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F1 2018: Season Preview


Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes team will be looking to defend their Drivers’ and Constructors titles when the F1 season gets underway this March. 

There’s just under two months left before the F1 season gets underway and petrolheads are in for 21 enthralling races.

There have been two new races added to this year’s calendar with the French Grand Prix and German Grand Prix set to make returns. The former will replace the Malaysian Grand Prix, which was scraped from the schedule due to the financial restraints.

There have also been a few changes to the designs of the cars, which will be discussed later in the piece. On top of this, the usual offseason personnel switches have happened, which will also be discussed at greater length later on in the piece.

2017 Season Recap
Last season was certainly more competitive despite Mercedes running away with the Constructors’ Championship and Lewis Hamilton reclaiming the Drivers’ Championship with three races to spare. Hamilton once again won the lion’s share of races claiming nine victories, while his teammate, Valtteri Bottas, won three.

Ferrari put in a solid shift in 2017 with main man Sebastian Vettel winning five Grand Prix, including the opener out in Australia. Vettel’s performances, coupled with the occasional solid showing from Kimi Raikkonen, ensured Ferrari claimed second place on the Constructors’ Championship and that the German ace finished the season as the Drivers’ Championship runner-up.

Red Bull were also impressive with Daniel Ricciardo winning the Grand Prix of Europe and Max Verstappen claiming race victories in Malaysia and Mexico.

2018 Outright Odds

To Win Constructors’ Championship
Mercedes 5/10 | Ferrari 33/10 | Red Bull 33/10 | Mclaren 33/1 | Renault 250/1 | Force India 300/1 | Williams 500/1 | Sauber 1000/1 | Toro Rosso 1000/1 | Haas 1000/1

To Win Drivers’ Championship
Lewis Hamilton 66/100 | Sebastian Vettel 7/2 | Max Verstappen 6/1 | Daniel Ricciardo 12/1 | Valterri Bottas 8/1 | Fernando Alonso 25/1 | Kimi Raikkonen 40/1 | Carlos Sainz 125/1 | Bar or Better

2018 Team Line-Ups
*Please note that these line-ups are yet to be confirmed and could possibly change

Lewis Hamilton

Valtteri Bottas

Sebastien Vettel

Kimi Raikonnen

Red Bull 
Daniel Ricciardo
Max Verstappen

Fernado Alonso
Stoffel Vandoorne

Force India
Sergio Perez
Esteban Ocon

Nico Hulkenberg
Carlos Sainz

Lance Stroll

Toro Rosso
Pierre Gasley
Brendon Hartley

Romain Grosjean
Kevin Magnussen

Marcus Ericsson
Charles Leclerc

2018 Schedule
Click here for the 2018 season schedule

Car Set-up Changes 

Change: Halo System
It seems that every year the FIA try and come up with a scheme to make the cars look more and more absurd. This year, however, it seems the bigwigs have outdone themselves with the mandatory implementation of the Halo modification. This adjustment – all in the name of safety, mind you – will see a shield like T-shaped contraption installed just above the front of the cockpit of the cars. The new piece of kit has been something of a nightmare for the teams to deal with, with many a team boss complaining that it affects driver vision and adds unnecessary extra weight to the car.

Result: Expect to see some very strange looking cars take to the grid in Australia

Change: Suspension Mandate
There has also been an amendment to the suspension of the cars. Teams in the higher echelons have run cars that drop in excess of 5mm when heading through some of the more rigorous turns. This have given them an aerodynamic advantage. The FIA, in a bid to stop this, now require teams to submit documentation that shows their cars do not drop by more than 5mm when the steering wheel is locked.

Result: A few of the top tier teams will lose a bit of pace through the corners

Change: T-Wing Banned
The T-wing, which was implemented by a handful of teams last season, was essentially a case of teams bending the rules in the search for an aerodynamic advantage. This loophole has been closed this year, with teams now forced to run cars be shot of a T-wing.

Result: Teams like Force India and McLaren may struggle for downforce at Monaco and other corner heavy tracks. 

Rule Changes

Three Engines Per Season
Each driver will only be allowed to use three engines this season, cutting the number of engines available last year down by one.

Result: Mid-season adjustments are likely to be more focused on aerodynamics than engine power. The lower tier teams are also likely to take a more conservative approach in qualifying and the practice sessions. 

Grid Penalties
If a driver is handed a 15 place grid penalty they will now be forced to start the race from the back of the grid. There is a bit of an issue here as if two drivers are penalised 15 places, the one who infringed first will start the race ahead of the one who infringes second.

Result: It should be easier to work out where those penalised will start from than it was last season. 

Added Tyre Compounds
This year will see an increase in the number of tyre compounds available for each team. There are sevens slick compounds available with the pink Hypersoft compounds set for a debut alongside the blue Hard compounds. The introduction of the blue Hard compounds sees the orange coloured compounds become the Superhard compounds.

Result: Apparently, all of the slick compounds in use are the best Pirelli has ever made, and the tyre manufacturer is expecting lap speeds to increase by at least a second.

Written by Darry Worthington for

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