As always, while we are weeks away from the season start, the off-grid F1™ action is proving to be almost as riveting as the sport itself. On 2 December 2016, just five days after securing a hard-fought world championship win, Nico Rosberg announced his retirement. If the news came as a surprise to fans, it came as a shock to Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, who declared that it took him “completely by surprise”. On 16 January, Mercedes announced that Finnish driver Valterri Bottas would take Rosberg’s seat on the team.
On the vehicle front, 2017 is ringing in the changes. A revision of the technical regulations governing bodywork design will yield wider F1™ cars of the kind not seen in 20 years, since the narrow track format was introduced in 1998. This of course comes with wider wings, wider tyres, a 20kg increase in the minimum weight, and most importantly an estimated four to five second increase in average lap speed. However, as pre-season reports from wind tunnel testing start trickling through, it’s becoming evident that fans may even be treated to faster speeds than originally predicted.
In a bold move that some might argue borders on the autocratic, but nonetheless bodes well for teams and race continuity, power unit suppliers now have an “obligation to supply”, meaning that teams are guaranteed to have engines and we won’t see a repeat of the famous 2015 Red Bull vs Renault impasse that almost left the former without an engine.
“There’s always a lot going on in F1™, on and off the track, and that’s what makes this sport so incomparably exciting, and keeps us committed to its broadcast sponsorship,” said Group Marketing Executive Joe du Plooy.
“Last year we got the German Grand Prix back, only to lose it again. Rosberg finally won a championship, only to forgo the chance to defend it. After scoring zero points in 2015 Manor clawed its way to a single point, only to lose 10th place to Sauber in Brazil along with $30-million prize money. No other sport offers such thrilling, non-stop action,” added du Plooy.
Engines will begin revving for the new F1™ season in Melbourne, Australia, on 26 March 2017. For more information and the season’s complete race calendar, as well as a race countdown clock and post-race winner announcements, visit the Tiger Wheel & Tyre website www.twt.to