Pre-Season 2018 Season Preview


Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
As 2017 draws to a close we are less than 3 months before the first race of 2018. Here's a place to offer your opinions on the runners and riders for next year. Firstly, here's the calender:

25th March - Melbourne, Australia
8th April - Sakhir, Bahrain
15th April - Shanghai, China
29th April - Baku, Azerbaijan
13th May - Barcelona, Spain
27th May - Monaco, Monaco
10th June - Montreal, Canada
24th June - Le Castellet, France
1st July - Spielberg, Austria
8th July - Silverstone, Great Britain
22nd July - Hockenheim, Germany
29th July - Budapest, Hungary
26th August - Spa Francorchamps, Belgium
2nd September - Monza, Italy
16th September - Singapore, Singapore
30th September - Sochi, Russia
7th October - Suzuka, Japan
21st October - Austin, Texas
28th October - Mexico City, Mexico
11th November - Sao Paolo, Brazil
25th November - Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi

21 races, kicking off in Australia and finishing in Abu Dhabi with races returning in France, after a 10 year break, and Germany with it's now "traditional" one year on one year off cycle. The summer break falls after Budapest, there are quite a few back to back weekends to pop in your diary and Malaysia has gone.

There is only one seat still to be filled in the 10 teams who will make up the grid:

Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton & Valtteri Bottas
Ferrari: Sebastian Vettel & Kimi Raikkonen
Red Bull Racing: Daniel Ricciardo & Max Verstappen
Force India: Sergio Perez & Estaban Ocon
Williams: Lance Stroll & TBC
Renault: Nico Hulkenberg & Carlos Sainz
Toro Rosso: Pierre Gasly & Brendan Hartley
Haas: Romain Grosjean & Kevin Magnussen
McLaren: Fernando Alonso & Stoffel Vandoorne
Sauber: Marus Ericsson & Charles le Clerc

A few changes amongst the teams. Felipe Massa has retired (again) and there is speculation that Russian Roubles will buy a seat for Sergi Sirotkin. Carlos Sainz will have a full season at Renault after replacing Jolyen Palmer. All change at Toro Rosso (if you ignore the last couple of races of last season) with Pierre Gasly and Brendan Hartley given a chance to prove themselves in the Red Bull junior team and Sauber have dumped Pascal Wherlein in favour of Ferrari junior driver Charles le Clerc whilst retaining Marcus Ericsson (!).

Two other significant changes at the teams, McLaren have moved to the Renault power unit and Honda have picked up with Toro Rosso as they attempt to repair their damaged reputation as an F1 engine manufacturer.

So what are you hoping for in 2018? The home of Grand Prix racing is back on the calender, will Paul Ricard provide a decent race? Some the less exciting circuits keep their place but we still have a few of the classic venues and some modern classics.

Will Mercedes be all conquering in 2018? Can Valtteri Bottas mount a challenge to Lewis Hamilton or will he continue to be the submissive No. 2 we saw in 2017. Might Ferrari manage to match the power war with Mercedes, the 2017 chassis was certainly a match for the Merc and on some circuits was significantly better. Despite the smallest budget on the grid Force India have performed brilliantly over recent years, can this be maintained in 2018? Can Danny Ric up his game to compete with Max Verstappen? He's very far from being Yuji Ide but Max bossed him in 2017. Will the Renault engine move McLaren back to the front of the grid? How will the Honda engine perform in the Toro Rosso? Could the tie in with Alfa Romeo allow Sauber to improve? What will happen to Haas now that Sauber are the defacto Ferrari junior team?

Lots of questions. The first test session of 2018 takes place in Barcelona between 26th February and 1st March followed by a second between 6th and 9th. This will give us a good view of what we might expect but don't forget the "joker" for 2018 as teams will only be allowed 3 engines for the season. Expect quite a few grid penalties.

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Teams - the big hope last year was whether Ferrari and Red Bull could step up. It’s the same this year which implies Mercedes will likely start the new season where they left off. We want to see good reliability in testing. Come on the Bulls.

Cars - the wake - overtaking will be a problem again.

Drivers - Ricciardo vs Verstappen interest me and the new boys should provide some sport. Otherwise we can expect Hammy and Seb to be right on it as usual.

Hopefully Liberty Media will inject more good stuff than stupid stuff into the package for the fans - I think on balance they’ll do a good job in 2018. It’s a long game, be patient.

Looking forward to the France GP, and I’m going to the Spanish GP again woop woop.
Unfortunately I don’t see a huge change at the beginning of the season. Our only hope of Mercedes not running away with it from race one, is if Hamilton is still in his post championship lull.
Hamilton has come out and said that he thinks that F1 would be better off going to Mangey Course, rather than Le Castellet for the French GP. Personally, I can’t agree with him; Magny Cours was an awful place for a race, and we are at least running the full Paul Ricard circuit- rather than the post de-Angelis fore-shortened version.

I still remember a letter to Autosport in 1991, following the introduction of Mangey Course, bemoaning the move, and that Paul Ricard could simply be made infinitely better by running the circuit in reverse... Not sure I agree, but....
It does feel likely to be more of the same, but who knows. It'll be interesting to see what McLaren can do with the Renault engine, at least. Looking forward to seeing that long-awaited title sponsor announcement, Zak...:ermmm:

Any French GP is better than none - disgraceful that it ever fell off the calendar. It has been so long since F1 cars raced there with the cars having changed so much, I have no idea whether it will provide good racing or not.

No clash with Le Mans this year, Fernando. :cheer:

Williams might be about to enter the season with their worst driver line up ever, so I'm hoping to be pleasantly surprised.
Galahad - Williams are a team that really confuses me this year.,, they have the potential to have a very good car- good engine, fantastic technical director (Paddy Lowe doesn’t really know how to lose), fantastic facilities, but then have a weak driver line up. It’s almost like 1989/90 when the Williams had a good chassis and engine, but the drivers weren’t really up to the task... but I do think that Patrese was better than Stroll!
my tip for 2018 constructors

1) Mercedes- still the most powerful engine and with James Allinson designing the car this year . Still have to go for them

2) Red Bull - Encouraged by the end season results but definitely the strongest pairing on the grid plus the 3 engine per driver rule will work in their favour

3) Ferrari - yes and this time they will fire Kimi and everyone else until they only have Vettel left to fire
4) Mclaren - Alonso will be in the mix but a lack of horsepower from Renault might hamper their progress
5) Renault yes Team Enstone will get beaten by its customers and start detuning their engines. Sainz beaten both Red Bull drivers and/or Hulkenberg finally getting a podium will be a great achievement

6) Force India - realistically this is their position if the big boys sort themselves out

7) Haas - they ended being the slowest car of all but surely they must start making head way moving forwards with its two decent drivers

8) Williams - last year's car was awful even with a Merc engine saved by the fact that Mclaren had a tortoise on its back and Renault was only 1 man. This year will show up just how far they've gone down. Expect some fireworks between Stroll and whoever his teammate will be
9)Toro Rosso - Honda who apparently will use the 2017 engine as back up if the new engine does not work :o:facepalm: and they were aiming for top 3 originally

10)Alfa Romeo - Sauber because they have Eriksson who will probably score NIL points again
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the joker would be if Toro Rosso Honda proves faster than Red Bull Renault . I don't think there has been an engine partner change mid season since 1991 but I can see Red Bull trying to bring their break up with Renault early if this happens
All I know is this: over the last 4 seasons, we have gone from attending multiple races each season (which we had done for almost 50 years) to just watching "highlight shows", because a single-make, 2-car championship (where driver skill is essentially irrelevant to the results) is extremely boring. Unless this year is a REAL battle for both the WCC and, more importantly, the WDC, this will be the last year we pay any attention to F1.

There are so many other series where driver ability is far more important than in F1, that it seems pointless to continue to waste our time following F1.
I do not understand Il_leone how having Renault engines will both be advantageous for Red Bull and disadvantageous for McLaren, especially considering how many Renault engines went pop at the latter part of last season.
Bill Boddy The 3 engine per driver rule will slow down Mercs and Ferrari and make them think about reliability so turning the power down

So they may not be wanting to use the quali boost as often as they like

It is believed that the Red Bull chassis is probably going to be the best on the grid if Renault make their customary gains like they always have then they should be closer to the front

Mclaren who deem they have as good as chassis might get shown up possibly but the issue is if the chassis is not as good as they said it to be then they are far more reliant in more power from the Renault engine to make up the shortfall

I still remember 2001 Renault engines going up every race because they tried a radical engine but in the end they got it right as Renault always will
Il_leone - i’m not sure i’m convinced that Merc will need to turn down their engines; they were largely bulletproof for the last couple of seasons, and the Reggie was rather unreliable for the last season (for several races Max’s engine seemed unable to go more than a couple of corners before blowing up!)
Rutherford We will find out if Mclaren has got a good chassis or not and whether Alonso can make up the difference like he use to. Instead of 0.6 seconds per lap he's got to make 2 seconds per lap
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