Last year we saw huge changes to the technical regulations which brought us wider, quicker and more aggressive looking Formula One cars that as a result broke lap records and cornering speeds during the 2017 F1 championship. While the changes this season are far smaller and fewer, they will still have an impact on the look of the cars and could even bring some interesting changes in the pecking order.
The most visual change will of course be the introduction of the Halo head protection device. This striking and rather ugly looking contraption will hopefully save lives, but it’s won very few fans in the aesthetics department with many likening it to a flip-flop. The idea behind this 6kg chunk of titanium, which looks as though it’s simply been plonked on top of the cars – because it quite literally has – is to deflect debris, particularly tyres and protect the drivers head in an accident.
The Halo’s we have had the opportunity of seeing in the wild aren’t quite the finished product we will see on the cars this year, as the rules dictate a development area. But don’t expect anything wild, that area is just 30mm in diameter. However the Halo can be painted to fit in with the cars livery and they can even be adorned with sponsor logos, so they’ll hopefully blend in a little better. While it is hello to the Halo, it’s goodbye to Shark Fins and T-Wings! These two aerodynamic devices have been outlawed for the 2018 season, even though they proved popular and the former even allowed for larger driver numbers to be displayed.
These two devices were born out of regulation loopholes. Whilst the majority of F1 teams debuted their 2017 cars with shark-finned engine covers – as these have been used in the past – only a handful had T-wings. The T-wing was a new device which started out as a simple one-tier design, but as the season progressed every car on the grid grew one, each with a greater degree of complexity. One, two, three elements and so on, it seemed with each passing race weekend, the T-wing would sprout a new element. They’re gone this year, but the shark-fin will somewhat remain, albeit a much smaller version
Those are the two main changes for the upcoming season, but there will be some changes not visible to the naked eye as the FIA has moved to outlaw trick suspension, due to the fact that several teams were using steering angle to lower their cars in the corners – providing a major aerodynamic benefit.
This is likely the one change that will have a big impact on the pecking order, as it was only the big teams exploiting this area, therefore it could close the gap between the frontrunners and the midfield – at least we can hope!
And finally, we will see some different coloured tyres from supplier Pirelli. Although the pink tyre made an appearance in 2017, it was just a rebranded version of the Ultrasoft for a one-off event in aid of charity, but for fans of pink, rejoice, as it makes a full-time return. The hypersoft, as it will be known, is Pirelli’s softest tyre and will wear the pink band. Meanwhile a superhard compound takes over the orange band, meaning the hard tyre will now be coloured ‘ice blue’.