#25 - F1 2018 Rolex Australian Grand Prix
Ohhhh it's good to be finally back. Hope that you all managed to find a way to compensate the lack of motorsport action throughout these 4 months of hiatus with something interesting. On my side I attempted watching Formula E as a substitute to F1 during the winter season, it just didn’t cut it for me. Enough nonsense talk, lets focus on this new season that is ahead of us.
There are numerous topics we need to address in this blog, but where shall we begin with?
Let’s get out of the way the horrible Flip-flop looking Halo that is mandatory on all cars. It is ugly, everyone is complaining about it, except Jean Todt (FIA president) but then again if we look in the past, the FIA have never had taste for design:
The only team that surprisingly had a sense of humour about it, is McLaren, as the sponsor on their Halo is actually a Flip Flop Brand. I will be honest with you, I could discuss it for hours and end up with no hair on that subject, as I am an totally against this new addition to the safety of the drivers. However, rather than debate over it again and again without adding substantial added value that hasn’t been covered on numerous occasions by fellow F1 community bloggers/journalist/f1 royalty, all I will say is that they have my full pledge in petitioning for the removal of this monstrosity. It adds weight to the car, we cannot identify who is driving the car and it's a fashion faux-pas.
In the midst of all this, there were some spectaculars “livery” revelations. Here are my top three best looking cars for the 2018 season.
Red bull, even though this won't be the official racing livery, its still kick-ass.
The new comer and rising from the ashes; Alfa Romeo Sauber. Fred Vasseur even jokingly said “at least we already won something this year with the livery”
Moving on to the crunchy bits, the bits that you all are eager to read about this upcoming season.
As always Testing is a bit of a guessing game, Mercedes were clearly sandbagging (none of their fastest times were done on Hypersoft) Lewis Hamilton saying after testing that he tried to break the car and he failed, showing how good the reliability of the new Mercedes. However talking around, some say that having a bulletproof car is the last thing you want, might as well go wrong in testing then later in the season. So will reliability surface during the season and handicap the defending champions? All in all we will only know Saturday during Qualifying the true performance of the W09.
One thing I am convinced about, is the fact that it is going to be much closer at the top of the field between Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. Ferrari and Red Bull had a very good test in Barcelona, and we hope they will challenge Mercedes. Niki Lauda stating that Ferrari is only 0.2 seconds off Mercedes.
The rest of the field, is going to be a very intense battle. Starting with McLaren and their new engine partner Renault, have they done the wisest of choices to switch engine manufacturer or will their impatience with Honda be a double edge sword? Looking at the new partnership between Honda and Toro Rosso, it clearly shows from testing that Honda has improved (perhaps Toro Rosso taking the pressure of Honda is perhaps the winning formula and let them develop at their own pace without dealing with constant criticism as it was the strategy at McLaren).
I reiterate that it's going to a close call between who will come out on top from the 7 remaining teams competing in this years championship. Judging from testing and technical specifications, Toro Rosso and Haas F1 could be the big revelation this year. Especially the later American team, which will be competing closely with Force India for the 4th constructors place. And having a Swiss driver on the Haas team, would make it even more special if they score some podiums!
The big question mark, will be Alfa Romeo Sauber. If logic is followed, they should be couple of times in Q3 (top 10 qualifiers) this year, with a brand new Ferrari engine and a rookie rising star that is Charles LeClerc (look at his racing in F2 and you will see the talent this kid has).
Williams on the other side, will have numerous challenges to be competitive with a driver line-up that is more interesting to balance out the accounting books than to make racing history. Perhaps it is my Polish roots talking here, but signing up Robert Kubica would have been beneficial on so many levels (Marketing, Experience and Racing Instincts)-
Coming back to the creme de la creme, it is the first time in F1 history that we have 2 quadruple world champions racing side by side (Hamilton and Vettel), who will win the 5th crown and join Fangio in the pantheon of all time greats or will it be someone else, perhaps Verstappen? If that is not enough for you, on an engineering level Mercedes and Ferrari have revealed that there engines now reach the milestone 1’000 horsepower, but the big question mark will be how reliable will the engines be. As this year there are only 3 engines allocated for the whole season (last year it was 4). I still think Mercedes has the slight edge in terms of raw power, but the Ferrari if reliable has been improved has all the potential to beat it. Red Bull will never be far behind to grasp any opportunity to score podiums. Remember at the end of the day, the Season is a marathon and whoever is the most consistent will be crowned. It's going to be an epic year and I cannot wait to share it with you fellow readers.
The Grand Prix Weekend
Unfortunately, the Australian Grand Prix is not a representative circuit and could mislead numerous new F1 fans. This remains a street circuit, very bumpy and with the rain added to the mix (Rain expected on Saturday and Sunday), I highly advise to refrain yourself from jumping to conclusion on who will be World Champion after the first race.
Don’t forget that Sunday, the race will start at 7:10 am (CET Time zone), they delayed by 10 mins because people often missed the start (that's what their survey says, oh well).
For those watching F1 just for the Grid Girls, know that they will not appear anymore. Some of the novelties that the owners of F1 (Liberty Media) have changed along the new logo and new visuals to make F1 more exciting for us.
Track layout novelty this year, is that there will be three DRS (Drag Reduction System) zones, however if the forecast is accurate they wont be activated and therefore Michael Schumacher's Fastest Lap will be hard to beat.
This part is short, as it is the first Grand Prix of the Season, also I think right now we must stop making predictions and analysis and allow the curtains to be lifted, cause it's going to be one heck of an amuse-bouche to the F1 2018 Season.
Prophecy for the Australian Grand Prix
Daniel Ricciardo He has been unlucky in front of his home-crowd and would be amazing to see him win this race.
Lewis Hamilton, reigning champion remains the favourite to be on either the first or second spot of the podium. He has been on pole 54% of the time here, but winning only twice here.
Sebastian Vettel is in my top 3 picks to fight for the win with the above two.
The rain will be a disruptor and will make things even more challenging to predict, added to the fact that there is a 70% chance of a Safety Car being deployed.
That is your lot from me, enjoy the #AusGp and don't forget that you can chat with me all weekend long via the website, twitter and instagram.