Ferrari SF70H ActionFormula One 2017 is radically different, the sport’s regulator driving change with a completely revised set of technical regulations making it a much faster, more dramatic and physically demanding experience for the 20 drivers who compete for the World Championship title. The result has been an end to Mercedes’ domination, a resurgent Ferrari and a duel between Germany’s Sebastian Vettel and Britain’s Lewis Hamilton.

The last 20 years have seen year-on-year improvements to safety, fuel efficiency and environmental sustainability. The result was a Formula One which became perceived as risk averse, with cars much easier to drive and the noise of the 350kph machines dulled by the move to energy efficient petrol-electric hybrid engines.

This year the cars are longer, wider and fitted with much larger tyres capable of supporting vastly increased cornering speeds. These speeds have been aided by a step-change in the aerodynamic regulations, enabling the drivers to push flat-out through the twists and turns of the 20 Grand Prix race venues.

The increased performance could be seen first-hand in the opening race of 2017 in Melbourne, Australia, with the fastest lap of the race, set by Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, a full 2.5 seconds faster than in 2016. in Spain last weekend one corner which previously exerted forces approaching 4.5G on the cars and drivers – meaning a driver’s head would feel 4.5 times heavier than normal in the quickest turns – had increased to 5G.

And the result? The season started with not only significantly faster cars but an overturned form book with Ferrari defeating the previously dominant Mercedes Benz team in Australia and Germany’s Sebastian Vettel returning to the top step of the podium. Since then Vettel has taken a further victory in Bahrain to lead the World Championship for Drivers, while Lewis Hamilton has matched him with two wins and team mate Valtteri Bottas took his maiden victory for Mercedes Benz  in Russia.

“The new cars look dramatic, whether standing still or going past you at 300kph, and the drivers barely have to brake at the quicker corners,” says Mark Gallagher. “It’s a pretty visceral spectacle. The potential for risk has increased, so our emphasis on risk management and keeping safety at the centre of our day to day operations has moved to a new level. And the drivers are certainly feeling the pressure; it’s a much tougher challenge to drive these machines on the limit of adhesion for up to 2 hours at a time.”

And the big takeaway from all of this?

“Once again, when confronted by a new set of regulations, all the teams have responded magnificently by designing, manufacturing and producing entirely new Formula One cars in a little over 6 months; fully compliant, meeting the key operational requirements and pushing the performance envelope ever outwards. Innovation has again been key, and both the Mercedes and Ferrari feature some radical thinking.  We have already seen an evolution in these designs across the first 5 Grands Prix, and I expect that by the end of 2017 we will see record after record being smashed by these extraordinary pieces of technology.”