Nicholas Frankl F1 Report - 2017 is GO GO GO!
The Auto Channel
After the testing, the grandstanding, and the hot laps to impress the media and sponsors it all comes down to the beautiful metropolitan city of Melbourne, Australia.
It would appear that against all odds - and my own judgment! - that Ferrari, who are celebrating their 70th birthday this month, and therefore under even more extreme pressure than a ‘normal’ year, will be serious challengers to the Mercedes throne this season. Knowing Ferrari with their high flying stock RACE and direction from their Fiat bosses I bet they have budgeted a large (maybe close to $500m) sum to break the German dominance. Both drivers appear to like the car which is apparently fast and, hopefully, reliable. Renault are also feeling emboldened with Hulkenberg already showing speed and his team mate, Palmer, also seemingly getting on much better with the car. After a very disappointing 2016 it would be great to see Nico on the podium, something that is long overdue and much deserved. Maybe he can achieve that goal in Monaco this year, a city and track he loves. Already all the drivers have warned about the difficulty in overtaking with the new wider cars:
Hulk called it “like driving a truck” and thinks it will be even more challenging to overtake – so it’s a source of great happiness that I hear that the FIA has established a passing committee... Can you imagine such a thing only a few years ago? It seems that anytime a driver manages, against all odds, to actually pass a similarly matched and therefore tough to take competitor, the race stewards have to investigate it. Wow! Just what us fans want, regulated and controlled racing at the top level. How pathetic.
McLaren, as I predicted, are in very serious trouble. The engine is fundamentally no good. What can Zak Brown realistically achieve? I don’t think he’ll try to take the Honda millions (tens of millions) and exit the contract, which I believe runs till 2021 and then switch mid-season back to Mercedes power, that is not a route to short term success or the championship long term as they will never have the same power plant as the factory team. A much better and more stable plan will be to use his contacts within racing - like at Cosworth Engineering where he sits on the board and who have 40 years top racing experience and hundreds of wins with the legendary Ford V8 DFV and other units - and get them to redesign parts of the engine initially (since I hear the pre-combustion and combustion chambers are using ten year old technology) and then do a total redesign for 2018.
Honda would have to agree to give Cosworth engineers access to their secrets, not that they are currently worth too much quite frankly. There’s no guarantee Cosworth could pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat, but I understand that the CEO of Honda Japan is personally involved in the next steps of this embarrassing farce.
I haven’t seen anything yet that shows me that Mercedes won’t still dominate: Lewis will be a 4-time world champion and RB plus Ferrari will grab wins and take enough points from each other that allows Silver Arrows to win again. Keep your fingers crossed for more track action and more passing (passing committee be damned!)