Williams, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2017

2017 F1 season in stats: The 68th season in context

2017 F1 season review

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The current V6 hybrid turbo regulations have been in place for four years but it seems the power units aren’t getting more reliable.

The finishing rate for drivers in race this year fell below 80% for the first time since 2010. Why aren’t drivers seeing the chequered flag more often, and is it a reflection on the current engines?

Reliability

The rate of technical failures during the previous V8 engine era fell as low as 6.7% in their final year. Unsurprisingly the change in rules prompted a rise in failures which had fallen steadily since that first season.

Carlos Sainz Jnr, Toro Rosso, Bahrain International Circuit, 2017
There were more crashes in 2017
That trend reversed in 2017 when the finishing rate fell from 82.9% to 78.5%. This isn’t a drop on a par with 2014 (new engine regulations) or even 2010 (three new teams arrived), but it’s a striking reversal in progress.

Technical failures are evidently part of the picture as the graph above shows. A likely explanation is that in 2017 a greater proportion of the grid were not using engines from the most successful manufacturers.

In 2016 only six of the 22 cars on the grid were using Renault (also branded as TAG Heuer) or Honda engines. These are the two manufacturers who’ve had the most difficulty producing reliable power units since the new rules were announced.

However the disappearance of Manor meant two fewer Mercedes on the grid while Toro Rosso switched from Ferrari to Renault. That meant eight of the 20 cars on the grid this year were powered by less reliable hardware.

But this isn’t the whole picture. It’s also clear drivers had more accidents. While a fall in the number of races (from 21 to 20) and competitors (22 to 20) meant the total number of race participations dropped from 462 to 400 year-on-year, the total number of non-classifications due to crashes and spins rose from 24 to 32.

Perhaps those faster cars really were harder to handle, or the extra width presented more of a problem when it came to avoiding rivals or barriers.

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Winners

Pole positions

Another trend which showed signs of reversing in 2017 was the dominance of Mercedes. For the first time in four years races were won by more than four drivers and more than two teams. It was only the second time since 2011 that the most successful driver didn’t rack up a double-digit win tally.

Which seasons can we compare 2017 to? Not since 2001 has F1 seen five different race winners and the most successful of those take nine victories (Michael Schumacher). You have to look two years earlier for the last time F1 had four different pole sitters and the most successful of those set 11 poles (Mika Hakkinen).

Drivers, teams and races

There was some volatility in the driver market this year which meant 25 different drivers made appearances. That’s the most since 2012, when there was four more seats available.

Despite the Malaysian Grand Prix dropping from the schedule the return of races in France and Germany means the 2018 F1 calendar will return to a maximum of 21 rounds.

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 7 comments on “2017 F1 season in stats: The 68th season in context”

    1. ”Despite the Malaysian Grand Prix dropping from the schedule the return of races in France and Germany means the 2018 F1 calendar will return to a maximum of 21 rounds.”
      – And will drop back to 20 again in 2019 as the German GP is going to be dropped again after next season unless some venue comes in as a replacement for it.
      – The fact the finishing rate for drivers this year was lower than in previous seasons is interesting, though. It’s something I hadn’t really thought of or noticed.

    2. The Constructors Championship in the hybrid era:

      Mercedes: 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st = 4

      Red Bull: 2nd, 4th, 2nd, 3rd = 11

      Ferrari: 4th, 2nd, 3rd, 2nd = 11

      Williams: 3rd, 3rd, 5th, 5th = 16

      Force India: 6th, 5th, 4th, 4th = 19

      Toro Rosso: 7th, 7th, 7th, 7th = 28

      McLaren: 5th, 9th, 6th, 9th = 29

      Team Enstone: 8th, 6th, 9th, 6th = 29

      Sauber: 10th, 8th, 10th, 10th = 38

      Does this mean anything? Well Mercedes and Toro Rosso are the most consistent teams. Other than that, no.

      Is it interesting? Also no.

      1. We’ll, it’s _fairly_ interesting at least… thanks for compiling!

        1. Interesting the roles of ferrari and red bull as the closest competition mercedes had overall, see, they’re absolutely identical but in different years, 2nd and 4th, 2nd and 3rd.

    3. I think two more factors which influenced the finishing rate.
      One, both Renault and Honda made major changes to their power units (the latter going as far as completely redesigning it) since 2016 instead of building on an old already known concept. This inevitably lowered reliability.
      Two, the cars got wider this season, so there was less room (physically) to fit two cars next to each other on track and therefore more room (metaphorically) for drivers to hit each other.

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