F1 2017 shaping up to be perfect season, say Sky F1 pundits
Last Updated: 21/04/17 5:22pm
The 2017 Formula 1 season looks set to be a fantastic season with battles throughout the grid, according to the Sky F1 pundits.
The main storyline so far has been the tussle at the front between Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, who hold seven world championships and 98 race wins between them.
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Vettel's wins in the Australian and Bahrain GPs have given him a seven-point lead in the Drivers' Championship over Hamilton, who was victorious at the Chinese GP.
Mercedes have also seen their dominance of the sport come to an end this year and they trail Ferrari by three points in the Constructors' Championship - the first time they have done so in the hybrid era.
Fears of a lack of overtaking following the season-opener in Australia have also been put to bed somewhat with over 80 passes taking place in the subsequent two races.
Before the season started, Red Bull were predicted to be Mercedes' closest challengers with the greater focus on aerodynamics in 2017. After being disappointingly off the pace in Australia and China, Bahrain suggested they may be starting to close the gap on the front two.
And with a big upgrade due on the RB13 at the Spanish GP, the pundits are expecting plenty of unpredictability over the remaining 17 races.
"I think by mid-season we could well have six potential race winners. I think we will be going to races not having a clue which team, let alone which driver, is going to win. That's perfect," said Martin Brundle.
"There will be a lot of development. We have to remember China and Bahrain are the two best overtaking races of the season traditionally. We're going to have to get used what is becoming a bit of a chess move. We see a train of cars and then we wait for somebody to do something like a cork popping out of a bottle."
Pat Symonds agreed with Brundle, adding: "We've had some cracking races. Bahrain was riveting, every minute of it.
"There were lots of things going on and not knowing who was going to win - that's what racing is all about. I think it's a fantastic season."
Across the opening three grands prix, eight of the 10 teams have picked up points - only McLaren and Sauber are yet to get off the mark.
And 1996 world champion Damon Hill is enjoying seeing battles throughout the grid and believes the relative ineffectiveness of DRS under this year's new regulations has added a new dimension to the sport.
"The whole grid seems to have concertinaed up. I think the gap from the front to rear is less than it has been and it's shaping up to be a fantastic season," he said.
"The DRS is now forcing people into doing other types of overtakes which is much better for the sport. You could accuse the DRS previously of robbing us of overtaking manoeuvres."
F1 2017's more aggressive cars are proving to be more challenging to drive and Paul Di Resta believes the development race will also be key.
Traditionally that has started on the return to Europe at the Spanish GP but Ferrari used a new front wing in Bahrain, highlighting their desire to get ahead of their rivals under the new regulations.
"In Australia, mid-stint you could hear Hamilton coming on the radio and he was out of breath. He was on the edge and in Bahrain you could hear his engineer getting passionate and saying it was going to happen at the end of the race," Di Resta said.
"So it's not all about the drivers. The teams as well need to be on top form and it's going to continue. It's only going to get better and better as the season develops. The more they bring to races, the more passionate they get."
Next up on the calendar is the Russian GP, live on Sky Sports F1 from April 28.
Mercedes have won all three races since the grand prix returned in 2014 - Hamilton winning the first two years before Nico Rosberg stood on the top step last season.
Ferrari have finished on the podium in Sochi the past two years and the Sky F1 pundits are unsure who will hold the upper hand between the championship rivals.
"Who knows at the moment who Russia will suit," Symonds said.
"I think we will certainly see a Ferrari-Mercedes battle. It's been a good circuit for both of them in the last couple of years.
"Let's hope Red Bull can get back in there. I know they're waiting for Spain for their updates but I want to see a three-way race."
Watch the Russian GP live on Sky Sports F1 and in incredible Ultra HD! The race begins at 1pm on Sunday, April 30. Check out all the ways to watch F1 on Sky Sports for subscribers and non-subscribers - including a NOW TV day pass for £6.99!