Automotive

Gallery: F1 teams come to grips with a new formula for 2017

Gallery: F1 teams come to grip...
Check out the challengers for a new season of F1
Check out the challengers for a new season of F1
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Sauber is keen to remind us of its F1 heritage
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Sauber is keen to remind us of its F1 heritage
The new white, blue and gold livery of the Sauber C37-Ferrari can't hide the lack of sponsorship down the side
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The new white, blue and gold livery of the Sauber C37-Ferrari can't hide the lack of sponsorship down the side
The bigger wings and wheels on the C37-Ferrari are a result of the new regulations for F1 cars
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The bigger wings and wheels on the C37-Ferrari are a result of the new regulations for F1 cars
The bumblebee livery of last year's Renault RS16 has carried over into 2017
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The bumblebee livery of last year's Renault RS16 has carried over into 2017
Renault is aiming for fifth place in this year's F1 Constructors' Championship
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Renault is aiming for fifth place in this year's F1 Constructors' Championship
The R.S. 17 is up on power compared to last year
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The R.S. 17 is up on power compared to last year
Renault is hoping to improve its standings on last year's ninth-place finish
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Renault is hoping to improve its standings on last year's ninth-place finish
The R.S. 17 is a clean sheet design for the Renault F1 team
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The R.S. 17 is a clean sheet design for the Renault F1 team
Renault builds its powertrains in France and its chassis in the UK
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Renault builds its powertrains in France and its chassis in the UK
Pirelli is supplying tires that are 25 percent wider than last year's for F1 in 2017
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Pirelli is supplying tires that are 25 percent wider than last year's for F1 in 2017
Renault has fallen a long way from the glory days of the mid 2000s
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Renault has fallen a long way from the glory days of the mid 2000s
The R.S 17 is tasked with bringing Renault back towards the front of the grid in 2017
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The R.S 17 is tasked with bringing Renault back towards the front of the grid in 2017
The Force India VJM10 
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The Force India VJM10 
The VJM10 has a shark fin attached to the back of its airpod
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The VJM10 has a shark fin attached to the back of its airpod
The VJM10 is a wider, meaner looking car than last year's offering
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The VJM10 is a wider, meaner looking car than last year's offering
Force India finished fourth in the constructors' championship last year, and is hoping to continue its good form in 2017
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Force India finished fourth in the constructors' championship last year, and is hoping to continue its good form in 2017
The livery of the VJM10 is largely unchanged from last year
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The livery of the VJM10 is largely unchanged from last year
Some F1 pundits have described this as a thumb-tip nose – we're not sure if thumbs are what the designers used as a model
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Some F1 pundits have described this as a thumb-tip nose – we're not sure if thumbs are what the designers used as a model
Pirelli's new tires will be playing a big role in the 2017 F1 season
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Pirelli's new tires will be playing a big role in the 2017 F1 season
The rear wing on the VJM10 is canted backward slightly
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The rear wing on the VJM10 is canted backward slightly
The Mercedes M08 EQ Power+ on its first run for 2017
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The Mercedes M08 EQ Power+ on its first run for 2017
Mercedes has run with a smaller shark fin than some other manufacturers
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Mercedes has run with a smaller shark fin than some other manufacturers
The Mercedes M08 EQ Power+ runs with a fourth-generation powerplant
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The Mercedes M08 EQ Power+ runs with a fourth-generation powerplant
Mercedes will be looking to continue its dominance in F1 with the M08
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Mercedes will be looking to continue its dominance in F1 with the M08
Valteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton with their steed for 2017
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Valteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton with their steed for 2017
The new McLaren MCL32 from above
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The new McLaren MCL32 from above
Fins are in for 2017 on the McLaren MCL32
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Fins are in for 2017 on the McLaren MCL32
McLaren has brought back the orange paint for 2017
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McLaren has brought back the orange paint for 2017
The front wing on the McLaren MCL32 is seriously complex
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The front wing on the McLaren MCL32 is seriously complex
The MCL32 is powered by a Honda hybrid-V6
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The MCL32 is powered by a Honda hybrid-V6
The new SF70T is tasked with returning Ferrari to the top of Formula 1
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The new SF70T is tasked with returning Ferrari to the top of Formula 1
The shark fin on the Ferrari SF70T is one of the most pronounced on the grid this year
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The shark fin on the Ferrari SF70T is one of the most pronounced on the grid this year
The nose on the Ferrari is more angular than those we've seen
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The nose on the Ferrari is more angular than those we've seen
The nose of the Ferrari SF70T is longer in response to the new regulations
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The nose of the Ferrari SF70T is longer in response to the new regulations
The FW40 is one of the prettiest cars on the F1 grid for 2017
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The FW40 is one of the prettiest cars on the F1 grid for 2017
Williams has been around for forty years, and the FW40 is named to celebrate
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Williams has been around for forty years, and the FW40 is named to celebrate
Williams has run with a thumb-nosed design
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Williams has run with a thumb-nosed design
Is there anything better than a racecar finished in Martini livery?
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Is there anything better than a racecar finished in Martini livery?
The RB13 is aimed squarely at the top step of the podium in F1 this year
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The RB13 is aimed squarely at the top step of the podium in F1 this year
Red Bull has put an air intake in its nose
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Red Bull has put an air intake in its nose
The STR12 looks strikingly similar to the Mercedes W08
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The STR12 looks strikingly similar to the Mercedes W08
The new livery chosen by Scuderia Toro Rosso helps distinguish it from parent Red Bull Racing
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The new livery chosen by Scuderia Toro Rosso helps distinguish it from parent Red Bull Racing
The smooth, low nose of the STR12 is reminiscent of the Mercedes W08
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The smooth, low nose of the STR12 is reminiscent of the Mercedes W08
We're huge fans of the livery on the STR12
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We're huge fans of the livery on the STR12
Check out the challengers for a new season of F1
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Check out the challengers for a new season of F1
HAAS exceeded all expectations in 2016, and will be hoping to do the same in 2017
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HAAS exceeded all expectations in 2016, and will be hoping to do the same in 2017
The VF-17 is a clean sheet design for HAAS
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The VF-17 is a clean sheet design for HAAS
HAAS is the only American team running in F1
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HAAS is the only American team running in F1

Formula 1 represents the pinnacle of international motorsport, but that doesn't mean it's anywhere near perfect. Modern cars are quiet and, if we're being honest, a bit boring to watch compared to the barely-controllable beasts from days gone by. That's set to change this year, with new regulations prescribing bigger wings, wider tires and more power from hybrid-turbocharged V6 engines.

What's new for 2017?

Plenty! Faced with criticisms about a lack of drama, the Formula 1 Strategy Group sat down in late 2015 and penned a set of rules to make cars (and racing) more exciting. The process started last year with more noise from the oft-criticized V6-hybrid powertrains, but the big changes come into force this year.

Although the new rules are fairly wide-reaching, they can be summed up in one word: wider. Tires are now 25 percent wider and the cars now measure 2 m (6.6 ft) across, up from 1.8 m (5.9 ft) last year. Bigger wings and an enlarged rear diffuser should produce more downforce, which means quicker lap times and a much harder time for drivers.

Unlike last year, where the cars all looked much the same, greater freedom to play with the wings and aero elements has led to a grid full of unique and fascinating shapes. Without further ado, let's take a walk along the grid with this year's challengers.

Sauber C37-Ferrari

The bigger wings and wheels on the C37-Ferrari are a result of the new regulations for F1 cars
The bigger wings and wheels on the C37-Ferrari are a result of the new regulations for F1 cars

Sauber has been slowly climbing its way up the rankings recently, moving from a perpetual backmarker to stronger, more consistent midfield competitor through 2015 and '16. That momentum might be tricky to maintain though, because the new regulations have forced the team to adopt a clean-sheet design for 2017.

A lot of time has been devoted to reducing drag to compensate for the wider tires, and a new roll-structure helps to cut weight. Although the minimum weight of cars has actually been raised, cutting weight within the structure means mass can be moved around to fix issues with the balance of the car. Mercedes has proven one of the best ways to create a quick car is with narrow, neatly packaged sidepods, and Sauber has focused on slimming down the bodywork around the radiators.

Renault R.S 17

Pirelli is supplying tires that are 25 percent wider than last year's for F1 in 2017
Pirelli is supplying tires that are 25 percent wider than last year's for F1 in 2017

Another team on the rise is Renault. Although it saw serious success with Fernando Alonso behind the wheel in the mid-2000s, the French outfit has languished in the mid-pack ever since – save for a few podiums courtesy of Kimi Raikonnen and Romain Grosjean. This year, the team is aiming to finish fifth in the Constructors' Championship, which will mean beating the likes of Sauber and Force India consistently throughout the season.

Just like the Sauber C37 it'll be up against, the R.S 17 is a clean sheet design, making it the first car built from the ground-up by the RenaultSport team since it become a fully-formed factory entry. The company is being coy about its aerodynamic package, but it will say the maligned hybrid powertrain that held it (and Red Bull Racing) back last year should be up with the frontrunners for power in 2017.

Force India VJM10

The livery of the VJM10 is largely unchanged from last year
The livery of the VJM10 is largely unchanged from last year

After a consistent showing in 2016, Force India is looking to back it up in 2017. Team boss Vijay Malaya isn't willing to make any predictions about where the car will finish, but we'd suggest he'll be keen to maintain (or improve on) last year's fourth place.

The new car is a clean-sheet design, and adopts a "thumb-tip" nose and massive shark-fin off the back of the overhead air intake. It might not be pretty, but Vijay Malaya is bullish on its capabilities.

"I can't remember being more excited ahead of a new season," he says. "The VJM10 looks aggressive and purposeful, and is the result of a huge effort behind the scenes over the last twelve months. We have big hopes for this car, which looks stunning in its new livery."

Mercedes-AMG W08 EQ Power+

Mercedes will be looking to continue its dominance in F1 with the M08
Mercedes will be looking to continue its dominance in F1 with the M08

If the past two years are anything to go by, this will be the car to beat this year. Mercedes has won 51 of a possible 59 races since 2014, with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg locking out the top-two steps of the podium with alarming regularity.

The competition will be heartened to know this is a mostly new design, with just 17 percent of last year's car carrying over. Now in its fourth generation, the hybrid powertrain in the M08 has been redesigned to deliver greater reliability over a whole season – crucial under the new, stricter engine development rules coming into force this year.

By now, the formula for this year's cars is pretty clear. The 2017 Mercedes W08 runs with a wider front and rear wing, while the floor and bargeboards are far more complex than they were last year. The team has also made the structure stiffer to deal with the extra load caused by the high-downforce setup.

McLaren-Honda MCL32

The MCL32 is powered by a Honda hybrid-V6
The MCL32 is powered by a Honda hybrid-V6

This year is all about making a fresh start at McLaren. Long-serving CEO Ron Dennis has been replaced, the MP4 naming scheme is gone and, in a nod to founder Bruce McLaren, the old red-and-chrome paint scheme has been replaced with a radical new orange-and-black look. We're not sure if it'll be enough to change the team's fortunes, but it's certainly a start.

Power will come from a new Honda RA617H powerplant that, hopefully, has addressed the reliability issues plaguing previous iterations. Honda says the new V6-hybrid setup is also lighter than before, has a lower center of gravity and should make more power from its petrol engine. Given how poorly it performed in the past two seasons, we'll believe that when we see it.

Like its competitors, the team at the McLaren Technology Center has created a wider aero package for 2017. The new front wing is fiendishly complicated, and pundits have noticed a set of vanes on the front wing support that don't appear on any of the other cars released this year. Here's hoping it's enough to return one of the most successful teams in Formula 1 history to the front of pack.

Ferrari SF70H

The new SF70T is tasked with returning Ferrari to the top of Formula 1
The new SF70T is tasked with returning Ferrari to the top of Formula 1

Speaking of successful Formula 1 teams that haven't quite lived up to expectations recently, Ferrari will be looking to return to the top step of the podium with the SF70H. The team finished third in the Constructors' Championship last year, but has its sights set on the top step of the podium in 2017.

The angular nose and arrow-shaped front wing are both a reaction to the new aero rules, while the massive shark fin on the back of the engine cover also plays host to a set of thin aerofoils poking out in front of the rear wing. There's also a refreshed suspension design, although the front still uses pushrods and the rear still relies on pullrods.

Williams FW40

The FW40 is one of the prettiest cars on the F1 grid for 2017
The FW40 is one of the prettiest cars on the F1 grid for 2017

Another member of the mid-pack last year, Williams will be looking to lock down a spot on the podium with the FW40. It doesn't break with the rest of the field, with its massive shark fin and thumb nose, although we think that Martini livery is one of the prettiest paint jobs to grace any race car in the past decade. Go on, tell us we're wrong.

"After finishing fifth in the Constructors' Championship in 2016, it will be a challenging year – especially as we enter this new era of racing," says Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal. "However, the team have been working extremely hard over the winter to deliver the maximum performance out of the car going into a brand new season."

Red Bull RB13

Red Bull has put an air intake in its nose
Red Bull has put an air intake in its nose

This is the one we've all been waiting for. After dominating with Sebastian Vettel behind the wheel, unreliable Renault MGU-K power units left Red Bull Racing jostling with Ferrari for second place in the Constructors' Championship. This could be the year that changes.

Adrian Newey is widely renowned as one of the greatest aerodynamic minds to ever work in Formula 1, and it would appear his design team has already found a loophole in the new rules. We're not sure what the hole in the nose of the RB13 does, but we do know no-one else has incorporated anything like it in their designs. Beyond that it's business as usual, with a massive shark fin, fiendishly complex front wing and thumb nose all present and correct.

Scuderia Toro Rosso STR12

We're huge fans of the livery on the STR12
We're huge fans of the livery on the STR12

Red Bull's feeder team has been moving its way up the field in recent years, finishing 2016 in seventh place. This year, Ferrari power has been replaced by the latest Renault setup, while the team has developed an aero package that looks remarkably similar to the 2017 W08 Mercedes, with a simple nose and clean sidepods.

Where it differs, however, is in the massive shark fin adorning the engine cover. It also runs with a new livery, making it much easier to distinguish from its Red Bull big brother.

HAAS VF-17

HAAS is the only American team running in F1
HAAS is the only American team running in F1

After exceeding all expectations in its debut season, HAAS is back for 2017 with an all-new design. Barely anything is carried over from last year, although the team has stuck with Ferrari power in its new car.

"I think the pedal box is the same, but all the rest is very different from last year's car," says Team Principal Guenther Steiner. "You always try to make a faster car, which is normally a lighter car. Now we can put on more ballast and get better weight distribution. The aero is completely new, as are the tires, so we needed to have some built-in adjustability."

The Formula 1 season officially kicks off on March 26 in Melbourne, Australia. Although the cars are likely to stay largely the same, don't be surprised to see small aero tweaks pop up after the first test in Jerez, Spain, which began yesterday.

4 comments
fb36
What F1 and other car racing organizations really need to do is something like remove all restrictions in cars except size, weight, safety. So that each race car could be unique and would have unique known/unknown advantages and disadvantages against other race cars. That was what really made racing exciting for the public in the early times. Each car was almost completely different than the others. Using different kinds of engines for example.
Aross
I agree with fb36. Too many rules and regulations about the cars. Certainly safety is a must but lets let the engineers be the creative drive with in the formula not the wealthy owner.
Future3000
I agree with fb36 and Aross too. I worked for Mercedes F1 in 1990's... worst job as engineer I'd ever had! EVERYTHING was restricted... NO progress! Best to restart progress in F1 again is to remove all restrictions (except size, tires and minimum weight), gave them 120 Liter gasoline (or Diesel equivalent) for their 350 km race and let them create what they want, hybrids included. Next season reduce -15% fuel capacity and so on. In a few years we will see fast, efficient F1 cars. In same F1 races with same size / weight restrictions Electric-F1 cars should be allowed... Lets start the games and the best team with best technologies wins! In less than 2 years E-cars would outclass all combustion cars I bet! I don't mean Tesla rubbish, which uses mostly old 1960-1980's technologies, I mean 21 century advanced electric motors, controllers and battery high tech!
Bob Stuart
Spoilers came in to reduce lift, and wings continued that trend, but what is actually needed is side force. Why no vertical fins yet? FI is really pretty obsolete, as there is no practical reason to develop open-wheel cars, and they are dangerous when wheels contact. With modern tires, racing will always look boring. The developing edge in cars is robo-driving, but that's even more boring so racing does not improve the breed any more.