A New Era: Formula One 2017 Pre-season

F1 Testing Day One
Foreground: Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes. Background: Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari. Photo from Sky Sports F1

The regulations overhaul has brought forth new-look cars with wider tires, swept-back front and rear wings, and the return of the shark fin engine cover, among others. The V6 turbo engines stay on and no cockpit-protection structure has been implemented yet. Higher cornering speeds and lower lap times are predicted with the mechanical grip from wider tires and increased downforce. In effect, cars will be a lot more physically demanding to drive. Overall, we’ll see cars that are faster, sleeker, and more aggressive-looking, as has been frequently billed. For sure, they will be a lot more spectacular to watch. I am already loving the wider look.

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Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull. Day One pre-season testing at Barcelona. Photo from Sky Sports F1

More than just elevated physical demands on the drivers, the new cars will require a new driving technique. It will be interesting if McLaren rookie Stoffel Vandoorne, fresh from a season in Japanese Super Formula, can find an advantage from his experience with a fast-cornering car. Four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel thrived in cars with high mechanical grip and cornering speeds—can he lead a possible revival of the Prancing Horse?

For better or worse, the regulations changes are very much welcome in Formula One. Insiders warn that it may not lead to better on-track racing and closer competition among teams but the change is a good start nonetheless. Mercedes will very likely still be the team-to-beat at the head of the pack but one can never dismiss the tantalizing possibility of a dark horse contender in seasons with new regulations. Red Bull has been speculated to be the favorite in dethroning the Silver Arrows at the top, following their impressive year in 2016, but another interesting possibility has emerged after Toro Rosso revealed their 2017 machine, which shares quite a few similarities to the defending champions’ Mercedes W08.

F1 Testing In Barcelona - Day One
The new Toro Rosso STR12 is a stunner, both in terms of livery and bodywork. Driven here by Carlos Sainz. Photo from Sky Sports F1

Anyway, again, that’s mere speculation—we’ll have to wait until the end of the eight-day testing in Barcelona. There was so much anticipation from the car launches all throughout the previous week and finally, F1 cars are now back running on track. Day One of preseason testing has begun and the wheels have started rolling for 2017.

New cars are hyping up a new season of grand prix racing. New possibilities knock on the door of a new generation of Formula One.