Formula 1 2018 preview: everything you need to know before the Australian GP

At first look, and with the very notable exception of the new Halo instrument, no longer a lot seems to have modified in Formula 1 this season.

The chassis and engine regulations are the similar, and the best groups are again with unchanged driving force line-ups – together with reigning champion Lewis Hamilton bidding for a fourth crown in 5 seasons with Mercedes to take his general F1 international identify tally to 5.

But as ever with F1, it’s all about the main points. And there are many small adjustments that can have an affect this 12 months, each off and on the monitor. We requested ex-Renault F1 racer Jolyon Palmer, who has joined the BBC Radio five Live observation staff for 2018, about a few of the key storylines of the season forward.

Can somebody prevent Mercedes?

Mercedes has ruled since the V6 turbo engines had been presented in 2014, claiming a identify double once more final 12 months regardless of a problem from Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

Pre-season checking out suggests Mercedes is once more the staff to beat, even if Palmer reckons that Red Bull may well be its closest challenger. “Red Bull ended last year strongly with a couple of wins and can build on that,” says Palmer. “They started last year on the back foot in testing and developed well and they’re in much better shape this year.”

McLaren and Honda transfer on:

After 3 more and more acrimonious seasons, McLaren and Honda staged avery public divorce at the finish of final 12 months. British staff McLaren landed a provide of purchaser Renault engines and Honda salvaged its spot on the grid via agreeing to provide Toro Rosso, Red Bull’s ‘B team’.

So some distance, Honda seems to be love it’s faring the higher: Toro Rosso set the maximum laps of any staff intesting, whilst McLaren suffered reliability woes.

“Toro Rosso was the surprise of the pre-season,” says Palmer. “It’s been incredibly reliable so far.” That stated, he warns in opposition to writing off McLaren: “They had a lot of reliability problems in testing, but Fernando Alonso did set some good times. They should develop a lot as well. When you change to another engine supplier, it’s like starting a new relationship.”

The liberty impact:

This might be Liberty Media’s 2nd complete season in control of F1 and the first through which it might actually make its affect felt. That has supposed a large number of fiddling spherical the edges: grid ladies are long gone (sparking a large public debate); grid youngsters are in; get started occasions have moved; social media and on-line streaming are being evolved; and F1 is even getting its personal international theme track (and, no, it’s no longer The Chain).

“Generally, I like what Liberty are doing,” says Palmer. “I raced for a year under Bernie [Ecclestone] and a year under Liberty, and they’re going in the right way with good intentions. They’re modernising F1 a bit, taking on the views of drivers and other stakeholders.”

The largest transfer that would possibly impact enthusiasts is the alternate in get started occasions: races will get started at 10 mins previous the hour, with European races shuffled again a complete hour to check out to spice up rankings.

Calendar congestion:

Although the Malaysian Grand Prix has been axed, the go back of the German and French GPs – the latter, being held at Paul Ricard, again for the first time since 2007 – way the calendar spans 21 races. That ties with the all-time top, set in 2016.

“Doing 21 races in 2016 was tough. By the end of the season, you’re pretty much shattered,” says Palmer. “But it was manageable. Liberty are pushing to have more races, maybe up to 25. It’s a fine line to diluting it too much.”

The 21 races also are stuffed into this 12 months’s calendar: the French, Austrian and British GPs will happen on 3 consecutive weekends in June and July. Although Palmer says that run might be eased via the shut distances between the occasions, he admits it is going to be difficult for drivers. “The challenge will just be keeping your concentration up for three weeks,” he says. 

Who’s using the place in 2018:

Mercedes-AMG – 44 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) 77 Valtteri Bottas (FIN)

Ferrari – five Sebastian Vettel (GER) 7 Kimi Räikkönen (FIN)

Red Bull-Tag Heuer [Renault] – three Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) 33 Max Verstappen (NED)

Sahara Force India-Mercedes – 11 Sergio Pérez (MEX) 31 Esteban Ocon (FRA)

Williams-Mercedes – 18 Lance Stroll (CAN) 35 Sergey Sirotkin (RUS)

McLaren-Renault – 2 Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) 14 Fernando Alonso (ESP)

Renault – 27 Nico Hülkenberg (GER) 55 Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP)

Haas-Ferrari – eight Romain Grosjean (FRA) 20 Kevin Magnussen (DEN)

Toro Rosso-Honda – 10 Pierre Gasly (FRA) 28 Brendon Hartley (NZL)

Sauber-Ferrari – nine Marcus Ericsson (SWE) 16 Charles Leclerc (MON)

Formula 1 2018 preview: everything you need to know before the Australian GP

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