Yes, it is that time of the year again when the new breed of Formula 1 cars are revealed to the world ahead of pre-season testing and the beginning of the Championship in Australia. Every year there are a team of people from all over the world left to analyse these new cars and tell you, the fans, what to expect from the coming season. I can’t do that. What I can do, however, is detail the new designs on the cars as well as some of the obvious aerodynamic changes to note on the cars, and that is what I’m about to do here.
Williams became the first team to reveal their 2017 challenger through online pictures. The actual car was revealed a few days later. As expected the Martini livery introduced back in 2014 has not gone away nor changed very much. This is not a bad thing as the Martini is one of the best liveries on the grid. The Williams also confirmed after much speculation that shark-fins would make a return along with the expected new wings and larger tyres. No major aero features could be seen on these initial photos.
Sauber then unveiled their C36, once again by releasing pictures online. This is the Swiss team’s 25th year in Formula 1 and to mark this they have adopted a special anniversary livery a little similar to the blue and yellow of last year. The yellow has been replaced by white and gold accents now colour the front wing before running down the side of the car. Personally, I think it looks very messy and poorly thought out. Sauber’s shark-fin is also a little more hidden than the Williams being painted black.
Renault took the covers off the R.S.17 at a live event in London. This is the French team’s first full stab at a Formula 1 team since they took over from the Lotus outfit last year. The colour scheme has returned to yellow and black and is reminiscent of the 2010 Renault. The Renault also has a shark-fin, this one being raked up towards the rear rather than the flat design we have seen before. The front nose also has side ‘air guides’ helping with air flow under and around the car.
Force India held an event at the Silverstone circuit to launch the VJM10. This is a car I have high expectations for as their impressive 4th place finish last year will have given them lots more prize money to aid their bid to become one of the top teams on the grid. The livery remains largely unchanged compared to last year with a predominant silver theme. The divided nose gave rise to criticism of its looks while I think the shark-fin needs some colour or sponsors to fill the bare space. Interestingly it features a stepped nose like we saw in 2012.
The next day, Silverstone saw another launch event. This time it was the turn of reigning World Champions Mercedes. After some shake down laps we were introduced to the W08. The livery is very much as expected but I do love how the Petronas green has been incorporated into electric lines running down the side of the car. Mercedes have opted for little to no shark fin at all, which must mean everybody else is wrong. The main point of interest on the Mercedes comes from a very small winglet they have found a loophole for. It stands over the exhausts ahead of the rear wing. I expect much copying to be done on this front.
Ferrari brought our attention to Fiorano where the SF70H was shown. Naturally the paint scheme has not changed much and red works with small areas of white. The side pods of the Ferrari have and interestingly shaped air intake being very short and wide in an oblong sort of shape as opposed to conventional semi circles. I like that the Italian flag has been incorporated into the shark-fin. Ferrari also had a Mercedes style winglet on their car. This time, mounted on the rear of the shark-fin unlike the Mercedes’ individual stand.
Fifteen minutes later, McLaren shifted the spotlight to Woking to meet the MCL32. One of the more striking cars on the grid, the McLaren sees orange return to Formula 1. It was not raced by McLaren since 1971. I have still yet to decide whether it looks fantastic or horrible. There is a clear lack of sponsors on the bare looking McLaren. The nose features Renault style air guides and there is a very slight stepped nose. An air outlet just before the step will relieve air pressure from under the nose.
Haas decided to launch their car online. The VF-17 looks similar to the previous Haas with a grey and red livery. I find this to be the blandest and most boring of all the 2017 cars. However, the shark-fin looks terrific with overlapping messy colours. It looks like it moving super fast even when stood still. Like the McLaren, it is also quite light on sponsors. I could not see any aero features of note on the Haas.
In the final online launch the the year, Red Bull unveiled the RB13. They have stuck with the matt paint on what looks to be the exact same livery. I can not see one change at all which, considering that it has hardly changed at all over its 13 years in the sport, is getting a little easy to predict. The most interesting thing on the Red Bull is the open hole in the tip of the nose. Adrian Newey must know what he’s doing but all I can come up with is that it’s some sort of cooling method for the driver’s feet.
In the spirit of saving the best until last, Toro Rosso delighted us with the STR12 in the Barcelona pit lane on the eve of testing day 1. It is the only major livery change this year. The Toro Rosso is now an intriguing luminous purple, silver and red combination that works a charm. It also has one of the neatest noses on the grid and relatively small and clean shark-fin. I hope this is as quick as it is awesome to look at.
I cant wait now for the season to get underway. To watch a video of me explaining what I have just said here click the link below.