Mercedes: We fear everybody ahead of 2017 F1 season

F1i 09:57 18/02/2017
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Toto Wolff.

The German manufacturer has been the dominant force since 2014 and the introduction of the 1.6-litre V6 turbocharged power units, securing 51 race wins and three championship doubles over the past three years.

This season will see the advent of wider and more aggressive-looking cars fitted with bigger Pirelli tyres and generating 20 percent more downforce.

Despite the aero overhaul, Mercedes has been tipped to retain its edge given that engine rules have not been tweaked save for the scrapping of the tokens system.

“I was nervous four years ago [Wolff joined Mercedes in 2013] when we started our journey, on whether we would be able to win races and championships soon,” the Mercedes boss told BBC 5 live Sport.

“We have done that over the last years so the nervousness has gone down a bit. Equally there is a risk and we would not want to fall into the trap of being complacent. These regulation changes come at the right time and we’re super motivated in getting it right.

“It’s not a given though. We don’t know. There could be the odd silver bullet like Ross [Brawn] had back in 2009 with the double diffuser [on the Brawn GP car that helped Jenson Button secure that year’s title].

“We will see probably in the second Barcelona test if somebody has new innovations on the car that others have not spotted.

“Through a regulation change, you need to fear everybody because nobody would have expected Brawn GP to be a championship contender in 2009 so we look at everybody as there are opportunities for everyone.”

Mercedes will unveil its 2017-spec W08 on February 23 at Silverstone.

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Listen to this week's Inside Line F1 podcast!

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Marcus Ericsson

Sauber is on pole position – to launch 2017’s first Formula 1 car. The strange part is that two relatively unknown drivers (Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein) will unveil the new looking car.

Given the excitement around the new look, couldn’t Formula 1 (read: Liberty Media) get some of their superstar drivers to do so?

But this pole position works well for Sauber. It is a PR masterstroke. This unveiling might garner them more publicity than the previous two seasons. As for McLaren, they almost clinched pole! Their agency might have just leaked their livery images on social media.

PS: Williams’ unexpected reveal on Autosport/Motorsport was after this podcast was recorded and published.

Nico Rosberg wants to go back to being friends with Lewis Hamilton. Is it easier for him to say so now that he’s beaten him? Either way, we think Rosberg-Hamilton could be the Rocky Balboa-Apollo Creed of Formula 1.

Also, in this week’s episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, we dissect Juan Pablo Montoya’s comment on ‘weak’ European drivers, the engine fire-up by teams, Kimi Raikkonen’s karaoke skills and new bar and Fernando Alonso’s really cool emojis.

You can subscribe to the Inside Line podcast on iTunes and audioBoom

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Horner: Impact of tyre changes should be 'fascinating'

F1i 16:02 17/02/2017
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Red Bull chief: Christian Horner.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has said that the new tyre and downforce regulations for the 2017 Formula One world championship should provide a fascinating spectacle for teams and fans alike.

“It’s going to be a great season,” said Horner. “I’m sure the Mercedes and Ferrari teams are going to have a strong year ahead and we’re going to try and push them hard.

“Hopefully we can have some fun along the way. Exciting times in Formula One at the moment, and hopefully we can put on a good show.”

The new tyres to be supplied by Pirelli will see an increase of 25 per cent in width, and will have to cope with faster speeds and increased downforce of up to 20 per cent at Grand Prix events.

“2017 with the big regulation change is going to be a fascinating season to witness,” said Horner.

“Tyres are going to be a key part of that – the new dimensions; the bigger, wider, more aggressive-looking tyres; new aerodynamics; the cars going four, five, six seconds a lap quicker – it’s going to be a great spectacle for all the fans.

“Pirelli’s involvement from the very first test that we were involved in last summer have really embraced this and I think Formula One is really going to benefit from the investment that Pirelli has made into the product for this year.”

In a special video message to the Italian tyre manufacturers, Horner also saluted a significant milestone in the company’s history.

“Congratulations on 110 years of Pirelli in competition, an incredible achievement and something you should be very proud of.

“We’ve enjoyed all our time working with Pirelli. Three of these cars behind me in what we call our hall of fame won world championships on Pirelli tyres – drivers and constructors in 2011, 12 and 13. We’d love to add to that.

“We’re going to try and give Mercedes a hard time this year. I’m sure Ferrari are as well. Hopefully we can enjoy a really successful year of racing ahead of us.”

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