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Mercedes AMG Petronas
2016 Constructors’ Champions
Mercedes has been the team to beat in Formula 1 since 2014 with drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg dominating en route to nearly 60 victories.
The offseason was very eventful as Mercedes Motorsport boss Toto Wolff first had to deal with Rosberg's shock retirement, and put former Executive Director Paddy Lowe on gardening leave when rumours of a move to Williams surfaced.
Mercedes is still one of the strongest teams in Formula 1, and until proven otherwise have to be considered favourites to win it all again this year.
Lewis Hamilton (2nd IN 2016)
Uncharacteristic reliability problems in 2016 hurt Hamilton's title challenge as he lost out to Nico Rosberg by only five points. Coming into the new season Hamilton is motivated to win it all again, but will he have the best car in F1 to power him to a fourth world championship?
Valtteri Bottas (8th IN 2016)
All eyes will be focused on Bottas this season as the Finn takes the seat that was vacated by Rosberg. Bottas signed a one year deal leading to speculation that Mercedes may make a move to sign Sebastian Vettel or Fernando Alonso for 2018. Bottas performed well during winter testing, but will he be able to deliver the results that are expected of him?
Red Bull Racing
2ND IN 2016 CONSTRUCTORS' CHAMPIONSHIP
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen were the only other drivers besides Hamilton and Rosberg to win a race in 2016. Winter testing showed that the Austrian team has a very good car that should only get better as it evolves throughout the season.
Daniel Ricciardo (3rd IN 2016)
Not only is Daniel Ricciardo an excellent Formula 1 driver, but he is also one of sport’s biggest characters. Undoubtedly the Australian wanted to add to his three race wins of 2014, but his sole win in 2016 didn't come util late in the season at Malaysia. Earlier in the year Ricciardo was looking in fine shape to win at Monaco, but a botched pit stop spoiled his race and he finished second to Lewis Hamilton. Ricciardo's fans will be hoping for a season of good results and plenty of ‘shoey’ celebrations on the podium.
Max Verstappen (5th IN 2016)
What else can we say about the teenage phenomenon? Verstappen turned down a development driver role with Mercedes a couple of year ago to accept a drive at Toro Rosso instead. It was a wise move as young Verstappen was promoted to Red Bull after one year, and won his very first race for his new team at Barcelona.
Verstappen is an exciting and talented young driver, and has been predicted by many to be a future World Champion. The young Dutchman’s aggressive style has earned him his fair share of critics, but his fans worship him for brave and often spectacular passing moves.
3rd IN 2016 CONSTRUCTORS' CHAMPIONSHIP
Sergio Marchionne recently said that the team must return to the Schumacher era of dominance, and believes it is only a matter of time before Ferrari is back at the top of Formula 1.
Sebastian Vettel (4th IN 2016)
The five-time world champion had a disappointing 2016. Vettel showed promise in the early races, but will be remembered more for multiple 'racing incidents' with Daniil Kvyat, and his profanity-laced rants on race radio. Vettel is in his last year of his current contract, and many have speculated on whether he will return to Ferrari for 2018.
Kimi Räikkönen (6th IN 2016)
Early last season Räikkönen endured much criticism that he was too expensive and was not the driver that Ferrari needed. As Vettel struggled throughout the season, Räikkönen consistently delivered results that were a bright spot in Ferrari's disappointing year.
Force India Mercedes
4th IN 2016 CONSTRUCTORS' CHAMPIONSHIP
Force India had a good 2016 finishing fourth in the Constructor’s Championship behind Ferrari. It was an impressive result considering the team switched focus midseason to design the new 2017 car rather than to continue development of last year’s VJM09.
Sergio Pérez (7th IN 2016)
With Nico Hülkenberg moving to Renault, Pérez is the undisputed #1 driver at Force India providing a good combination of youth and experience. The Mexican finished a very respectable seventh in the championship last year behind the Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari drivers. Could he improve in 2017 if Force India have a competitive car?
Esteban Ocon (23rd IN 2016)
The 20-year-old Frenchman is another driver in F1's ongoing youth revolution. Ocon joined Renault last season as reserve driver, but finished the season racing for the now defunct Manor Racing team when Rio Haryanto ran out of sponsorship money after the German Grand Prix.
Williams Martini Racing
5th IN 2016 CONSTRUCTORS' CHAMPIONSHIP
Williams is one of Formula 1’s most successful teams, but has been stuck in the middle of pack for many years.
It’s been an interesting winter for the team who saw Valtteri Bottas move to Mercedes and the venerable Felipe Massa come out of a very brief retirement to partner rookie Lance Stroll. The team has been strengthened off the track by former Mercedes Executive Director Paddy Lowe, who joined the team as new Chief Technical Director and board member.
Felipe Massa (11th IN 2016)
One of the most memorable moments from 2016 was Massa's emotional walk down the pit lane after he retired from the Brazilian Grand Prix. Massa’s experience in F1 will be crucial this year as Williams aims to improve on their 5th place in the Constructors’ Championship.
The reigning European F3 champion is the first Canadian to race in Formula 1 since Jacques Villeneuve. Stroll has an impressive racing resumé, but several crashes in winter testing was not the best start to his F1 career. Once Stroll was able to log the miles around Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, he was eventually able to post some quick lap times.
6th IN 2016 CONSTRUCTORS' CHAMPIONSHIP
The 2017 season has not started well for the storied McLaren team. The Honda engine once again is underpowered and has some serious reliability issues. Honda had planned to introduce a new spec engine in time for the Australian Grand Prix, but has delayed its release until a fix for the current problems is put in place.
2017 could be a crucial and pivotal year for McLaren. CEO Zak Brown would like to have a new title sponsor in place by 2018, and the team needs to give Fernando Alonso a competitive car if they want to retain the two-time World Champion for 2018. There have no shortage of rumours of a McLaren-Honda split this season, and a recent BBC report said that McLaren have already approached Mercedes about an engine supply deal.
Fernando Alonso (10th IN 2016)
The problems with the Honda engine is starting to get to Alonso, who has been outspoken on the issue in recent weeks. The two-time World Champion is out of contract at McLaren at the end of the year, and could well be on his way if McLaren have another disastrous season. Alonso has said he will still be racing in F1 in 2018, but has not elaborated on where that may be. Certainly he may have his eye on Mercedes is Valtteri Bottas cannot deliver results.
Stoffel Vandoorne (20th IN 2016)
Vandoorne will compete in his first full F1 season in 2017. The Belgian impressively scored a single point in his Formula 1 debut while filling in for the concussed Alonso in Bahrain last season.
7TH IN 2016 CONSTRUCTORS' CHAMPIONSHIP
Carlos Sainz recently said that the team faces a difficult fight as their rivals have made ‘massive steps’ over the winter. The team now is now powered by Renault engines, but still may struggle at the start of the season as they try to make up ground in midfield.
Carlos Sainz (12th IN 2016)
The young Spaniard has plenty of talent which prompted a Mercedes enquiry about his contract status as they searched to replace Nico Roberg this winter. Sainz has said in the past that he has aspirations to move to a bigger team, but said in an interview on the official Formula 1 website that he is solely focused on his 2017 season with Toro Rosso.
Daniil Kvyat (14th IN 2016)
Kvyat had several promising results early in the season, but his season turned for the worse after he crashed into Sebastian Vettel at the Russian Grand Prix. The young Russian struggled after being ‘demoted’ to Toro Rosso, but finished the year with some respectable performances.
8TH IN 2016 CONSTRUCTORS' CHAMPIONSHIP
The American team turned heads in their debut season when Romain Grosjean scored points in three of the first four races. The team struggled as the season progressed, but has applied the lessons learned into the design and development of their 2017 car.
Romain Grosjean (13th IN 2016)
Grosjean started 2016 with a bang scoring points in Haas’ F1 debut in Australia, but was not nearly as competitive later in the year. The former Lotus driver still has eyes on a move to one of the big teams, but also wants to be the guy who wins Haas their first Grand Prix.
Kevin Magnussen (16th IN 2016)
Magnussen joins Haas after spending 2016 at Renault, but was the odd man when the team signed Nico Hülkenberg to a multi year deal last October. Haas is his third F1 team in as many years, and could very be his last shot to stick in the sport if he doesn’t have a good season.
9TH IN 2016 CONSTRUCTORS' CHAMPIONSHIP
The French team is in the second year of a multi year plan to return to the top of Formula 1. Last year the team raced a rebranded Lotus, and should be more competitive in 2017 with a car of their own design.
Hülkenberg moved to Renault after spending several seasons with Force India Mercedes. The former Le Mans winner should be the driver the team needs to help develop the car, and also brings experience to a team that struggled with two young and unproven drivers last season.
The 26-year-old British driver scored a single point in a difficult debut season in 2016. With one year in Formula 1 now under his belt, Palmer feels confident that things can only get better.
Sauber F1 Team
10th IN 2016 CONSTRUCTORS' CHAMPIONSHIP
Sauber has struggled with the financial aspects of Formula 1 in recent years, and even went as far to file a complaint with the European Union regarding F1’s governance and financial distribution.
Preseason testing proved that the C36 is reliable, but how the car matches up against its rivals remains to be seen. The 2016 spec Ferrari engine could prove to be a disadvantage, and the C36 lacked pace in winter testing.
Marcus Ericsson (22nd IN 2016)
Ericsson returns making this his third season with Sauber. The 26-year-old Swede was just one of four drivers who did not score a single point last season, and will need to have a more competitive car if he is to finish higher up in the Drivers’ Championship
Pascal Wehrlein (19th IN 2016)
Wehrlein joins Sauber after a respectable rookie season with Manor Racing last year. The young German had some impressive qualifying results in the uncompetitive Manor, and scored a single point when he finished tenth at the Austrian Grand Prix.