left debating Ferrari’s tire strategy.

Second-placed Vettel was unlucky to fall behind Ricciardo and Verstappen and teammate Kimi Raikkonen after pitting under a virtual safety car period before the full safety car came out when Antonio Giovinazzi crashed.

However, Raikkonen’s second stop for another set of super-softs came at an awful time on lap 40 of 56, meaning that he was not near Red Bulls’ pair as they fought at the end. They missed an opportunity to claim another podium as he finished 2.884 seconds behind Verstappen and 2.041s behind Ricciardo (48.076s off the lead). His day could have also got worse as he was just 0.732s behind Bottas.

One of the most emotional radio calls came from the Finn, saying “I have no front end and there’s only 20 laps to go.”

Raikkonen admitted that the race could have finished differently had he taken another strategy.

“It was not a very strong race, the car felt good with fresh tires, but we seemed to lose the front very quickly and I was struggling; in a place like this that’s very tricky and gives a lot of lap time away,” he said. “I feel that, even with that, we should have had a better result: maybe ­we could have changed the tires a bit earlier, but it’s always easy to speak after the race.”

The Championship Battle

After one win each, Vettel and Hamilton are equal on 43 points in the Drivers’ Championship and Mercedes lead Ferrari by just one marker (66 to 65) in the Constructors’ – the smallest lead a team has ever held in this era. It is also the first time that two drivers have been tied in points after two rounds for 20 years (Jacques Villeneuve and David Coulthard in 1997).

EMAIL CAMERON AT @cpatersonf1@gmail.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @PatersonCameron

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Formula One Open Wheel

Ferrari Optimistic Over SF70-H’s Potential

Many teams finished Formula 1’s period of eight days of pre-season testing with confidence, but one team is pleased with their potential to be at the front end of the grid.

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel believe that their new SF70-H car is an improvement on their 2016 model which took the Scuderia to third place in the Constructors’ Championship.

Both drivers spent time on top of the timesheets during the Barcelona tests, with Raikkonen fastest on three days and Vettel fastest in one. Raikkonen also set the fastest time of testing on the final day, a time of 1:18.634, over 3.3 seconds quicker than the 2016 pole position time set by Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.

The Finn said that he doesn’t know where the team is compared to their rivals, but he is comfortable with his new car ahead of the first race in Australia on March 24-26.

“There’s a good feeling with this car and that’s the most important thing,” he said. “We have been reliable for almost all of these days of testing and that is another good sign of the great work the team has done over the winter.

“We are starting from a stronger base than last year: but it’s really too early to say how fast the car is compared to the others. Perhaps even Melbourne won’t give a 100 per cent precise picture of the situation, because the first race is always a bit unusual.

“We might have to wait until China. Either way, I’d like to thank everyone in the team because they have always managed to step in and sort out all the small problems that testing is supposed to resolve.”

Vettel believes that the team is in a better position compared to 2016. Ferrari was the only team last season to claim points from every race, claiming 11 podiums in total.

“The important thing is that we have completed a lot of laps and, compared to a year ago, we feel better prepared because of that,” he said. “At this point lap times don’t mean anything: we followed our program and made progress but there’s still room for improvement.”

EMAIL CAMERON AT @cpatersonf1@gmail.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @PatersonCameron

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Formula One Open Wheel

Thoughts and Observations From F1’s First 2017 Test

Looking back on the week that was testing, it’s possible to draw conclusions – but that’s ultimately pointless. The teams are going through things at their own paces, including any problems that present themselves, and the public doesn’t get to know the actual reflection of that for now.

More guesses can be made in Australia, and more comments will undoubtedly come flowing through from PR officers. Until then, you can look too much of a fool by predicting how a Formula 1 season will pan out from such a short amount of running and knowledge.

Even with this in mind, here are some takeaways from Barcelona.

Mercedes Still fast

Despite some fans potentially hoping for a slight downfall, F1’s reigning Drivers’ and Constructors’ champion is still looking like the fastest team despite the changes in regulations. 

Ferrari has led some of the final classifications, with Kimi Raikkonen on top twice. The Italian team has topped sessions before and will do in the future; it doesn’t necessarily mean anything special. The other two days have been led by both Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton as they quietly go about their business.

Apart from an apparent electronic problem on day four, the team seems to continue to have a competently reliable car and the possibility of being towards the sharp end of the grid. Its W08 machine completed 558 laps during the four days, and only 68 on the final day, the highest total of any team on the grid.

McLaren Still Seemingly Struggling

The team is still having unreliability problems as they prepare for a third season with Honda. You would be forgiven for thinking it was Groundhog Day at times during the test.

The first two days were tough for the team, including an oil systems issue and a necessary power unit change as they completed just 69 laps (Fernando Alonso 29, Stoffel Vandoorne 40), the least amount of any team.

A final total of 208 laps came from the test, the second-lowest amount of any team, just slightly better than Toro Rosso.

Racing Director Eric Boullier was unsurprisingly cautious about the problems after the first day of running.

“Of course, it’s disappointing to have encountered issues so early in the running, but this situation is not too unusual with a brand-new car,” he said, “It’s better to have these issues here than in Australia.

“Honda is investigating the problem carefully in order to find the proper solutions, so we need to let them do that before drawing any premature conclusions.”

If, and that is a big if, these problems continue, it will surely be frustrating for Fernando Alonso as he comes to the end of his career. Someone being 35-years-old, as barbaric as it is, is effectively nearing retirement age and he might not have many races left to have many opportunities to shine near the front of the grid.

This is also potentially harmful to Stoffel Vandoorne. He is effectively the next possibly special driver that McLaren has found and if he cannot get results it may affect parts of his driving while he is still in a learning stage towards the sport.

Time will tell whether McLaren can return to the top-five in the Constructors’ Championship for the first time since 2014.

Stroll-ing into the gravel

F1’s newest arrival, Lance Stroll, has hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons – using testing to find the limits of his Williams car and damaging his car in some accidents.

As a result, allegations have already surfaced about Stroll not being up to F1 and a line of questioning over whether a jump from European Formula 3, skipping two series in GP2 and GP3, and competing in the new era of F1 is a wise move. However, recall the same type of overreactions surfaced surrounding Max Verstappen possibly being too young for F1. We all know how that ended up.

The team failed to run on day four due to safety concerns over previous damage, despite this day being a day designated for learning about Pirelli’s new wet tire range and the team being one of the worst teams on the grid for racing when rain hits a track.

Many will surely be concerned about their potential standing on the grid and whether they can remain in the top five of the Constructors’ Championship with so many competitors, like Renault and Toro Rosso, aiming for new heights in 2017.

Other issues

Stroll was a target of criticism, but some of the other members of the F1 grid also explored the run-off areas, including Bottas (Mercedes) and Jolyon Palmer (Renault). It wouldn’t be too surprising, due to the longer span of an F1 car in 2017 and wider front wing if the first Grands Prix sees many stupid crashes as drivers find their feet with the new dimensions. An Australian Grand Prix featuring just the points finishers completing the race has happened before and could always happen again.

One other minor problem with testing was the final day being put aside for wet tire testing, something that the teams didn’t do a lot of and the track had to be specifically dampened artificially which didn’t actually work. With thoughts that Pirelli is still developing a new set of wet tires, rain-filled sessions at the first race may be interesting.

Although a lot of focus was put on McLaren, another team which ran into high-profile technical issues was Toro Rosso. Its car completed just 183 laps over the four days after some problems including engine and drivetrain issues, which is just under three complete distances of the 66-lap race.

 

The final test sessions take place at the Barcelona track on March 7-10 before cars get packaged away again ahead of the first round of 2017 at the Albert Park Circuit in Melbourne on March 24-26.

EMAIL CAMERON AT cpatersonf1@gmail.com

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Formula One Open Wheel

Ferrari Releases SF70-H Machine

The car displays keep on coming as Ferrari became the fifth team to release details of their 2017 car.

Ferrari released the SF70-H car which will take to the track during the 2017 Formula 1 season. It is a change in its recent naming scheme which has incorporated the year of the season with the car, such as the SF15-T or SF16-H machines.

It is not publicly known why the year has been skipped, although 17 is the retired racing number of the late Jules Bianchi, who had worked with the team during his career. A rumor from a now-deleted tweet from sponsors Santander previously hinted that their car name could feature a tribute to Bianchi, potentially being called the SF17-JB.

Their design features a predominantly red car with a white lower rear wing and white shark fin placed on their engine cover, a now-common feature of F1 cars. The most striking and unique part of the design is their smaller sidepod air intakes which appear higher up the sides of the car than their rivals.

Other parts of their car seem to be tried and tested in the sport, including sticking with their ‘puzzle’ or ‘thumb’-shaped nose design that every team is currently using on their 2017 models apart from Mercedes.

The look of their drivers has also changed, with a significantly less amount of white displayed on the suits of race drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.

This is the first car created under the leadership of chief technical officer Mattia Binotto after now-Mercedes engineer James Allison left the team in July last year.

Pressure will be on the Italian team this year as the 2016 season was just the second time in 23 years in which the team failed to win a race throughout the year. They have not failed to win a race in two straight years since tough seasons in 1991 and ’92.

EMAIL CAMERON AT cpatersonf1@gmail.com

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.