Revisiting my five key questions for F1 in 2017

Jawad Yaqub Roar Guru

By Jawad Yaqub, Jawad Yaqub is a Roar Guru

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    With all the significant changes that occurred during the off-season, there were great expectations for another thrilling chapter in formula one’s history leading into 2017.

    Though 2017 has left some percolating a glass half empty, or full. Expectations may have been fulfilled, or not.

    Regardless, here is a final re-visitation of the five key questions I raised prior to the season commencing.

    Have the regulations lived up to the hype?
    As far as achieving the ultimate objective of creating closer and more exciting racing is concerned, the overhaul in aerodynamic regulations hasn’t delivered.

    The schism between teams in terms of performance remains vast, with Ferrari’s championship aspirations against Mercedes AMG petering off dismally in the second half of the season.

    Red Bull were the only team to make any significant gains throughout the year in comparison to the Silver Arrows, evident through Max Verstappen’s two dominant victories in Malaysia and Mexico.

    Formula one remains very much an engine-dominant sport, and the onus for 2018 will come down to Ferrari, Renault and Honda to make monumental gains to topple the Mighty Mercs.

    Can Mercedes AMG be dethroned?
    ‘Can’ is probably no longer relevant, but rather it must be asked ‘when can’?

    Despite the Brackley outfit facing their toughest challenge from an opposition team yet, the powerhouse that is Mercedes AMG still bettered the scarlet shambles that is Ferrari, to win a fourth consecutive driver’s title as well as constructors’ championship.

    Since the Belgian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton has been nothing short of impeccable, winning five out of six races, before wrapping up the title in Mexico.

    While Hamilton and Co. were helped in part by Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel tripping over themselves, the Silver Arrows’ execution won them the title.

    Sebastian Vettel takes a breather in the Ferrari garage during Austrian Grand Prix qualifying.

    GEPA Pictures/Red Bull Content Pool

    Is Valtteri Bottas the new silver star?
    Heavily criticised even up until now, Valtteri Bottas has endured a difficult but strong season in 2017, stepping into the seat vacated by Nico Rosberg upon his championship triumph in the previous year.

    Difficult, because he has had to face the question by the sport’s perennial hyena pack whether he would be playing rear-gunner to his teammate’s title bid.

    Strong, because even with his supposed ‘form slump’ in the latter part of the season, Bottas has achieved three race wins, including his maiden victory in Russia. There were three pole positions to his name too, with two consecutive in the last couple of grand prix.

    Apart from a single blot – the retirement in Barcelona – the 28-year-old hasn’t finished below sixth, highlighting his uber-consistency and competence to get the job done.

    Even while the title was not his to win in 2017, the Finn can be proud of his significant contribution to Mercedes AMG’s constructors’ championship victory and he himself finishing a personal best of third in the standings.

    How have the rookies fared?
    It has been a largely forgettable season for rookies Stoffel Vandoorne and Lance Stroll, in particular the former, who has had the abysmal unreliability of Honda to account for.

    For Vandoorne, the onus will come down to 2018 and how he’ll fare against the might of Fernando Alonso in what should be a competitive Renault powered McLaren.

    For Stroll, it has been a season of feast or famine, with the Canadian teenager either scoring in abundance, or not at all. The podium in Baku will stand as a highlight, with the cries for help in Monaco the lowlight.

    With greater anticipation however, F1 welcomed two rookies at the Malaysian and United States Grands Prix respectively, in 2018 Toro Rosso recruits Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley.

    Both of their sampler races were marred by the atrocious unreliability of the Renault power-unit, though the duo are a mouth-watering prospect for next year.

    What impact has Liberty Media had in their first year?
    While initially, the reception to Formula One’s new commercial chiefs was positive and the comparison of their arrival being a breath of fresh air was made – at year’s end, it seems the masses are polarised.

    Liberty’s intention to make the once ultra-exclusive sport more transparent to the fans and more engaging has been drowned in the negativity towards their engine proposal for 2021, and the recently unveiled insignia – which marks the dawn of Formula One’s new era.

    What these momentous transformations indicate is that Liberty are not here to beat around the bush.

    They are here to enterprise new areas of Formula One that the previous ringmasters were lackadaisical to even bother with – and they appear to be carefree of whose feathers they ruffle.

    In the end, if F1 under Liberty’s reign can become more competitive than ever, as well as be the most accessible it has to fans, they have achieved what their predecessors could.

    It remains to be seen whether the sport’s key stakeholders can be rehabilitated from the case of Stockholm Syndrome they are suffering. In particular, the teams.

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    The Crowd Says (2)

    • November 29th 2017 @ 12:08pm
      Frankie Hughes said | November 29th 2017 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

      Mercedes didn’t win, Ferrari lost. Post the summer break Spa and Monza where tailor made for the Silver Arrows, whilst Ferrari where blown away in Monza, Vettel kept Hamilton on his toes in Belgium. The season luckily swung for Mercedes in Singapore, where Vettel was reckless. Mechanical issues are part of the sport so there was nothing Vettel could do in either Malaysia or Japan.

      Without the respective errors/misfortune is Asia the points tallies would’ve been vastly different.

      Singapore:
      Vettel 1st 25pts
      Hamilton at best would’ve been 4th 12pts

      Malaysia:
      Vettel 1st 25pts
      Hamilton at best 3rd 15pts

      Japan:
      Vettel 2nd 18pts

      So in theory across those 3 races in Asia, Vettel lost 49pts, without those errors he would’ve easily beaten Hamilton,

      • Roar Pro

        November 29th 2017 @ 10:22pm
        anon said | November 29th 2017 @ 10:22pm | ! Report

        Hamilton and Mercedes would have cruised to a drivers championship regardless.

        You can’t look at Vettel’s and Ferraris mistakes without looking at Mercedes and Hamilton’s.

        Hamilton made an embarrassing mistake in Brazil qualifying. Otherwise he wins that race.

        Hamilton underperformed in Abu Dhabi getting outdriven by Bottas.

        Hamilton had a brain snap in Bahrain and baulked Ricciardo going into the pits ultimately copping a deserved penalty.

        Mercedes made a massive strategy blunder in Melbourne which cost them the win.

        Bottas would have moved over for Hamilton in Abu Dhabi. Bottas had 25 seconds on Vettel.

        Hamilton was simply outdriven by Verstappen in Malaysia.

        The fact that Vettel even had a chance of winning the championship is simply astonishing given the dominance of Mercedes through most of the season.

        All that Vettel did wrong all year was stupidly hit Hamilton as low speed in Baku (after Hamilton had brake tested him) and get involved in a three way crash heading into the first corner of Singapore. Sure, Vettel could have backed off, but Verstappen could have backed off on the first lap of Hungary, Hamilton could have backed off on the first lap of Spain last year.

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