Formula 1 Season Preview

The new Formula 1 season is upon us and we take a look at the new campaign which includes a number of rule changes and new looks.

We will preview every round as well as the season ahead and we will be getting expert opinion from our own F1 expert in former driver Martin Donnelly.

The new season looks a long one stretching from March to November, and the Forumla 1 Calendar for 2017 looks like this;
March 26 – Australia (Melbourne)
April 9 – China (Shanghai)
April 16 – Bahrain (Bahrain)
April 30 – Russia (Sochi)
May 14 – Spain (Barcelona)
May 28 – Monaco (Monte Carlo)
June 11 – Canada (Montreal)
June 25 – Azerbaijan (Baku)
July 9 – Austria (Spielberg)
July 16 – Great Britain (Silverstone)
July 30 – Hungary (Budapest)
August 27 – Belgium (Spa)
September 3 – Italy (Monza)
September 17 – Singapore (Singapore)
October 1 – Malaysia (Sepang)
October 8 – Japan (Suzuka)
October 22 – USA (Austin)
October 29 – Mexico (Mexico City)
November 12 – Brazil (Sao Paulo)
November 26 – Abu Dhabi

A gruelling run of dates lies ahead for all the teams and drivers, but we also have a range of new rules and specs in 2017 ahead of the opening date in Australia,

Firstly and the thing that caught all the headlines are the new wheels with the tyres being 25% wider, which allows the cars to be faster in tandem with other extras such as more downforce.

Popular with the drivers is less driver-aids which will make the faster machines harder to drive but if they do master it they will reap the rewards with the cards being up to five seconds a lap faster on some tracks.

Drivers can still only use four engines per season, but upgrades can be added without penalty now.

Of course the biggest change in F1 is that the sport are under new stewardship with Bernie Ecclestone replaced following the buy-out by Liberty Media who have installed a number of news faces with the hugely respected former team boss Ross Brawn in charge of sporting matters – but he admits life is already proving tough.

“There’s always going to be differences of opinion, there’s going to be different views on things and things sometimes get a bit heated,” he said

“The elephant in the room, we all know, is distribution of funds, and the discussions need to start on that so that everyone knows where everyone stands and we can start to find solutions.

“It’s not about razzmatazz and all the rest of it, it’s about lifting the whole business. Can we do that? It’s going to be a big challenge, but we can try.”


We spoke with Betfred’s F1 expert Craig Durnin ahead of the new season about the market.

“We make Hamilton a clear favourite, Mercedes have been the dominant force in F1 since 2014 and Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton’s new teammate, is not at the same level as Hamilton or indeed as the retired World Champion Nico Rosberg,” he told

“After testing it’s hard to see past Hamilton as the champion elect.  Currently we see Vettel as his biggest championship rival at 7/2.

“Max Verstappen has been a big drifter on our e/w market (Top Three Finish) after the Red Bull somewhat underperformed in testing.  He’s currently priced at 7/1 Outright and therefore 7/5 to finish in the top three.”

Durnin suggests Ferarri are very much on course to be the biggest challengers to Mercedes in the coming season.

“All the money we’ve seen has actually been for Ferrari on this market who are now in to 3/1 from an opening price of 9/1.  Ferrari have performed well in testing and have the experience of two past world champions in Vettel and Raikkonen and the market seems unsure about Bottas’ potential at Mercedes,” he continued.

We now look through every team and driver with exclusive insight from our F1 expert Martin Donnelly – a former F1 driver and FIA steward and he is looking forward to the new season ahead.

“Everyone is full of enthusiasm and trepidation, after what has been a major refresh – the cards look better, sound better and are faster,” Donnelly told

“It looks exciting, hopefully Liberty Media will ramp things up more – something like, for me bring a third car in for teams – lets have 30 cars or so on the grid, bring in new sponsors. That could enhance the show for me.”


Martin says: “They will be up there and Bottas will be very quick – don’t forget about him. This is a great opportunity for him to work in this fantastic team. I see him as the biggest rival to Lewis Hamilton for the World Championship.
Constructors Championship odds: 4/11
Drivers’ Championship odds: Lewis Hamilton 10/11; Valterri Bottas 11/2
What they say:
Lewis Hamilton: “Well, I am fitter, I am working harder than ever before and I am super focused and driven after last year – when I also worked hard through the year but didn’t get the result I wanted. So I want change and that is what the team and I are working so hard to achieve. I am not really sure, but I don’t think that any team has ever won championships across rules changes – and that is the big goal for us. I’m hungry for the fourth world championship.
Valtteri Bottas: “I know this is a special opportunity and I have a lot of things to prove to secure my place for the long term. That’s how it goes. I’m fine with it. It’s a massive opportunity for me this season to prove myself. I’m only here to win. That’s the only thing.”


Martin says: “According to Ricciardo in pre-season testing they seem about half-a-second off but they have a brilliant chassis via Adrian Newey, so I would see them still challenging for the podium. The pairing in this team works so well – they are team players.”
Constructors Championship odds: 11/2
Drivers’ Championship odds: Daniel Ricciardo 9/1; Max Verstappen 7/1
Daniel Ricciardo: “For the fans, it would be great to have two teams fighting for a title as opposed to one. It creates more of a challenge and it’s more rewarding as well, if you win. For the past few years, sure, Lewis and Nico have won world titles but they’ve won them against each other. They haven’t beaten 20 of us.”
Max Verstappen: “Wishing to become world champion is too easy. You also need to fight for it, I just want the best car and the rest is up to you. It’s hard to say. Personally, I think that we aren’t the best team yet, but we need to wait and see. After qualifying in Australia we will be able to see how it is, based purely on speed. In any case, we are not heading off to Melbourne with the thought of being able to take pole (position).”


Martin says: “Ferrari in testing were sandbagging, they were lifting off – that was clear to see, so they have something in the bag. This is such a long calendar now and Ferrari I am sure will be on the pace, but we need to see how they cope on the tracks with the big straights which still looks like being the preserve of Mercedes.”
Constructors Championship odds: 3/1
Drivers’ Championship odds: Sebastian Vettel 7/2; Kimi Raikkonen 10/1
Sebastian Vettel: “All I can say is that the spirit in the team is good, everyone is working for everyone else’s benefit.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “The car is very reliable, you expect small things to be happening when you are pushing the car to the limit. The guys have done an amazing job.”


Martin says: “Ocon will keep Sergio Perez honest, he has done well – they are one of the Mercedes engine teams so they will have some strength for sure.”
Constructors Championship odds:
Drivers’ Championship odds: Sergio Perez 250/1; Esteban Ocon 500/1
Esteban Ocon: “I think we’re on track to extract everything we can from the car, which is our objective. We’ll go out and do the best we can and see where we are.”
Sergio Perez “I am very optimistic about the car and the season. Of course it is easy to talk now, but I have a feeling that Force India has done a tremendous job.”


Martin says: “Stroll has come in with his father paying big money, so the pressure will be on him to perform. Williams have looked quite strong in testing and the mid-table battle between them and Force India will be fascinating I am sure. And with Paddy Lowe in, they don’t have any excuses to be competing – all the elements are in place for them.”
Constructors Championship odds:
Drivers’ Championship odds: Felipe Massa 200/1; Lance Stroll 500/1
Felipe Massa: “There is a big change in F1 – in the rules, in the management structure – and I am happy to be part of these interesting times. But on top of all that, I want to be competitive.”
Lance Stroll: “The top three teams will be very hard to catch, but after that, it’s a battle. We must not set a figure in our mind. We’ll see the result when races come.”


Martin says: “It has been a shocker so far, they have been nowhere in testing and have got very little done. It has been proved that Honda is so much slower in a straight line, and compared to Mercedes is day and night. And after two or three races it could be really hard going.”
Constructors Championship odds:
Drivers’ Championship odds: Stoffel Vandoorne 100/1; Fernando Alonso 150/1
Stoffel Vandoorne: “I feel confident in the car, and over the past years, McLaren have done a good job to prepare me to do this job. We will have to improve as a team, that’s for sure”
Fernando Alonso: “I feel confident that this year we will be competitive. I don’t know at which point.”


Martin says: “Sainz is top-drawer, he showed that last year but these guys are only as good as sometimes what is put in front of them. Toro Rosso are on the back foot this year.”
Constructors Championship odds:
Drivers’ Championship odds: Daniil Kvyat 500/1; Carlos Sainz 200/1
Daniil Kvyat: I’m focusing on this year. What happened last year has been locked in my personal safe and that’s it. It may be different, but all in all I think I’m ready to fight again with a proper competitive edge that I always have.’’
Carlos Sainz: “It is no secret that I try to be a world champion in the near future. To be that you need to beat people like Lewis, like [Sebastian] Vettel, like Fernando [Alonso] – all the other guys in the top teams. I believe I am capable of doing that – I just need the right material.”


Martin says: “They started so well last year but didn’t have the technical ability to carry it on – but they have two very good drivers. The team has experience under the belt and has good funding so hopefully they can push on.”
Constructors Championship odds:
Drivers’ Championship odds: Romain Grosjean 250/1; Kevin Magnussen 500/1
Romain Grosjean: “We really want to keep the development going and push through the year, improving race after race.”
Kevin Magnussen: “I wasn’t here last year obviously so I can’t tell really how they did then, but you know the job they’ve done this year with the quality of the car and the component and the chassis is very nice. Completely up to [the standard of] any of my previous experiences, so I’m very happy.”


Martin says: “It was a year of consolidation for them, but they have moved forward that is for sure and the car looks better to drive and Red Bull are still using Renault and doing well, so that is a good sign – these new teams can hopefully help close the gap.”

Constructors Championship odds:
Drivers’ Championship odds: Jolyon Palmer 500/1; Nico Hulkenberg 500/1
Jolyon Palmer: “The ride quality is where we were weak last year. We’ve made a big step this year. We’ve got much better tools to deal with that now. It’s something we learnt from last year, and we learnt the hard way.
Nico Hulkenberg: “Renault has proved in the past what they can do. They have become world champions several times so when the project was presented to me, it was a clear decision to take. What can I do? Turn this project into a success story.”


Martin says: “Wehrlein should have stepped up but the Mercedes board did not think he was experienced enough. But Sauber have had a very difficult few winter months but they have some new investment so lets hope they can sustain themselves.”
Constructors Championship odds:
Drivers’ Championship odds: Marcus Ericsson 1000/1; Pascal Wehrlein 500/1
Marcus Ericsson: “I can’t wait to finally kick off the 2017 Formula One season in Australia. After challenging pre-season testing with a lot of data collection and preparation, I am going to Melbourne with a positive mindset.”
Pascal Wehrlein: “At the moment I am not on my limit where I could be, because of the [lack of] experience and that is quite clear.”

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