F1 in 2018

Some thoughts and observations after one race (again).

F1 is back! I did a recap (of sorts) last year at this time and I thought I would do it again. Like last year, the following are presented in no particular order and with varying amounts of relation to each other.

  • Ferrari have race pace. This seemed to be true last year, too. Ferrari can match Mercedes during the race, but Mercedes has the advantage in qualifying. Essentially, I think we’ll see Hamilton on pole almost every race, then then one of the Ferraris will stick to the back of him waiting for him to slip or a (Virtual) Safety Car to make the jump. It could be a fun year.
  • Red Bull have some pace? Maybe, but it sure didn’t show in Australia. Maybe they’ll be better at other tracks.
  • Haas are fast and have awful luck. I expect a podium or two from them this year.
  • The Halo isn’t terrible. It’s not great looking, but it’s not that bad. The new onboard camera positions F1 has been playing with in the last few years (where the camera is almost beside the driver) just don’t work with it, but the normal T-Cam position is fine.
  • Speaking of looks, the new red on the Ferrari is great. It pops so much.
  • The gap between the top-tier teams and mid-field is big. As long as we have multiple top-tier teams, the races will be interesting. But long term, this is a huge problem for F1. IndyCar and Formula E are fun because pretty much any team or driver has a shot at winning. This keeps the smaller teams around because they at least have a chance of success. Mid-field teams in F1 have basically no chance. More equal prize payouts could fix this, or at least be a start to fixing this.
  • Speaking of IndyCar, the race at St. Pete a couple weeks ago was awesome. The new aero kits are beautiful. F1 should really be looking at what IndyCar is doing to improve the actual racing (namely moving the downforce to the floor and off of the complex top-side wings).
  • That issue with the VSC pit-pass. I think it’s fine. It’s within the rules and requires some crazy, lucky timing to pull it off, but it can be done. I expect the rules to change soon to negate it, and that’s fine, too.
  • TV coverage. ESPN is shit. It’s very obvious that they paid nothing for those rights. F1’s streaming service cannot come soon enough. IndyCar made the right move to dump ABC/ESPN and move fully to NBC.

The top image is from the 2017 Canadian Grand Prix. Full size here.