The race in Albert Park was perhaps not as chaotic as we might have imagined, but it delivered a fascinating start to the season with Sebastian Vettel returning to the top step of the podium for the first time in over a year. Ferrari navigated their one-stop strategy well, timing it right to jump Lewis Hamilton for the lead midway through the race. Lewis came in for some late pressure from his teammate Valtteri Bottas, but held him off for a double Mercedes podium.
The Australian Grand Prix always has a lot to live up to, kicking off the new season with so much anticipation placed on it for a good and chaotic afternoon's running. This year delivered, perhaps not so much in terms of drivers getting to grips with their new machinery, but certainly in terms of who was fast and who needs to work harder on their reliability.
Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the first race of the 2017 season, which may not have been too much of a surprise, but it was a shock to see Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo end his session in the wall. The Australian got into the top ten but failed to set a time in Q3, instead mangling his car in front of the home crowd.
The Sauber team were forced to make a late replacement for the still-recuperating Pascal Wehrlein after the German driver confirmed he was withdrawing from the first race of the year after two practice sessions. Wehrlein suffered a back injury in a Race of Champions crash in December, and now says: “My fitness level is not as it should be for a full race distance because of my training deficit."
We were all expecting the Mercedes team to continue their domination but Hamilton’s half a second head start over his teammate during FP1 and FP2 was still something of a surprise. Red Bull were best of the rest in the morning session, whilst Ferrari were holding back and letting the rest of the field clean up the dirty track.
The moment we've all been waiting for has finally arrived. Formula One is ready to go racing once again, with a full grid, a packed calendar, and plenty of anticipation to kick off the brand new year. We’ve bid farewell to some familiar faces, including last year’s World Champion Nico Rosberg, and we’ve welcomed in some new blood, including Williams rookie Lance Stroll. We’ve got new look cars, splashes of colour throughout the paddock and plenty of changes to talk about. The first race, as always, takes place in Australia, and it couldn’t be more exciting.
It's a new season which can only mean one thing, the return of Christine's Rankings. Celebrating all things personality rather than handing a trophy to the fastest guy on track (did you know they already do that?), the Rankings is all about social media, fashion, fun videos, great interviews, inspirational posts and more.
The only global driver rankings system that you need to worry about is back for 2017, with a set of fresh faces ready and waiting to be judged by me. If you're new to Christine's Rankings, then the object is simple - drivers receive points for doing awesome things and have points taken away for being rubbish, and it's all judged totally fairly by me, making it the most in-depth and accurate rankings system this site has ever seen.
“I don’t remember how it was last year, but this felt like a good couple of weeks.” So says Lewis Hamilton, who wrapped up two weeks of testing for Mercedes, alongside teammate Valtteri Bottas. The pair of them completed over 1000 laps between them, and saw barely any reliability problems, which should give them both confidence for the season ahead.
Pre-season testing for the 2017 season was highly anticipated by almost everyone - so many changes: drivers, teams, regulations and more helping to make it an unexpected prospect. Unfortunately, for McLaren, it's all been quite similar to the last few seasons - a lack of running due to mechanical problems mostly relating to the Honda engine.
Pre-season testing in Barcelona is all wrapped up now, with the final day dominated by red flags aplenty, but also some fast paced laps from the Ferrari. Kimi Räikkönen managed to set the fastest lap of the day, but also brought out one red flag in the afternoon, when he spun the car and stopped with what appeared to be a gearbox issue.
Red flags were the main feature of day three of the second week of testing, as teams continued to try and get long runs completed but saw their programmes halted on occasion. Sebastian Vettel was the fastest driver on the penultimate pre-season test day, helping Ferrari back to the top of the timesheets.
It took a while for the second day of testing this week to really pick up the pace, but it gradually rumbled into life and brought with it plenty to ponder. Firstly, Mercedes were back on top with Valtteri Bottas posting the fastest time not only of the day, but of the pre-season testing this year so far. He had the supersoft tyres on, which was an advantage, so we're still not reading too much into the lap times.
It was a quiet day of pre-season testing in Spain as the final week began under blue skies in Barcelona. Teams looked to be running longer distances than they did in the first four days, and were concentrating on getting a complete package out of their car, moving on from the early shakedowns we saw last week. There was just one red flag today, brought out by Renault right at the very end of the session.
Since Pirelli re-joined Formula One ahead of the 2011 season, we have become very familiar with Paul Hembery – the spokesperson in the paddock for the Italian tyre manufacturers. Hembery has handled the triumphs and the criticism in equal measure and with relatively good grace, but now it’s time for a change.
Pirelli have long argued that they haven’t been given enough time to fully test their wet tyre offerings, so today, the final test day this week, in Barcelona, they got a full day. The track was artificially dampened before the session began, and also at lunchtime, to keep the drivers running on the blue full wet tyres and the green intermediates wherever possible.
As part of the sport's efforts to allow Pirelli a bit more time testing out their wet tyre selection, the Barcelona track was artificially dampened ahead of the session getting underway. It was the final day of the first week, and with a full wet track waiting, drivers were reluctant to get their Thursday running underway.
It was a quieter day overall in Barcelona, with most of the attention focused in Williams' direction. Rookie driver Lance Stroll suffered two off track excursions that limited their running. He was still faster than McLaren though, with Fernando Alonso concentrating on getting laps completed and working through the aero data gathered, rather than going for all out pace. That was their excuse anyway.
It’s a difficult year to be a rookie entering Formula One, and Lance Stroll is bearing the brunt of the regulation changes. The Williams driver was back in the car today, despite Felipe Massa originally being scheduled to test, but Lance suffered two more red flag incidents that brought his tally up to three crashes in two days.
The second day of testing in Barcelona was a cooler affair with clouds moving in across the Catalunya circuit. Eyebrows were raised at the pace of the Ferraris, with Kimi Räikkönen posting the fastest time on soft tyres and Mercedes managing the second fastest time on the super-soft compounds. Times are not the most important thing in testing though, and the fact that Mercedes managed to complete 168 between their two drivers without an issue is the key point.