Motor racing fans across the world have been willing these past three months to flip by on the ol’ calendar. And now that they have and we’re almost in April, the new Formula One season is upon us. As with every new season, this new year will bring thrills, spills and more than a little controversy. But it’ll also bring about a variety of changes that F1 fans will need to learn and get used to.
Some of these things will just be minor. Tweaks to the set-up, drivers swapping teams, new Grand Prix locations, that kind of thing. And then are the weird little rule changes which seem to come out of nowhere.
Here’s our look at the 2018 Formula One season ahead of us, along with a few pointers as to what we can all expect from it…
Some different drivers…
The legendary 36 year-old Brazilian driver Felipe Massa has left Williams and the sport, retiring as he did at the end of the 2017 season. He’s being replaced with newcomer Sergey Sirotkin. Charles Leclerc replaces Pascal Wehrlein at Sauber and Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley come in for Toro Rosso.
… But the same winners
While there will be a few drivers swapping about and coming in to replace people, the big hitters remain. Ferrari retain Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen, while Mercedes go all in for their boy Lewis Hamilton again. Supporting him for the second year in a row is another Finn, Valtteri Bottas. We’ve already had a glimpse of how the season might pan out in this first race of the year…
The Australian Grand Prix had Hamilton start on pole but end up having to settle for second place. Räikkönen trailed him, but it was Hamilton’s deadly foe, the German Vettel, who came out on top. It was his 48th career win.
Last year’s third best constructors, Red Bull Racing, retain the services of their two drivers, Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen. They may struggle to oust the top two drivers in F1, but they’re definitely capable of springing the odd surprise and grabbing podium spots.
Some team changes
The teams have tweaked the odd thing in the close season too. McLaren have ditched Honda and signed up with Renault. Doing the opposite and waving goodbye to Renault and hello to Renault are Toro Rosso. And Sauber are now signed up with Ferrari and using the same O62 EVO engines as Haas.
A few tweaks to the calendar
After eighteen years as a fixture, the Malaysian Grand Prix drops off the 2018 calendar. In its place goes the Russian GP, which shifts from April to September. The French Grand Prix (to be staged at the classic Circuit Paul Ricard) returns for the first time since 2008 and will slot into a late June spot. Baden-Württemberg’s Hockenheimring is set to host the returning German GP too, which is back after a year’s absence.
Here is the calendar in full:
- March 25, Melbourne – Australia
- April 8, Sakhir – Bahrain
- April 15, Shanghai – China
- April 29, Baku – Azerbaijan
- May 13, Barcelona – Spain
- May 27, Monte Carlo – Monaco
- June 10, Montreal – Canada
- June 24, Le Castellet – France
- July 1, Spielberg – Austria
- July 8, Silverstone – Great Britain
- July 22, Hockenheim – Germany
- July 29, Budapest – Hungary
- August 26 – Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
- September 2 – Monza, Italy
- September 16 – Marina Bay, Singapore
- September 30 – Sochi, Russia
- October 7 – Suzuka, Japan
- October 21 – Austin, USA
- October 28 – Mexico City, Mexico
- November 11 – Sao Paulo, Brazil
- November 25 – Yas Marina, UAE
Complicated regulation adjustments no one fully understands
Formula One is a complicated sport. It’s hugely technical and relies on all sorts of advanced, highly-calibrated technology and equipment. It’s also a magnificently rich sport. So the stakes are high. Obviously, like all sports, rules and regulations are required. But whereas a few laws can dictate the likes of tennis or snooker, something involving throwing dozens of multi-million pound elite super cars around a track at 200 mph is going to need quite a few rules. Formula One has plenty. And they’re almost constantly changing.
This year is no different. And, again, they’re pretty heavy going. We’re sure that the people involved in the sport understand what’s going on, but explaining it to us normal folk? Well, that’s not always so easy…
There are alterations to how racing licenses are granted, how suspended races are restarted, how the grid penalty system works, how improper race starts are dealt with and a whole heap of tech-y stuff about power units and engines that we couldn’t begin to try and understand.
Plenty of drama
There will be the odd tweak, adjustment and change to how Formula One runs this season. But it won’t impact the spectacular theatre of what’s bound to head our way. After all, when have we ever been left disappointed by a season of the world’s most exciting and tactically fascinating motor racing sport?
We’ll be tuning in every fortnight to watch all the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship action. And you’re more than welcome to join us…