Formula 1’s Exciting New Season Is About To Begin
Graham Read, Formula 1 Correspondent
The 69th consecutive year of Formula 1 motor racing action will get under way in Melbourne, Australia this coming weekend and for the first time in the sport’s history we have the spectacle of two quadruple world champions, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, battling it out side by side in an attempt to equal the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio’s five titles. Only Michael Schumacher has achieved more with seven F1 Drivers’ Championships to his name.
Despite the added weight of the compulsory new halo safety structures this year’s cars will be 1000 brake horse power flying machines and the relentless technical development plus softer tyres will contribute to make them even faster than last year’s offerings.
Formula 1’s owners Liberty Media introduced a new logo for F1 at the final Grand Prix of last season in Abu Dhabi and more recently we have seen announcements about the abolition of grid girls but the arrival of grid kids and later race start times.
So, what else is new for 2018? Well, for starters each car is being limited to three rather than four power units for the whole season and with 21 races that means they need to last for seven race weekends each or grid penalties will follow. The aim is to reduce costs by forcing the engines to be more reliable.
There are now two additional types of dry weather tyres too, Hypersoft and Superhard, making seven in total as well as the Intermediate and Full Wet versions. The intention is for there to be more tyre degradation and therefore more pit stops during races, with tyre strategy playing a greater role. It remains to be seen whether this adds to the spectacle or simply makes the racing harder to follow.
One change which should certainly add to the “show” is the intention where conditions permit to have standing starts off the grid following safety car interventions rather than the rolling restarts as has been the practice to date.
It’s also great to see the return of the French and German Grand Prix to this year’s calendar and at circuits with real motorsport heritages, Paul Ricard and Hockenheim respectively.
There will also be some improvements to how Formula 1 is shared with its vast worldwide television audience. Strategically placed microphones near the cars’ exhaust systems should make the turbocharged power units sound better on TV at least, even if the live sound of them at the circuits will still be a little too quiet for many. Viewers will also witness the use of 360 degree onboard cameras and new graphics to support and help explain the ontrack action.
The whole Mercedes team and its drivers have done a wonderful job since the start of the current hybrid power unit era back in 2014, winning 63 of the 79 Grand Prix held since. However, the team’s superiority was less clearcut last year as Ferrari and Red Bull took the fight to them to a greater extent than in the previous three seasons.
Let’s just hope for the greater good of the sport that we can enjoy an at least three way fight for the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships, with some great racing amongst the midfield teams too. It might just be a classic year for F1.
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Formula 1’s Exciting New Season Is About To Begin, 19th March 2018, 20:15 PM