What an eventful season it’s been — starting off with the super exciting race in Australia to Dieter Zetsche’s boys at Mercedes finally clinching both titles. In case you didn’t see what we did there, we’ll be upfront about it — here’s presenting our 2017 Formula One Season Glossary. Through this piece, we doff our hats at the season that has been through an A-Z summary of the season and the words that defined it for us.
A – Australia, Azerbaijan and Alfa Romeo
Australia got the season off with a bang, marking Ferrari’s season-opening win and raising hopes of millions of fans around the world of a possible Ferrari vs Mercedes fight. Also, let’s not miss the Azerbaijan Grand Prix — which we would classify as the race of the season given the on-track drama that unfolded on many levels. Finally, welcome back Alfa Romeo!
B – Bernie Ecclestone
After waiting for years for an ‘Ecc-xit’, Bernie Ecclestone was finally shown the door by the new owners of Formula One, Liberty Media. In typical Ecclestone style, he’s lashed out at almost every move of Liberty Media’s to grow the reach and following of the sport. Well, let’s not be surprised if he continues doing so in 2018 too.
C – Chase Carey and Charlie Whiting
Ecclestone’s exit meant that Chase Carey was elevated to the position of Chief Executive of Formula One. The handlebar moustache-donning media veteran has been trusted to make sure that Formula One 2.0 is far better as a sport and more successful as a business than Formula One 1.0. While the new logo was hotly debated by fans, Carey’s true test would be the new regulations for 2021, prize money restructuring and cost cap — basically items that Formula One has long discussed and debated, but never tasted. A special mention to Charlie Whiting’s now-on-air driver briefings too!
D – Daniel Ricciardo
Ricciardo is the Red Bull Racing star who managed his career-best season performance in 2017. Will he re-sign with Red Bull Racing for 2019 or will he jump ship to Mercedes to replace Valtteri Bottas? Irrespective of whichever team he races for, his off-track attitude and personality are a welcome change in the otherwise stiff and boring world of Formula One.
E – Engine Noise
Engine noise is still a pressing issue for Formula One, even though the new regulations are four seasons old. Liberty Media’s expertise in television broadcast saw them attempt to use ceramic microphones to enhance the engine sounds on broadcast. Well, if football, cricket and other sports can use on-field microphones to bring the sport closer to the fans, why not Formula One?
F – Ferrari
Ferrari were the challenger team of 2017, but their challenge faded away after multiple disasters during the Asian rounds. In fact, their championship challenge ended with the iconic team re-issuing threats to quit Formula One and even acknowledging that they could start a rival series of their own if Formula One didn’t continue to deliver to Ferrari’s objectives. Despite their iconic status and the fan following they attract, Ferrari’s favoured position in the sport needs to change to ensure a longer term stability for Formula 1.
G – GPDA, Grid Girls
The growing call for changes to the sport has seen the drivers stand united. For the first time in the history of Formula One, all 20 drivers have signed up to be members of the Grand Prix Drivers Association (GPDA). Let’s see how the drivers are able to influence key decisions of the sport from a sporting and marketing point of view.
Will 2017 also be the last season when ‘grid girls’ were used in Formula One? We saw ‘grid boys’ being used in Monaco a few seasons ago. Let’s see what direction the sport takes in 2018.
H – Honda, Halo
The 2017 Formula One season was a disaster for Honda, the Japanese manufacturer that powered the McLaren cars. This season not only saw them notch up a record number of grid penalties, but also saw them publicly splitting with McLaren. All eyes will be on Honda in 2018 as they will now partner Toro Rosso. If Honda are still unable to get on top of the hybrid turbo regulations by next season, will they walk away from the sport altogether? Or will 2018 be Toro Rosso’s magical season thanks to Honda power?
Also, the 2017 Formula One season will go down in history as the last season when Formula One cars raced without the ‘halo’!
I – Indianapolis 500
When Fernando Alonso decided to skip the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix and go race in the 101st Indianapolis 500 in America, it was the first time in many years that the ‘Indy 500’ gained interest and attention from Formula One fans. Alonso’s exploits proved that the former double World Champion is still the best in class. Will he be able to challenge for the win in 2018?
J – Jacques Villeneuve
It was actually the 1997 Formula One World Champion, Jacques Villeneuve, who took the cake when it came to outspoken comments regarding Lance Stroll and his lack of talent, Valtteri Bottas’ embarrassing performances through the season, and coming out in support of the out-of-support, and favour, Sebastian Vettel for his bad boy swipe against Lewis Hamilton in Baku. Villeneuve has cracked the formula of being in the news even 20 years after his title win.
K – (Robert) Kubica, (Daniil) Kvyat
Robert Kubica’s comeback to Formula One (if and when it happens!) will be a dream come true for the driver and his legion of fans the world over. Whether he makes a full-time return to racing or not, Kubica’s multiple tests with Renault and Williams show that hard work, determination and talent have made the Pole eligible for a comeback to Formula One nearly seven years after his rallying accident. With Nico Rosberg managing his return to the cockpit, let’s hope that the 2016 Formula One Champion is able to pull some strings with his former team (Williams) and Kubica’s supporters (read: sponsors).
2017 will also be remembered for Daniil Kvyat’s extended run of failures with Toro Rosso to his unceremonial, but Red Bull-style exit, from the sport. Will Kvyat do a Nico Hulkenberg with Force India for 2018 and 2019?
L – F1 Live in London, Lewis Hamilton
In the Ecclestone era, Formula One was seldom marketed by the owners. The work was left for the local race organisers, teams and drivers to do so. However, in their first-ever season as owners of Formula One, Liberty Media launched a massive marketing program in London (called F1 Live in London) that saw Formula 1 drivers and cars do demonstrations on the streets to take the sport closer to the fans. The event had free tickets (we can’t remember when anything in Formula One was offered for free!) and was appreciated by fans and drivers alike. In 2018, five such global events have been planned. While more information is awaited, the key question for now is whether Lewis Hamilton will attend some, all, or none of these events next season. Or will Liberty Media classify such events as mandatory for all drivers to attend?
We must also pay our respects to Hamilton for yet another stellar display of his talent, speed, attitude and maturity. The question now is whether he can equal Juan Manual Fangio’s fifth title in 2018.
M – Max Verstappen, Malaysia and Mika Hakkinen
If is difficult to classify anything else but than Max Verstappen under the alphabet ‘M’. The young Dutchman, who renewed his racing contract till 2020, had a dismal first half of the season with more retirements than race finishes. However, in the second half, he won Red Bull Racing’s first race on merit (in our view) of this hybrid era when he won the 2017 Malaysia Grand Prix, also a racing venue that bid adieu to Formula One after nearly 20 years of hosting races.
Also, we had former double World Champion, Mika Hakkinen, live on our show — Firstpost Pole Position.
N – New (rules, venues and media plans)
Clearly, all major stakeholders have realised that the sport and business needs to change and adapt to remain relevant in the future. In this direction, we have a new logo launched already, while new rules, venues, sports and media plans are being put in place. There’s talk of how Formula One should remain elitist and not go the NASCAR way, but let’s wait and watch, we say.
O – (Esteban) Ocon
The Mercedes prodigy and Force India driver’s talent and rise in Formula One was the talk of the paddock in 2017. For 2018, he tops our list of drivers to watch out for. As for 2019, it would be difficult to bet against Ocon spoiling Ricciardo’s dream of partnering Lewis Hamilton in Mercedes. For now, here’s to round two of the Sergio Perez vs Esteban Ocon rivalry in 2018.
P – Pole Position Record
2017 greatly aided and added to Lewis Hamilton’s pursuit of records in Formula One. He equalled and broke Michael Schumacher’s record of maximum pole positions by a driver. His current record stands at 72 poles, but we bet on those increasing by a sizeable chunk in 2018. Can he get to a century of pole positions by the time he retires?
Q – Quadruple, Queue (of young guns)
It was the year of the quadruple World Champions — Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton. The German manufacturer and their British driver were the combination to beat at almost every round of the season. Mercedes’ agility and decision-making need to be lauded in 2017 — the first time in four seasons where they faced a serious threat to their championship ambitions. Ferrari were beaten not only by Mercedes’ superior engineering, but also by their teamwork.
We would also talk highly of the queue of junior drivers who are waiting in the wings to break into Formula One in the near future. There’s Loris Nando, George Russell, Antonio Giovinazzi and our very own Indian drivers, Arjun Maini and Jehan Daruvala.
R – Radio Messages, RB13
Radio messages are increasingly becoming an integral part of the Formula One show and 2017 offered us some really hilarious and emotional moments. Formula One also used the radio to relay messages to the drivers from sources other than their pit-walls, eg Neymar congratulating Lewis Hamilton for his Drivers’ Championship victory in Mexico. Kimi Raikkonen’s ‘gimme my steering wheel’ was voted as the radio message of the season.
Finally, the Red Bull Racing car — the RB 13; eerie as it may appear, scored 13 podiums and 13 retirements in 2017.
S – Shoey, Spark Plugs
Daniel Ricciardo made the ‘shoey’ world-famous after repeatedly using his shoe to drink champagne from each time he made it to the podium. He took it a step further after podium guests joined him in his shoey celebrations. We wonder if his shoey obsession made his rivals work hard to ensure that he didn’t get onto the podium!
Remember the ‘spark plugs’ that cost Ferrari vital championship points? Here’s hoping that they always spark correctly in 2018!
T – Tyres
The Pirelli tyres behaved well in 2017, but the only grudge from the fans and drivers that remains unfulfilled yet is the time difference between two immediate tyre compounds. But well, instead of addressing this for 2018, Pirelli launched two extra compounds — hypersoft and super hard. Thank you for increasing the complexity, but such is the way of Formula One these days.
U – Uncharacteristic swap-back by Hamilton
The 2017 Hungarian Grand Prix will be remembered for Lewis Hamilton’s ‘uncharacteristic’ swap back with Valtteri Bottas metres before the finish line for 3rd place. The paddock wondered if Hamilton’s kind gesture was actually foolish and if the three points he gave back to Bottas would come back to bite him later in the championship. Well, we all know how that turned out.
V – Valtteri Bottas, (Sebastian) Vettel
Nico Rosberg’s last minute replacement, Valtteri Bottas, had a bitter-sweet season in 2017 even though he won three races. While Mika Hakkinen offered an explanation for Bottas’ struggles (“He is racing a car built around Lewis,” Hakkinen said on Firstpost Pole Position), the Finn did seem lacklustre at various points in the season. Bottas has his work cut out for 2018 if he wants to not lose his seat to either a Ricciardo or Ocon in 2019.
Also, Sebastian Vettel, the Baby Schumi, came under tremendous pressure while attempting to win his first World Championship with Ferrari. Did Ferrari and Vettel lose the championship in 2017 thanks to Vettel succumbing under pressure? Ferrari seems to have hinted so. Let’s see what the German-Italian combination is able to offer in 2018.
W – (Pascal) Wehrlein, Williams
Pascal Wehrlein, the other Mercedes junior driver, won’t be lining up on the grid in 2018 after he found himself out of favour at Sauber (they brought in Charles Le Clerc as Wehrlein’s replacement). However, it seems that Wehrlein also is out of favour at Mercedes, the parent team that has helped him find a cockpit in Formula One in the past few seasons.
Williams, the former World Champion team, saw itself being beaten by Force India (also a Mercedes customer team) in 2017. Will they be able to resurrect their form in 2018? Also, will they make the fan-popular choice of choosing Robert Kubica over Sergio Sirotkin? Well, as Felipe Massa indicated, Williams’ driver choice for 2018 is ‘financial’, so will it be case of which driver brings more money than talent?
X – eXpectations
Right from the first race of the season, the 2017 Formula One Season was full of expectations. While we all know how the championships turned out, the expectation of a Ferrari vs Mercedes and a Lewis Hamilton vs Sebastian Vettel fight kept us interested and tuned in all season long. But it wasn’t only about the championship that kept us glued. The form of the Red Bull Racing drivers, the battle of the Finns and the civil war at Force India were some of the other highlights that made the season that far more interesting.
Y – Yas Marina
The venue of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the Yas Marina Circuit is a beautiful spectacle and has a brilliant paddock, media and sponsor facilities. But what about the racing? Can all circuit promoters spend a fraction of their ‘spectacle money’ on improving their racing tracks to ensure that at least help aid racing in close quarters? It seems that Liberty Media is already looking in to such changes for 2018, so all hopes aren’t lost yet.
Z – Dr Dieter Zetsche
The chairman of Mercedes Benz, was a regular in the Mercedes garage throughout the season. While he may not be as flamboyant as the other ‘team owners’ (or managers), his team has delivered quadruple championships since 2014 and here’s hoping that he works hard to keep Mercedes in Formula One beyond 2020.
Do you wish to add to our list? Here’s your chance to write to us, or just leave them in the comments section below.
This post was first published on Firstpost and was co-written with Mithila Mehta