5 Formula 1 Storylines To Watch
THE DRAMATIC FINISH AT THE ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX LAST NOVEMBER WAS ONE OF THE MORE MEMORABLE ENDS TO A FORMULA 1 SEASON IN RECENT MEMORY. TEAMMATES LEWIS HAMILTON AND NICO ROSBERG WENT HEAD-TO-HEAD IN A REMARKABLE INNER-SQUAD BATTLE FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP, DESPITE MERCEDES MANAGEMENT’S DESIRE FOR COLLABORATION. THIS YEAR’S AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX MARKED THE START OF A NEW SEASON AND A NEW STORY. WHETHER IT’S FORCE INDIA’S PINK CAR, LEWIS HAMILTON’S RESURGENCE OR THE NEW CANADIAN BEHIND THE WHEEL, THERE ARE PLENTY OF STORYLINES TO FOLLOW THIS SEASON. HERE ARE FIVE OF THE BEST.
-By Braydon Holmyard
-Photographs courtesy of Williams Media
Hamilton back on top?
He’s been the most dominant driver in the world over the last few years. Despite finishing in second place last season, Lewis Hamilton is the clear favourite to take home the 2017 title. The three-time world champion finished 2016 strong, winning the last four races of the year. With his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg’s surprise retirement after his championship last year, it creates a new opening for Hamilton. He won ten GP events a year ago but missed out on his ultimate goal. His last championship came in 2015 and he will be hungry to get back to his winning ways. The gifted British driver’s aggressive style and love for the spotlight make him a perennial contender and fan favourite. To make things tougher for his competition, the new Mercedes W08 car gives him the opportunity to maximize his talents.
2016 F1 DRIVER STANDINGS
1. NICO ROSBERG - MERCEDES - 385
2. LEWIS HAMILTON - MERCEDES - 380
3. DANIEL RICCIARDO - RED BULL - 256
4. SEBASTIAN VETTEL - FERRARI - 212
5. MAX VERSTAPPEN - RED BULL - 204
Ferrari gains momentum
Ferrari was expected to give Mercedes drivers a run for their money in 2016 with its new car’s compact engine and increased aerodynamics. But things didn’t go according to plan. The team failed to secure a first place finish in a disappointing season. But with two veteran drivers behind the wheel in Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen, the car known for its racing red hue is always a safe bet to give Mercedes a run for their money. At the Formula 1 preseason testing, they made a statement. Räikkönen drove the fastest lap as the only man to go below one minute and 19 seconds while his teammate Vettel finished with the second fastest time. That momentum carried into the first event of the year at the Australian Grand Prix when Vettel overtook Hamilton to win Ferrari’s first race in 19 months. It also sent a message to the rest of the auto-racing world: Ferrari is in it to win it.
The Canadian Grand Prix
Montreal has been home to the Canadian Grand Prix since 1983 and that won't be changing anytime soon. Formula 1 and its GP venue Circuit Gilles Villeneuve agreed to extend its contract through 2029. The Grand Prix of the north has been one of the more entertaining events on the F1 calendar for years with its tough track and rambunctious audience. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton crossed the checkered flag first in each of the last two seasons and five times overall. Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo finished first on the podium in 2014 and Vettel took home the grand prize when he drove for Red Bull in 2013. This year marks the first time in a decade Canadian fans will have a hometown hero to root for on June 11.
Lance Stroll is not only the first Canadian on the Formula 1 circuit in ten years, but at just 18 years old, he’s the youngest driver on tour and the second youngest in the sport’s history. A native of Quebec, Stroll will partner with 35-year-old Brazilian driver Felipe Massa on the Williams team. He was given a spot in Formula 1 when Massa retired at the end of last season, but when former Williams driver Valtteri Bottas left the team for Mercedes, Massa decided to come back and join forces with the youngster. Stroll was a member of the Ferrari Driving Academy for five years – a driving school for potential racers. He is the son of Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll, who’s known for his fashion investments and impressive vintage Ferrari collection. Stroll previously raced in F3 for two seasons and is the first Canadian in the sport since former champion Jacques Villeneuve departed in 2006.
Formula 1 often makes changes to its sport in order to take advantage of the revolutionary technology that lives in its automobiles. This year, the most drastic changes were made since the introduction of the turbo power units in 2014. These steps were taken to increase the competitive nature of the sport. Most of these adjustments are restrictions on how teams can stock up on power in their vehicles, making it a more level-playing field for all manufacturers. Changes to the cars were made with two goals in mind: making the cars faster and more difficult to drive. Tire size was increased to be 25 per cent wider with a slightly larger diameter. This change will increase speed when turning corners by approximately two seconds. Other major changes include larger parts of bodywork, including front wing, rear wing, rear diffuser, side pods and in the maximum weight allowed in the vehicle. The German Grand Prix is no longer on the schedule, dropping the season total to 20 races this year.