Number 283: The 2017 Season Preview Issue
Photos of Fernando Alonso looking miserable have become common memes on racing’s various social media platforms, but they speak to a situation that motorsport worldwide has found itself in.
Critics of the Verizon IndyCar Series often call for a “less spec” racing formula, but the other side of that coin is what we’re now seeing in Formula 1. Grand prix racing’s rites of spring – the car reveals, the upbeat talk, the storylines from testing – build anticipation, yet it’s hard to silence the voice in the back of your head reminding you that, if everything plays out to well-defined form, the majority of the teams will be fighting for crumbs.
head reminding you that, if everything plays out to well-defined form, the majority of the teams will be fighting for crumbs.
There’s a tremendous depth of talent in F1 at the moment, spread right through the field. Yet by definition, drivers have only so much ability to influence their results. What we’d love to see is Alonso braving it out, wheel to wheel with Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes, Sebastien Vettel’s Ferrari, or Max Verstappen’s Red Bull on a regular basis. But what we’re more likely to see is one of this generation’s finest talents watching the clock ticking down on his career while he waits for Honda to get up to speed.
The 2017 season is one of massive regulatory change in F1, and that often means a changing of the guard at the top: Brawn GP capitalized on a new rulebook to win in 2009; Mercedes gained the edge over Red Bull when V6s replaced V8s in 2014. But Ross Brawn, who’s switched from exploiting such changes to ruling over them in his new role as F1’s sporting head, believes that the current overhaul (introduced before his arrival) will actually play to Mercedes’ stability and resources. The powerhouse will get even stronger.
Much of the thinking behind the new F1 regulations was to restore some of the spectacle that had been stripped from the cars by previous changes. On that front, they’ve possibly succeeded. Here’s hoping the sport hasn’t missed an opportunity to fix a bigger problem.