2017 Formula One Season Power Preview
What team is that and who is driving for them?
The first round of the 2017 Formula One season is closing fast. This weekend at Melbourne's Albert Park, ten teams, twenty drivers, hundreds of support staff, and tens of thousands of fans will converge for the Australian Grand Prix, the first race of this year's already controversial F1 season. With how much has changed since the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix that bookended the 2016 Formula One season, even some of the more astute fans may need a refresher on what each team looks like, and who is driving for them. Here's quick guide to the 2017 Formula One grid.
1. Mercedes AMG Petronas
Mercedes AMG Petronas is the team to beat. They have taken the championship the past three years, and hope to make it four this season. Their drivers are triple World Champion Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, an experienced teammate ushered in to replace the retired World Champion, Nico Rosberg.
2. Scuderia Ferrari
Preseason testing showed promise for Scuderia Ferrari, so they’re putting all their eggs in this year’s basket. The most venerable team still on the grid, they have over promised and under delivered for several years, with 2017 being their potential return to form. Driving for them are quadruple World Champion Sebastian Vettel and World Champion Kimi Räikkönen.
3. Red Bull Racing
Red Bull Racing was the team to beat before Mercedes stole their crown. This year, they expect to be nipping at the heels of Ferrari and Mercedes. Their lineup this year is stacked with hyper-talented young'n's Daniel Ricciardo, who is racing on his home track, and Dutch racing royalty Max Verstappen, who wheeled the single best stint of 2016 in Brazil.
4. Williams Martini Racing
Williams is one of the oldest privateer teams on the grid. After years of struggle, Williams saw a brief renaissance in 2014, but the challenges have since begun to pile up once again. Now, they find themselves fighting for a spot in the middle of the pack. It doesn't help that they lost their top driver, Valtteri Bottas, to Mercedes AMG, but they hope the return of Almost World Champion Felipe Massa and rookie Lance Stroll will stop the bleeding.
5. McLaren Honda
The second oldest team on the grid, McLaren partnered up with Honda in 2015 for support from the Japanese auto giant, who is building the car's power unit. Unfortunately, the Honda engine has been problematic from day one, lacking both power and reliability. So the rekindled relationship has gotten off rocky to a rocky restart. Having one of F1’s greatest drivers of all time didn't compensate for their weak engine last year, and this year ain't looking too good either. twice-over World Champion Alonso is joined this year by newbie Stoffel Vandoorne, who replaces the retired Jensen Button.
6. Renault Sport
Renault has been involved off and on with F1 since the late 1970s, occasionally building a world beater of a car. Their Gallic yellow color makes them easy to spot, but it remains to be seen if their car’s performance will shine as bright as the paint. Driving for them are 2015 Le Mans winner Nico “See Ya Later” Hülkenberg and Jolyon Palmer.
7. Scuderia Toro Rosso
Forever forced to play second fiddle to its big brother Red Bull Racing, Scuderia Toro Rosso will not be winning any races this season—or perhaps ever—as their purpose is to train drivers for a shot at driving for the varsity Red Bull. Nevertheless, they may be quick in the early half of the season. Their drivers are Carlos Sainz Jr. and the demoted Daniil Kvyat.
8. Sahara Force India
A unique team with an odd history, Sahara Force India has gone through four names in four years in the late 2000s, they have always punched above their weight, occasionally finishing in the top three. An underdog that, if lucky, may even take their maiden win this season. For them, Sergio “Checo” Perez and Esteban Ocon.
9. Haas F1 Team
The first American F1 team in three decades, Haas F1's 2016 season entry was rewarded with a fifth place finish in only their second race at the 2016 Bahrain Grand Prix, which is a better result than was managed by any of the other privateer teams to join since 2010. Their drivers are Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen.
Though never a very successful team, Sauber has been a steady entrant since 1993, making them one of the older teams on the grid. Sadly, they have only won a single race, as BMW Sauber, driven by Robert Kubica at the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix. This season will likely not give them a second win, as they are hampered by an underpowered engine. Racing for them are Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein.
The season consists of twenty races, which will take place across the globe, in locales such as Japan, Texas, Italy, Monaco, and Brazil, with the final race of the season taking place in Abu Dhabi. Whether the championship is sealed with a handful of races to go, or it isn’t settled until the last lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, we’re in for one hell of a season. See you trackside.