What to expect in the 2018 F1 Season
The Calendar, going more "green", Honda is still in the game, Wearable Technology and the HALO - Not the video game
Lewis Hamilton wins the Drivers Championship for the 4th time in Mexico. He joins the list as the fifth driver to win four or more championships. Since that is out of the way, this season I have seen the youngest driver to take podium and start on the front row of the grid, both Ferrari’s taken out in the 1st lap of a race, more DNFs than any of the past seasons and more crashes and bumps between drivers in the 1st lap of the race. All this made the 2017 Season till now (2 races left) the most entertaining F1 season I have ever watched.
This brings me to watching drivers briefing for the USGP (its nice we get the video of it on F1 Facebook page). Massa posed a question to Charlie Whiting, Race Director for F1, whether the drivers who block other drivers should get penalties based on the fact that the blocked driver was unable to proceed into the next qualifying session. While Charlie was answering the question using the specific case of Perez blocking Stroll and how Perez was not at fault. I started to wonder what were the changes in regulations or the cars for the coming season. Well after a lot of research here are some of them.
Sauber made a good decision to stick with Suderia Ferrari, and in 2018 they will use the latest specification power units rather than the old ones. Hopefully we see Sauber getting points next year. Carlos Saintz will now race for Renault, It was in a deal between Renault and Toro Rosso. This came into effect when McLaren changed its power unit supplier to from Honda to Renault. Honda does stay in F1 as a power unit supplier with Toro Rosso, Sauber were in talks with Honda which ended lets say - quickly.
With the sad departure of the Malaysian Grand Prix after 19 years in the calendar, Germany’s Hockenhiemring and France’s Circuit Paul Ricard are added to the 2018 calendar. There were talks to increase the number of races to 24, I don’t think that will happen. The drivers are not happy with 24 races in the future being on the calendar. Mexico race winner Max Vestappen expressed his views in a press conference that 21 was more than enough.
As per regulations there are some surprises, not that I care much about testing other than the lap times, the pre-season testing has been reduced to 7 days and the mid-season testing has been shifted from Bahrain to Barcelona. But this doesn’t stop there, wearable technology (like sensors that are used in Football, Rugby and some other sports) are now to be used in drivers gloves mostly to assist marshals and recovery crews. Its all good, but could this technology also be used by race stewards as lie detecting mechanisms, the stewards could ask drivers to keep their complete suit on when defending arguments are presented while trying to reduce or escape penalties for driving infringements. I do not recon Kimi’s will change, well because he is the Iceman.
The best for last - the cars. Pretty much the same except no more T wings being used for extra downforce, and there are restrictions on the Shark Fins as well. In FIA’s efforts make the sport more “green” the engine oil burning has been reduced to a maximum of 0.6 litres per 100 hundred kilometres from the current maximum of 1.2 litres per 100 kilometres. This is a big shift towards being environment friendly. Why?…because engine oils are burnt to boost performance. I really want to see the horsepower and top speed in the cars rise a bit more….especially if Hennessey can reach 300mph with the F5.
The penalties are still there, I was and still am confused about the penalties. To test efficiency of the teams power units they are allowed to use only two examples of the all electrical components of the engine like MGU’s, energy stores and control electronics are to be used in the entire season. The other components like internal combustion unit and and turbochargers are limited now to three. This limits the upgrades that manufacturers want to implement on the cars during the season. They even are tightening up the rules on jump starts and starts behind the safety car.
The biggest of the change is the compulsory addition the Halo - the cockpit safety system that looks like a wishbone. I read that the teams might get the final say on how it might look on their cars, Well on this issue Charlie Whiting noted that it should be integrated in the chassis design. Will they attach small wings to it to increase downforce? will it make good surface for a sponsor’s brand? I am very interested to see the end result.
To a surprise none of the changes included penalties for blocking a driver during qualification. The bigger question is in the near future will Charlie Whiting even consider asking the FIA to introduce a penalty for blocking during qualifying?… I guess only time will tell.