F1 season begins today in Australia

F1 season begins today in Australia

F1 season begins today in Australia

The Formula One season starts again on Friday and, as usual, the action begins in the world's most liveable city.

Formula One's rulers have rolled the dice and introduced significant changes for the 2017 F1 season. Verstappen and Ricciardo were noted for their brotherly relationship last season, but given Verstappen's reputation as a competitive, sometimes reckless driver, many are left wondering if that brotherhood can last if the team gets more competitive against Mercedes.

Bottas acknowledges he is in for a tough fight against Hamilton throughout the year but remains confident he can reach the three-time world champion's level before too long. So what's new in 2017?

So, 1.6 litre V6 turbocharged engines will continue to power F1 cars. The front wings are larger and broader to help increase downforce and hence grip at the front.

In practice one, the new generation of "faster" cars lived up to the hype.

Auto and tyre widths have been increased, among other moves, tipped to bring more speed.

It is certain that the 2017 cars will be quicker, though.

"In an ideal world we'll be the lead-up to the AFL season", Westacott said.

So much so, there has been a rumour in F1 circles that Räikkönen was not even driving his quickest possible while setting the fastest lap timing in pre-season testing. Newcomer Haas, who had a strong debut season previous year with Romain Grosjean turning in a few impressive drives, and a financially-stabilising Sauber, now with the young Pascal Wehrlein joining them, look to crash the midfield party.

Fernando Alonso, 16 years Verstappen's senior and one of the legendary old guard along with Raikkonen, is still in the hunt, though McLaren's deal to secure engines from Honda continues to plague the team, as reliability issues cost them valuable time throughout testing.

Palmer was set to complete a personal-best lap when he lost the rear of his Renault and slammed backwards into the tyre wall on the outside of Turn 16.

Spaniard Carlos Sainz and Russian Daniil Kvyat are charged with delivering strong results.

The other retiree, Jenson Button, is replaced by Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne at McLaren.

Bottas, from Finland, substituted Nico Rosberg at Mercedes when the German driver retired after becoming 2016 Formula 1 champion.

Hamilton had played down Mercedes' chances on Thursday after winter testing and suggested Ferrari may be quicker than the Silver Arrows.

However, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing's prodigy and the victor of the most "Driver of the Day" awards in 2016, and the smiling assassin Daniel Ricciardo still form the most exciting driver pairing in the paddock.

Red Bull Racing has also piqued his interest.

Ferrari showed impressive pace during pre-season testing and Hamilton believes they will go into this weekend's Australian Grand Prix as the team to beat. I see Ferrari as being the quickest at the moment and they will definitely be favourites. Four-time champion Vettel managed just 10 laps in the session, the second fewest of any driver.

Half a second up on his nearest rival in FP2, Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes' improvement between the final test and Friday's practice was "night and day".

Mercedes are in danger of Lewis Hamilton leaving them at the end of the season if they are not careful.

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