Ferrari launches car
Ferrari has launched their 2017 car online from their test track Fiorano. Today the team are carrying out there the first test on the SF70H, ahead of pre-season testing next week.
Ferrari’s new car features a distinctive mini wing, which goes across the top of the engine cover. This season the team will be looking for their first drivers’ championship in almost a decade with Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel. The team last won the drivers with Raikkonen in 2007 and they last won the constructors in 2008.
Ferrari will be hoping the regulation changes will bring them a chance of challenging Mercedes and Red Bull. However, despite high hopes this time last year of fighting Mercedes, the team failed to win a race and was beaten to second in the constructors’ championship by Red Bull.
The new car has followed the pattern of the shark fin engine cover, which some teams have shown. The sidepods are also aggressively shaped with high, narrow air inlets.
The Italian team last season struggled with set-up, strategy and tyre temperatures. Meaning they did not manage to get the most out of its package.
During the summer the team lost technical director James Allison who has joined Mercedes. He was replaced by Binotto moving from his role as engine boss to head up the technical department.
McLaren return to orange as the launch
McLaren has launched their 2017 at the team’s headquarters in Woking. The team has changed their colour scheme after weeks of hinting the team launched a black and orange car.
The team has said the reason for the change in colour was the fans idea, with CEO Zac Brown describing it as a “beautiful piece of art.” The team are looking to make another step forward this season, following two challenging seasons following the return to Honda power.
McLaren hasn’t won a race since 2012, but Fernando Alonso says that he will be aiming for wins this year. The double world champion is joined by highly-rated Belgian rookie Stoffel Vandoorne, who replaces Jenson Button as the Brit moves back to the team’s reserve driver.
This season the team has dropped the ‘MP4’ prefix which stood for Marlboro Project Four and used for its F1 cars since 1981, dropped in favour of the all-new MCL.
The British team has followed the pattern we have seen all week with the shark-fin engine cover. The team has tiny side pod air intake inlets, while its airbox positioned above the driver’s head. The airbox looks smaller than on other cars.
Giovinazzi to stand in for Wehrlein
Sauber has confirmed Ferrari’s reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi will stand in for Pascal Wehrlein next week at the Barcelona test.
Wehrlein injured his back during a heavy crash at the Race of Champions in January and decided to sit out the opening week of tests on medical advice. That means Giovinazzi will split running over the first four days with Wehrlein’s team-mate Marcus Ericsson.
Giovinazzi had his first outing earlier this month in a Pirelli tyre test for Ferrari in a mule car.
Wehrlein has confirmed he will be in Barcelona next week to “get familiar” with his new team’s procedures ahead of the season. The second winter test starts on March 7 and also lasts for four days.
Mercedes keep engagement rules
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says the teams ‘rules of engagement’ introduced last season following Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg’s collision will remain in place for Lewis Hamilton and new teammate Valtteri Bottas.
The rules allow the team’s drivers to race freely but have deterrents to prevent the team’s drivers from collisions on track. The internal policy of the team says they both should “respect the values of the team” at all times when racing each other.
The pair did not collide again in 2016 but Hamilton broke the rule at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as he looked to overturn huge odds to win the title. Hamilton deliberately backed Rosberg up so he would be overtaken and pushed off the podium, which would have handed him the title.
There had been thoughts the policy would have been scrapped following the retirement of Rosberg, but Wolff believes it is logical for internal guidelines to evolve every year.
When asked if the rules of engagement would continue into 2017, Wolff said: “That is an internal paper that has grown over the years, with experience. Still, when you look at Abu Dhabi it proved to have blank spots.”
“So it’s something you want to continue to do and develop for the benefit of the team, the drivers and the spectators. The basic concept will stay in place.” The relationship between Hamilton and Rosberg became strained because of the pressure of being the only title contenders for three consecutive seasons.
Wolff admits the emphasis on its internal rules may not be as important if Mercedes is not the dominant car in 2017.
Mercedes asked Alonso to be Rosberg’s replacement
Fernando Alonso says that Mercedes asked him about replacing Nico Rosberg this season, following his unexpected retirement from Formula One. But he made clear to them that he was tied to McLaren.
At the end of this season, the Spaniard is out of contract and today told the media at the team’s car launch that he would make no decision about his future until after the August break.
He said “Mercedes, after the surprise of Rosberg, had to do a little check of everyone which is understandable. My situation was very clear that I have this year in McLaren-Honda, that I was happy here and that it was no point to talk any more for any possibility.”
Rosberg shocked the sport, days after he took the title last season which shocked the sport. With many of the top drivers under contract, Mercedes lured Valtteri Bottas from Mercedes-powered Williams as team mate to triple world champion, Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton was Alonso’s team mate at McLaren in an acrimonious 2007 season, the Briton then winning his first title with that team in 2008 after the Spaniard had left.
Speaking about when he could make a decision he said after the summer break.
Red Bull has an aggressive car
Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko says the team’s 2017 car is “an aggressive-looking car”. Red Bull is due to launch their 2017 car, the RB12, on Sunday in Barcelona.
Speaking on Dutch TV Marko said that engine supplier Renault should bring them closer in terms of horsepower to Mercedes. He told Dutch TV “The car is ready. The car, I guess you want to know what the car is like? Sexy and race-y.”
“It’s an aggressive-looking car and the data, the information we have, [is] looking good. But, you know, on our simulator we are the only car, so only when we are at the test we see how the others are.” Marko added.
He says the team should have a very good chassis and they have been promised more horsepower by Renault, so should be nearer Mercedes on power.
Never missed a team-mate – Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton says he has “never missed a team-mate” following the departure of Nico Rosberg. The Brit had a rocky relationship with the German over the past few years.
Hamilton has been joined by Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes, following Rosberg’s shock retirement, and says he’s fine with the change. Writing on Instagram the three-time champion said I’ve never missed a team-mate in my life, one goes and another comes along.”
“It is already strange, being down in the garage and having someone other than Nico next to me. I don’t know all the reasons that Nico decided to stop, but I can really understand the feeling of wanting to retire and do something different.”
Hamilton added he had no intention of following Rosberg should he win. Saying as long as he is “still competitive, I’m still hungry and still driving at my best. That is how I will continue no matter who I race against. I feel like I can put up a good fight.”
He says the question for any athlete probably is at what point you are at the top and will continue to be at the top. Hamilton added “I want to fight for it again the next year. It is a clean slate this year. You’ve got almost a new format.”