Formula 1 2018 Season Preview

F1

ByTheMinF1

2018 has all the ingredients set up to be a titanic battle at the front. As I said, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel look as though they’re closer than they were last season in a title fight that could go all the way to the wire. Potentially, the midfield battle between Force India, Renault, Toro Rosso, Haas and a rejuvinated McLaren team could make the 2018 season the most competitive in years. I hope you can join us throughout the year as we will no doubt have every twist and turn covered on ByTheMinute.

SAUBER Ahead of their 26th season in F1, Alfa Romeo are now on board with Peter Sauber’s team and this brings a colour change from last years blue. The front half of the C37 is white with the engine cover being Alfa Romeo red with a Alfa logo to match. Sauber have arguably had one good season in the hybrid era with 2015 seeing the team collect 36 points but its been pretty slim pickings since then. Seven points in two campaigns is nothing to be proud of but the team will at least be hopeful of changing fortunes with the current-spec Ferrari engine in the back for 2018 as Charles Leclerc comes in to partner Marcus Erisson.

MCLAREN All change at McLaren. Honda are out the door after a disastrous three years for the partnership which was so successful in the late eighties/early nineties and there is another livery change. The MCL33 is now papaya orange with a hint of blue on the front and rear wings which is a nod to not only the team’s history, but Fernando Alonso’s Indy 500 car from last year. Speaking of Alonso, he’s scheduled to drive in both the Formula 1 championship for McLaren and the World Endurance Championship for Toyota this year as he goes after his Triple Crown dream.

HAAS Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen are the partnership for Gene Haas’s outfit this year as they look to better their performances in 2017 where the performances were solid if not spectacular. For 2018, the VF-18 has had a subtle makeover with the darker grey tones being replaced by an almost silver colour. Like Sauber, Haas will have the current spec Ferrari engine in the back of their challenger and aim of the new car was to produce a more stable chassis and more consistant performances between rounds which will be key when the France-Austria-Britain triple header comes around at the end of June.

TORO ROSSO 2017 was a weird one for the Red Bull sister team. Daniil Kvyat and the eventually departing Carlos Sainz had a fairly encouraging season alebit only managing two double points finishes in the whole of the campaign. However, after Kvyat lost his seat after Singapore due to his poor form, that’s when the musical chairs started. Pierre Gasly took Kvyat’s place for Malaysia and Japan with the Russian getting drafted back in for USA to replace Sainz who had left for Renault. Mexico saw the partnership between Gasly and WEC Champion Brendon Hartley begin. Happy to say that the line up for 2018, remains the same as the team switch to Honda for 2018.

RENAULT Nico Hulkenberg begins his second season with Renault after an 2017 was an inconsitent season for him and the team. Teammate Jolyon Palmer was dropped after the Japanese Grand Prix and Carlos Sainz filled the vacant seat from Toro Rosso for the USA Grand Prix towards the end of October. Six retirements for Hulkenberg soured the occasional decent points finish but both he, Sainz and the Enstone outfit as a whole will be hoping that the R.S.18 will be more reliable and continue the progress made by the 2017 car. The colour scheme of their 2018 challenger hasn’t changed though with the yellow and black theme continuing.

WILLIAMS Williams aren’t the team they once were, sadly. One race win since Juan Pablo Montoya’s last race for the team in 2004 has meant that success is well and truly a thing of the past for them. Veteran driver Felipe Massa eventually retired in 2017 at the second attempt and Russian rookie driver Sergey Sirotkin fills Massa’s seat for the upcoming season. Sirotkin and Lance Stroll make up by far the least experienced driver line up with just 19 race starts for Stroll; talk about a baptism of fire for Sirotkin. Williams must think he’s good enough.

FORCE INDIA Force India approach their eleventh season on the grid as the fourth best team since 2016. Arguably the best pound for pound outfit in terms of success, Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon failed to finish just two races between them last year. There’s been a threat of a name change hanging over the team since they lost their Sahara sponsorship at the end of 2017 but that doesn’t look to be happening until the Spanish Grand Prix at the earliest allegedly. Perez got the team’s best finish of the season last year with a fourth place in Barcelona. Podiums a possibility this year?

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.

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?