With the new F1 season just a few days away VM Life takes to the grid and looks at all the changes that's happened over the winter, and what we can expect in the 69th Championship once the lights go out.
The 2017 season saw Britain’s Lewis Hamilton crowned World Champion for the fourth time, and his team Mercedes crowned Constructors Champions also for the fourth time.
Hamilton’s main threat came in the form of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel – likewise a four-time World Champion, as between them they won 13 of the 20 races, but in the end Lewis won the Championship by 46 points with 2 races to spare.
So, what has changed for the 2018 season?
The main driver changes involved Toro Rosso, as they replaced both drivers from the start of last season, although both drivers they start this season were in place for the last few races of last season as Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley replace Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Jr, with the latter moving to Renault towards then end of last season.
The other two driver changes saw the reigning Formula 2 Champion Charles Leclerc replace Pascal Wehrlein at Sauber and Russian Sergey Sirotkin replace the retired Felipe Massa.
There are changes to the race calendar as well, with the number of races increasing from 20 to 21. This is with the reintroduction of the French GP for the first time in 10 years, and the German GP after missing last season, with the races being run at the Circuit Paul Ricard and the Hockenheimring respectively. We also see the Malaysian GP disappear from the calendar after 18 years of being run.
The final race of the season is in Abu Dhabi on November 25th.
As far as the teams go we still have the same 10 manufacturers as the previous couple of seasons, with the only engine partnership seeing a swap as McLaren ended their largely disastrous partnership with Honda, and welcomed Renault on board, with the French engine supplier leaving the Toro Rosso team who instead teamed up with Honda.
Whilst on the subject of the cars the main technical changes resolved around the introduction of mandatory cockpit protection in the form of the ‘halo’.
The wishbone-shaped frame mounted above and around the driver’s head and anchoured to the monocoque forward of the cockpit, has not been welcomed by all fans and drivers alike, but with the ability to withstand the weight of a London bus, and with several high profile deaths in open-wheeled sport over the last few years there is no doubt that if called upon it will save lives.
Teams can also now choose from a whopping 9 compounds of tires, ranging from hypersoft to hyperhard.
All the races, practice sessions and qualifying will be shown live on Sky Sports F1, with selected races shown on Sky Sports Mix, and for terrestrial TV Channel 4 have 10 live races throughout the season as well as highlights of every other race, as well as radio commentary on all races broadcast on Radio 5 Live.
You can also keep up to date throughout the season on the official F1 website here.