Ocon

What if F1’s midfield was a separate championship in 2017?

Who doesn’t love a spot of fan fiction? The internet has become a breeding ground for theories spawned from those ‘what if’ questions generated at the end of films, TV series and even sporting spectacles.

What if Anakin Skywalker had the ‘high ground’ on Mustafar at the climax of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith? Or, closer to home, what if Lewis Hamilton didn’t catch and pass Timo Glock on the final lap at a soggy Interlagos in 2008?

The 2017 Formula 1 season has featured several intriguing narratives thus far that could trigger many ‘what if’ scenarios. For instance, in a world without the elite three of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, what would the championship picture look like at this halfway stage?

With the numbers crunched, here are the facts and figures;

Sergio Perez

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Force India – and F1 in general – looking pretty in pink

With the introduction of radically revamped regulations in 2017, teams have certainly stretched their technical resources over the winter. However, it’s not just the technical minds that have been made to work, with the graphics department also using up plenty of pen ink.

McLaren have brought an “orange-is-the-new-black” livery to the grid. Toro Rosso have ditched their painted bull in favour of plugging Red Bull’s ‘Simply Cola’ brand. Sauber have gone for gold accents to celebrate 25 years in the sport.

After striking a new commercial deal, Force India become the latest to reveal a striking livery. Like it or loathe it, a pink car is quite a statement. Good for Force India and a great indicator that F1 is in good health.

Force India Pink
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Bold VJM10 matches Force India’s big ambitions for 2017

Force India are often labeled as F1’s best team. They may not have the manufacturer muscle of Mercedes, the heritage of Ferrari or World Championship trophies littering their lobby, but what they do have is an effective design team who convert their available resources into the maximum available points.

A record-breaking fourth place finish in the 2016 Constructors’ Standings was their well-earned reward. It seems implausible that they can improve upon what was a remarkable 2016 and break into the top three.

However, Vijay Mallya certainly believes it to be possible. On Wednesday, the team unveiled their 2017 challenger – the VJM10 – and it is certainly a bold design to match their big ambitions.

vjm10

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Manor’s collapse highlights one of F1’s fundamental flaws

Well, that soggy Sunday in Brazil has had some ramifications. Following a meeting of employees at the Banbury base on Friday morning, Manor Racing have once again been placed into administration. Once again, they will need to initiate a great escape if they are to make the grid in Melbourne.

It’s a stark reminder of how F1’s small teams are feeling the pinch under the current regulations.

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Why Wehrlein’s testing call-up suggests Mercedes are under pressure

Mercedes’ Barcelona test schedule has been modified ahead of the second day’s running, as reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein has replaced Esteban Ocon, who was billed to get his first outing for the Silver Arrows on Wednesday. Mercedes have cited the fact that they wanted a “driver with race experience” to complete a programme which involves testing of development parts.

The late change is a rather telling move by the reigning champions.

Pascal Wehrlein

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The return of a former Goliath

300 races, 19 seasons and 35 race victories amassed by talents such as Rene Arnoux, Alain Prost and Fernando Alonso, amounting to two drivers titles both claimed by the latter. Renault is a works team with an illustrious history and with us F1 fans being a nostalgic bunch, their return to the grid in 2016 is significant.

Now back at the Enstone base where they enjoyed title success in 2005 and 2006, the French marque will hope that they can rekindle that achievement over a stint in the sport which will span until 2024 at least.

Renault Team Launch

Image Credit: Renault Sport

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