This piece was contributed by F1 journalist Stewart Bell.
2018 is the start of a bold, new era in Formula 1, the pinnacle of motorsport. But with a new era, comes plenty of change – even with the World Championship now well underway. Here, we look at all the major developments to get you up to racing speed.
- Halo: The big change to all of the cars this year is the addition of the contentious new cockpit protection device Halo, a wishbone-shaped part that has been designed to deflect large debris away from the driver’s helmet.
- Goodbye Shark Fins and T-Wings: 2017’s sweeping technical regulation revamp brought us faster and more furious cars to increase the challenge for the drivers, but it also had some unwanted side effects in the development of shark and T-wings. These are now gone.
- Williams: Russian young gun Sergey Sirotkin joins Lance Stroll at Williams, with former Grand Prix winner Robert Kubica joining as reserve and development driver – keeping future comeback rumours alive.
- Renault Sport: Spanish sensation Carlos Sainz has been loaned by Red Bull to rival Renault Sport, where he’s paired with German Nico Hülkenberg – for one of F1’s most formidable driver line-ups. Sainz starred in Singapore for Toro Rosso last year, scoring his best-ever F1 result with fourth.
- Toro Rosso: Red Bull’s B-team not only has a new power unit deal with Honda, but two young chargers in Frenchman Pierre Gasly and New Zealander Brendon Hartley – both starting their first full campaigns, after short stints last year.
- Sauber: Beloved Italian manufacturer Alfa Romeo joins as title partner. Monaco’s Charles Leclerc, who is the sport’s hottest rookie prospect since Max Verstappen in 2015, partners experienced Swede Marcus Ericsson.
- McLaren: McLaren has returned to the grid with its iconic papaya orange and electric blue livery, one it first raced with 50 years ago in 1968. The historic British team has also switched to a Renault Sport power unit.
- Three Power Units: To improve reliability and further reduce costs, power unit allocations have been reduced from four to three complete sets per driver per season. This will be the toughest test faced by F1’s four manufacturers.
- Simpler Grid Penalties: Any driver who earns a grid penalty for 15-places or more will automatically start from the back. Should more than one driver be heading to the back, they will be arranged in the order they changed power unit elements.
- Race Start Timing: The race start times have been varied to maximise the TV audience, with all races now starting at 10 minutes past the hour.
- New Events: The calendar expands to 21 races, the equal-longest season in F1 history. France returns at iconic track Paul Ricard, while F1 heads to Germany and Hockenheim for the first time since 2016.
- Introducing Grid Kids: Grid Girls have been replaced by Grid Kids from 2018, with local young racing drivers – competing in go-karting and other junior categories – able to mix it with their heroes before the race start.
- Pirelli Tyres: Pirelli’s range of dry weather tyre compounds expands to nine in 2018, with the whole range going one step softer. The sport also now has its softest tyre ever, with the arrival of the pink-coloured Hypersoft.
2018 F1 Calendar Highlight: Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix
Formula 1’s new season blasts-off in Melbourne, another thrilling year of high-octane wheel-to-wheel action getting underway at Albert Park.
But, the fight for the world championship really heats up when the teams return to Asia Pacific in September, touching down for the 11th edition of the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix, the sport’s original night race, this 14 to 16 September.
A fan favourite for a decade, Singapore has it all with Formula 1 and other exotic machinery racing through Marina Bay at up to 320km/h. While off-track, there’s a lot to see and do – with interactive family activities, parties galore and some of the world’s biggest music acts performing live on stage.
Last year’s 10th edition line-up was one of the best-ever, with headline acts including global DJ sensation Calvin Harris, pop superstar Ariana Grande, synth-pop veterans Duran Duran, US pop rockers OneRepublic, American DJ duo The Chainsmokers, and British singer-songwriter Seal. 2018’s line-up is yet to drop.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel remains the most successful driver in Singapore, with four wins. But it’s also a great circuit for Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo, who finished second in 2017. Can he go one better this year?
Over 250,000 attending spectators every year can’t be wrong, with the event a perfect combination of balmy nights, racing under lights, trackside parties and live music, a wide variety of top international artists performing on stage.
It’s also so easy to do on any budget with single-day walkabout tickets starting from just S$128 (approx. AUD$122), with early bird prices available at www.singaporegp.sg and authorised ticket agents until May 8th, and plenty of affordable accommodation, both in and around the city.
Header Photo Credit: Singapore GP Pte Ltd.