Formula 1 2017 season preview: Mercedes and Sauber
Formula 1 is set for more change in 2017. This season will see a raft of new rules that will have a huge impact on the look and competitiveness of every car on the track.
And with just weeks to go before Formula 1 pre-season testing, the drivers are going through grueling fitness camps and their factories are putting together the final touches to their 2017 cars.
To give you an appetite for a mouth-watering campaign, we will take a look at each team and preview their prospects for 2017 over the coming weeks.
Mercedes were undeniably dominant in 2016 and easily romped home in the constructor’s title.
The Brackley based team would have like to continue with that momentum but the new regulations in 2017 mean that they will need to re-set and, more or less, start their car design again.
According to Mercedes boss Toto Wolff: “We weren’t big supporters of a regulation change.”
“Not because we wanted to freeze the current situation but because we weren’t sure that it is the right way for Formula 1.”
“But we are where we are and the cars, certainly in the wind tunnel, look very spectacular, very wide with the big tires, and I am personally very excited to see them on track for the first time.”
“For the drivers it will be much harder; the cars will be pulling more G-force through the corners.”
“The simulations that we have seen are very exciting. Corners will be flat that are far from flat today – and we will be breaking records in terms of lap time.”
Handling the new cars for Mercedes will be Lewis Hamilton and Valterri Bottas.
Bottas joined Mercedes when Rosberg retired only days after winning the world championship.
The Finn has been given the best seat in Formula 1 after a strong – but not spectacular – season at Williams and will be looking to seize the opportunity.
The interesting sub-plot is how Bottas will deal with his prickly and unpredictable team-mate.
On lining up with Hamilton, Bottas said: “I think with Lewis we are going to be a strong pair together. I really respect him as a driver and a person.”
“I’m sure we are going to close, and we’re going to be both pushing each forward. I’m sure we can work as a team.”
Further back in the pack is Sauber who for a long time seemed likely to finish a troubled 2016 campaign without a point. It was only a fortunate break at the Brazil Grand Prix where Felipe Nasr took ninth place that Sauber leap-frogged Manor in the constructor’s table to secure vital prize money.
And it was finances that dogged the Swiss team for most of 2016. Rumors across the paddock were that Sauber survived month-to-month before Longbow Finance came in mid-way through the season to inject crucial funds.
But the damage was already done and the car was horribly under-developed with Sauber making up the back markers at most races.
With additional money invested into the team, Sauber will be looking to make progress on their 2017 car – and quickly.
Ericsson drove solidly throughout the year and was rewarded with a new contract for 2017. Nasr, on the other hand, has been replaced by young Mercedes protégé Pacsal Werhlein.
The 22 year-old said: “It is a new challenge in a new team, and I am really excited and looking forward to this new adventure.”
With new funds and enough time to develop the car over the winter, everyone at Sauber are aiming for a stronger 2017.
“Our objective is to establish ourselves in the midfield and to score points on a regular basis.”