This past weekend saw Sebastian Vettel take the top spot on the opening race of the 2017 Formula 1 season at the Australian Grand Prix. The win put Ferrari at the top of the podium, while the remaining two places where taken up by Mercedes lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
Despite not taking the top spot the Mercedes team remain confident in both their drivers and cars abilities. The team believe that the next race in China will be a true representation of the quality of the teams drivers and the capabilities of this new seasons revised cars. The same race last year showcased the skill and ability of the Mercedes team as the 2016 season champion Nico Rosberg secured first place, while his team mate Hamilton came from last to finish in seventh place.
This seasons new car specifications and focus on overtaking once again raises the continued issue of driver safety. The opening race is Melbourne resulted in a several crashes in the second practice session.
The safety specifications of the new F1 cars are with out doubt the best there has ever been. However the focus on overtaking this season will see drivers take bigger risks.
As there are only a limited number of ways to ensure driver safety and reduce the number of fatal crashes and accidents, we would expect to see more crash barriers installed across F1 race courses around the world.
The abilities the barriers to withstand high amounts of pressure and absorb energy make them an efficient way of improving safety, giving drivers the opportunity to push to overtake.
As we are only one race into the season, it is too early to speculate on the effects the new cars and the emphasis on overtaking will have on the safety of the drivers, and how the leaderboard will look come the end of the race calendar.