F1 is back.

F1 is back - Liberty for our enjoyment?

Ben Hatton, Racing Driver in 2017 Ginetta GRDC championship, gives his thoughts on the upcoming Formula One Season.

F1 is back. And it promises to be everything last year was not. Out with the old and in with the new – but also some not so new. Under new management and with the ousting of Bernie we can expect a far more dynamic environment to come. Liberty Media’s take over of Formula 1 will herald a change in structure to make the sport more fan based, this means closer racing, less about sheer profit generation for the few, a greater spectacle and hopefully an input of new money from more advertising, manufacturers and most important of all: viewers. In 2016 we saw what we have become accustomed to seeing. Two silver arrows storming off into the sunset whilst the rest fought for scraps. Some argued at least the Mercedes battle was exciting, however this mostly came from either reliability issues or the apparent magnetism between the two cars that proved all too costly at times, Rosberg and Hamilton wiping each other out on occasion. 2017, it would seem will not be like this. In pre season testing the most car out there was the Ferrari. On medium tyres Vettel could damn near match the pace of the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton whilst he posted his time on Softs. And whilst there rarely is parity of performance in these tests, Mercedes’s performance on the Medium tyres was lacking, corner exits on these runs were compromised, drivers having to work around the issue. Red Bull had a few issues early on but recovered to put in some solid running and the aero package promises much that their Renault power unit will, this season, need to back up. It would not be too wild a speculation that this year will see Renault’s engine contract with them given a precarious review. Outside of the big three, there are some solid expectations from Williams and Haas, Renault is looking to improve and Force India can never be underestimated. McLaren’s Honda revival unfortunately is very much stuck in the recent rut. Overall this season viewers can expect an exciting spectacle, vast increases in aero will see cornering speeds massively increase, putting more strain on the driver and hopefully inviting a more technical drive from the 20 bums on seats. In terms of outright pace the FIA has informed us of an expected 4-second improvement in lap times. But hold on. There is a monkey wrench here. Improved aerodynamics will cause an increase in drag as well and due to both how this impacts turbulent trailing air and how this will impact overtaking. Overtaking, there is no denying it is the most exciting part of the sport, is predicted to be reduced by the new regulations. We will see straight-line speeds dropping and less of a closing speed, causing the reduction in ease of overtaking. For the fans I hope this is the beginning of a thorough realignment of F1. The signs are good, but we cannot expect change to come immediately. I shall be watching on the edge of my seat, and constantly wishing for a driver’s one…