With the 2017 F1 season nearing its end with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, here are 5 things we should be looking forward to 2018 F1 season.
5. Honda coming into the party “finally”?
Honda will power Torro Rosso next season. And what we’re finally seeing from Honda looks very promising. The Japanese Engine manufacturer has finally learnt the trade when it comes to producing MGU-H power units it seems. With Honda claiming their engines being 0.4 seconds faster than it was from the start of the season, it seems like Honda can soon become one of the coveted Engine Suppliers.
Also, Torro Rosso will prove to be an ideal Beta-Testing for RedBull who have looked displeased with Renault making its comeback in F1 which reduced their status to a mere Customer Team. With Honda, Red Bull can have all the promise without directly experiencing any reliability issues as the Milton Keynes outfit looks to recapture their old magic back again
Have McLaren given up on Honda too soon?
4. Ricciardo’s Uncertainty to trigger a huge shuffle?
It doesn’t take much F1 knowledge to know that Daniel Ricciardo is one of the best F1 drivers around. With the Aussie taking 9 podiums(with potentially 2 more) along with a race win in Azerbaijan, he is widely acknowledged to be one of the top 5 drivers in F1 right now.
However, with recent reliability issues with Red Bull, and with Max Verstappen being tied down with the team till 2020, The Aussie will be re-evaluating his options once the 2018 season reaches the tail end with Kimi Raikkonen projected to retire from Ferrari, freeing up a position for Daniel Ricciardo.
If Ricciardo chooses to opt for Ferrari, it is not impossible to foresee a possibility where Carlos Sainz comes back as Red Bull senior driver after completing his loan with Renault F1 team, Renault could push for a fabled reunion with Fernando Alonso which is an interesting proposition for both the parties, prompting a huge shuffle in the F1 Grid.
3. McLaren to fight for podiums?
The MCL32 chassis is one of the best around, all that the Deloitte based team lacks is a good Power Train. With Renault stepping up its game in recent seasons, Éric Boullier, McLaren’s team principal has hinted at a competition with RedBull is what McLaren will be hoping for.
Fernando Alonso has made no secrets of his delight to part company with Honda, whose woeful engines were branded by him as ‘GP2’ level numerous times during races.
2. A highly contested grid.
It’s no surprise that Force India have done incredibly well when it comes to their Aerodynamics upgrades or minor enhancements here and there. With Esteban Ocon showing promise as he briefly went 1st during Mexican GP, it seems like Force India are asking questions of established teams like RedBull already.
Renault have claimed that 2018 will be the year of promise for them. However, they do not want to pressurize themselves into believing that they’ve created a podium-worthy car. However, it is widely acknowledged that, with recent developments within Renault, RedBull, the customer team of Renault are threatened by its progress in MGU-H units.
With McLaren also coming into the fray, it seems like there’s going to be a stiff competition and intense racing with some of them also pushing for the odd race wins if they nail the strategy and everything goes as per plan.
1. Championship contenders.
This year’s Ferrari posted a very pressing competition to Mercedes. With Vettel initially taking the lead, it seemed like the WDC will come down to the wire with Hamilton and Vettel going toe to toe. However, some unfortunate crashes, temper tantrums and reliability issues later, Hamilton sealed his 4th World Driver’s Championship at Mexico.
2018 will be the year of reckoning for Vettel. He will have nothing to lose as he will try to overtake or avoid being overtaken by Hamilton as both 4 times World Champions will look to create History and rise above the either to set a record of being one of only 3 drivers to have 5 or more World Drivers’ Championship wins.
The Ferrari car looks the most stable on the F1 Grid. However, they will have to make huge strides when it comes to the powertrain if they aim to beat Hamilton’s Mercedes in a straight line.
Reliability issues aside, Max Verstappen has also announced himself on the World Stage by clinching the race win at Mexico by a huge margin as he looks set to give the frontrunners Hamilton and Vettel a run for their money with his aggressive never-say-die driving style.