It’s easy to try and hype something up when there’s not much there to be excited about, but that actually isn’t the case with F1 in 2017.
Sure, it hasn’t been the perfect start to the season, but it’s certainly very promising indeed. There are lots of reasons why we should be expecting 2017 to be an absolute beast of a year for F1.
The first season of new F1 regulations usually shakes things up nicely, bringing the field closer before the development race properly kicks in and the big teams start to pull away from the rest.
Five races down, 15 to go and we’ve already been treated to some great on-track action – even if overtaking is down on last year.
There are lots of things to be optimistic about when it comes to F1 this year, so let’s dive into the key reasons why 2017 will be a brilliant season.
For a F1 season to be exciting, it definitely needs a close battle at the front. No one wants a dominant team or driver, taking win after win.
It gets tiring. We’ve seen it recently with Mercedes dominance and while the team is still one of the lead contenders, they’re not alone anymore.
There’s actually a chance of a head-to-head battle between two world-class drivers for the F1 title in 2017 – Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, both driving incredibly well.
We’ve also got other drivers in the mix too, Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen (OK, maybe less so) can both be in with a shot at victory when things go their way. We saw this in Russia with Bottas.
While Vettel and Hamilton look set to be the key players in the championship fight, Red Bull Racing looked closer in Spain and could well join the scrap at the front in future races – especially on more chassis-specific tracks.
True, the last few years have had a title battle, but it was just one team in the frame. Now, there’s two teams looking pretty equal so far and that’s an incredibly exciting prospect for future races. Especially as a few of the 2017 winning margins so far have been pretty slim. We can’t wait.
The sound may still be lacking with the new era of F1 machinery, but they certainly look good – don’t they? We think so anyway. It’s been said a million times, but the fresh technical regulations have produced aggressive, edgy-looking cars that are a big improvement on their slightly awkward predecessors.
There are some great liveries too. As an added bonus.
These cars are also insanely quick – around three seconds (depending on the track) quicker than last year, and up to five seconds faster than 2015, when the FIA set their aims to cut lap times by that very margin.
Just think how quick these cars could be at the end of the season? This is only the beginning of the current set of F1 regulations, so who knows how much faster they could get. The fact they are great to look at and much quicker makes for a better viewing experience all round.
While Mercedes and Ferrari are clear out front, with Red Bull somewhere in between, there’s quite a gap to the midfield. But, what we do know is that the rest of the field is incredibly close together in terms of performance and that makes for some cool on-track scraps.
The difference between, say, 11th and 16th is often a tenth or two, which definitely makes qualifying that bit more exciting and unpredictable. Nine of the 10 teams have scored points, and even though McLaren hasn’t got off the mark the car has looked more competitive in recent races.
Overtaking may not be quite as easy (more on that later) but we’re still able to see close and enjoyable racing in the midfield, this should continue through the rest of the season. The competitiveness of the pack is a big strength of F1 right now.
Sure, we haven’t matched overtaking figures from last year with the new era of F1 cars, but that’s no bad thing. What we have witnessed is more drama from the chase and fight itself, with drivers having to work harder to pull of the overtakes and often looking to make moves at corners you wouldn’t expect.
Because the overtakes themselves aren’t the only ingredient to good racing. The chasing, hunting down and tense battle can be just as fun to watch. A good example was the last few laps of the Russian GP between Bottas and Vettel – that had us on the edge of our seats.
Not every new or less experienced driver has impressed, Lance Stroll has had a clumsy season so far and Antonio Giovinazzi impressed initially while stepping in for Pascal Wehrlein but had a disaster in China. But, there have been some great performances from F1’s young guns so far.
That bodes well for the year ahead. Esteban Ocon has been incredibly impressive so far, scoring in all five races and battling hard. He’s proved a good match for Sergio Perez already and the Force India package looks good, so we’ll be hoping for more of the same from him as the season continues.
Carlos Sainz Jr. has a few seasons under his belt but continues to wrestle the Toro Rosso to good results, while Wehrlein bounced back from missing the opening two races with a brilliant eighth in Spain.
Whether you’re sat at home tuned into the F1 races on TV and following them on social media, or are sat in the grandstands, the fan experience has improved nicely this year – thanks to the first changes from new owners Liberty Media.
Social media restrictions have been lifted and fans are getting more and more content online, while in Spain new fan initiatives debuted and car names and numbers got bigger. This is only the start, so it’s encouraging so many tweaks and changes have been brought in so early in the season.
Surely there’s more to come?
What we’ve seen so far is that the new breed of F1 cars are not easy to handle and are unforgiving when it goes wrong. So, we could well see more mistakes, errors, spins and shunts. These all add to the excitement and drama of races, of course.
There were concerns the higher downforce levels would make the cars easier to drive and more planted, but they’re still tricky beasts to tame. This should hopefully lead to shake-ups in the finishing positions at future races and throw some curveballs our way.
So, while F1 2017 will still have its issues, we’re encouraged by what we’ve seen so far and think it could well be a great season for the sport.