With pre-season testing set to begin later this month, F1 teams will roll out their 2018 cars over the next week or so. The technical regulations for this season haven't changed much since last year, but now, each team is required to fit a "halo" cockpit protection device. The halo changes the look of the cars, of course, but it also adds weight and necessitates some aero modifications.
Force India VJM11
The BWT-sponsored bright pink livery returns to Force India's 2018 car, the VJM11, as do drivers Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon.
“The DNA of the car is still very much that of last year’s car," said Force India Technical Director Andrew Green, in a statement. "We took the decision, quite a while ago, that the launch specification of the 2018 car would be based around our understanding of the 2017 car, but with all new structures required by the regulations in place," he added.
"It is a starting point, a good reference from which to introduce changes quite quickly; it gives our aerodynamics department more time to develop a car for the first race in Australia, rather than having to release parts early for testing.”
Toro Rosso STR13
The STR13 is Toro Rosso's entry for 2018, featuring a familiar deep blue and red color scheme, driven by rookie Pierre Gasly and Le Mans winner Brendon Hartley. The biggest change is in the engine bay, where the cars now have Honda-supplied power units.
The Honda engines have a reputation for unreliability, as demonstrated with McLaren's lackluster performance last season. But early tests indicate Toro Rosso-Honda might fare better. We'll have to wait until the first race in Australia to find out for sure.
McLaren is back for 2018, this time with all-new engine power from Renault. Last year the team's car suffered a dismal amount of reliability issues thanks to its Honda powertrain, so the team is expecting a big improvement in performance this season. Also new for 2018 is a lovely new Papaya Orange and dark blue paint scheme. Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne will return as drivers.
“The design, engineering and aerodynamic departments have done an incredible job delivering a new car with a new power unit in an extremely short timeframe," McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier said in a statement. "We never took the easy route or looked to shortcut a process or a solution; and the result is a car that is neat and well-resolved."
Mercedes-AMG W09 EQ Power+
This is the car everyone wants to beat. The W09 EQ Power+ is an evolution of the car that took Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton to a championship last year. The team focused on fixing the W08's unpredictable handling, and refining its powertrain in response to new regulations that limit the amount of components each driver is afforded per season.
"This is better than last year’s car in every aspect," said Lewis Hamilton in a statement. "It looks quite similar but inside, underneath the shell, and even the bodywork, it’s all refined to perform even better than it did last year. "
Ferrari's 2018 challenger is perhaps the car with the best chance at beating Mercedes, and restoring glory to F1's most beloved team. Last year's red and white livery is replaced with a mostly red scheme, including the halo, which is graced with the Scuderia Ferrari shield. The SF71-H also rides on a longer wheelbase than last year's SF70-H, and there are some other aerodynamic changes.
With its title sponsorship of the Sauber team, Alfa Romeo makes its grand return to F1 with this car, the Sauber C37. This car will run Ferrari's 2018-spec power unit, and like all 2018 F1 entrants, uses a halo cockpit protection system. This car also uses a different aerodynamic concept than its predecessor, the C36.
"We are positive that the new concept offers us more opportunities and will help us to make improvements during the course of the season," said Sauber tech director Jörg Zander.
But check out that livery! An Alfa Romeo-branded F1 car has to be pretty, and the C37 doesn't disappoint.
Renault RS 18
Renault had a strong run in 2017, taking home sixth place in the constructor's championship, and it looks to build on its success with the new RS 18. Like every other 2018 F1 car, the RS 18 isn't too different from its predecessor. There's the halo cockpit protection, and revised aerodynamics in response to new technical regulations.
More interesting is the fact that Renault could face stiffer competition from McLaren this year, which is now using its power units.
Red Bull Racing RB14
Similarly to 2011, what is officially known as the Aston Martin-Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer RB14 appeared at Silverstone wearing a special edition livery.
Daniel Ricciardo took if for a quick spin during Red Bull's pre-season filming day, while the team announced that the RB14's race-ready paint job will get unveiled at the Circuit de Catalunya next week:
"New bodywork regulations always dominate the news cycle in the launch season – but 2018 has a bigger acreage of change than most years with the introduction of the Halo and the new exclusion zones on the rear of the car that effectively remove shark fins, monkey seats and T-wings. Some years it's difficult for the casual viewer to differentiate the new car from the old: that isn't going to be a problem this time around. That said, the technical regulations haven't changed hugely for 2018. Installing the Halo has been a challenge –mostly in terms of building a chassis strong enough to accommodate it and pass a brutal homologation test."
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UK-based Williams is the second team to reveal its F1 car for 2018. The car, called the FW41, will use Mercedes-AMG power and retain the fantastic Martini livery used in previous seasons.
The biggest visual update is the addition of the halo bar, a mandated safety piece required on all 2018 F1 cars. Williams' bar has been painted white to blend with the rest of the car's scheme. Drivers for Williams this year include Canadian Lance Stroll and rookie Sergey Sirotkin of Russia, who replaces a now-retired Felipe Massa. Robert Kubica will be the team's reserve driver.
America's Haas F1 was the first to reveal a 2018 F1 car when it showed off the Ferrari-powered VF-18 on February 14. In a statement, team principal Gunther Steiner noted that this car is really an evolution of Haas' 2017 car.
"The biggest part of the car’s evolution was the addition of the halo," Steiner said. "It took quite a bit of study by the aerodynamicists, but the designers had to work hard to modify the chassis so the halo could survive the mandated loads.
"Our 2017 car was actually pretty good, but we didn’t always get the best out of it, and that’s what we aimed to change in 2018."