Sunday, November 27, 2016

F1 2017

We are literally ending the 2016 season after a hot finish, I won't give away the winner of the championship. (It was Rosberg by the way, Hamilton still won the race!) The championship allowed Mercedes to be tested in certain ways. But now, now we get to move on to 2017's season, and it will be a hot season too. I have stated in previous entries that teams are moving much faster season to season in becoming competitive or losing their edges than in past eras of F1. Renault came in this year, and has taken just 8 points. But unlike the first time Renault was in Formula 1, the development of the car has changed radically. Next year, Renault will score many more points and will easily pass 8, a safe assumption but an important one. This is an example to all the teams on the grid for the upcoming year.

Another major factor is that the car is going to look markedly different for the first time in many a year. The biggest noticeable changes, a bigger front wing, a bigger set of rear tires, the rear wing is lower. Another great change is an increase in fuel held and the weight of the car. There is another big change, the number of engines allowed over the course of the season, 4 engines for either 21 or 22 Grand Prix races. That means on average the engines will have to last 5 races or more, one advantage though is that the much hated token system on updating engines is being put in the ash heap of history. Teams will rapidly improve engines and make them go farther probably rather than faster, they will have to last roughly a thousand miles at race speeds.

Predictions will be following soon after we see revealing of the cars by individual teams. Being an American, I look forward to seeing Haas do better. My only real concern is McLaren, who decided to ditch Dennis. I hope they have a good season, but if we have another 2016, they'll be found to have made a mistake after all.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The end of the Ron Dennis Era

This is a shock development, McLaren has ditched Ron Dennis, the most influential man in the teams history, from Alain Prost to Ayrton Senna to Lewis Hamilton, this man was a scion of everything about the sport, both good, and bad.

The firing of Ron, for what ever reason given by McLaren, is not going to give them some magic boost, teams do not suddenly perform better by ditching the leader of the team. In fact, evidence suggests the opposite, from Bernie Ecclestone to Ross Brawn, team leaders who go away from the team they're leading, usually take quite a bit with them, and they definitely see a drop in performance. Brabham definitely suffered as Bernie became detached from that team, and was no longer that much of a problem for the F1 competition after 1987, and Ross Brawn speaks for himself, Benetton, Ferrari, Brawn F1, all three teams definitely had worse seasons after Ross disappeared, especially Benetton and Ferrari, the 96 season for Benetton took them from first place in both championships, to just third, and Ferrari, well you might say Kimi won the 07 Championship, but unlike during Brawn's time, especially 2000-2005, it was won by a single point and if McLaren had not been disqualified from the Constructors championship, Ferrari would have only won said championship by a point there as well. Then Brawn F1, which gave us the outstanding performance of Jenson Button, and it was only a single season team. I could mention a couple other driver/owners as well, Jackie Stewart was a definite plus for Stewart Racing, and today might have been a prominent team on the grid, Jackie gives his reasons for selling the team, and they were justifiable, but the fact is Jaguar Racing was no hit wonder. Bruce McLaren is another, though we tragically lost him, McLaren had a bad season in 1971 after he was gone from the team, and it took some revolution type stuff  and heroic driving that set those drivers apart from so many others, to bring it back. If Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda left Mercedes for 2017, I would expect them to take some kind of hit based on these teams listed here.

Now how do teams do better season by season, they do it by getting better aero, better engines and a better car, not to mention making sure you have excellent drivers and a pit crew that can pull a tire change in less than 3 seconds. F1 has recognized this, the points system on improving cars, has went out the window, now teams can upgrade at will. The way the FIA got the cost down was the best way possible, make the engines last upwards of 5 or 6 races. Reliability is the new battle in F1, and it will see teams try to make 78 laps on an engine, like a thousand miles is on a normal car, typical and not really much impact. But teams will take advantage of this, and McLaren was in a perfect position to really do just that, but now Ron is gone, and the visions of the 1988 season might very probably disappear for even longer.

Do not take this blog post as some tirade against McLaren, they're one of my two favorite teams, Williams being the other. I simply feel as though this was a mistake, and from the outside looking in, one that might cost em some of the 75 points or more if they do another points finish in the final race for 2017. I really do hope I am wrong, I hope they suddenly come out like gangbusters and win 10 races next season, but I simply do not know and I am even less certain with Ron out.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

2017 Driver Team Reviews Pt 2.

Leaving the big league teams, we come down to three teams I really want to get into, Renault, Haas, and McLaren

Firstly, Renault, let me tell you Joylon Palmer really does have the right idea, I am not guaranteeing that Renault is going to perform as they did in 1981 or 1983 when they really contended for wins and the championship, but it's a well known precedent that Renault as a team improves consistently. I expect points finishes and the like in 2017, Palmer is right to stay on at Renault and he is joined by Nico Hulkenburg, who is a points finisher consistently even this season. What may happen might even be possibly hinted at in the off season. The fact is, Renault is points hungry in 2017, and these drivers will see serious effort put in to make them competitive at some level.

Haas, the American team is coming back for 2017 after getting 29 points, and potentially more at the last grand prix coming up, this season, their Number 1 driver won those 29 points and is contracted next year. They picked that modern marvel, Romain Grosjean, and they are sticking with him, which is brilliant for both, from Romain's perspective it is his chance to get more points finishes and look for that first podium for Haas. From the team perspective, they have a driver they have gotten used to, from the smallest to biggest quirks, and his particulars for set up and drive style and this will lead to a better performance in 2017.

McLaren-Honda, Oh Jenson how we knew ye, and how ye have left us for a higher plane. Button is out, in comes the commodity of GP2 racing, Stoffel Vandoorne, he did get a 10th place finish in 2016 and I think he will acclimate quite well in his first season, considering Max Verstappen, we may even see yet another rookie win in his first season. As for Fernando Alonso, credit where it is due, he has stuck with McLaren, I do not know what magic potion they promised for 2017, but it was enough to keep him on, when he could have the pick of the lot and start saving his driving statistics average for posterity. A truly unknown thing to me, what McLaren can do in 2017, they may walk away with the championship, on the other hand, this 2016 season looked rough, they did get points finishes, but I feel as though they want podiums next year at the very least!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

2017 F1 Driver Team Reviews Pt 1.

As I stare at the new line up of F1 Drivers, I find myself greatly pleased to see that some drivers are remaining right where they need to be.

For one, Mercedes has stuck with the two most solid and winning-est drivers in the sport during this new Turbo Era. This is the team from which all others set their standard, and the drivers are really the best, they have talent in addition to the excellent cars that Toto Wolff and Mercedes give them. As I stated in a previous article, this is the winner for 2016, and will with keeping these two drivers represent a potent force for 2017. Mercedes is the team to beat as well, they love winning and will keep on doing so, raking in the trophies.

Red Bull oh boy oh boy, the team that did the remarkable, win races in 2016, and they have kept their all star line up for 2017, Ricciardo and Verstappen are really two great drivers, tough, hard charging and unafraid to cross that limit when they have to, and they have done so, especially in Mexico. Red Bull will contend for wins next year, especially with new engines. Watch Tag Heuer give them something really special for 2017 and then you may watch them give Mercedes real guff.

Ferrari not the best year, but they will have the best drivers for their team, Kimi and Seb are two first rate drivers that make the best out of second rate cars at present, Ferrari has realized this and will be giving them first rate cars for 2017, another team that will try hard for at least a couple to four or five wins in 2017. Who knows what will happen though, the new regulations might mean the cars are totally different. But there are a lot of mights and ifs coming for teams not named Red Bull or Mercedes. Revealing of the car will possibly give us some indication if it will be up to the job. Testing will really tell us enough, but we have to wait till spring to see.

Speaking of regulations, you'll be hearing about those soon in another article after I have done part two of these Driver Team Reviews.