As a new era dawns upon Formula 1 in 2017, a lot of questions remain unanswered...
Will the new rules help in arresting the decline in F1’s viewership? Will we finally see a multi-team contest at the head of the field? How will the rules shake-up impact overtaking?
There is only one way to find the answer...
F1 rulemakers have introduced a new set of regulations for 2017 to make the cars faster and more visually appealing. The fatter tyres and lower rear wings - two of the biggest changes that can be easily spotted - have received universal approval from fans in pre-season testing.
However, the jury is out on the impact of the new regs on overtaking. The 2017 cars produce far more downforce than their predecessors, which, theoretically, should lead to more ‘dirty air’ for the following car.
A part of the increased lap time also comes from increased mechanical grip through the introduction of wider tyres. This should have no impact on the ability of cars to race each other closely.
Will Ferrari take the fight to Mercedes?
For too long fans have been complaining about one-team domination in F1. While it is nothing new in the sport, the voices have gone louder since Mercedes became F1’s dominant force in 2014.
But based on pre-season testing there is every hope that Ferrari have closed the gap to Mercedes and can potentially give the Silver Arrows a run for their money. The Scuderia has made a step forward on both the aerodynamic and the power unit front, with race strategy being the only area where there is a question mark.
However, it would be foolish to say Mercedes aren’t the favourites for 2017. The Brackley-based squad looks strong as ever, with the hiring of James Allison only expected to improve their fortunes further.
One shouldn’t discount Red Bull just yet. While the Adrian Newey-led design office unveiled a fairly simple-looking RB13 in testing, expect the outfit to make significant strides over the season.
Improvements are also expected from Red Bull’s engine power Renault, who have delivered the step forward they have promised before the winter. While the French manufacturer had turned down the power during pre-season testing while they sorted an ERS issue - which was detected by the team on the dyno previously - expect it to run closer to its full potential in Melbourne.
Like the last few seasons, expect a close battle for the midfield crown.
Williams was the strongest of all in Barcelona, with Force India admitting that it must address some weaknesses in their chassis before they can be fully competitive.
Improvements made by Ferrari should also help their de facto junior team Haas, while Renault is also expected to be in the mix in the second year of their F1 return.
Toro Rosso, too, has a strong package and a brand new 2017 engine, leaving McLaren and Sauber at the rear of the pack.
The Australian Grand Prix has been a permanent fixture on the F1 calendar since 1985, with Melbourne taking over from Adelaide in 1996.
The Albert Park Circuit has proved to be a popular venue for the fans and has hosted some of the most memorable season-openers in recent history.
The track mostly comprises of slow-to-medium corners, with plenty of chicanes. The first sector is typically flat-out and houses a long straight between turns 2 and 3 - which serves as one of the two DRS zone.
The second sector is more technical, while the final part of the track is made up of multiple slow-speed and 90-degree corners.
Given the low-degradation nature of the track - a typical feature of street circuits - Pirelli is bringing its ultrasoft compounds for the first time. Teams will also have the choice of supersoft and soft compounds.
Michael Schumacher is the most successful F1 driver in Australia, with four grand prix winners to his name.
Out of the current grid, Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen have won twice at Melbourne. Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso have won one race apiece.