Lewis Hamilton is a three time champion, the number 1 driver at Mercedes and the runner up from 2016. He is either loved or reviled, depending on who you ask.
Valteri Bottas came to Mercedes over the winter when Nico Rosberg retired. We’ll see what this former Williams driver can do now that he’s in the best car on the track.
Daniel Ricciardo is the always-smiling Australian who leads team Red Bull. He finished third in the drivers’ championship in 2016 and is pegged by many observers to be a future champion.
Max Verstappen graduated to the senior Red Bull team from Toro Rosso midway through the 2016 season and impressed everyone, even winning a race. This teenager is destined for greatness.
Sebastian Vettel is a four-time champion, but all of those winning seasons came at rival Red Bull. This is year three at Ferrari. Can Vettel regain those winning ways?
Kimi Raikkonen (aka “Ice Man”) is a former champion but now the second driver at Ferrari. He’s one of the older drivers in the paddock, but many think he still has what it takes to win.
Sergio Perez is the fastest Mexican on the track. He has several podium finishes from 2016 and is on a team, Force India, that is quite impressive given its limited resources.
Poor Esteban Ocon was chosen for the second Force India seat too late to have his picture taken properly. This young driver with Mercedes-affiliations got to drive for the backmarking Manor team for the second half of the 2016 season. He drove well enough to get a pretty enviable Force India seat, vacated by Hulkenberg.
Is Felipe Massa retired or not? This guy retired after the 2016 season, but Williams asked him to come back when their other driver, Bottas, left for Mercedes over the winter. We’ll see how much this veteran has left in the tank.
Lance Stroll, the young Canadian has his first ride with Williams. He has a successful racing past, but had an inauspicious start as he crashed his car twice in the first week of pre-season testing. It remains to be seen whether he can harness the F1 power.
Fernando Alonso is a two time champion and the number 1 driver at McLaren. But he could be in for a frustrating season with another “GP2 engine” from Honda. Will he last the whole season?
This Belgian youngster got his first taste of F1 when he was called to drive for an injured Alonso in Bahrain in 2016 and scored McLaren’s first points of the season. In 2017, Stoffel Vandoorne is back for a full season in the seat vacated by Jenson Button’s retirement.
Carlos Sainz is a promising young driver for Toro Rosso, Red Bull’s little brother. Sainz was teammates with Verstappen before Verstappen was promoted. Sainz looks to prove that he deserves a drive with one of the top teams in 2018.
Daniil Kvyat began the 2016 season with Red Bull, before they demoted him to Toro Rosso because of his reckless driving and habit of crashing into Ferrari’s Vettel. Kvyat went into a funk following the demotion, but started to show some of the promise that landed him an F1 seat toward the end of the season. He’ll look to continue that momentum in 2017.
Frenchman Romain Grosjean drives for the American Haas team. This will be year two of the Haas experiment and Grosjean will look to improve upon a 2016 campaign with a few highs (point scoring finishes) but just as many, if not more, lows.
Kevin Magnussen left the Renault team after last season to drive for Haas. Magnussen thinks he has the driving skill to improve upon his finish from last season. We’ll see if it was the car that was holding him back.
Nico Hulkenberg left Force India for a chance to drive for Renault. In 2016, Force India was the much better team, so Hulkenberg is banking on the Renault works team making big strides in 2017.
Joylon Palmer had a season to forget in 2016, finishing behind his then teammate Magnussen more often than not. This British driver may excite fans back on the isle, but it’s hard to find much other value to his driving.
Marcus Ericsson is a “pay driver” for Sauber, which means that his daddy is rich enough to pay the team to let him drive. But last year Sauber had two pay drivers, they often clashed on track, and Ericsson is the one left standing.
Pascal Wehrlein was driving for Manor last season but that team folded. This promising young driver with Mercedes connections was lucky to find a seat with Sauber. Unfortunately Sauber is expected to be the backmarker this season, but Wehrlein can gain valuable experience.