F1 2017: Everything you need to know

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new Formula One season kicks off in Australia this weekend, with the sport preparing to enter a new era.

Here we run through the key changes, driver line-ups, dates for your diary and the best Opta facts ahead of lights out at Albert Park.

KEY CHANGES

– A whole host of new technical and sporting regulations promise to make 2017 the most open season in years. Whether that happens in reality remains to be seen, but the wider, faster and more powerful cars certainly provide an additional level of intrigue, as does the increased responsibility placed on drivers at the start of a race.

– Nico Rosberg’s retirement at the end of last season means we head into 2017 without the defending drivers’ champion on the grid, with Valtteri Bottas taking his seat alongside Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes.

– F1 is under new ownership after Liberty Media completed its takeover of the sport’s commercial rights, with ‘supremo’ Bernie Ecclestone stepping down from his role as CEO and Ross Brawn among those added to the new management structure.

– The season is a team and a grand prix light after the collapse of Manor and the failure of two German circuits – Hockenheim and the Nurburgring – to agree a deal with F1 bosses.

– Force India’s livery is now pink!

THE DRIVERS

Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton (GBR)
Valtteri Bottas (FIN)

Red Bull
Daniel Ricciardo (AUS)
Max Verstappen (NED)

Ferrari
Sebastian Vettel (GER)
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN)

Force India
Sergio Perez (MEX)
Esteban Ocon (FRA)

Williams
Felipe Massa (BRA)
Lance Stroll (CAN)

McLaren
Fernando Alonso (ESP)
Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL)

Toro Rosso
Daniil Kvyat (RUS)
Carlos Sainz (ESP)

Haas
Romain Grosjean (FRA)
Kevin Magnussen (DEN)

Renault
Nico Hulkenberg (GER)
Jolyon Palmer (GBR)

Sauber
Marcus Ericsson (SWE)
Pascal Wehrlein (GER)

THE CALENDAR

March 26 – Australia
April 9 – China
April 16 – Bahrain
April 30 – Russia
May 14 – Spain
May 28 – Monaco
June 11 – Canada
June 25 – Azerbaijan
July 9 – Austria
July 16 – Great Britain
July 30 – Hungary
August 27 – Belgium
September 3 – Italy
September 17 – Singapore
October 1 – Malaysia
October 8 – Japan
October 22 – United States
October 29 – Mexico
November 12 – Brazil
November 26 – Abu Dhabi

OPTA FACTS

– 2017 will be the fifth time in F1 history that the reigning champion has not taken part the following season: Mike Hawthorn won in 1958, Jochen Rindt in 1970, Jackie Stewart in 1973, Alain Prost in 1993 and Nico Rosberg in 2016.

– Last season only two teams picked up race wins: Mercedes (19 – an F1 record for a single season) and Red Bull (2). Mercedes also broke the record for most pole positions (20 out of 21).

– 2017 will be the 16th F1 season for Fernando Alonso, more than any other driver competing this year. Alonso and Sebastian Vettel are currently enduring their longest runs in F1 without a win: 27 races for the German driver (since Singapore 2015) and 71 for the Spaniard (since Spain 2013).

– McLaren are winless in their last 78 races (since Brazil 2012) – their worst run in F1.

– Max Verstappen will turn 20 in September 2017; the Dutch driver has the opportunity to become the youngest world champion in F1 history, a record currently held by Vettel (23 years, four months).

– This year there will be 20 races in the F1 season, the second time in history this has happened (also 2012).