The 2018 Formula 1 season is here! In just some days, the five lights will illuminate Albert Park in Melbourne in Australia, flagging off the season. All teams have recently unveiled their new car liveries and that’s gotten the excitement levels and anticipation even higher. Here, we round up the teams, their newly launched liveries and their chances of shining in the 2018 season.
After four back-to-back titles, Mercedes would be hoping that the W09 helps them win their fifth title on the trot in 2018. Should they manage to do so, Mercedes will be the only team after Ferrari to clinch five consecutive titles in Formula 1. After labeling their 2017 car a ‘diva’, the W09 has been termed a ‘princess’ and it waits to be see it the new car will unleash similar level of dominance on the Formula 1 grid like its predecessors. And of course, pre-season testing data indicate that Mercedes are quick, solid and well-prepared to defend both their titles in 2018.
Drivers: Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas
Force India F1 Team
The ‘best bang for buck World Champions’ launched yet another pink-colored racing car, the VJM11, for 2018. After finishing 4th in the Constructors’ Championship for two consecutive years, will the VJM11 that is powered by the Mercedes power unit, be able to defend their ‘best of the rest’ position? 2018 could be the toughest year for the team, but pre-season testing indicated that like its predecessors, the VJM11 was a strong but not-too-innovative a baseline car for the team to further build its campaign on.
Drivers: Sergio Perez, Esteban Ocon
Williams F1 Team
Will the FW41 help Williams regain its long lost glory of being one of Formula 1’s race-winning teams? Their 2018 challenger is the first Paddy Lowe (ex-Mercedes) designed car and with the championship winning Mercedes power unit at the rear, fans and Formula 1 would hope for a resurrection. From fighting for 4th place in 2017, will Williams fall further behind or will they be able to claim the much coveted ‘best of the rest’ status? Much responsibilities rests on their not-so-popular pay-driver line-up. However, pre-season testing indicated that the FW41 was slow and lazy.
Drivers: Lance Stroll, Sergey Sirotkin
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Red Bull Racing
After 13 podiums and 13 DNFs in 2017 with the RB13, Red Bull Racing’s RB14 was launched with a new ‘camouflage livery’ that won the applause of the fans. After slow starts to their campaign in the previous two seasons, hopes rest on the RB14 to give the team an early season advantage even though the team could be at an apparent disadvantage with the Renault power unit. The data from pre-season tests indicate that Red Bull Racing could seriously challenge Mercedes’ might in 2018. Let’s hope they do!
Drivers: Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo
Sauber F1 Team
The team that finished last in 2017 would be hoping that the C37, powered by the latest Ferrari power unit and bolstered by a technical partnership with Ferrari (via Alfa Romeo), is able to find its way back to the mid-field. From being a strong mid-field team a few seasons ago to being relegated to the back-of-the-grid, Sauber has a long way to go and hopefully the new management is able to steer them back to their glory days. The keen interest in GP2 Champion and Ferrari rookie Charles Le Clerc’s progress in Formula 1 will attract more than the usual eyeballs to this Swiss based team.
Drivers: Marcus Ericsson, Charles Le Clerc
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Haas F1 Team
The American-owned team is in their 3rd season in Formula 1 and will have hopes on the VF-18 to drive their fortunes to the sharper end of the grid. With a career-best 5th place to beat (2016 Bahrain Grand Prix), pre-season testing data does indicated that Haas could be the surprise of the season. In Formula 1 terms, can Haas do a Force India in 2018?
Drivers: Romain Grosjean, Kevin Magnussen
Renault F1 Team
After buying out Lotus to re-enter Formula 1 a few seasons ago, 2018 will be Renault’s third season as a works team. The team’s RS18 looks bold and sexy, even though it has the traditional black-yellow (yes, taxi-inspired) livery. While Renault are yet to make an impact as a power unit manufacturer or a works team in the hybrid-turbo era, hopes rest on the RS18 and thankfully for the team, their drivers and fans, pre-season testing data did indicate that Renault could have made a step forward from 2017. But how will the Renault F1 Team cope against their customer teams - Red Bull Racing and Mclaren?
Drivers: Nico Hulkenberg, Carlos Sainz Jr.
After losing both championships in 2017 to unreliability and driver error, Ferrari would be hoping that the SF-71H will be the package that ends their decade long title drought. This year’s car is slightly longer (learning from Mercedes’ long wheel-base car?) and features new side-pods. The key differentiator between the title winning and challenging teams in 2018 will be in the pace of mid-season development which of course costs millions of dollars, but Ferrari are almost never short of money. Despite scorching the pre-season tests, reports suggest that Ferrari might not be able to challenge the might of Mercedes due to excessive fuel consumption.
Drivers: Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen
2018 is the season of change for Mclaren. From switching to Renault power to reverting to their papaya-colour livery from their first season in Formula 1, the former World Champion team would be hoping that the MCL33 will bring back lost glory to Woking. While the car is devoid of sponsors, solid performances on-track should help change the team’s fortunes on the sporting and commercial front. In pre-season testing, Mclaren seemed quick, but unreliable and shabby at times. Hopefully they shrug off their rustiness by the time the Formula 1 circus reaches Australia.
Drivers: Fernando Alonso, Stoffel Vandoorne
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In 2018, Toro Rosso would be running two key experiments for Red Bull Racing - their parent team. After being forced to switch to Honda (from 2018 onwards), how good or bad is the power unit for a possible switch to Red Bull Racing in 2019? Also, how well could a not-so-experienced driver line-up fare in 2018 with the hope for promotion next season, in case Daniel Ricciardo leave? And of course, will the STR13 go the RB13 way and deliver podiums for the team? While that’s a far-fetched thought, could Honda be Toro Rosso’s trump card this year?
Drivers: Pierre Gasly, Brendon Hartley
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