We have entered 2017 and a new year of motorsport edges closer. Here are some of the competitors and topics that are interesting me ahead of the new motorsport season.
There have been plenty of rider changes for 2017, two of the most notable for me are Maverick Vinales moving to Yamaha and Jorge Lorenzo moving to Ducati.
I am therefore eager to see how they will do throughout 2017 for their respective new team’s. Especially Vinales who impressed in the post-season test after the Valencian Grand Prix for Yamaha.
In 2016 the premier class saw nine different riders claim a Grand Prix victory. With many teams fielding strong rider line ups for 2017, I believe the series could get close to that number again in 2017. but how close?
With Audi gone from the LMP1 class it leaves just Porsche and Toyota providing a manufacturer presence in the category for 2017. As the defending drivers’ and manufacturers’ champion, Porsche will be seen as the pacesetter in LMP1 in 2017.
Therefore, for me, the main question is how competitive will Toyota be throughout the season. They claimed one victory in 2016 but were on course to win at Spa-Francorchamps and Le Mans before reliability issues struck.
I hope Toyota are competitive and reliable to ensure that we see another exciting season in the LMP1 category in 2017.
There have been several driver changes for 2017, potentially the most high profile being Josef Newgarden who has moved to Penske. I am eager to see how he performs alongside Will Power, Helio Castroneves and defending champion, Simon Pagenaud.
I would also keep track of the 2016 rookies Max Chilton, Spencer Pigot, Conor Daly and 2016 Indy 500 winner, Alexander Rossi, as to how they perform in their second season in the series.
The series will also see the full time return of J.R. Hildebrand whose last full season in the series was in 2012. He takes Josef Newgarden’s seat at Ed Carpenter Racing having spent recent seasons contesting only the Indianapolis 500 and also the Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
Lastly for me there is Juan Pablo Montoya who will only contest the Indianapolis 500 with Penske having not been offered a full time drive with the team who opted for Newgarden instead.
For the first time since 1994, the previous season’s driver champion will not attempt to defend their title. This after 2016 champion, Nico Rosberg, retired after his title triumph. It means that there is still a vacant seat at Mercedes (at time of writing). Who is eventually chosen to fill that seat could have a bearing on who will be challenging for the title in 2017 and whoever is eventually chosen will be a big talking point heading into, and during, the season.
2017 is also a season that will see another major change in the technical regulations of Formula 1 which will no doubt generate a lot of debate within the sport as to its success and potentially change the order amongst the teams and drivers.
There are other stories to look out for, such as how Haas will do in their second season in Formula 1, will McLaren-Honda gain another performance jump and will Scuderia Ferrari bounce back from their disappointing 2016 season. There are also particular driver performances worth looking out for, including how will Nico Hulkenberg fair at Renault, Ocon at Force India, Vandoorne at McLaren, Lance Stroll at Williams and Kevin Magnussen at Haas.
Only four categories have been covered in this post but to me there is plenty to watch out for in 2017 as the new motorsport season edges closer. What will you be keeping a close eye on in the world of motorsport during 2017?