Fergal Walsh: Who will feel pressure in 2017?

Published on 04 Feb 2017 11:15
image

Pressure has always played a major part in Formula One. Drivers are always feeling it, striving to out-qualify and out-race their team mates and those they are battling in the championship. Some can handle it, and others will crack. It's a real separation from the "men and boys" as it is always said that the greatest drivers can deal with it and perform necessarily.

So in 2017, while arguably every team and driver will be under pressure, I feel some more so than others. Some have to prove themselves, and quickly. Lets take a look.

Valtteri Bottas

Let's start with the obvious one. Nico Rosberg retired in late November, mere days after winning his Formula One world championship. It was a shocking and totally unexpected manoeuvre, but it happened. When it started to become obvious that Valtteri would be heading to Mercedes to replace him, my thoughts drifted to what his term of contract would be.

And so the ball dropped, Valtteri signed and eyebrows were raised when it emerged he penned a one year deal. However, I expected this. Just think about it in Mercedes' shoes. There is a lot of talent out of contract at the end of next season (Alonso, Vettel) and you can be sure that if 2016 doesn't go their way, they could be picking up the phone to dial Toto Wolff's number.

The thing is though, (and this is anticipating that Mercedes are interested in signing the before mentioned drivers) they will not have time to wait until the end of the season to decide. McLaren and Ferrari will not wait that long to negotiate a new contract for both drivers, which means that Valtteri really has eight or nine races at most to prove himself.

That's a really tough ask for the Finn, but then you got to wonder, what are Mercedes' expectations for him? Win races and challenge Lewis Hamilton or simply rack up points to benefit the constructor (much like we saw at Ferrari with Schumacher and Barrichello).

There is no doubt that Valtteri will strive to win races (if provided with the expected title contending car) but Lewis Hamilton has already established himself as one of the best in the sport today and this will be his fifth year at the Silver Arrows. Valtteri will have to make himself accustom to his surroundings and quickly.

McLaren

It's been over four years since McLaren last won a Grand Prix, which is actually quite astounding. It all went downhill after the 2012 season, where they didn't get the 2013 car right and slumped to fifth in the constructor standings. They stayed in that position for the 2014 standings and decided that they needed a new power unit in the hope of catching Mercedes.

So came the reunion with Honda. McLaren-Honda is such an iconic combination in F1, with the success of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost ringing in ears when McLaren-Honda is mentioned. It was the hope that the revival of this old friendship would bring the same success it did in the late 80's and early 90's, but it had the complete opposite affect.

2015 was a woeful year for McLaren who finished second to last in the standings with 27 points. 2016 was better, with a rise to sixth in the standings but for a team like McLaren it just isn't good enough. Consistent point finishes and perhaps a few podiums must be on McLaren's agenda for 2017.

The new regulations have potential to get them back on track, and they have two massively talented drivers in Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne driving for them this year. The departure of Ron Dennis will only disrupt the management of the team or refresh it and bring in new ideas. A lot of eyes will be on them this season.

Jolyon Palmer

To be brutally honest, Jolyon was very lucky to retain his seat for 2017. It is no secret that he was Renault's fourth choice for the seat after rejections from Sergio Perez, Kevin Magnussen and Carlos Sainz (Sainz was interested but Red Bull blocked any negotiations).

Jolyon has a lot to prove this season as he will be paired up with highly rated Nico Hulkenberg. Palmer managed to secure a point in Malaysia last year which may have slightly raised his reputation at Renault but rest assured that Renault will search for options for the 2018 season.

My controversial opinion is that the current 2017 Toro Rosso line up are fighting not for a seat at Red Bull, but at Renault. The Red Bull junior system has worked in the past but right now it is dangerous as the senior team look set to stick with their current line up of of Ricciardo/Verstappen for the foreseeable future. 

Renault will be a hot seat in a few years and drivers will be looking to get in on a long term deal. If Palmer can't perform, Sainz will more than likely replace him for 2018, but if Kvyat can have a stellar season, he too will be in contention.

Who knows, maybe Palmer can pull something from the bag and do well and impress his team. It's possible, but like Bottas, he will only have half a season or so to get the job done.

Ferrari

2016 was supposed to be the year that Ferrari were back on top, dethrone the dominant Mercedes by mercilessly fighting them through 21 races and stand victorious at the end of it all with two gleaming and exemplary trophies.

Instead the Prancing Horses fell to third in the championship and a common topic that overshadowed their season was the vital strategic errors and the hot headed, foul mouthed Sebastian Vettel.

Pinpointing where the pressure is being issued from, I would point to the Tifosi. Don't underestimate the power and presence of the Ferrari fans who believe that any race in which Ferrari don't win is a failure. They don't care who is driving for them, as long as he wins.

2016 reminded me a lot of Ferrari's 2014 season, where they struggled a lot and felt similar amounts of pressure. 2017 will be a big year for them as they look to challenge Mercedes for both titles. They haven't won the constructors title since 2008 and the drivers title since 2007.

I wonder if Sebastian Vettel moved to Ferrari to emulate Michael Schumacher's motives in the late 90's. Depart from success to build the iconic F1 team back to glory. Schumacher was successful in his task, but maybe Vettel has a similar plan and is simply biding his time.

Pressure is prominent in F1 and while the new regulation changes for 2017 may through up surprises, there will be tension around the paddock. We just have to look and see how delivers through it.

Fergal Walsh

 



Replies (0)

Test sessions
ES Winter testing - Circuit de Catalunya
Feb 27 2017
Feb 28 2017
Mar 1 2017
Mar 2 2017
 
ES Winter testing - Circuit de Catalunya
Mar 7 2017
Mar 8 2017
Mar 9 2017
Mar 10 2017
 
Give your opinion!
Will 2017's new regulations bring more exciting racing?





Driver profile
Name NL Max Verstappen
Active As Red Bull Racing Driver in Formula 1
Date of birth Sep 30 1997 (19)
Weight 70 kg
Length 1.80m
City Monaco
164,069 comments on Verstappen
531 members have this driver as their favourite
Tweets about Max Verstappen
Track Albert Park
 
Track Albert Park
Location AU Melbourne, Australia
Website Website
 
Team profile
Name IT Ferrari
Founding date Jan 1 1927
187,479 comments on Ferrari
164 members have this team as their favourite
Website http://www.ferrari.com
Location Maranello
Tweets about Ferrari
Formula 1 Calendar
Previous Grand Prix: 27 November 2016
AE Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi
Next Grand Prix: 26 March 2017
AU Grand Prix of Australia Grand Prix of Australia
 
File: Michael Schumacher
Stroll names Michael Schumacher as his hero
icon
New Williams driver Lance Stroll has labelled Michael Schumacher as his racing hero. The seven time world champion wo...
Read more
European drivers are "mentally weak" - Montoya
icon
Former Formula 1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya has said that a majority of the European drivers that he has faced in his ...
Read more
Fergal Walsh: Who will feel pressure in 2017?
icon
Pressure has always played a major part in Formula One. Drivers are always feeling it, striving to out-qualify and ou...
Read more
Michael Schumacher turns 48
icon
Michael Schumacher turns 48 today, three years on from his skiing accident that has left him in a serious condit...
Read more
Ross Brawn credits Michael Schumacher with helping Mercedes' success
icon
Ross Brawn has credit Michael Schumacher with helping Mercedes lay the foundations of its recent success. Schumacher...
Read more
Sebastian Vettel "belongs" at Ferrari - Mario Andretti
icon
Mario Andretti has said he would like to see Sebastian Vettel win the Formula One world championship with Ferrari. A...
Read more
The day of Michael Schumacher's skiing accident
icon
Three years ago today the motorsport world was shook by the news that Michael Schumacher had been involved in a serio...
Read more
Mercedes to keep an eye on Mick Schumacher
icon
Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff has hinted that the marque will be keeping a close eye on young Mick Schumacher. ...
Read more
Mick Schumacher targeting F1 title
icon
Mick Schumacher has set his sights on the Formula One world championship. The son of seven-time champion Michael Sch...
Read more
The day Michael Schumacher came out of retirement
icon
Today marks seven years since it was announced that Michael Schumacher as coming out of retirement. The German ended...
Read more
Schumachers take legal action over photograph
icon
The family of Michael Schumacher have taken legal action against a photographer offering a picture of the seven-time ...
Read more
Pat Symonds leaves Williams
icon
Pat Symonds has left Williams according to a report by Autosport magazine. The 63-year-old only joined the team in 2...
Read more
Ferrari lacking "not a lot" - Jean Todt
icon
Former Ferrari boss Jean Todt has tipped the Italian team to make a recovery. The Prancing Horse finished 2016 in th...
Read more
Michael Schumacher hospital image offered for sale
icon
A photograph of Michael Schumacher in hospital following his live-changing skiing accident in 2013 has been offered f...
Read more
Michael Schumacher's family announce "Keep Fighting Initiative"
icon
The family of Michael Schumacher have announced they are launching "Keep Fighting Initiative". The id...
Read more
Valentino Rossi came close to F1 switich
icon
Valentino Rossi's father has admitted that the seven-time MotoGP champion came "very, very close" to sw...
Read more
Pat Symonds rejected Ferrari three times
icon
Pat Symonds has revealed that he was offered the chance to work for Ferrari no less than three times. The 63-year-ol...
Read more
Mika Salo fears Valtteri Bottas could lose Mercedes chance
icon
Mika Salo says Valtteri Bottas' situation with Mercedes and Williams at the moment reminds him of one he encounte...
Read more
Toto Wolff blames Schumacher, Vettel for German GP ruination
icon
Toto Wolff has blamed Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel for the recent collapse of the German Grand Prix. The ...
Read more
Nico Rosberg denies comeback claims
icon
Nico Rosberg dismissed claims he could make a Formula One comeback in the future. The newly-crowned world champion o...
Read more
Mick Schumacher to become a Mercedes junior
icon
Mick Schumacher looks set to join Mercedes' junior ranks. The son of Formula One legend Michael Schumacher finis...
Read more
Who will replace Nico Rosberg?
icon
Nico Rosberg's surprise retirement from Formula One has sent shockwaves through the sport. The decision, taken a...
Read more
Juan Pablo Montoya - Max Verstappen being singled out
icon
Juan Pablo Montoya reckons that Max Verstappen is being singled out for his aggressive overtaking style. Speaking to...
Read more
German world champions fail to connect with the public - Niki Lauda
icon
Niki Lauda has said that the German people do not connect with the country's world champions. Two of the last th...
Read more
Formula One's world champion dynasties
icon
On Sunday Nico Rosberg became only second son of a world champion to take the crown for himself, following in the foo...
Read more
Poor management structure behind Ferrari struggles - Gerhard Berger
icon
Gerhard Berger has singled out Ferrari's management structure as a reason for their struggles. The Italian team ...
Read more
Mercedes could save German Grand Prix
icon
Mercedes could help rescue the German Grand Prix. That is the claim of the comapny's motorsport boss, Toto Wolff...
Read more
Too great a "risk" if Nico Rosberg collides with Lewis Hamilton - Gerhard Berger
icon
Gerhard Berger has said that Nico Rosberg can't risk a clash with Lewis Hamilton this weekend. Berger, who handl...
Read more
Antonio Giovinazzi set to reject Mercedes offer
icon
GP2 points leader Antonio Giovinazzi looks set to turn down an offer from Mercedes to join their successful young dri...
Read more
Max Verstappen "cool and calm" despite legend comparisons
icon
Max Verstappen is staying grounded amid comparisons with Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher. The Dutch teenager was...
Read more
Gerhard Berger sees Senna in Max Verstappen
icon
Gerhard Berger has agreed with comparisons between Max Verstappen and Formula One legends. The Dutch teenager's ...
Read more
Ross Brawn clarifies recent Schumacher comments
icon
Ross Brawn has clarified recent comments he allegedly made about Michael Schumacher. Brawn, who regularly visits Sch...
Read more
Germany can learn from US and Mexico GPs - Toto Wolff
icon
Toto Wolff thinks having a German Formula One World Champion for nine out of 14 seasons has had a detrimental effect ...
Read more
"Stability" key for Ferrari
icon
Ross Brawn says Ferrari requires "stability" if their glory days are to return. Brawn was a key member of ...
Read more
Felipe Massa reveals toughest team mates
icon
Felipe Massa has spoken of who he believes were his toughest team mates, ahead of his final home Grand Prix this week...
Read more
Ross Brawn: "Schumacher signs are encouraging"
icon
Ross Brawn has revealed that Michael Schumacher's condition is encouraging after it is almost three years since t...
Read more
Felipe Massa becomes latest driver to be announced for ROC Miami
icon
Felipe Massa is the latest name to join the Race of Chamions lineup for the event in Miami next year. The Brazilian,...
Read more
Lewis Hamilton cruises to US GP win
icon
Lewis Hamilton has taken a dominant win in the United States Grand Prix, leading home Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg...
Read more
10 years since Michael Schumacher's first retirement
icon
On the 22th October, 2006, Michael Schumacher started and finished his final Grand Prix for Ferrari, finishing fourth...
Read more
Nine years since Kimi Raikkonen's world title
icon
Today marks nine years since Kimi Raikkonen won the Formula One world championship. The Finn moved to Ferrari in 200...
Read more
Drivers who have made to move from F1 to IndyCar
icon
Kevin Magnussen has been the subject of rumours this week linking him with a switch to IndyCar for 2017. Although he...
Read more
Stefan Johansson: Sebastian Vettel "incredibly smart" with Pirelli testing
icon
Stefan Johansson has labelled Sebastian Vettel's extensive Pirelli testing a "very smart" move. Pirell...
Read more
Nico Hulkenberg officially joins Renault
icon
Renault have finally confirmed the singing of Nico Hulkenberg. One of the most talked-about moves looked to finally ...
Read more
20 years since Damon Hill won the world championship
icon
Today marks 20 years since Damon Hill won the Formula One world championship. After two years of playing second fidd...
Read more
Felipe Massa keen to remain in F1 paddock after retirement
icon
Felipe Massa has revealed he will remain a fixture in the Formula One paddock after he retires at the end of the seas...
Read more
Mick Schumacher sets sights on F3
icon
Mick Schumacher has revealed he aims to race in Formula Three next year. The son of seven-time Formula One champion ...
Read more
Michael Schumacher's private collection to go on display
icon
Michael Schumacher's personal collection of racing memorabilia will go on display at the end of next year near hi...
Read more
Four years since Michael Schumacher's retirement
icon
Today marks four years since Michael Schumacher announced his second, and final retirement from Formula One. The Ger...
Read more
Sebastian Vettel celebrates Ferrari racing history in LaFerrari launch video
icon
Ferrari have released a new video to celebrate the launch of their limited edition LaFerrari Aperta supercar. The vi...
Read more
Portugal eyeing F1 return
icon
Portugal are eyeing a return to the Formula One Calendar. The country held 13 Grands Prix at Estoril from 1984-1996,...
Read more
Mick Schumacher gears up for F4 title showdown
icon
Mick Schumacher is getting ready for the final rounds of the ADAC Formula Four championship this weekend, where he ha...
Read more
Happy birthday Mika Hakkinen
icon
Former Formula One driver Mika Hakkinen turns 48 today. The Finnish driver was world champion in 1998 and 1998 for M...
Read more
Michael Schumacher's family sue over "walk again" story
icon
Michael Schumacher's family have sought legal action following a story published by German magazine 'Bunte...
Read more
Max Verstappen the most popular driver on the grid according to Dr. Helmut Marko
icon
Red Bull motorsport advisor Dr. Helmut Marko believes that Max Verstappen is the most popular driver in Formula One a...
Read more
Niki Lauda: "Old Ferrari problems still exist"
icon
Sebastian Vettel is currently "struggling" in his role as Ferrari's lead driver. That is the view of Fe...
Read more
'Miracle' needed to see Schumacher in public again
icon
A "miracle" is what is needed if the public wants to ever again see F1 legend Michael Schumacher. That is t...
Read more
25 years ago today: Michael Schumacher's first Formula One race
icon
25 August 1991; a date etched into the minds of Formula One fans worldwide. The Belgian Grand Prix was set to take pl...
Read more
Brawn: "What happened to Schumacher is tragic"
icon
25 years after observing the meteoric start to the most successful career in F1 history, Ross Brawn says the fate of ...
Read more
'Mick Schumacher missing his dad right now'
icon
Former F1 priest Don Sergio Mantovani has tipped Michael Schumacher to keep fighting. As the sport emerges from its s...
Read more
18 years on: Remembering Spa 1998
icon
The Belgian Grand Prix of 1998 comes easily to mind when you ask an F1 fan about a favourite race of theirs. It was t...
Read more
Esteban Ocon reveals reason behind number choice
icon
Esteban Ocon has explained his choice of the number 31 for his Formula One career. The 19-year-old Frenchman won his...
Read more
Luca di Montezemolo comments denied
icon
Luca di Montezemolo has denied making further comments this week about the condition of Michael Schumacher. A number...
Read more
Michael Schumacher "reacting" according to di Montezemolo
icon
Former Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has offered an update to the condition of Michael Schumacher, claiming t...
Read more
Renault thinking long term with driver decision
icon
Renault managing director Cyril Abiteboul has said that the team are looking for someone who can commit long-term and...
Read more
Hamilton and Vettel together equal Schumacher
icon
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel combined matched Michael Schumacher's race win...
Read more
Formula Three the next step for Mick Schumacher
icon
The manager of Mick Schumacher, son of Michael Schumacher, has rubbished any suggestion that the 17-year-old might so...
Read more
German broadcaster quashes Ross Brawn rumours
icon
Ross Brawn has denied speculation that he will return to Formula One with Ferrari. A handful of British journalists ...
Read more
Hockenheim grandstands covered with advertising banners
icon
Public interest in Formula One in Germany seems to be dwindling after entire grandstands were spotted covered at the ...
Read more
Ross Brawn heading to Germany?
icon
Ross Brawn has been spotted on a plane heading to Frankfurt by a handful of British journalists. Photographer Darren...
Read more
"Positive energy" sent to Michael Schumacher after football match
icon
Basketball star Dirk Nowitzki said he hoped some "positive energy" was beamed back to Michael Schumacher on...
Read more