Happy new year! It still only feels like a few minutes since the 2017 F1 season finished, but here we are looking forwards to the new season.
F1 launch patterns have shifted quite a bit in the past few years – when we first launched this site in 2007, it wasn’t unusual to get several launches in January, but nowadays it’s not considered likely to see anyone’s new car or livery until close to the first days of testing in February.
But to get everyone in the mood, and based on admittedly somewhat limited information, we thought we’d take a run through what we reckon we can expect from the various teams this year.
For 2018, there are a few major sponsor changes already announced – and possibly more still to come – and of course teams will also have to take into consideration such factors as the new Halo head protection and (with a full season to plan for it) the number and name display regulations.
With the caveat that it’s always possible for someone to spring a surprise (as multiple teams delightfully did last year, then, here are some team-by-team thoughts.
Sauber stole a march on everyone by suddenly announcing at the beginning of December not only their tie-up with Alfa Romeo, not only their 2018 driver line-up, but also a revised livery. While the colours used are not without their charm – putting us in mind of the unused Force India test car – the application itself is (in true Sauber fashion) a bit bland and flat, especially after the delight that was their 2017 car. So here’s hoping when the car actually comes to rolling out, it’s had a bit more work done to the paint job. Of course, this is Sauber, so chances are this is exactly what we’ll see.
There’s no reason to expect a change in approach from Mercedes this year – the car will likely be silver, black and turquoise yet again. They do mix it up slightly each year, but we’d be amazed if there were any major alterations this time around. Hopefully they keep the different-coloured race numbers for Hamilton and Bottas, as that was a nice touch.
Ferrari have lost the sponsorship of Santander, which may mean a significant reduction in the amount of white on the car – although they are still technically supported by Marlboro so don’t expect to see it disappear entirely, nor for the shade of red to go back to a darker one. But if we got back black wings? We’d be happy with that.
Incidentally, Ferrari are the only team so far to announce a launch date for their 2018 car: they’ll do so on 22nd February.
Excitingly, Red Bull have got a new title sponsor in the shape of Aston Martin – although it’s somewhat confusing that the team that’s named after a drinks company now has a car company as a non-technical sponsor. The big question is whether RBR will simply work the Aston logo into their existing blue colour scheme, or if they’ll do something dramatic and pick from one of Aston’s classic sets of racing colours. Despite the fact that we like the matt blue job they’ve had for the past couple of years, we’d very much like to see them do the latter, especially if it involves green.
Worryingly, Toro Rosso have officially added “Red Bull” as a sponsor name on the entry list this year – which may mean that the company will be compensating for the presence of Aston Martin over at the other team by increasing their branding on the junior squad. Given that the 2017 Toro Rosso was one of the most beautiful cars of the modern era, it would be a real shame if they went back to traditional Red Bull blue, red and yellow. Fingers crossed it’s just about the name and we basically get the same car again this year.
The pink BWT car was fantastic in theory but slightly disappointing in execution – maybe due to the rushed way in which it came out. Hopefully this time around we’ll see something that’s had a bit more time spent on it, and a bolder shade of pink. There could possibly be more blue involved this year, too. Either way, the main hope is that they sort out doing the race numbers properly this time…
McLaren delighted us by going orange last year – but it wasn’t enough for some fans, who wanted a more traditional shade and scheme, a feeling that was only enhanced by the classic look of Fernando Alonso’s Indy 500 entry. The good news is that the team have hinted that they could shift to the “papaya” orange for 2018, with Zak Brown – a man who really does seem actually interested in liveries and what people think of them – saying “I think the fans want us to go to papaya orange. When we did the IndyCar we had an overwhelming amount of ‘please make your F1 car like that’, so we are waiting on a few sponsor decisions which can also dictate what a car looks like.”
But is it too much to hope that Alonso switches to using that wonderful retro helmet design, too…?
Until we hear otherwise, it looks like Williams are sticking with their Martini deal for at least another year – so Williams being Williams, expect the car to look extremely similar again.
Having landed on a pretty strong and “Renault-ish” livery for 2017, it would be surprising if the team moved heavily away from it this year – they probably have other things on their mind, to be honest. We’d love to see white introduced as a third main colour to take them properly back to their 1980s roots, but otherwise we have no real complaints with how the car looks these days.
Anyone’s guess, really, given that the team decided to change their 2017 livery partway through the season to something bland and grey and white. Maybe we’ll get something more exciting this year – they pretty much have a blank canvas to do what they want, given the lack of sponsor pressures – but I’d be wary of making any serious predictions.
Those are our thoughts – what do you reckon? Anything you particularly want to see on the grid this year, or any developments we’ve missed? Let us know!