Pirelli kicked off the 2017 Formula One season in Abu Dhabi today as teams took to the Yas Marina circuit to test out the new for 2017 wide tyres on track for the last time in 2016, represented by new World Champions Mercedes, Red Bull Renault and the Ferrari team. With 2017 marking a significant change in regulations for Formula One, Pirelli are keen to put their new wider slick tyres to the test once again before the teams roll out their 2017 challengers early in the new year. The regulation changes for next season mean tyres will be around 25 percent wider, with rears up from 325mm to 405, and fronts up from 245 to 305. Diameter will also increase very slightly, though wheel rim size remains unchanged at 13 inches. Coupled with increased downforce over the 2016 machines, Formula One in 2017 could be a very different prospect than viewers have seen in recent seasons. Newly dethroned World Champion Lewis Hamilton is in attendance for his AMG Mercedes team, handing over to Manor driver and Mercedes junior Pascal Wehrlein for the afternoon session. Representing Scuderia Ferrari is Kimi Raikkonen, while Daniel Ricciardo and team mate Max Verstappen are both in attendance for the Red Bull squad. Due to strict testing regulations, Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes are all running updated 2015 cars with modified aerodynamics (wider track) aimed at simulating the higher downforce regulations of 2017. The Abu Dhabi test is the final running this year in a series of tests held by Pirelli in preparation for the new season, as the tyre manufacturer looks to continue development of tyres that promise to be more durable than the current behaviour of the rubber supplied from the manufacturer since making its Formula One debut back in 2009. “We’ve made huge steps forward since trying the new tyres out for the first time at the beginning of August and we’re pleased by the results obtained with the majority of the specifications,” said Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery. “We know, however, that the work is just beginning. The aerodynamic progress made by next year’s cars will lower lap times by around five seconds compared to 2015, and about three seconds compared to this year.” “The new cars that will take to the track for the first time in February will have a downforce increase of more than 20 percent: much more than we have seen with the mule cars,” added Hembery. “And that progress will continue throughout the whole of next season.” Pirelli have produced a nice little summary video detailing the changes to the regulations in 2017, which you can view below: Are you going to miss Formula One during the off season? Well you can get your fix of all things Grand Prix here at RaceDepartment in our very own Formula One sub forum. Head on over to the forum and join in the discussion with your fellow fans of the sport today! What do you think of the new for 2017 regulations? Do you think the top teams will maintain the status quo? Will the new regs promote better racing? Can someone topple Mercedes from their dominant position? Let us know in the comments section below!