Lewis Hamilton became a four time champion in 2017, but 2018 is shaping up to be another battle between Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. But, can anyone interfere in the fight for five world titles or will neither become champion this year?
Mercedes v Ferrari
Following winter testing it appears that this season is again shaping up to be another battle between Mercedes and Ferrari. In the first half of the season last year we saw the top two teams fight most of the season. If Ferrari have got on top those reliability issues they had in the latter part of last season we could see another good season with the two teams fighting for the championship
Naturally, both Sebastian Vettel and Hamilton will be the team’s leaders as the more recent champions. Both we have said before are two of the greats of our sport, up there with Ayrton Senna, Alian Prost and Jackie Stewart. This season both men have the chance to equal the great Juan Manuel Fangio.
That would be a huge achievement as only one other driver has passed that achievement, and that’s Michael Schumacher. We know on paper Hamilton has more records than Vettel, but Vettel achieved his feats a lot earlier in his career.
Analyst Jason Fluhrer says, “I expect Vettel and Ferrari to be a lot closer than people expect although I think both Red Bull’s will be closer this year at the start of the season.”
Vettel I feel has more to prove, as his titles came in a dominant Red Bull where his teammate Mark Webber was not able to challenge him at the same level. But Hamilton, on the whole, was fighting Nico Rosberg all season between 2014-16.
Hamilton and Vettel both broke the record for the youngest champion, Vettel holds it currently as well as youngest double, triple and four times champion. This fight for five will not prove the best driver out of the two, but add to their status as two of the greats of our sport
One team that will be looking to become a main player this season is Red Bull. Last year, we were widely expecting Red Bull to be the main challengers to Mercedes. However, they were slow out the box in the first few races last season, but towards the end of the season, they were the challengers to Mercedes.
Like we have said many times, Red Bull have they have the best line up its because they are both good hard racers. Daniel Ricciardo needs Red Bull to deliver this year, as we know he is one of the top drivers out of contract at the end of the season.
Red Bull can deliver we know that last year we know what caused the team’s shaky start was wind tunnel correlation wrong. But from Baku, when Ricciardo took that win Red Bull became a player in the championship.
McLaren shake start
We hope that McLaren could have been on par with Red Bull, but throughout testing the team suffered reliability issues with the car leaving them ell off the pace of Red Bull, but they appear to be last of the Renault powered teams.
I found this puzzling, as over the past two years the team has insisted it could be up to the front if it had another power unit. But, I wonder if the motivation to build a good car has been lost because of the power unit problems with Honda.
Also, there have been some compromises made because of the late switch to Renault. I think 2018 will be another tough season, but not as tough because the relationship needs to bed in. Having said that McLaren is a great team, they can win championships.
I wonder if Fernando Alonso has bitten off too much as he is racing in the WEC this season. I think this was a clever move by McLaren, knowing privately that 2018 would be a tough season again because of the switch of engine supplier?
Toro Rosso Honda
Toro Rosso was a surprise during testing as with the Honda power unit they managed decent mileage. The team did an awful lot of laps, but the question did Honda fit a new power unit everyday for the team?
If Honda did do that, as has it opened up the questions around engine reliability? Reliability is a key factor in F1 now as this season the teams have to do more races on fewer engines. That I think could hinder the team, unless they only used two or three engines during the test.