It is hard to believe that this weekend marks the end of the 2017 Formula One Season.
It has been interesting to say the least, and it looks as though 2018 is set to be every bit as entertaining.
But before we discuss future plans let us take a look at this Sunday’s race at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi.
Once again the fight will be on to settle the sixth position in the Constructors’ championship between Toro Rosso, Renault and Haas.
The Italian team holds that spot going into Sunday’s race with Renault four points in arrears and a further two back USA Team Haas F1.
It is all up for grabs it appears, but one has to wonder whether the Renault power units will prove reliable this weekend, or could the Ferrari unit in the back of the Haas be an advantage?
While that fight goes on we have, according to reports, one team that really does not want a good result on Sunday.
Force India went to Brazil with the same attitude. Esteban Ocon’s retirement was perfect whereas Sergio Perez’s ninth place earned them two unwanted points. If that sounds strange, read on.
The team have taken the fourth spot in the 2017 Constructors title chase and cannot afford to gain any more points.
Being a team with one of the smallest budgets in the sport of Formula 1 they have to watch the pennies due to the FIA’s entry fee system.
There is a flat fee payable for next season’s entry but they also have to pay for the number of points gained in the previous season – at R77 180 per point.
So, any more points will adversely affect the 2018 budget. Otmar Szafnauer, sporting director, said: “Each additional point from now on will diminish our budget.”
What a very strange situation when achieving a good finish results in increased fees for the following season.
It does not strike me as a way of encouraging new teams to join the circus or striving to be successful when improvement is used as a method of extracting more funds for those in control.
On the subject of next season it looks as though most of the teams have signed contracts for their driver line ups, with a few exceptions. Sauber have three possible options for the two seats – Marcus Ericsson, F2 champion Charles Leclerc and Antonio Giovinazzi.
Engine supplier Ferrari is keen to ensure the presence of their development drivers, while Sauber management are apparently keen to retain Ericsson.
Williams have already signed Lance Stroll for next year but the second seat has created a lot of speculation.
The main contenders are Robert Kubica and reserve driver Paul di Resta who acquitted himself well in Hungary.
Others are Daniil Kvyat and Pascal Wehrlein, the latter part of the Mercedes driver program.
Hopefully we will soon begin to see some real input from the new owners of F1, the Liberty group
. Many have complained that they have yet to witness any significant changes or proposals from the new management team and on occasion have complained when they have.
Scenarios such as the boxing style introduction of the drivers for the USA event come to mind and have been universally condemned.
Despite the presence of some extremely proficient personnel working towards a better future for F1, I am concerned that the sport could now be run on the same lines as IndyCar or NASCAR.
In other words, redesigned to satisfy the American market.
That market has never been particularly enamoured of F1 and it is going to take an almighty effort to change the average US motorsport fan’s perception.
But will those changes alienate the existing international fan base?
The number of such fans has already been depleted, due to ridiculous rules and cost cutting measures that have created total confusion.
Then there is the continuation of the grid penalty system, that will become worse in 2018 as the number of replacement units available to the teams is being further reduced.
Ross Brawn has referred to the current penalties as a “farce”, stating: “We are four seasons into this technology and we are still getting so many grid penalties, because we can’t get on top of the technology.”