By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
Before we discuss some of the changes hitting Mercedes, let’s take a look at some of what was accomplished under the old regulations. First off, they enter 2017 as the defending champions as a constructor, and as a driver’s champion with the Nico Rosberg. The past three seasons have seen the German outfit capture three constructor titles, which were matched equally with driver’s championships, along with 51 victories.
However, the stunning retirement of reigning F1 champion Rosberg put the team in a bit of a scramble. The end result came through a deal with Williams F1, which brought over Valtteri Bottas to pilot alongside Lewis Hamilton in a one-year deal for 2017.
The team showcased its reliability in preseason testing with 1,096 laps (first overall), but saw Scuderia Ferrari set pace four out of the eight days, including the best overall lap time. New technical regulations have brought some intrigue for the upcoming season and one has to wonder if their supreme reign over the sport has come to an end.
|No. 44||Lewis Hamilton||(Great Britain)|
|No. 77||Valtteri Bottas||(Finland)|
|Executive Director||Toto Wolff|
|Non-Executive Director||Niki Lauda|
|Technical Director||James Allison|
Attempting to Keep the Crown
Although the addition of Bottas is the most obvious change, the one that might make the biggest impact is the loss of Paddy Lowe. In a twist of irony, Lowe has since found a home back at Williams, but James Allison comes over from Ferrari to mitigate the otherwise astronomical loss.
Another unknown for everyone at Brackley is the engine, and that is simply because what is debuting in Australia is a different specification than what was had in preseason testing. As a works team, this move doesn’t happen unless Mercedes is supremely confident in the power unit package, so in all likelihood there is nothing to be concerned about there.
With a one-year deal at Mercedes and touted as one of the best drivers not on a top level team for a few years now, can Bottas really get on with it and challenge for a championship? Or is he strictly a team player or a shield that enhances the politics of Hamilton’s success due to his longevity with the team?
This relationship should prove to be a lot less toxic than that of Hamilton/Rosberg, but with that sits another question: Is Hamilton less motivated to go for a fourth title because he can’t compete against Rosberg?
These things will get sorted as the season goes on and it shouldn’t take away from the overall results in a big way if the car has the pace.
Ferrari and Red Bull have a target zeroed in on Mercedes. There is a real aspect that Mercedes is in for a fight this season, even so, they’ll be tough to dethrone from the top spot. At worst, they finish second overall in the constructor’s and the driver’s title, but it would go down to the bitter end.