F1 2018: Rule changes for the new season
Although the technical regulations did not change too much, there are still some clearly visible differences which you’ll notice observing the 2018 cars.
Sharks fins and T-wings
As the teams took advantage of a loophole for the new regulations of 2017, the cars got a unique feature at the back in the form of the ‘T-wing’ over the engine cover. For 2018 however, the regulations have been tightened to ban bodywork over the back of the engine cover, meaning that the T-wings, at least in their current positions, will be banned, and the shark fins we saw last year will be slightly curtailed (as we saw on the FW-41 when it launched).
Knowing the teams though, I wouldn’t be surprised if we started to see smaller T-wing structures popping up, strategically placed below the imaginary line that the FIA drew for 2018’s restriction.
It was highly controversially announced last summer that the ‘halo’ will eventually be a part of every F1 car from this season onwards and will definitely be the most visible change for the 2018 season.
Introducing a head protection was foreseeable, and the FIA decided to go for the ‘halo,’ which changes the general look of a single-seater racing car drastically. The goal is to avoid the driver being hit by debris coming towards the helmet – something the halo undoubtedly helps if not completing solving the problem. It’s safe to say that it’s ‘a start’ for applying head protection.
Interestingly, the IndyCar series is currently testing a ‘shield’-like system which wasn’t ready yet to be used in F1. But given that the FIA is also looking at this, it’s possible that it could become a solution for Formula 1 in the future.
The addition of the halo has also pushed up the minimum weight limit of the cars by 6kg to 734kg. This is to take into account the weight of the device itself, but some are concerned that the weight of the device adds up to more when all the attachments etc. are taken into account, and that this will further disadvantage heavier drivers by giving them less ballast to play with for their setups.
Like in 2017, the teams can select their sets of tyres out of three given dry weather compounds each weekend. There are now seven different tyre compounds, two more than in last season. They are:
hypersoft (pink), ultrasoft (purple), supersoft (red), soft (yellow), medium (white), hard (blue), superhard (orange).
With these higher variety of tyres, Pirelli hopes to decrease the amount of one-stop races by selecting the correct compounds for each race weekend.
Engine usage & grid penalties
Despite some team bosses publicly stating that they don’t agree with it, the amount of used engines per season will be reduced to three from this season – in order to make the engines more reliable.
In recent years, ridiculously high engines penalties were applied in which the penalty was way higher than the grid positions, as McLaren Honda showed with 50+ positions.
In order to make this topic easier to handle, it was decided that every engine grid penalty with more than 15 positions will automatically end up last on the grid. If this situation would apply to more than one driver, the stewards are up to decide the order.
What else will be different?
Liberty Media used the winter to change some things which haven’t been touched for decades. After the new official F1 logo had already been introduced at last year’s Abu Dhabi, further changes have made it into the headlines in recent weeks. They are:
- Grid kids instead of grid girls
Controversially it was recently decided that there won’t be any more grid girls in F1. Instead, we will see ‘grid kids,’ which will be selected at each GP from the upcoming driver generation to give them a chance to be close to their heroes.
- Regular GP starting time moved from 2:10am to 3:10pm
In order to give the TV stations a better chance to introduce the audience to the race, the starting time was moved for most of the races to one hour and ten minutes later.
What do you think of the changes ahead of 2018? Let us know in the comments section.