With two of the ten 2018 Formula 1 cars launched we have now got our first glimpse of what F1 will look like in this year. So with the rest of the cars set to launch next week, we take a look at some of the key points so far.
Firstly do be aware that both cars that have been launched so far have been computer renders rather than actual cars. So changes will be inevitable by the time we get to testing and Australia, but these talking points should remain for the most part.
Mercedes and Ferrari influence
Both Haas and Williams seem to have taken cues from Ferrari and Mercedes’ 2017 cars, although this was more expected from Williams as they have recently hired Paddy Lowe from Mercedes and Derk de Beer from Ferrari.
Mercedes influence comes in the form of the snow plough aero device that the German squad introduced last year. This is designed to tidy up the airflow coming around the sides of the front nose to the bargeboards allowing them to work a lot more efficiently.
These are more prominent on the Williams being longer whereas Haas seems to have something like this although much smaller.
The sidepods and bargeboards are where we can see hints of Ferrari.
When the Scuderia launched the SF70H one of the big talking points was the dramatically different sidepod and bargeboard area which had much smaller openings to the sidepod cooling vents. The loss in cooling is then subsided with wings stretching across the front of the opening to guide the air into the sidepod for the most efficient cooling.
This has the added effect of allowing for a tighter packaging of the rear end due to the better cooling effect.
Both Haas and Williams look to have followed this idea with similar winglets and small sidepods openings.
Williams has also got a very similar outer bargeboard to the 2017 Ferrari as seen below.
It will be interesting to see if other teams follow suit as they all search for the smallest of margins to gain an advantage.
Smaller shark fins
A change in the technical regulations for 2018 dictates a much larger exclusion zone at the rear of the car which last year allowed for the shark fins to make a return to F1.
However, this hasn’t stopped teams from pushing the limits of the regulations and so while not the same as before the shark fins appear as though they are here to stay.
Whether they will split opinion in the same way as the much larger 2017 versions is still yet to be seen but at least Haas and Williams have made use of the space by placing the driver numbers on the fins and you can bet this will soon be filled with sponsors wherever possible.
Another 2017 device that has been affected by the new larger exclusion zone is the T-wings or coat hangers as many people called them. In my opinion, the likes of the Mercedes T-wing looked quite good although I will admit that the triple element solutions Mclaren and Renault were using did look a bit ridiculous.
However a new loophole was discovered which allows for development at the lower part of the engine cover, as such many began to speculate that teams would simply move the T-wings to this area as the advantage gained from the T-wings wasn’t something they were going to give up like that.
And so it has turned out, both Haas and Williams have adopted the lower T-wing concept (seen just under the rear wing in the picture below) which acts to condition the air at the rear of the car.
Williams debuted this type of system last year alongside the normal T-wing and it now looks as though it will become standard on all cars this year.
Yes, it’s here and boy has it been controversial.
The Halo was pretty much inevitable after Vettel concluded the windscreen Ferrari tested made him feel dizzy.
And after being initially pushed back again the FIA announced the head protection device would be introduced in 2018. Now I’m not gonna go into whether it should or shouldn’t be or what would be a better solution, that’s an entirely different topic for another day, but I will talk about how they have come out.
From what we have seen so far the Halo doesn’t actually look that bad. The Williams version is blended in with the rest of the car’s livery while Haas has made it black which I think looks alright with the livery on the VF-18, although it’s difficult to tell with the black background almost hiding it in launch pictures.
What we haven’t seen yet, however, is any aero parts on the halo (the FIA is allowing a 20mm area surrounding the halo for such parts). I expect we will first see this on either physical car launches or at testing.
Personally, I wish the halo didn’t exist, there were many better options, Indycar, for example, recently tested an aeroscreen similar to Ferrari’s one and with positive results. But as much as I doubt it will do if it saves a life it has done its job.
Overall then 2018 is looking to be one of the best on record with Renault and Mclaren expected to be much stronger and the first quadruple world champion shootout.
So what do you think of the cars so far and what can we expect from everyone else.
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