Grand Prix 2017 Australian Grand Prix Practice, Qualifying & Race Discussion

The phony war is over, F1 returns on March 26th with the traditional season opener in Melbourne, Australia. Lots of changes over the winter. Following the retirement of Nico Rosberg, Valtteri Bottas has left Williams and joined the all conquering Mercedes team. Felipe Massa has come out of what is probably the shortest retirement by any F1 driver to partner rookie Lance Stroll in the Grove team.

Ferrari keep the faith with Vettel and Raikkonen, as have Red Bull with Ricciardo and Verstappen, but there have been a few moves elsewhere. Manor won't be on the grid for 2017, which is a shame. The two drivers who ended their 2016 campaign have moved to Force India (Ocon) and Sauber (Wherlein) where they will team up with Perez and Magnusson respectively. Nico Hulkenberg has moved to Renault where Jolyon Palmer has held on to his seat for a second season. The Hulks arrival at Renault has meant Kevin Magnusson has moved on to Haas to partner Romain Grosjean. Toro Rosso continue with the two who finished the 2016 season, Sainz and Kyvat, and with Jenson Button hanging up his helmet Stoffel Vandoorne will partner Fernando Alonso at McLaren.

We have some new rules for 2017, just in case we had got used to how things were. Bigger tyres, offering more grip, greater down force from the aero with lower rear wings and delta shaped front wings. The under side of the car should also help stick the cars to the ground and we have been promised lap times between 4 and 6 seconds faster than 2016.

What did we learn from the pre-season tests? My take is that there could be some battles between Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull at the front but you never know what the teams are keeping in reserve during these tests. Williams and Force India look to be behind the front three but better than the rest. The mid-mid-field will be made up of Renault, Haas and Toro Rosso whilst at the back Sauber and McLaren will be fighting to try and not be in last place.

The cars have been quicker in pre-season, it remains to be seen if we will see the promised reduction in lap times but the drivers seem to be enjoying the cars more and can push them through the corners. The only possible down side is that overtaking could be more difficult with a greater dependency on aerodynamic grip not allowing the cars to get close to one another.

I have great hopes that we should see some closer times between the top teams but I am worried that the races could end up being decided in the final qualifying session on Saturday afternoon. Let's hope I'm wrong.

Roll on the 26th - the clocks go forward so we have a 6 a.m. start.
 

Lewywo4

Race Winner
I'm not able to receive Sky, and have to suffer, and I mean really suffer with NBCSN broadcast for F1 here in the U.S. I recently read that on the Sky feed, Martin Brundle said that he was told that Mercedes told Bottas to hold station and stay third. Can any of you across the big pond confirm that statement? I don't believe in the first place, that Mercedes would tell Martin anything on that order, and if it was true would have caused a meltdown on F! websites world-wide.
 

racecub

Champion Elect
I don't remember hearing anything about that...I'm sure I would have done. There was some discussion amongst the commentators as to whether Lewis was managing the gap ( in fact I'm sure it was Brundle who said he thought Lewis had things under control) and what Merc would do if Bottas caught up and was faster. After the race Bottas said he couldn't get closer than 2 secs because it messed the car up too much.

That's all I can think along the lines you mention.
 

Rutherford

Podium Finisher
I'm not able to receive Sky, and have to suffer, and I mean really suffer with NBCSN broadcast for F1 here in the U.S. I recently read that on the Sky feed, Martin Brundle said that he was told that Mercedes told Bottas to hold station and stay third. Can any of you across the big pond confirm that statement? I don't believe in the first place, that Mercedes would tell Martin anything on that order, and if it was true would have caused a meltdown on F! websites world-wide.
Bottas said they were free to race @1:10.

 

cider_and_toast

Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
Staff Member
Premium Contributor
I'm sure I heard something in the commentary regarding Bottas being told to hold station but I can't remember if it was speculation or a statement. I'm reasonably certain it was during the last couple of laps but can't remember who said it.
 

FB

Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
Sky interviewed Niki Lauda after the race and he said he wasn't aware of Bottas being given any instruction to stay behind Hamilton.
 

cider_and_toast

Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
Staff Member
Premium Contributor
Must have been speculation from the Sky commentary team then. Someone must have thought it had been said if they had to ask Lauda about it.
 

Incubus

Champion Elect
Sky interviewed Niki Lauda after the race and he said he wasn't aware of Bottas being given any instruction to stay behind Hamilton.

-----------------

But then again he was also asked by Sky about the nature of Nico Rosberg's problem 10 mns before the start of the 2014 title decider and he wasn't even aware that he had one!
 

RasputinLives

Leave me alone I'm on Smoko
Contributor
A Scarlett Ferrari driven by a clever German wins a race by using the power of the overcut. This new F1 feels awfully similar to every race in the mid noughties.

Once again we see that a Vettel who realises he can win a race is massively quicker than one who doesn't.

Looking forward to a season long Hamilton/Vettel fight, although I think it will be mostly tactical overtakes rather than on track ones. Hamilton already made a small dig about that so I can see that brewing up.
 

F1Brits_90

Champion Elect
1 of favourite lines from Australian GP actually came from Mclaren. As i remember if it was Brundle or Ted that was trying to get hold of alonso & Bouiller "oh yeah the boss of honda here this weekend & Alonso wanted a chat"

I just thought yeah i bet he does ;):D
 

Galahad

Not a Moderator
Valued Member
I thought a few words in praise of Pirelli might be in order. I have occasionally heard them criticised for not being able to produce decent tyres, when they were only doing what they were told to do. Now, despite having to develop 'blind' with minimal relevant testing or data available, they seem to have produced tyres that are long-lasting and with good performance.

Whether that helps with the spectacle, I doubt, but that isn't Pirelli's fault either.
 

Westy

Pole Sitter
I think Ferrari were controlling that race from 2nd. Better didn't seem to have any problems staying close to Hamilton. He got real close as Hamilton dove into the pits, I think 7 tenths was the margin at the time. The Ferrari may be the fastest car on race day where the Merc has the edge over one lap.

A podcast I listen to was saying how the Merc has a narrower optimal operating window than the Ferrari. Vettel is an excellent driver and now he has a car that can once again live up to his talent. I think we'll be seeing a lot more of that bleeding finger this year.

It is just early days though.
 
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