Probably fair to say my predictions for 2016 were a little mixed… While I was the only one to correctly predict both championships (I also predicted back in 2012 that Nico Rosberg would win his first race that year and a championship later down the line), I also made a prediction about Renault that was nowhere near, it was bad, really bad…
Jack Elleker – F1StatMan
With the rather large shake up in aerodynamics it’s going to be tricky to predict so early on, but we’ll try it anyway. For the Constructors’ Championship, I’m sticking with Mercedes, throughout testing they’ve had solid reliability and two very strong drivers. Ferrari look fast but Raikkonen has been disappointing in recent years, because of that I think Mercedes will take the Constructors’ even if the Ferrari is quicker.
Drivers’ Championship is a little tricky, Hamilton and Vettel will be fighting it out, with Bottas just behind. The Red Bull drivers I think will be around Bottas, strong, particularly at some circuits, but not quite strong enough to challenge for the title. As for the eventual winner though, I’ll take a punt at Vettel.
McLaren are going to have a tough start to the season, testing has been hampered by engine problems and unless Honda sort them out it will be a repeat of 2015, though maybe not quite as bad. Bottas will win his first F1 race, though seeing as he’s in a Mercedes that’s not really a prediction, everyone knows it’s going to happen.
Williams will have a good year, they’ve been running a lot of miles in testing and the young Canadian Stroll has a great future ahead, a podium or two may be on the cards for him.
Haas will struggle a lot compared to last season, they have two solid drivers and will score points, but not as many as in 2016, possibly not even double figures. They will still be ahead of Sauber however, with an old PU they’ll be down on power and will be lucky to score points at all in 2017.
Craig Woollard – IndyCar Writer
To start with, I think it will be safe to assume that what we won’t be having in 2017 is a repeat result of the 2016 championship. I think Bottas will push, but not edge Hamilton in his first season with the Silver Arrows, but there will hopefully be so many more levels to the championship than just the battle there.
The development race is going to be absolutely incredible this year given the new regulations on aerodynamics and on the power unit side of things. If one team turns up to Melbourne with an advantage, it would be unlikely that same advantage will exist come Abu Dhabi.
Three teams really stand out so far, and perhaps unsurprisingly that is Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. It looks as if Red Bull are a little bit behind at the moment, but their base chassis has a lot of scope for improvement. It was not uncommon for them to come out of the summer break with a clear advantage and steal championships from their rivals in the past, and with arguably the strongest pairing on the grid in terms of drivers, I believe the Milton Keynes-based squad might be the ones going away with the important silverware at the end of the year.
I do think that it is time that Daniel Ricciardo won a championship as well, and 2017 may just be his year. He has been driver of the season in two of the past three seasons, and is perhaps the most complete driver in the field today. I just cannot see Max Verstappen beating him yet. I also expect Sebastian Vettel to put behind a poor 2016, and return to his absolute best in 2017. However, will Ferrari be able to develop their radical car further than what Red Bull and Mercedes can? It seems unlikely at this stage.
Behind the ‘big three’ is where I expect Williams, Force India and Renault to be. Renault? Didn’t see that one coming. They’ve quietly gone about their business this year, and this will be the first proper car they have developed since returning to F1. I would say that I think they could score 100 points this year, but that would almost certainly jinx them. Williams have had a stronger winter than expected but may struggle to develop during the season, whilst Force India look as if they are in the opposite situation to Williams. The superior line-up of the former team though may prove critical when it comes to the final positioning of the teams come Abu Dhabi.
Haas and Toro Rosso appear to be in no-man’s land right now. The latter has an absolutely wonderful-looking machine, when it is running. Anything other than seventh in the championship will be a surprise for Toro Rosso, and I expect Haas to not be too far away from them.
McLaren and Sauber? Oh dear. Very much oh dear. The less said, the better. Should Honda get on top of their reliability and power issues, then McLaren might just creep up into the middle at the end of the year, but Sauber are stuck with their outdated equipment for the entirety of the year. It doesn’t bode well for either of these teams.
There is much more to talk about than just the competitive order though. I am impressed with the new-look Formula 1, and I hope overtaking is harder where it was too easy last year, and vice-versa where it was too difficult, Monaco aside of course.
F1 under Liberty Media will also be an ongoing story as the year progresses. New director of motor sport Ross Brawn is pushing the right buttons with many fans right now, although not a massive amount can be achieved without agreement from the teams right now. The effects are already being felt on the social side of things, and I only expect this to get even better as the year progresses. F1 is hopefully in some very good and capable hands now.
Jack Amey – Formula E and F1 Opinion Writer
This season, with new technical regulations, will be tricky to predict. But after the success of last year, getting every prediction right bar two, I’ll give it a go.
Testing gives you a rough idea on who is where but it does not tell you everything, and nor is it a definitive picture.
Ferrari and Mercedes look like front runners at the moment and it’s fair to say there is some cautious optimism that 2017 won’t be dominated by one team. Of course, Ferrari had a good pre-season in 2016 and ended up not putting in any challenge across the season.
Red Bull and Williams also have looked good when they have been able to run, although reliability issues for Red Bull and on-track incidents for Williams have limited their running throughout testing.
Behind Red Bull and Williams, the midfield looks incredibly tight and is even more difficult to predict than usual. McLaren’s testing did not go well, its Honda power unit failing on several occasions. McLaren is therefore on the back foot heading into the early part of the season.
Haas’ braking issues have remained and this could hamper them early in the season, and Sauber’s year-old power unit will hold them back all season. It could prove costly in the World Constructors’ Championship.
In terms of actual predictions, I’m going to sit on the fence for the title. You would expect Mercedes to turn it up come Australia but Ferrari were clearly sandbagging in Barcelona.
Red Bull, too, you would expect more from. With Red Bull, I do not see Max Verstappen being the one to challenge at the top, and would expect Daniel Ricciardo to fight for the title. That said, Verstappen has amazed everyone throughout his very short career so far so he is one to keep an eye on.
At Ferrari, Sebastian Vettel will be up there. He has a history of coming strong in the second half of the season and that could be crucial in what looks like a tight championship battle. Both Mercedes drivers – Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas – will also be fighting at the top end. Hamilton wants to reclaim the title he lost to former teammate Nico Rosberg while Bottas will want to prove he is worth a contract extension after signing a one-year deal with Mercedes.
The drivers’ title will go to one of four drivers: Hamilton, Bottas, Ricciardo or Vettel. Very much sitting on the fence, I know.
The constructors’ title is also shaping up to be a very close fight. Red Bull arguably have the strongest line-up and, even if only one fights for the title, the other’s points could help with taking this title. Mercedes and Ferrari both have line-ups that complement each other; they will both pick up enough points to help the team challenge.
At the moment, based on testing form, you would say it’s between Mercedes and Ferrari. But Red Bull will come on strong as they usually do. One of these three teams will win the constructors’ title.
The group behind the “front three” is very difficult to predict. McLaren and Renault should come on strong as the season goes on due to budgets, while Williams has looked good at points in testing. Toro Rosso has lost a lot of running due to reliability, like McLaren. Force India has produced a decent car in recent times, but with new regulations it’s hard to see where it will be. However, in Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, they have two good drivers.
Haas and Sauber, I would expect, will be at the back of the midfield.
If you think your predictions are better than ours, we have a Fantasy GP League where you can take us on, the name is Stat League and the passcode 7192333