With the chequered flag falling on the F1 launch season, check out the 10 cars that will compete for this year’s world championship.
The new season for Formula One is just around the corner; with the first of two pre-season tests happening in Spain this week, the countdown to Australia and the first race of the season in Melbourne on March 25 is well and truly on.
But what will the 10 cars that will contest the 2018 championship look like? We’ve got you covered on the new liveries that will grace the grids for 21 races this season.
Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport. 2018 car: Mercedes-AMG F1 W09 EQ Power+
How to make the benchmark of the past four Formula One seasons even better? Ask reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton, and he'll tell you that Mercedes want to learn from their mistakes made last season for this one, citing Malaysia 2017 as the catalyst behind many of the changes to the Mercedes-AMG F1 W09 EQ Power+ (surely the most complicated car name of the year). Red Bull (with Max Verstappen) won last year's race at Sepang, while Ferrari underachieved with technical problems on a weekend when they too were plainly quicker than the Mercs. "We had a very in-depth debrief afterwards," Hamilton revealed at the team's launch last week, "(and) those particular debriefs that we had were significant in making today's car". The W09, which took its first laps of Silverstone with Valtteri Bottas at the controls, has a slightly higher rake than last year's predecessor, but other than that, changes above the surface (short of the halo, which team boss Toto Wolff admitted he'd like to take "a chainsaw" to) are minimal.
Scuderia Ferrari 2018 car: SF71H
Is this the car to take the fight to Mercedes, as the Prancing Horse did early last year? Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, paired for a fourth season, will hope so, with the SF71H featuring a longer wheelbase than its predecessor (akin to Mercedes'). Engine-wise, Ferrari are striving for reliability, after several costly failures last year (allied with Vettel's start-line shunt in Singapore) stopped the German's title tilt in its tracks. The loss of Santander as a sponsor – and absence of white in the livery – means this is the reddest Ferrari in a decade, so aesthetically it's on point. But can it snap a championship drought that now – shockingly – stretches back to Raikkonen's sole title way back in 2007?
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing 2018 car: RB14
Red Bull broke convention by launching its new charger before (rather than at) the first pre-season test in Barcelona, Daniel Ricciardo completing 100km at Silverstone as part of a filming day to shake off the cobwebs (and to have his first shunt of the year in the wet, but let's not dwell on that …). That paint scheme? A 'special edition' livery for the filming day only – but it made you look, didn't it? And Ricciardo's verdict? "It's hard to tell from a couple of laps but the initial feeling in the car is good," he said. "I can already feel that the rear feels pretty settled, even in these poor conditions. Those are encouraging early signs." Come day one in Barcelona, Ricciardo was back on track in a more familiar colour scheme ...
Sahara Force India 2018 car: VJM11
Force India took the covers off the VJM11 with Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon on day one of testing, and it was a reveal that came with a revelation, chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer all but confirming the team will have a name change before the car hits the track for first practice in Australia in less than a month's time. While that's slightly up in the air, what isn't for debate is the changed paint scheme on a car that was dubbed the 'pink panther' last year after a sponsorship arrangement brought a very different hue to the F1 grid, the new car featuring more white (and notably more sponsor stickers) than its predecessor. Force India (or whatever it eventually is called) has punched above its weight to finish fourth in the constructors' championship for the past two years, but face threats from a Honda-free McLaren and a Renault works team with big aspirations to retain that tag of 'best of the rest'.
Williams Martini Racing 2018 car: FW41
One of the sport's most prolific teams (nine constructors' and seven drivers' titles) has, incredibly, won just one race this decade (Pastor Maldonado in Spain in 2012), but won the pre-season race to show its 2018 challenger before any of its rivals, the FW41 breaking cover in London on February 15. Williams' chief technical officer Paddy Lowe says the new car is a significant departure from its predecessors on the aerodynamic front, but whether inexperienced driver pairing Lance Stroll (20 races) and Sergey Sirotkin (rookie) can lift the team from fifth in the constructors' standings remains to be seen.
Renault 2018 car: RS18
A new season, and a new step forwards for Renault? The team was ninth in its first full season back in the sport as a constructor in its own right in 2016, and improved to sixth last season, when it finished with a flourish. Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz, who raced in yellow and black for the final four races of last year, are back, and while challenging the likely front-running trio of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull looks a step too far, fourth place is an achievable target for a team that oozes class on the driver front.
Scuderia Toro Rosso 2018 car: STR13
Toro Rosso was last team to reveal its 2018 car (by 10 whole minutes) in the Barcelona pit lane, the Honda-powered STR13 (to this observers' eye) well worth the wait for the retention of its superb paint job from last season. But the big question: how will it go? Honda's time with McLaren couldn't have gone worse, but Red Bull's 'B' team now has a works engine partner that, if things come good, could see STR improve on last year's finish of seventh, which came in a chaotic season of musical chairs on the driver front. When the music stopped for '18, Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly found themselves in the driver's seats to become the least-experienced duo on the F1 grid (nine starts between them), and for Hartley, there'll be no time to play himself in slowly – not that he minds. "I'm particularly excited about the first event; Australia isn’t a home race for me, but when I was back in New Zealand, every second or third person I met told me they were coming to watch in Melbourne," he said.
Haas F1 Team 2018 car: VF-18
Evolution rather than revolution, refinement rather than reinvention; the tone coming out of the Haas camp when it launched the VF-18 online was as muted as its paint scheme, which raised some red flags after the American squad spluttered to an eighth-place finish last year, drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen managing just four points finishes between them in the final eight races. Team principal Gunther Steiner says opting largely for continuity would help the team achieve its 2018 aims. "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 said.
McLaren 2018 car: MCL33
McLaren will look to banish its recent past while celebrating its not-so recent in 2018, the new MCL33 featuring the papaya livery that was hallmark of McLaren cars in F1, IndyCar and Can-Am in the 60s, while moving well away from the Honda-powered era of the past four years that saw the team become an afterthought at best, and an embarrassment at worst. Fernando Alonso, who'll combine F1 with a World Endurance Championship campaign, and second-year Stoffel Vandoorne are back behind the wheel, while under the skin, an association with Renault power should see the team vault up the grid. How far? Comparisons to Red Bull (third last year), also using Renault customer engines, and the works Renault team (sixth in 2017) are inevitable for the team that finished ahead only of Sauber last season.
Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team 2018 car: C37
There's been plenty of tough sledding for Sauber in recent years, but a new link with Alfa Romeo (and, by association, Ferrari) and a rookie that has dominated every category leading into F1 in Charles Leclerc has raised hopes for the Swiss team, which continues to name its new cars using the tradition set by team founder Peter Sauber (the 'C' in 'C37' stands for Peter's wife, Christiane). As part of the technical tie-in, Sauber will run the 2018 Ferrari engine this season (the team used year-old powerplants last year), and the new car has a longer wheelbase to assist with aerodynamic performance. Last last year, who says Sauber, with Marcus Ericsson retained to join Leclerc, can't inch its way up the F1 pecking order in 2018?