It’s a new era in Formula 1, new regs and new owners so it’s about time Sir Andrew Middlemore of the Shire- aka Frantic, fixed his coffee stained laptop, dusted off his crystal ball and wrote an irreverent, cheeky article. What better than an accurate round-by-round prediction of this year’s F1 world championship?
Without further hesitation let’s see what 2017 holds…In Andy’s world.
*Please note Frantic (Andrew) has been enjoying a lot of Professor Brian Cox’s work and is going on the notion that there an infinite number of universe with an infinite number of outcomes which means somewhere in some reality this does happen. And that’s the get-out clause for the end of the year. (Also he didn’t understand most of what Prof Cox said so who knows)
The teams all launch their cars, but gone are the days of big budget launches and with deals still not sorted with Liberty Media, some teams are tighter on cash more than ever. Whilst the likes of Mercedes and Red Bull just pull off the sheets and drivers sit on the wheels and smile, further down the grid Sauber, whose financial concerns are not clear, don’t actually have money to spend on sheets to cover the cars. Instead the team ask all the press and photographers to turn around and close their eyes and they will shout “go” when they can turn around and look. After this the team strongly deny their car is “the 2016 car that was the 2015 car and they have glued cardboard on to it make it look like the new regs” but also say they will not be out in the upcoming wet test.
The main talk is of how the new cars look and the faster lap times. However, given the lack of testing days, there’s no clear picture of who is where. The only signs are, Mercedes are 5 seconds a lap quicker than everyone else and have done 1,000 more laps than the rest of the field put together. McLaren launch with the same livery as last year sending twitter into an angry meltdown. The team say this is a testing livery only and new colours will be shown in Australia.
Round 1 Australia
The first round gets under way and the main talking point coming in to the weekend is that with the new regs, this will be the greatest season ever. It will be so close that no one places any bets on what could happen.
Lewis Hamilton wins by 3 laps from Bottas. Ferrari are 5th and 6th and “making good progress on closing the gap to Mercedes” Red Bull instantly decry the new regs and say they need to be scrapped. A confused Christian Horner is seen walking up and down the back of the pitlane trying to find the Bernie bus as it turns out no one told him about the new owners in the off season when he was boxed up for the winter. McLaren are still not competitive and Alonso finishes 17th on 5 cylinders but says the car has potential and points out that the orange of the car looks great.
Round 2 Chinese Grand Prix.
In order to liven up qualifying the teams agree on a change in the format between races. Toto Wolff explains the format in which the qualifying is split in to 3 segments and would always be on ultra softs for the fastest possible times with the new super-fast cars. Q1 is where slowest 8 cars and the fastest 8 cars go through because it was agreed the casual fan won’t remember the ones in the middle anyway. The 2nd quickest lap time is the one used to go through as it means cars will be on the track more. Q2 sees the slowest 4 and fastest 4 go through but if their lap times are slower than any set in Q1 they will have a penalty that will put them back on the grid. Q3 will consist of the final runners all setting a lap time which will be 3 fast laps plus the out lap and in lap and also have a second knocked off their time if they pass a car whilst going around and a second off if you are passed.
All team principles believe this is a simple, easy to follow format for the fans, but due to a typo in the tyre regulations instead of 10 sets of tyres for the whole session there is only 1 set. There is no chance to change the regulations as that would need an emergency FIA meeting and Fax vote 2 weeks after the event.
So with ultra-softs only available, the drivers are forced to go super conservative just to get to the end of qualifying setting the slowest qualifying times ever at the Chinese track. Next day, the qualifying finally finishes an hour before the race is to start but Lewis Hamilton wins by a lap from Riccardo and Max with Bottas out on lap 6 with technical issues. But the talk Sunday night is still on the qualifying. Nikki Lauda says live on TV “This is the stupidest idea Formula 1 has ever had, and I have been in the series whilst it allows Eddie Jordan to be on TV. I don’t know who came up with this idea but they need sacking.”
Round 3 Bahrain Grand Prix.
In the gap between the last race and this one, it turns out it was Niki Lauda who came up with the new qualifying format and says we should give it time. The format is running fine as the tyre issue is fixed but then it rains in Q2. As the teams go to get wet tyres there are nothing but empty racks with Pirelli’s Paul Hembrey having explained they didn’t bring any as “we are in the damn desert for crying out loud”. As no lap times are set, the complex rules basically end up seeing Rio Haryanto on pole as he was just finishing the 2016 race in his Manor Racing car.
Hamilton wins with Williams F1’s Massa just 4 laps behind in second. Bottas’s car blows up on lap 3 squashing all hopes of a repeat of 2014 race that was the most and only entertaining race at the track and everyone is sick of the recap and constant reminder of it throughout the race weekend. McLaren say they will have a new engine to match the amazing new colours they have after the fly away races.
Round 4 Russian GP
In a role reversal of 2016, Max Verstappen hits Vettel 5 times on the first lap and also spins taking out Riccardo and Sainz jr in one swoop. Daniel Kvyat takes an impressive 2nd place just 2 laps behind the winner Lewis Hamilton. Kvyat is promoted to Red Bull and Max dropped to Toro Rosso for Spain. The race is under the safety car for 30 laps as they had to wait for Vettel to stop swearing sitting in his battered Ferrari. Qualifying was worked out by reversing the point standings as they didn’t have time finish Qualifying for race day. The team principles have another meeting on the qualifying format and agree to keep with it and try it for the next race.
Round 5 Spanish GP.
The qualifying issues take another turn when just as the grid is finalised. Both McLaren’s and Bottas have to take engine penalties whilst both Ferrari’s have to take gearbox penalties and Hulkenberg gets a 10-place penalty too so he can have a mention in this article. This causes the stewards to walk out of the event stating “they are getting tired of this crap”.
The race begins with no officials or FIA interference and turns out to be the best dry race in the last 10 years. With Lewis Hamilton only winning by 57 seconds. Though he did spend the last 3 laps celebrating in 1st gear waving to the crowd. Bottas’s new engine gives out on lap 2. McLaren say the new engine will be ready soon to go with the amazing orange for the glitz and glamour of Monaco.
Round 6 Monaco
McLaren finaly have a new spec engine and a colour scheme update of black and silver. Everyone is very disappointed even when Zak Brown tries to explain it is a new very, very, very dark black. Which is darker than the previous black and they did not forget to order more Orange paint. The new engine is installed but then blows up as it is lowered off the jacks. Luckily for the team, Qualifying and practice is scrapped to add extra excitement after the teams agree that maybe the previous format was not working. Instead, there is a Katy Perry concert Thursday to Saturday and the new rules are as soon as Charlie say go all cars drive out the pit garages and just race and saves money not setting the cars up and running them. However, the new wider cars all get stuck in the narrow Monaco pitlane. Hamilton is credited with the win as he gets his car furthest down the pitlane before getting fully wedged in.
Round 7 Canada
No race occurs as the cars are all still stuck in Monaco. They were able to move the cars out of the pitlane but the roads were opened up and the cars were all stuck with the rest of the general public.
Round 8 Azerbaijan
No race here either as there is no way the cars can get around the narrow turns 7-8. Ferrari are annoyed as they say this was where they were going to win as this track suites their car. Although no track has so far and the team have only 20% of the points they scored in 2016. Vettel insists the team will make progress however.
Round 9 Austria
The 2017 cars lap the track under the 60 second barrier all except for Bottas whose car fails to start all weekend. Max Verstappen has now been demoted to the GP2 team for poor results in the last 2 races. When he points out the last two races didn’t happen, Helmut Marko dismisses this as “same old driver excuses”. Hamilton has already lapped the entire field by the 5th lap and wins by such a large margin no one is really sure as even the live timing fell asleep. The big talk is if Alonso will stay on in F1 after he’s been seen several times in the WEC paddock and has yet to beat his younger team mate Vandoorne. When asked if Button is coming back for 2018, Zak Brown says there will be talks about that as soon as Jenson actually answers his phone or replies to the emails sent.
Round 10 UK
The possibly last but not last but might be last as can’t afford it but won’t be last as there’s a possible deal to sort this out British GP is a washout. There is that much rain that the car parks actually swallow all the tents and cars parked on them. Whilst people are annoyed they have lost all their belongings to the mud, they do actually get out of the venue and walk home quicker than ever before.
The race is also a chance to test the new wet start procedures however the safety car actually ends up staying out for the entire race. However, there is a positive spin put on the whole situation as its reported by all the media that this was “The closest finish of the season”, Hamilton only won by 5 seconds and when asked by the press if he felt any pressure, he did remark that the toughest point was the far back of the track where there was no wifi so he couldn’t snapchat Roscoe. Bottas also has his best race of the season by getting to lap 15 before his car breaks down.
Round 11 Hungary
With no rain and these regs, no one was able to stay awake long enough at this track to know what happened. The race is declared void as time itself fell asleep so it wasn’t recorded who won (Hamilton).
Round 12 Belgium
For the first time in the season someone other than Hamilton leads a lap, Riccardo led lap 1 as Lewis was delayed finishing his new album off and doesn’t start the race until the rest of the field are all past Eau Rouge. However whilst this is a setback, he does lead from lap 2 onwards. One lap more than Bottas’s car manages. Red Bull have a new engine upgrade and Riccardo is now a clear 2nd in the title. All media outlets run articles on how the fight is not over yet and Daniel can still take it to Lewis
Round 13 Italy
Riccardo is out for the rest of the season. He turns ill after celebrating being on the podium in the last race doing a “Shoey” and giving himself sock poisoning. The 2nd deadliest virus known to man. Medical experts say the fact he had done so many in 2016, they are amazed he is still walking.
Lewis wins from Kvyat who is partnered by Verstappen as he inherited Riccardo’s seat. Max who had been demoted to the Red Bull soapbox team (reserve driver) jumps on the chance and beats Kvyat to 2nd in the race by 30 seconds. Helmut Marko says this isn’t enough to say he definitely has a drive for the next race as a podium is first of the loosers.
Lewis wins yet again by a mile. Off track Ferrari announce they are making progress in the team and Maurizio Arrivabene says he has been assured that despite the tough season the management are fully supportive and are looking forward to exciting new things in 2018. As he says this in front of the motorhome his sacking from the team is announced on their website, this is pointed out to him he simply stares at the camera mouthing what looks like “oh duck”.
Round 14 Singapore
The Ferrari team have not announced any replacement for Arrivabene and there is no acting replacement leaving the team strangely with no one in charge. Paddock insiders point out they haven’t had anyone in pit strategy either since 2016 and it’s just like Ferrari of the 90’s.
In the race, Max Vestappen finishes 2nd to Lewis Hamilton again as Bottas finds his car is possessed and starts to act on its own driving him out of the circuit and to the local night life. Mercedes later discover the car was affected by the passing trams causing a “technical issue” and rubbish reports the car has become self-aware but are putting Bottas in a new car for the next race.
Round 15 Malaysia
Hamilton says this is an important race to erase the memories of last year and duly wins 5 laps ahead of Vestappen. When Red Bull are asked if this run of podium results have finally given him a drive for 2018, Marko says it is too early to say after all he made one mistake earlier in the season so how can they make any decisions based on that?
Bottas’s new car brings no luck as he crashes out after hitting a part of Lewis’s engine remains that hadn’ tbeen swept up from 2016. The F1 circus are sad that this looks to be the final F1 race at the track. Whilst nothing is confirmed for 2018, team members notice that as they leave Sunday night all “Welcome to Malaysia” banners have been replaced with “Now pi** off”
Round 16 Japan
Fernando Alonso holds a press conference at Honda’s home track to discuss the 2017 season. The first question is, how does he think this season has gone? Alonso does not speak but instead pulls out a model of the 2017 McLaren and then smashes in with a hammer and just screams at it for half an hour finishing with a version of “Things can only get better” played on the spoons and leaves saying he has not finalised his 2018 contract yet. In the race Hamilton wins again. Vettel is 2nd and Max Verstappen finishes 3rd. Red Bull slams Max’s performance of allowing a Ferrari to beat him and will not get a drive in 2018. Bottas comes within 35 laps of the finish before his car implodes
Round 17 Austin
The F1 circus ends up racing 4 days late after the entire series ends up stuck in customs due to another travel ban in the country. The Haas team try to take home advantage but the drivers are stuck in customs so the hire Scott Speed for the day who instantly crashes as suddenly there are walls built up in front of all the teams garages and at the end of the pit lane. Hamilton is awarded the victory. Just because.
Round 18 Mexico
Hamilton is world champion—he may have already been for that last few races—but everyone gave up counting some time ago. He promptly wins again. Over at Ferrari, Arrivabene is back in charge after his sacking. The team deny reports this is because no one else wanted the job. But it is the case.
Round 19 Brazil
After a consistent mid-points season, Felipe Massa finds himself leading a mad wet race with 3 laps to go. Hamilton is closing him down however, after falling behind due to staying in the pits as Roscoe doesn’t like the rain and he had to comfort him for a bit. Massa gets within 20 seconds of the finish line as Hamilton blasts past in a cruel reminder of 2008. As he returns to the pitlane, he gets a repeat of 2016 with the mechanics coming out to cheer him. In an emotional press conference, he announces this was his last F1 race in Brazil “for sure” this time. However, as he is signing some autographs in the paddock Clair Williams sneaks in a 3-year extension contract between the posters and cards and not noticing, Massa signs it and is locked in. Annoyingly this means he still can’t have his car from 2016.
The end of a long season is finally here, everyone is looking forward to the off season, Ferrari say 2018 will be better as does every other team bar Mercedes which is good for journalists as they just dig out the same articles for last year and change the dates. In the race Hamilton is on for 20 wins in a row when the engine expires and Bottas goes on to win from Vettel and Kyvat. Bottas is over the moon to finally finish, let alone win, and enjoys the moment on the podium only for it to interrupted by booing. Lewis fans are furious that Lewis’s car failed and twitter explodes that there is clearly a conspiracy against him and the team want Bottas to win. Fans demand Mercedes apologise and explain themselves. Nico Rosberg doing the podium interviews simply opens with “See Valtteri this is why I retired…”