With Pre-Season testing over, focus now falls on the Australian Grand Prix. Times at the Circuit de Catalunya revealed a slightly clearer picture of the potential running order for the upcoming season, here are some predictions for the season opener.
Following pre-season testing, many have billed Ferrari as the favourites for the 2017 season, including Lewis Hamilton. But Mercedes always hold something back in testing, it’s more likely that both teams will be on even terms for the Australian Grand Prix.
We think that losing the title last season will actually be a good thing for Lewis Hamilton. Too long at the top can lead to complacency, so the British Driver’s motivation to reclaim the title will see him at his best again, but he will get the fight he craves with his teammate and Ferrari too.
Renault’s gremlins will prevent the works team, Red Bull and Toro Rosso from pushing during the Australian Grand Prix over fears of attrition. They will get on top of the issues after the first few races, and Red Bull will emerge on par with Mercedes and Ferrari. Looking at how Williams have fared in pre-season testing should give some optimism to Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll. In a way, the Brazilian has a point to prove. He’s entering his perceived vintage and after coming out of retirement, his appetite to compete came under scrutiny. His short retirement and return might act as a psychological reset button. Could we see a pre-2009 Felipe Massa back this season?
McLaren-Honda aren’t going to get to the end of the Grand Prix. Changing a power-unit in-season will be costly early on, so even if the PU doesn’t outright break, they will be very cautious and will retire the cars if anything seems amiss. After the dire showing in testing, it will be a bitter reality to swallow for the McLaren-Honda team.
The ex-Manor drivers will shine this season, making many retrospectively realise how important the small British team were at acclimatising juniors to Formula One. Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon have bright futures in the sport. It’s not a tall order to expect Wehrlein to take the lion-share of points for Sauber this season, and Ocon has a tough benchmark in Sergio Perez, but will give the Mexican a thing or two to think about this season.