Bold new look for Toro Rosso’s 2017 racer

Scuderia Toro Rosso became the final Formula 1 team to unveil its 2017 car, as it took the covers off the STR12 in the pit lane at Circuit de Catalunya.

The STR12, which had already made its track debut in a run at Misano last week, features a completely new look compared to its previous model.

Instead of the traditional paint scheme seen over the past couple of seasons, the STR12 sports a striking blue and red livery, the colours used for Red Bull’s Simply Cola beverage.

Apart from a new look, Toro Rosso will also use a new power unit this year, the Faenza-based squad returning to Renault engine after running year-old Ferrari engines in 2016.

The STR12, designed by a technical team led by James Key, incorporates the shark fin seen in most new cars so far this year.

Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat represent the driver line-up. The Spaniard in his third season at Toro Rosso.

As for Kvyat, he rejoined the team after losing his Red Bull seat to Max Verstappen from the Spanish Grand Prix onwards, and secured a contract extension for 2017.

Toro Rosso will join all its rivals at Barcelona from next week, when official pre-season testing will kick off.


Haas unveils the VF-17

The Haas F1 team revealed their 2017 race car, the VF-17, when it issued pictures of the Ferrari-powered online.

Images of the car had already leaked out on social media after the team conducted a filming day at Barcelona.

The new Haas featured an adjusted livery with a greater degree of grey, as well as the ‘shark fin’ on the engine cover that most 2017 designs so far have featured.

“I think the pedal box is the same, but all the rest is very different from last year’s car,” said team boss Gunther 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.

“Aesthetically, the car has a more aggressive look. It’s lighter and more aerodynamically efficient. Everything we learned from our first car has been applied to our new car.”

Haas made a spectacular start to life in Formula 1 when Romain Grosjean took top-six finishes in the team’s first two Grands Prix.

It could not maintain that momentum, but its later slump was partly because Haas decided to switch resources towards preparing for the 2017 rules particularly early and carried out little in-season development with the 2016 car.

Grosjean stays on for 2017, with Kevin Magnussen moving from Renault to replace Esteban Gutierrez alongside him.

Unlucky 13? Red Bull Racing reveals RB13

Red Bull Racing’s eagerly-awaited RB13 Formula 1 car became the latest new design to be revealed.

With the new rules for this season putting an extra emphasis on aerodynamics – where Adrian Newey-led design team excelled during its dominant years – Red Bull has been widely tipped for a return to championship contention in 2017.

The team won two races with Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo last season, and is expecting further progress from engine supplier Renault too.

Unlike the other large teams, Red Bull Racing opted over a formal launch event and simply released images of the RB13 online.

The car features the shark fine and the thumb nose tip seen in most of 2017 cars so far.

Daniel Ricciardo believes the regulations overhaul has already achieved one aim by making the race cars look more imposing.

“It looks quite beautiful,” he said of the new Red Bull after seeing early images of it. “It definitely looks sleek. They look like the fastest cars in the world. That was the impression I got.”

Max Verstappen echoed his team-mate’s view.

“The car looks very aggressive,” he said. “Hopefully when it looks that aggressive it will be fast, but we still have to wait and see.”

The RB13 certainly looks beautiful. Hopefully it can challenge the mighty Mercedes for championship honours.

Orange is the new black for McLaren

McLaren Honda have revealed a new livery for the MCL32 featuring the team’s heritage orange colour.

The MCL32 is the first McLaren Formula 1 race car since 1980 to not include the ‘MP4’ (Marlboro Project 4) prefix in its name.

McLaren is kicking off a new era after the departure of its long-time boss Ron Dennis, with executive director Zak Brown having taken over at the role.

After weeks of speculation, the much anticipated launch confirmed McLaren will run with an orange branding this season.

“It is awesome,” said Brown. “It is a special day for all of us, first time in a car launch. I think it is a beautiful piece of art and I cannot wait to see Fernando and Stoffel go around the track.

“It was a collective group – we went through a variety of designs and ultimately it was in response to the fans, we have had such outreach from fans ‘we want to have orange’.”

He added: “I am a McLaren fan – we are going to get there. This team is highly frustrated that we are not winning races.

“We have a new package – it takes a bit of time. 2015 was a very difficult year, 2016 wasn’t a great year by McLaren standards but it is forward progress – and that is what we want to see in 2017 – forward progress. ”

The Woking-based outfit had run an orange livery during pre-season testing in 1997, 1998 and 2006, although a full orange livery had only been raced in Formula 1 from 1968 to 1971.

McLaren enters the third season of its partnership with Honda, hoping to take a significant step forward after two disappointing years.

The team’s fortunes improved in 2016 compared to the previous year – when it scored just 27 points – but it was still unable to compete near the front and finished down in sixth place in the constructors’ championship.

Honda’s new engine will feature a revised architecture and a new layout for this year, the Japanese manufacturer moving away from the ‘size zero’ concept with which it returned to the sport in 2015.

McLaren has retained Fernando Alonso for 2017, but the two-time champion will be partnered by Stoffel Vandoorne, who replaces Jenson Button.

The 2009 champion ended his Formula 1 career at the end of 2016 campaign, although he still has a contract with McLaren for next year.

Vandoorne, the 2015 GP2 champion, is already a point-scorer in Formula 1, having replaced Alonso in last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix, following the Spaniard’s massive accident in the first race in Australia.

So the future is looking bright for McLaren. New driver line-up. New boss in charge. New chassis name. Plus a bold orange look. Can the team fight back to competitiveness? Only time will tell.

Ferrari presents the SF70H

Scuderia Ferrari became the sixth Formula 1 team to unveil its new racing car, the SF70H, as the team aims to bounce back from a disappointing 2016 season.

The Scuderia opted an online launch, broadcasting live from Fiorano, where its 2017 challenger will hit the track for the first time later as part of a filming day.

The SF70H features some aggressively sculpted sidepods and has a T-wing fitted to its shark fin engine cover – exploiting the same loophole in the regulations as Mercedes.

Team principal Maurizio Arrivabene, chief technical officer Mattia Binotto and race drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were on stage for the presentation.

The Italian outfit had hoped to challenge for the championship last year after winning three races in 2015 to finish runner-up to Mercedes.

But it fell well short as it struggled with set-up, strategy and tyre temperatures over the course of 2016 and rarely managed to get the most out of its package.

It failed to win a race and was beaten to second in the constructors’ championship by Red Bull Racing, finishing 367 points adrift of Mercedes.

Ferrari’s technical structure was tweaked mid-season when technical director James Allison left the team, with Binotto moving from his role as engine boss to head up the technical department.

Mercedes introduces their 2017 title defender, the W08

Reigning Formula 1 world champion Mercedes have officially unveiled their 2017 race car, the W08, at a launch event at Silverstone.

The Silver Arrows has already broken cover earlier when it completed a few laps under the sport’s “filming day” allowance with Lewis Hamilton at the wheel

Its nose is narrower and features a more rounded end compared to the thumb stub as seen on rivals Williams, Sauber and Renault.

A small shark fin was revealed at the race track, but a larger version of it is expected to be tested later.

“It is so exciting to see this thing come together,” said Hamilton as he and new team-mate Valtteri Bottas revealed the car.

“From working in the windtunnel, then they have this jig which is into real carbon fibre, you see it all come together, do the seat fitting over the winter and in the last few days seeing it all appearing, somehow they all just slot in perfectly.

“Driving today, naturally the car feels wider, which it is, and the front tyres feel huge.

“There is quite a lot of grip already even in the cold conditions here.

“This is not a test, really the laps I did today were behind a vehicle to get filming in and just a shakedown.

“I got to go a little bit faster but it’s so gusty and it is wet.”

Former Williams driver Bottas had a late call to join the team that has dominated the last three Formula 1 seasons after Nico Rosberg retired days after clinching the 2016 championship.

“It is a big day for me,” said Bottas.

“Driving a Silver Arrow for the first time is something very special.

“I have been waiting for this moment for quite a while and also for the test for a long time.

“I am going to drive the car in less than an hour, it feels real and I am amazed how good the car is looking.

“What I really like about this is how clean it looks, but there is a massive amount of detail on the rear end and bargeboards – development has been done – and how far everything has been taken with this car.

“It looks cool.”

Mercedes has dominated the sport since 2014, when the championship switched to a V6 turbo-hybrid engine formula, winning 51 of the 59 Grands Prix.

Force India’s bold 2017-spec racer

Force India unveiled the VJM10 at a press event at Silverstone featuring an unique take on the sport’s 2017 regulations.

As was the case with the previous three Formula 1 cars released so far this year, the VJM10 features a thumb-tip nose and a huge shark fin, as well as significantly different front and rear wings to meet the new aerodynamic rules.

The Mercedes-powered design will be driven by team regular Sergio Perez and former Manor driver Esteban Ocon, who replaces Renault-bound Nico Hulkenberg.

It is the tenth Formula 1 challenger produced under the Force India brand, with the sometime Jordan, Midland and Spyker team now nearly a decade into its stint under Vijay Mallya.

Force India enjoyed its strongest season to date in 2016, when it finished in fourth position in the constructors’ championship with 173 points, beating the likes of Williams and McLaren.

“I’m very excited,” said Mallya as the car was unveiled.

“Many commentators have said we punch well above our weight and to add to that we are world champions for the amount of money spent.

“It is a huge compliment, it speaks volumes for the passions, creativity and talent of my team and everyone at the factory.

“This passion will get more intense and the passion to improve further is going to be pretty relevant in 2017.”

Technical director Andy Green said the scale of design change prompted by the new regulations was much higher than usual.

“Compared to previous seasons, this is as close to brand new – it is 95% brand new,” he said.

“The philosophy is similar but we are effectively starting from scratch.

“It was a jigsaw to put together but we have the basis of a car now.”

The VJM10 may not win the beauty contest but lets hope the new racer is competitive in the upcoming world championship.


Renault shows off R.S.17

Renault have revealed their 2017 racer, the R.S. 17, featuring a new livery, with the team targeting fifth position in the the upcoming Formula 1 championship.

The R.S. 17 sports Renault’s traditional yellow colour scheme, but with a lot more black compared to last year. A re-shaped rear wing and the thumb-tip nose design are similar to the Williams and Sauber. In addition, the shark fin engine cover is expected to be seen on all cars.

Powered by the new RE17 engine, which is a departure from last season’s power unit, having undergone a radical overhaul after Renault felt the old design had reached its maximum potential.

Last year marked the French manufacturer’s return to Formula 1 with its own team, having taken over the Lotus squad the previous year.

Renault is aiming to bounce back from a disappointing 2016 season where it finished in ninth position with just eight points scored.

The team spent a big part of 2016 restructuring and recruiting new staff ahead of what is set to be a stronger challenge this year.

“2017 will be a great year, a crucial year,” commented Jerome Stoll, Renault Sport Racing Chairman. “For the first time the car is developed by us and we expect to be fifth. We have the team, the drivers, the partners and the organisation.”

Team principal Fred Vasseur parted company with Renault last month, the Frenchman citing differences of opinion among the senior management as the reason for his exit.

Recently the team hired former Red Bull Racing man Pete Machin as its head of aerodynamics.

On the driver front, former Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg joins Jolyon Palmer, the German replacing Haas-bound Kevin Magnussen in the Enstone-based line-up.

Sauber reveals anniversary colours with the C36

Sauber have become the second Formula 1 team to release images of their 2017 race car, with the Ferrari-powered C36 sporting a shark fin engine cover and a new livery.

The Swiss outfit, which finished tenth in the constructors’ championship last season, will unveil the new car in full on February 22 during a filming day at Barcelona.

Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein will be Sauber’s drivers this upcoming season, though Antonio Giovinazzi will fulfil testing duties for the injured Wehrlein at the first test, which starts on February 27.

The C36 features a reshaped rear wing, similar to that of the Williams FW40, and a thumb-tip nose design at the front of the car.

The blue, white and gold livery marks the team’s 25th season in Formula 1.

New technical director Jorg Zander said the team “put greater emphasis on aerodynamic stability as opposed to maximising downforce” with the C36.

Zander, who joins from Audi ahead of this season, added that the decision to run a year-old Ferrari engine gave Sauber a solid foundation as it is “a tried and tested system with higher durability to begin with.

“Being able to get started early and defining the engine environment was an advantage because the team was familiar with the engine and the transmission as well as the cooling requirements the engine entailed.”

Williams unveils FW40, the new looking Formula 1 racer

Wiliams Martini Racing becomes the first Formula 1 team to release pictures of their 2017 race car, showing how the new regulations have dramatically impacted the look of these racing machines for the upcoming season.

The computer-generated images of the team’s Mercedes-powered FW40 – named to mark the occasion of Williams’ 40th anniversary in the sport – demonstrates the wider and lower characteristics of the new cars.

The 2017 regulation changes have been designed to boost downforce and grip, making the cars both faster and physically harder to drive, with a reduction in lap time of around 3 to 5 seconds expected.

At the front of the FW40, the thumb-tip nose design that first became a feature of some cars from three seasons ago remains, with Williams’s solution very similar to the set-up it used in 2015-16.

The wide, slick Pirelli tyres and angled wings do make the cars look dramatic although the Martini livery is getting a little stale.

At the wheel of the FW40 will be Felipe Massa, who rejoined Williams following his brief retirement after Valtteri Bottas left for Mercedes – to replace the out-going world champion Nico Rosberg – and Canadian rookie, Formula 3 champion Lance Stroll.