Toro Rosso launches the STR13 powered by Honda

Scuderia Toro Rosso has officially unveiled their 2018 Formula 1 racer with a presentation in the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya paddock.

The STR13 made its track debut at a wet Misano circuit, with Brendon Hartley in the driving seat.

The former WEC sportscar champion will take on driving duties for the first day of the Barcelona test, with Pierre Gasly taking over on day two.

Hartley will then be back in the car for day three, with Gasly completing the four-day test.

After images of the car were leaked online, Toro Rosso responded by sharing the first official photo on social media.

It then officially revealed the car, which sports a similar livery to the one it raced last season, in the pitlane ahead of the start of pre-season testing.

Toro Rosso will run Honda power for the first time in 2018, after the Italian team switched from Renault to the Japanese manufacturer.

This will be interesting times for both team and engine manufacturer, with the latter suffering from a nightmare three seasons with McLaren.

Hopefully this new technical partnership will showcase Honda’s potential to succeed without the heavy pressure of winning demanded by McLaren. Best of luck to Toro Rosso in the season ahead.

Force India takes wraps off new car at Barcelona

As pre-season testing was about to begin, Force India pulled off the covers of its 2018 Formula 1 challenger to the media at the Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya.

Development driver Nikita Mazepin will be at the wheel for the Mercedes-powered car’s first run on day one of testing, before Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez will then take turns in the car later on.

Ocon and Perez will then have two days apiece in the VJM11 for the second pre-season test.

Force India has finished fourth in the constructors’ championship for the last two seasons.

The team insisted that it is not considering any offers to sell the team, following recent speculation linking it with an energy drinks company.

As for the rumour name change to the team’s identity, Force India says there is a high chance it will be rebranded before the start of the championship in Australia, Melbourne.

In the meantime, the popular ‘pink panthers’ colour scheme works well for the team and best wishes for the year ahead.

Papaya orange returns to McLaren

The historic papaya orange makes a welcome return to McLaren as the team presented their 2018 Formula 1 racer.

The Renault-powered MCL33 was unveiled online, just three days before the first pre-season test at Barcelona.

McLaren’s MCL33, which will be driven by Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne this season, has all-orange bodywork with a hint of blue and black.

The move to a papaya orange will please many fans who felt last year’s switch to an orange-and-black design was not close enough to the colours used by founder Bruce McLaren in the team’s early years in Formula 1.

The new design is similar to the one used by Alonso when he drove a McLaren-branded Andretti entry in the Indianapolis 500 last year. So its refreshing to see the famous livery on the Grand Prix car.

With Renault power, the competitive order should help McLaren back to winning ways after three nightmare seasons with Honda. Hopefully Alonso and Stoffel can score points and podium finishes.

Ferrari reveals title challenger SF71H

This is the Ferrari SF71H that will challenge rival Mercedes in this year’s Formula 1 world championship.

The halo-fitted new racer was shown off at Ferrari’s Maranello base, four days before the start of pre-season testing at Barcelona.

It features the Italian outfit’s traditional red livery, although the colour white has been reduced in contrast to its immediate predecessors.

The SF71H is the first Ferrari Formula 1 car since the 2009 machine not to feature Santander branding, following the Spanish financial giant’s decision to end its sponsorship deals.

The Scuderia heads into the season with the same driver line-up as it’s fielded in the past three years, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.

Both were present at the launch, alongside the team’s new development driver Daniil Kvyat and Ferrari-backed Sauber reserve Antonio Giovinazzi.

The 2017 car’s predecessor, the SF70H, was Ferrari’s most competitive offering in years, helping Vettel to five race wins.

It sustained a credible title challenge against the hybrid era’s dominant team Mercedes for most of the season, before late-campaign accidents and engine reliability woes allowed the Silver Arrows to break away.

Ferrari’s tech chief Mattia Binotto confirmed the SF71H was an “evolution” of last year’s design, but also revealed the team has moved to a longer-wheelbase design, akin to the one preferred by Mercedes in 2017.

On the engine side, Ferrari is to start the season with an evolution of last year’s design. It is thought to have focused on reliability in particular, given last year’s problems and with Formula 1 moving to a limit of three engines per season.

High hopes rests on the success of the SF71H in terms of victories. Ferrari and the passionate race fans are expecting a more competitive and trouble-free season that will lead to that elusive Formula 1 title. Best of luck to the Scuderia.

Mercedes showcase their 2018 racer at Silverstone

The current Formula 1 world champions Mercedes presented their 2018 racer at Silverstone.

Valtteri Bottas was the lucky driver to experience the W09 at a cold and overcast day at the British Grand Prix venue, with Mercedes using one of its two filming days to complete a shakedown.

Bottas will carry out a series of laps in the morning before handing over the car to four-time world champion Lewis Hamilton in the afternoon.

Mercedes officially launch the car with a presentation with a live social media stream.

The four-time world champion team will be the sixth F1 team to launch its 2018 challenger, following Haas, Williams, Red Bull, Sauber and Renault.

The W09 certainly looks the business and it will be fascinating to see what main challenger Ferrari has in store later.

Sleek Renault racer

This is the Renault R.S.18, sporting a revised livery that features more black than yellow.

The Enstore-built car will be driven by Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz, with the latter joining Renault in the last four races of the 2017 season.

Renault improved from ninth in the 2016 constructors’ championship to sixth in 2017, beating Toro Rosso at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The team’s development through 2017 was dramatic and it ended the campaign with the fourth-fastest car on merit, behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.

Renault managing director Cyril Abiteboul wants to continue that upward trajectory this term.

“Last year was successful in many ways,” he said. “It was the second year in our rebuilding and a further step towards our long-term plans and aims.

“2016 was all about recruiting, investing, bringing in new sponsors, new talents and building our brand. It was a quantified progression towards what we want to become and challenging the top teams.

“Our headline target [for 2018] is to show continued progression through results. We want to be able to showcase our progression in every regard; power unit, chassis, operations, drivers.

“Everything must improve and we must continue to grow.

“We want to demonstrate this in many different ways, from the teams we will be directly racing against, to the gap to the leaders, including also our fan base and the respect that our team will inspire in our way we behave on and off track.”

Renault is the fifth team to reveal its 2018 design, after Haas, Williams, Red Bull and Sauber.

Liking the bold colours from Renault with the increase of black against the yellow. It does remind me of Jordan GP back in the days of Benson and Hedges sponsorship.

Best of luck to Renault in the upcoming Formula 1 season, challenging the other similar powered cars that is Red Bull and McLaren.

Alfa Romeo partners with Sauber

Sauber have unveiled their new-look 2018 Formula 1 racer thanks to an exciting tie-up with Alfa Romeo.

The C37 features a new colour scheme as part of a close partnership with Ferrari this season, with team boss Fred Vasseur concluded a title sponsorship deal with Alfa Romeo for 2018.

The logos of the Italian car manufacturer, a sister brand of Ferrari, prominently feature on the engine cover.

The car itself adopts a new aerodynamic philosophy, which technical director Joerg Zander hopes can deliver a step forward in performance.

“The 2018 challenger is the result of the hard work that everyone in the factory has put in over the last few months,” he said.

“Speaking about the C37, the car philosophy is much different to that of the C36. The aerodynamic concept has changed significantly and the C37 has several new features in comparison to its predecessor.

“We are positive that the new concept offers us more opportunities and will help us to make improvements during the course of the season.”

The new Sauber is fitted with Ferrari’s current power unit, with the team having run a year-old version throughout 2017.

Speaking earlier this year, driver Marcus Ericsson reckoned there was no reason why the team could not challenge strongly in the midfield thanks to progress on the engine and aero front.

“We’re up against Haas and Toro Rosso,” he said. “I think next season will be very unpredictable in some races.

“It could go very well and at points we could also challenge Renault and Force India. But there will be other races where there will be problems and we will be further down.

“The goal is simply to get into the group of teams that are in the midfield – but it is clear that there will be a very open battle grand prix after grand prix.

“I want to be in the best shape possible to find the satisfaction that was missing in 2017.”

Great to have Alfa Romeo back in Formula 1 and it’s refreshing to see a new look for Sauber. Best of luck to Charles Leclerc too, as the Formula 2 champion steps up into his first season of Grand Prix racing.

Special test livery with the 2018-spec Red Bull

Red Bull Racing has become the latest Formula 1 team to unveil its new car ahead of the upcoming 2018 season.

The new racer, the RB14, will be driven by Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, who combined for three race wins with its predecessor last year.

Fitted with the mandatory halo cockpit protection device, the RB14 has been unveiled with a striking and beautiful blue camouflage-style livery instead of the familiar red and dark blue concept the team had used for the past two seasons.

However, Red Bull has made it clear the livery is “special edition”, and that the paint job that will be used in race trim will only break cover at pre-season testing in Catalunya.

British car manufacturer Aston Martin has prominent branding on the camo livery, and the RB14’s rear wing in particular. The marque will serve as Red Bull’s title sponsor this season, having decided to step up its involvement with the outfit.

The RB14 will be powered a Renault V6 turbo hybrid, which will remain branded as TAG Heuer for a third straight season.

Hopefully this 2018-spec racer will be very competitive and can challenge the might of Mercedes and Ferrari for the championship. Best of luck to Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo for the upcoming season.

Williams reveals the FW41

Williams Martini Racing has become the second Formula 1 outfit to officially reveal its 2018 car at an event in London.

The FW41 is the first race car designed by chief technical officer Paddy Lowe and head of aerodynamics Dirk de Beer.

The Mercedes-powered design looks significantly different to its predecessor, as Williams followed through on its plan to change the team’s aerodynamic philosophy.

Williams was a regular podium contender at the start of the V6 engine era and finished third in the constructors’ championship in 2014 and 2015, but has since dropped down the competitive order.

It finished fifth for second year in succession in 2017 with 83 points, 55 fewer than in 2016 and 104 points adrift of Force India in fourth.

Lance Stroll and rookie Sergey Sirotkin, who replaces Felipe Massa, will form the team’s driver line-up this season, with Robert Kubica fulfilling the role of reserve and development driver.

Still not keen on that halo safety device. Blame the FIA in pushing this feature through… Anyway, best of luck to Williams in the upcoming Formula 1 world championship.

Haas unveils 2018-spec racer

Haas has become the first Formula 1 team to reveal images of its 2018 racer, with computer renderings of the VF-18.

The American outfit sprung a surprise by revealing the car ahead of the other competitors, like Williams and Red Bull Racing, with a post on the popular social media site.

The Ferrari-powered car is an evolution of last year’s VF-17, with the most visible differences being the removal of the shark fin engine cover and the addition of the halo.

The team says a lot of the focus on changes to the car have been on overcoming aerodynamic and handling weaknesses that hindered its progress throughout the 2017 season.

In particular, the team wants to create a more stable platform to ensure that its form does not vary to the extremes like it has in the past.

One area where a lot of effort has gone in to, for example, has been weight reduction in a bid to help it use more ballast to help with the set-up.

Team owner Gene Haas said: “We eliminated a lot of the variables where we knew we were weak. We’ve focused on what it’s going to take to get our car to be consistent and close that gap to the top teams.”

Gunther Steiner, team principal, acknowledged that there was little radically new on the car, beyond the changes forced by the shark fin and halo regulation changes.

“The biggest part of the car’s evolution was the addition of the halo,” he 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.

“The total minimum weight of the car increased because of the halo, and there’s a higher centre of gravity simply because of the halo’s position. But, everyone is in the same boat.

“The regulations stayed pretty stable between 2017 and 2018, so the VF-18 is an evolution of our car from last year. It’s less about reinvention and more about refinement. You see elements we had from last year on the car this year.”

Steiner believes that Haas can make good progress in the constructors’ championship if it learns to extract more from its car on weekends.

“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,” he explained.

“We got the car as light as possible to carry more ballast. We were able to do a better job of putting the weight where we wanted it.”

The Haas VF-18 has retained the corporate grey, red and black colours of the company, edging back towards the colour scheme it had in its maiden 2016 campaign.

Congratulations to Haas Formula 1 for showcasing their new race car ahead of the other teams. Hopefully the VF-18 is competitive in the upcoming season.