Melwin Joy
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Melwin Joy

All stories by: Melwin Joy
FIA 2018: Formula One World Championship

The roaring engines, hot tracks, killer turns, fast laps, skilful driving and victory podiums… only one place on earth can provide you with such an adrenaline rush in the motor sport world – the fabled F1 World Championships! This Holy Grail for all enthusiasts is always packed with excitement and changes that keeps on entertaining us no matter what the time is.

In the light of the beginning of a brand new season here is the low down on what’s new and improved and the latest updates from the tracks.

Technical rules

After the technical rules revolution of 2017 – where F1 cars became wider and faster – this season’s changes are relatively few in number. That doesn’t mean, of course, that they aren’t important – and some will be very obvious indeed.

No T-wings and Shark Fins

The emergence of the extended, shark-finned engine covers, along with the rather ungainly looking T-wings, was the result of a loophole in the rules – but not anymore. The purpose of the T-wing was to better direct airflow to the main rear wing, and in some cases to create a little additional down force.

With the shark fins and T-wings outlawed for 2018, we can expect the rear of this season’s new cars to look more like that tested by Sauber in Austin back in October of last year. The engine cover still features a fin of sorts, but nothing like the huge swathes of carbon fibre we saw in 2017.

Ring of halos

The one change every F1 fan will immediately notice in 2018 is the introduction of the halo – the cockpit protection device designed to further improve driver safety in the event of an accident and in particular to deflect debris away from the head.

The design of the halo, which we have seen teams trialling in practice and test sessions over the past two seasons, is not dissimilar to the original study carried out by Mercedes at the FIA’s request in 2015, with a central pillar supporting a ‘loop’ around the driver’s head.

Though the halo is mandatory, with its core design dictated by the rules, there will be some scope for teams to modify its surface, so don’t be surprised to see a variety of small aero devices adorning this new addition.

The overall minimum weight of cars has gone up by 6kg to 734kg to compensate for the introduction of the halo, but it’s estimated that the actual impact of the device plus the mountings could be as much as 14kg, which will leave teams with less room to play with when it comes to performance ballast – and also put heavier drivers at a potential disadvantage.

Trick suspension outlawed

Another small, but potentially important directive issued by the FIA ahead of the 2018 season relates to trick suspension systems which could be used to improve a car’s aerodynamic performance.
Last year teams including Red Bull and Ferrari tried set-ups with a small link in the front suspension connected to the upright, believed to cleverly allow the ride height of the car – a key factor in aero performance – to be varied over the course of a lap depending on steering angle. The FIA has since decreed such systems will not be allowed.

Sporting regulations

As with the technical rule changes we highlighted earlier, the updates to F1’s sporting regulations for 2018 are minor in number but major in significance. Here’s our handy summary of the key points.

Three engines per season

In a bid to make F1 power units even more reliable – and further reduce costs – this season each driver must make do with just three engines for the 21-race campaign; compared to the four engines last year.

The exact impact of decision is yet to be seen, though treading the fine line between performance and durability will certainly be tougher than ever. Go too conservative and you’ll fall off the pace; go too aggressive and you risk costly failures and grid penalties – though those too have been changed for 2018.

One less engine per season will also mean one less chance per season for teams to introduce significant power unit upgrades – meaning those who best manage their development programme over the course of the year could stand to reap even bigger rewards.

Simpler grid penalties

One less engine per driver could mean more grid penalties in 2018. However, there will be far less confusion for fans over how those penalties impact the starting order. Under the previous system, drivers changing multiple power unit elements could rack up multiple grid drops, often in excess of the number of cars at the event.

Now, any driver who earns a grid penalty of 15 places or more will have to start from the back of the grid. If more than one driver receives such a penalty they will be arranged at the back of the grid in the order in which they changed elements. That should mean fewer headaches for fans – and those at the FIA tasked with deciding the grid!

Wider range of tyre compounds

As in 2017, official F1 tyre suppliers Pirelli will make three dry-weather compounds available to teams at each Grand Prix. However, for 2018 those three will be selected from a broader range of compounds, which now includes the new, pink-marked hypersoft at one end of the spectrum and the orange-marked superhard at the other.

It means in total there will be seven, rather than the previous five, slick tyre compounds, all of which are a step softer than in 2017, making them the fastest tyres in Formula 1 history. Reports based on initial data suggest they could immediately mean cars going a second per lap quicker.

Also new for 2018 is the ice blue colour of the hard compound. This frees up orange to be used on the aforementioned superhard, denoting it as the very hardest choice available in Pirelli’s range. The 2018 range in full is: hypersoft (pink), ultrasoft (purple), supersoft (red), soft (yellow), medium (white), hard (blue), superhard (orange).

Depending on how Pirelli choose to select compounds, the general move towards softer rubber should make 2018’s racing even more exciting, with more pit stops and fewer one-stop Grand Prix.

Teams for 2018

1. Mercedes

• Full Team Name-Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport
• Base-Brackley, United Kingdom
• Team Chief-Toto Wolff
• Technical Chief-James Allison
• Chassis-F1 W08 EQ Power+
• Power Unit-Mercedes
• First Team Entry-1970
• World Championships-4
• Highest Race Finish-1 (x67)
• Pole Positions-80
• Fastest Laps-47

Drivers – Louis Hamilton, Valterri Bottas

2. Ferrari

• Full Team Name-Scuderia Ferrari
• Base-Maranello, Italy
• Team Chief-Maurizio Arrivabene
• Technical Chief-Mattia Binotto
• Chassis-SF70H
• Power Unit-Ferrari
• First Team Entry-1950
• World Championships-16
• Highest Race Finish-1 (x230)
• Pole Positions-206
• Fastest Laps-243

Drivers – Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen

3. Red Bull

• Full Team Name-Red Bull Racing
• Base-Milton Keynes, United Kingdom
• Team Chief-Christian Horner
• Technical Chief-Adrian Newey
• Chassis-RB13
• Power Unit-TAG Heuer
• First Team Entry-1997
• World Championships-4
• Highest Race Finish-1 (x55)
• Pole Positions-58
• Fastest Laps-54

Drivers – Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen

4. Force India

• Full Team Name-Sahara Force India F1 Team
• Base-Silverstone, United Kingdom
• Team Chief-Vijay Mallya
• Technical Chief-Andrew Green
• Chassis-VJM10
• Power Unit-Mercedes
• First Team Entry-1991
• World Championships-N/A
• Highest Race Finish-2 (x1)
• Pole Positions-1
• Fastest Laps-5

Drivers – Sergio Perez, Esteban Ocon

5. Williams

• Full Team Name-Williams Martini Racing
• Base-Grove, United Kingdom
• Team Chief-Frank Williams
• Technical Chief-Paddy Lowe
• Chassis-FW40
• Power Unit-Mercedes
• First Team Entry-1978
• World Championships-9
• Highest Race Finish-1(x114)
• Pole Positions-128
• Fastest Laps-133

Drivers – Lance Stroll, Sergey Sirotkin

6. Renault

• Full Team Name-Renault Sport F1 Team
• Base-Enstone, United Kingdom
• Team Chief-Cyril Abiteboul
• Technical Chief-Bob Bell
• Chassis-R.S.17
• Power Unit-Renault
• First Team Entry-1986
• World Championship-2
• Highest Race Finish-1(X20)
• Pole Positions-20
• Fastest Laps-13

Drivers – Nico Hulkenberg, Carlos Sainz

7. Toro Rosso

• Full Team Name-Scuderia Toro Rosso
• Base-Faenza, Italy
• Team Chief-Franz Tost
• Technical Chief-James Key
• Chassis-STR12
• Power Unit-Renault
• First Team Entry-1985
• World Championships-N/A
• Highest Race Finish-1 (x1)
• Pole Positions-1
• Fastest Laps-1

Drivers – Pierre Gasly, Brendon Hartley

8. Haas

• Full Team Name-Haas F1 Team
• Base-N/A
• Team Chief-Guenther Steiner
• Technical Chief-Rob Taylor
• Chassis-N/A
• Power Unit-Ferrari
• First Team Entry-2016
• World Championships-N/A
• Highest Race Finish-5 (x1)
• Pole Positions-N/A
• Fastest Laps-N/A

Drivers – Romain Grosjean, Kevin Magnussen

9. McLaren

• Full Team Name-McLaren Honda
• Base-Woking, United Kingdom
• Team Chief-Eric Boullier
• Technical Chief-Tim Goss
• Chassis-MCL32
• Power Unit-Honda
• First Team Entry-1966
• World Championships-8
• Highest Race Finish-1(x182)
• Pole Positions-155
• Fastest Laps-155

Drivers – Fernando Alonso, Stoffel Vandoorne

10. Sauber

• Full Team Name -Sauber F1 Team
• Base-Hinwil, Switzerland
• Team Chief-Frédéric Vasseur
• Technical Chief-Jörg Zander
• Chassis-C36
• Power Unit-Ferrari
• First Team Entry-1993
• World Championships-N/A
• Highest Race Finish-1 (x1)
• Pole Positions-1
• Fastest Laps-5

Drivers – Marcus Ericsson, Charles Leclerc

Melwin Joy
AUTHOR

Melwin Joy

All stories by: Melwin Joy