2017 Season in Review. It’s a little past due, but it’s here.
2017 saw ex-Williams driver Valtteri Bottas team up with 2016 runner-up Lewis Hamilton to fill the vacant seat left behind by Nico “scared to defend my trophy” Rosberg. Starting with Hamilton, he raced two separate seasons this year, broken up by the summer break. The first half was a laid back Lewis; not too keen, it seemed, to really do too much. Almost as if he knew the trophy was his. After the break, however, Ham was unstoppable; winning 5 out of the final 8 races remaining and clinching the championship in Mexico with two races left. Valtteri on the other hand was pretty dismal all season. Despite winning 3 races, he never seemed to match Hamilton’s pace and finished third in the championship behind Seb Vettel.
Ferrari retained the same lineup as in 2016 with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. Vettel started 2017 on fire and put a scare into Mercedes for the first half of the season. The second half? Not so much. They spent the second half of the season tripping over themselves and dropping the ball at the same time. Kimi Raikkonen seems (or seemed) like he’s bored with the sport and he was basically on a Sunday drive during every race (especially after Monaco). Of course Vettel loves having Raikkonen as a teammate; he’s got a tailgunner nearly every race.
Red Bull’s car was the RB13 this year, with them unveiling with the phrase “Unlucky for Some”. Couldn’t have been more true for 2017. Max Verstappen suffered 7 retirements with 5 coming before the summer break. Daniel Ricciardo suffered 6, including the first at his home race in Australia and 3 out of the last 4 of the season. Verstappen signed an extension with Red Bull that came with a promise of having the team built around him which pointed ever more to Ricciardo looking to leave the team when his contract is up after 2018. At the time of publish, Ricciardo has still yet to sign with the team.
Force India were in a fist fight all season….with themselves. Sergio Perez and Estebon Ocon (in his first full season) were like polar opposite magnets on the track. No matter what happened in the race, you could count on these two to find each other..hard. The friction got so high that the team had to issue an order for the two to stay away from each other, which didn’t work and the fans were rewarded with more contact. It made for exciting races between the two, and we found out how much whinging Perez can actually do. Esteban set a F1 record this season for most races completed in a row with 27, ending in Brazil when he clashed with Romain Grosjean on the first lap.
That Williams finished the season fifth in the Constructor Standings came at a surprise to me when I went to research for this article. Williams was boring all season. Filipe Massa drove like he knew he was losing his seat and Lance Stroll drove like he knew he bought his. Stroll showed a little flash in Baku where he got his first podium, but also in a race where every one of the front runners had issues. Filipe retired (again) and cried in Brazil (again) and vowed he was really done this time….(again). Chances we’ll see him in a F1 car in March? Fair to middlin’
Renault was another team full of disappointment for most of the season. I expected a lot more from this team. I mean it’s Renault. Nico Hulkenberg switched to the team before the 2017 season, a good move for both parties, imo. The team also retained Jolyon Palmer, a terrible move for one party, imo
Hulkenberg finished in the points 8 of the 12 races he finished, owing most of his DNF’s to Renault’s reliability issues this season. Jolyon was embarrassing to watch and was dropped from the team after the Japanese GP. Carlos Sainz joined for the USGP (on ‘loan’ from Toro Rosso) and made an instant impact. If Renault can work on their reliability, they could field a challenger or two for 2018.
Toro Rosso. I’ve heard they are considering a name change to Porta Girevole for 2018. (That’s Italian for ‘Revolving Door’) No? Ok, crickets. Toro Rosso was a mess this year. And Renault’s lack of reliability did not help them. Toro Rosso started the season with Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat…..and finished the season with Pierre Gasly and Brenden Hartley. The Torpedo, well, torpedoed himself right out of a F1 seat and Sainz finally got his wish to drive for a manufacturer, but still with Renault’s broken engines. Toro Rosso also managed to torpedo themselves out of a chance of a top ten in 2018 by switching to Honda engines for next year. You know what they say, if you can’t beat em, buy worse engines and rookie drivers and maybe try again. Or something like that.
Gah, what an abysmal showing for the American team this year. Kevin Magnussen joined the team so he can talk about his reproductive organs on live television, and Romain Grosjean found time between authoring a cookbook and bicycle racing to show up for some F1 races, even if only to whine and complain week in and week out. At the USGP, Grosjean even wanted to retire the car on the LAST LAP, at which point he was told by his engineer to “shut up”. If that’s not enough to describe Haas’ 2017 season, I’ve got nothing else for you…
Honda engines. Need I say more? They are terrible, and probably serve more purpose as a boat anchor. But McLaren attempted to run them anyway, and were rewarded with 9th in the Constructors’. Fernando missed Monaco to drive the Indy 500…..where he had an ENGINE FAILURE. Jeez, the guy has all the luck, eh? Vandoorne did enough to keep his seat for 2018, which is good because McLaren managed to give away millions of dollars to buy Renault engines. I kid, I kid. I like this deal for McLaren; they have one of the best chassis in F1 and I expect them to challenge Red Bull in 2018.
Which brings us to Sauber. It’s hard to talk about Sauber, because I hardly noticed them on the track this year. Wehrlein was the sole shining light on this team, and then promptly lost his seat to rookie Charles LeClerc. Marcus Ericsson’s financial backers ensured he’d have a seat for 2018, where Sauber have signed to title sponsor Alfa Romeo and will run 2018-spec Alfa-badged Ferrari engines and might be able to challenge for some points. Well, LeCLerc, maybe. Ericsson is still terrible.
And there you have it. I might do a race-by-race review soon so check back if you feel like it. Thanks!