The start of the 2017 Formula One season is just a day away now, with the Australian Grand Prix set to open the Formula One campaign for the 19th time this weekend. This season is set to be a lot more competitive and you can expect a lot more drivers and teams competing for the drivers' and constructors' championship with the new rules in place.
Last season saw Mercedes dominate almost every race as they went on to win the constructors' championship by 297 points. However, if pre-season testing has taught us anything, it is that Red Bull Racing and Ferrari finally have a car strong enough to challenge Mercedes this season.
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With the reigning world champion Nico Rosberg retiring, there will be a new champion crowned at the end of this season. Despite Lewis Hamilton tipped as the favourite, one can expect the likes of Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen, Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen and Hamilton's new teammate Valtteri Bottas to put up a fight.
There will be a lot of pressure on Bottas to step up and deliver in the first race of the season. He does have a much stronger car compared to last season and all that remains to be seen is if he has the skills to challenge the best.
When Mercedes signed Bottas, they signed him on a one-year deal, hinting that they could still be on the lookout for a new driver should the Finn fail to deliver this season. Not a lot of people expect Bottas to challenge Hamilton for the world championship, but he said that Rosberg showed that Hamilton was beatable and despite the experience gap, he seemed confident that he could take the fight to him.
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Ferrari will also have a lot to show for in the first race of the season. The Italian based team have been a dominant force in Formula One for a long time but they have struggled to get going in the last few seasons.
This season however, that could all change. Ferrari were one of the fastest cars during pre-season and with Vettel's hunger and Raikkonen's experience, they could take Ferrari to the top again.
The 2017 Australian Grand Prix Schedule
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Date: Practice 1 and 2 – 24 March, Practice 3 – 25 march, Qualifying – 25 March, Race – 26 March
Time: Practice 1 – 12pm local time, 6:30am IST, 1am GMT
Practice 2 – 4pm local time, 10:30am IST, 5am GMT
Practice 3 – 2pm local time, 8:30am IST, 3am GMT
Qualifying – 5pm local time, 11:30am IST, 6am GMT
Race – 4pm local time, 10:30am IST, 5am GMT
Venue: Melbourne, Australia (Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit)
TV Guide: India: Star Sports select HD 2. Australia: Ten and Ten HD. UK: Sky Sports F1. USA: NBC Sports. Middle East: Bein Sports Arabia. Asia: Fox Sports. Canada: TSN 2.