Formula 1 2018 Season Preview

F1

ByTheMinF1

The Formula 1 circus gets rolling once again this weekend as the twenty fastest drivers on the planet get ready to battle it out over the course of 21 weekends between now and November to decide who’ll become not only the 2018 World Champion, but also only the third driver in the sports history to win five World titles along with Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher. So what’s new or 2018?

NEW LOGO As you may or may not have seen, Liberty Media unveiled a new logo for the sport to replace the previous logo that had been used as the face of Formula 1 since 1987. Safe to say, it hasn’t exactly gone down well with the long-term fans of the sport; it was very much a feeling of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. The new logo is a red design which in all honesty, looks a bit basic. Liberty Media could have done better with it but I’m sure fans will get used to it over time.

HALO This went down like a lead ballon to more of an extent than the new logo. If you haven’t seen it, where have you been over the winter? The new HALO device is designed to help driver safety but as several people have pointed out on social media, it doesn’t look like it could stop much at all; it also looks like a flip-flop. The only other alternative was a shield a lot like the one that IndyCar have opted to use for this season. Sebastian Vettel gave the shield a go in Silverstone during the middle of last season and while he said that visibility wasn’t great at high speed, you’d have thought that there was room for improvement. I wouldn’t rule the shield being used but I think it looks like it would stop more compared to the HALO and looks almost jet fighter-like.

NEW RACE START TIMES For 2018, the fairly new owners of the sport have opted to move the start times of the races back to 10 past the hour to try and boost TV audiences and give the TV companies the option of starting their coverage on the hour as opposed to half past or quarter to. For the European and Brazilian races, the start has been moved back an hour and ten minutes with the reason that a wider TV audience is reachable later in the afternoon.

CALENDAR CHANGES Two returning races and one race leaves us this year. Like 2017, there will be 21 Grand Prix weekends with the start being this weekend in Melbourne and the final race in Abu Dhabi, as is the tradition now. Back on the calendar for the first time since 2008 is the French Grand Prix with the race venue switching to Paul Ricard for the first time since 1990 when the race was held at Magny-Cours. The German Grand Prix is the other race that returns to the calendar at Hockenheim after having missed out on a spot on the calendar in both 2015 and 2017 where, as part of a deal with Nurburgring, the two venues were scheduled to alternate year by year. After Nurburgring fell into financial troubles, they lost their spot on the calendar. The race that has left the calendar after being discontinued, the Malaysian Grand Prix loses its spot on the schedule after an 18 year stay. As a result, the Russian Grand Prix has been moved from April to September to fill the void left by Sepang.

NEW TYRE COMPOUNDS Before we have a look at how the teams have shaped up ahead of the new campaign, one thing that’s new this year is the two new tyre compounds. Taking the range of tyre compounds available to seven, the Hypersoft and the Superhard tyres have been added at either ends of the compound range. The colour range and the tyres which have been nominated for the first three flyaways of 2018 are show below Last but by no means least important, shark fins have been banned for 2018 and those ungodly coat hanger ‘attachements’ towards the rear have gone with them. In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have HALO but needs must for driver safety.

Let's break the teams down one by one.,

MERCEDES Could we see change for 2019? Both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas are in the final years of their contracts although it is rumoured ahead of the first race in Melbourne that Hamilton has signed a new contract with the Brackley outfit. After being a dominant force since 2014, Hamilton is chasing a fifth World title; his fourth crown of the hybrid era. Along with Mercedes, the driver and team combination which has obviously been a marriage made in heaven are chasing their fifth consecutive Drivers and Constructors crown double. It would take a very brave man to bet against them.

FERRARI It is perhaps forgotten just how hard Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari pushed Mercedes in 2017. After winning three of the opening six races and finishing second in the other three, Vettel had a 25 point lead in the Championship after Monaco; it was game on. Frustratingly for the adoring Tifosi who haven’t seen a Drivers title return to Italy since 2007, the team had a double DNF in the rain in Singapore and their luck deserted them after that. Along with hiring Daniil Kvyat as a development driver, the team say they’ve made another step forward since 2017, but is it enough to take Mercedes all the way to the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi?

RED BULL 2017 was a real up and down year for Red Bull. Three race wins which included Daniel Ricciardo’s win in that crazy race in Baku and Max Verstappen’s two wins in Malaysia and Mexico, Team Principal Christian Horner will no doubt be in optimistic mood ahead of the upcoming campaign. The Milton Keynes outfit need to improve on their reliability if they are indeed looking to make it a three way team battle at the front. Imagine if Verstappen hadn’t had five retirements in seven races. The Ricciardo contract situation is still a concern but Aston Martin have finally got on board as a new title sponsor.