In what is essentially, in NBA terms, media day for Formula 1 — just spread across a week rather than one day — teams have been unveiling their challengers for the 2017 Formula 1 season. And these haven’t been your standard car unveilings, the massive regulation changes have made each of these unveilings special, as teams hold high hope for a change of fortune under the new regulations. Well, every team except Mercedes that is, who hope to continue their dominance of the sport.
Today, I’m just going to run through each teams’ unveiling and sprinkle in a thought or two — perhaps a few quotes where possible — about each teams’ unveiling. We’ll go in chronological order (in terms of who unveiled/revealed their car first). And, when we’re done with that, we’ll give out a few awards.
Williams were actually the first team to give the world a glimpse at their 2017 challenger in a mini-reveal on February 17th.
And if you’re too lazy to click/watch the video:
As always with the Martini brand, the car looks fantastic. There’s always a white car in F1, in some capacity, and Williams’ latest car (The FW40) is no exception. It looks gorgeous. However… I’m not a huge fan of shark fins, they just look bad but almost every car is running with them this season so…you can’t really knock any team for that.
There haven’t been any quotes that I can see accompanying this fine machine (officially launched on February 25th). I’m curious to hear what their expectations/goals for this season are, surely unhappy with a fifth place finish in the constructors standing behind Force India.
This sport is better when Williams are good, so I’m hoping that Felipe Massa and rookie Lance Stroll have a great machine underneath them to challenge for podiums.
Sauber revealed images for their 2017 challenger, the C36, on February 20th. Sauber hope to re-establish themselves as challengers amongst the top 10, but neutrals will already be satisfied with Sauber’s C36 for one reason: It no longer looks like absolute crap.
Here’s Sauber’s 2016 car, the C35:
This is a flattering angle and it still looks horrible.
Sauber, in honour of its 25th year in F1 — to the relief of many — gave the C36 a livery shakeup:
I love it. Love the change of blue, love the added gold and love the replacement of the yellow on the side-pods in favour of white. I won’t mind driving this car in F1 2017 The Game…
Sauber are running with Ferrari’s 2016 power unit and say the car was “redesigned from scratch” and that “there is not a single part that could adopted from its C35 predecessor”.
That has to be encouraging if you’re a Sauber fan. This car can’t be much worse than last year’s car.
To be honest, it doesn’t really bother me whether this car is good or not. I do hope Pascal Wehrlein makes Force India regret choosing Esteban Ocon over him and that’s about all I have to say about Sauber for this season. Great job on the new paint though.
Renault were the first team to physically reveal their car — the R.S.17 — at a gathering on February 21st. They, just like Sauber, also decided to change their livery (R.I.P. banana car).
Man, this looks absolutely fantastic. Very reminiscent, of course, from Renault’s 2010 car and other Renault cars of the past.
The team have set pretty high expectations too, targeting a rise to fifth in the constructors standings having finished a lowly 9th last season.
“For 2017 our performance targets are clear. We want to take a definite, tangible step forward in performance and results. Fifth position in the Constructors’ Championship is our goal.”
— Jerome Stroll, Renault Sport President
That’s a bold target, basically targeting top 10 finishes almost every weekend. Behind Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer, Renault certainly have the driver talent to make that a reality.
Renault might be a few years away from returning to F1’s pinnacle, but it would be nice for them to be good this season. Maybe Nico Hulkenberg will finally get the podium finish he has been well overdue…
Perhaps the surprise of last season was how good Force India truly were. They beat Williams — quite comfortably in the end — to fourth place in the constructors standings. Did you ever think you’d see this day when Force India first took to the grid in 2008? That only Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari would be the only other teams to finish above Force India? If you say yes…you’re a liar! No one saw this coming.
Force India revealed their new car, the VJM10, on February 22nd and they have very high targets, owner Vijay Mallya is targeting third in the constructors this season. In 2016, Force India finished 4th with 173 points. Ferrari, who finished 3rd, totalled 398 points, more than doubling Force India’s total. That’s a very big gap to make up, showing how confident and hopeful Mallya and Force India are for this car.
“We are dreaming big but we’re going to give it all we’ve got. All the data shows this is a cracker of a car.”
“We will always dream big – we have never ever had conversations, even in private, that we are not going to break into the top three.”
“If we did not dream big we would not have finished fourth in the championship last year. To be in the company of Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari is a huge accomplishment in itself. That is certainly going to be our objective. We will give it our best shot.”
— Vijay Mallya
“I expect a very big year for the team.”
“In none of the teams that I’ve been with in Formula 1 I’ve seen this level of confidence, organisation, everyone doing their jobs. We have plenty of reasons to be hoping for a great year. I think Force India will give a big surprise this year, I have a feeling we have done a tremendous job over the winter.”
“I think Force India will be the big surprise this year.”
“Last year we finished fourth, so I see no reason why we can’t improve that. As I said before, the base is very solid and there’s plenty of reasons to be hoping for that. That means a massive year for us…”
— Sergio Perez
Unfortunately, Force India have probably taken Sauber’s title of “Worst looking car” of the field with the VJM10. The team had adopted a black and silver base livery to go along with their streaks of green and orange.
With the VJM10, however, the team have taken a, shall we say, different approach to the car’s visuals this season.
A lot more silver and a lot less black and that, added to other changes such as the shark fin (which is sooo much more pronounced here than on any other car on the grid) and this bump in the nose, means that it’s just not an extremely pretty car to look at.
Despite that, I’m hugely excited for this car and what it could achieve (Force India are one of my favourite teams and eveything I hear makes me excited) but I’m not ecstatic about watching it from an aesthetical point of view.
The champions of the last three seasons launched the W08 on February 23rd and it looks absolutely fantastic. One of the best F1 cars I’ve ever seen. It’s absolutely gorgeous.
2016 champion Nico Rosberg was also impressed by the W08.
Part of the reason why this car is so beautiful is that it’s shark fin isn’t nearly as pronounced as other teams’. I guess you could call it baby shark fin. Mercedes are the only team to run a smaller shark fin while everyone else went for the full great white shark scaled fins.
Mercedes have called this machine “a powerful beast”, which I would say is fairly damn accurate. Lewis Hamilton has said that this car “…is undoubtedly the most detailed car we have ever built as a team”.
“The cars look so much better than they have in the past. I’m really hoping F1 is going to be super exciting this year for the fans and it will be a lot closer between the teams and that us drivers will be able to make more of a difference.”
— Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes are still the favourites to win it all this season and you can understand why. They obviously have huge expectations from themselves but aren’t getting too ahead of themselves. They know how things went in 2009, the last time the sport saw a huge overhaul in the regulations. The top powers the season prior, McLaren and Ferrari, were hopelessly off the pace to begin the year and didn’t accomplish much of anything that season, though the two teams picked up a few race wins.
If this car is as fast as it is beautiful…expect more Mercedes dominance.
Ferrari launched the SF70-H at Fiorano on February 24th, the team targeting a return to winning ways after a winless season in 2016.
It’s a big year for Ferrari. They had a lacklustre 2016 by their own standards, falling from the consensus second best team on the grid to the very clear third best, ousted by Red Bull time after time as the season went on. Makes you wonder if the team decided to just give up on 2016 and got a head start on the 2017 car…
Drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen have liked what they’ve seen and felt from the SF70-H and feel as though this is a step in the right direction.
“You can see it is a step forward and you can feel it is a step forward.”
“It is fun to drive. The car looks big and strong.”
“…the first impression is the right one. It was a good and a good start.”
— Sebastian Vettel
“It was just a first touch and the main work starts in Barcelona but so far so good.”
— Kimi Raikkonen
The car itself looks fantastic, Ferrari red is always very beautiful, as are the hints of white.
You can see that the SF70-H has a strange little wing at the end of the shark fin, no other team boasts a feature quite like this. Are Ferrari onto something with this or has every other team not run with one for a reason?
The sport needs Ferrari to be competitive, hopefully the SF70-H can launch Ferrari into title contention.
In what was probably the most anticipated reveal, McLaren unveiled the MCL32 on February 24th. As rumoured and teased, the car featured a whole lot of orange.
I was unsure of the black on the sides, but seeing the car in the garage and on the track, I think it looks great.
In terms of performance and what the car could actually achieve, there’s a sense of curiosity about the paddock. McLaren are the only team running Honda powered engines (everyone else runs either Mercedes, Ferrari or Renault engines) and everyone is wondering about McLaren and Honda.
“It’s a big unknown for us what Honda will have done in terms of engine development because I am sure McLaren is capable of producing a very decent car, in particular with such a dramatic change to the aero regulations.”
“Then I think it will be interesting to see the mix. I expect Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, in no particular order – we should be fighting against Williams, Force India, Toro Rosso. The question is McLaren.”
— Cyril Abiteboul, Renault Sport Racing Managing Director
You’d imagine that Honda will have put together a power unit that will enable McLaren to compete and run a little more with the likes of those Mercedes and Reanult engines. Will they eclipse those engine suppliers in terms of engine performance? Unlikely, but like Cyril said, no one really knows.
Team boss Eric Boullier is optimistic about the MCL32 and McLaren’s driver lineup:
“It’s the engineering detail on the MCL32 that really impresses me. The chassis is incredibly well realised, the power unit has been significantly developed and, in Fernando and Stoffel [Vandoorne], we have a hugely exciting driver pairing that’s already blending really well.”
“There’s a feeling around the factory that we’re about to turn the corner.”
— Eric Boullier
While Fernando Alonso has described the car as “spectacular”, he is remaining grounded about the team’s chances but believes that as the season progresses McLaren will too:
“We still think the start of the season will be a challenge – we can’t ignore the fact that we’re still coming from a significant step behind the current front-runners.”
“But I’d like to think we can target the second half of the year as a time when we’ll really be able to start making useful performance steps.”
“The aim is to look respectable this year – and I’d like to think we can achieve that.”
— Fernando Alonso
McLaren’s Chief Operating Officer, Jonathan Neale, acknowledges that McLaren aren’t likely to be running around at the front of the grid, but holds optimism that McLaren are headed in the right direction:
“The journey ahead isn’t going to be easy, and I’ve emphasised that to everyone. We’ve made progress in the past 12 months, but we’re not where we need to be and we expect on-track competition to be fierce. “
“Do I believe we’ll be back at the front this year? Realistically, probably not quite yet, no. But do I think we’ll continue to make meaningful improvement as a team? Absolutely.”
“And that’s our aim: to make progress by establishing the proper and correct, if sometimes difficult, changes that are needed to go forward. “
“We can’t predict where that will leave us – particularly on the eve of a new season of regulatory upheaval and uncertainty – but as a team we have many talented and driven individuals and we’re restless about continuing to do whatever is needed to make us competitive.”
— McLaren Chief Operating Officer, Jonathan Neale
Hopefully this car can defy expectations. The sport is much better when McLaren are challengers and the sport needs, arguably, the best driver on this entire grid, Fernando Alonso, to be in front running once again.
Red Bull don’t believe in superstition, they’re not afraid of a number.
The RB13 was unveiled on February 26th and many believe that this will be the car who will give Mercedes the best run for their money in 2017. But team principal Christian Horner acknowledges that Mercedes will still be the team to beat:
“We’ve been quite good with regulation changes before, but nothing can be taken for granted. Mercedes will be the favourites, but if we can narrow that gap down and put them under a bit of pressure it would be great for everyone.”
— Christian Horner
This seems to be the only close up image of the RB13 as of Feb. 26th and it looks as though it’s pretty much the exact same car as last season only with a shark fin. Which is fine, because the RB12 was a very good-looking car and the RB13 is no different.
We’ll see in due time how lucky the RB13 will prove to be…
Haas are looking to follow-up their impressive debut season with another strong campaign behind their new challenger, the VF-17. A few leaked images suggested that Haas have dipped their car into a lot of grey paint and that was confirmed when they revealed images of their car on February 26th.
The car looks great from the front, but I’m not sure about the grey from other angles… I thought this was all black, with the hints of red, originally and that would’ve been great but I’m not sure about the grey replacing the white of last year.
That’s all I have to say about Haas’ car reveal. Missed opportunity to go with a black and red livery and it’s not as nice as last year’s car.
Toro Rosso were the final team to reveal their 2017 car, the STR12, on February 26th. They were believed to have changed their livery too and they certainly did, as it turned out. Quite extensively too.
For reference, here is last year’s Toro Rosso, the STR11:
This new design is very distinctive from all other Toro Rosso challengers, and Red Bull for that matter. It’ll probably grow on me as time goes on.
Of course — similar to pretty much all the other cars — the shark fin is present and, as always, it’ll be interesting to see how Toro Rosso stack up against parent team Red Bull, McLaren (Toro Rosso’s main rivals from last season) and Renault.
Best looking car: Mercedes
Worst looking car: Force India
Best new livery change: McLaren (honourable mention to Renault)
Worst new livery change: Haas
Testing begins in Barcelona on February 27th. Bring. The. New. Season. On.