As we went to press the team were already in the Melbourne paddock preparing for the Australian GP (26 March) – a first opportunity for it to find out just how competitive its new R.S.17 machine, designed for F1’s new regulations, is compared to the opposition.
The results of drivers Jolyon Palmer’s and Nico Hülkenberg’s adventures in Oz will of course will now be known. But now comes the 5000-mile trek north to Shanghai for China’s GP (9 April) followed immediately by the move 3700 miles west to Bahrain for its race just a week later (16 April). Round four, in Sochi, Russia is then just a fortnight after that (30 April).
It’s a demanding start to the 2017 F1 season for the team’s personnel – management, mechanics, engineers, logistics and PR and communications – who, returning to base in either Enstone or Paris between the Bahrain and Sochi races, will have travelled close to 30,000 miles in little more than a month. Similarly both R.S.17s – consider that the total distance for those four races will come in at under 800 miles…
In the meantime take a look at the photos in this article (shot during pre-season testing at Barcelona) to see just how different looking 2017’s R.S.17 is compared to its 2016 predecessor.
An immediate noticeable difference is fatter tyres all round. Another is the car’s aerodynamics – notice how its engine cover has sprouted a ‘fin’ (not seen in F1 for seven or so years). Both front and rear wings have also required a re-think.
Above all it has meant much faster lap times due to greater cornering capabilities but also slower top speeds and therefore shorter braking distances – this having a knock-on effect on ‘harvesting’ (when cars recover energy when slowing to top up power).
Race dates 2017: Renault Sport Formula One Team (showing race starts UK time)
26 March Melbourne, Australia 06:00
9 April Shanghai, China 07:00
16 April Sakhir, Bahrain 16:00
30 April Sochi, Russia 13:00
14 May Barcelona, Spain 13:00
28 May Monte Carlo, Monaco 13:00
11 June Montreal, Canada 19:00
25 June Baku, Azerbaijan 14:00
9 July Red Bull Ring, Austria 13:00
16 July Silverstone, Great Britain 13:00
30 July Hungaroring, Hungary 13:00
27 August Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium 13:00
3 September Monza, Italy 13:00
17 September Singapore 13:00
1 October Sepang, Malaysia 08:00
8 October Suzuka, Japan 06:00
22 October Austin, USA 20:00
29 October Mexico City, Mexico 19:00
12 November Interlagos, Brazil 16:00
26 November Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi 13:00