New season. New rules. New contenders. It’s back…
FORMULA 1 2018 ROLEX AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX, from Friday 23 March, 1am, Sky Sports F1®/HD (CH 516/506)
Shift up a gear, put your pedal to the metal and take the racing line to your nearest television screen, because the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship is about to begin!
This season’s fight to the finish line will feature 21 compelling races, 10 seriously competitive teams and 20 fearless drivers, including defending champion Lewis Hamilton, Finnish maverick Kimi Räikkönen, precocious Dutchman Max Verstappen and German genius Sebastian Vettel.
But this isn’t any old season of F1. There are plenty of sub-plots to get clued up on before the drama starts in Melbourne, so here are six things you need to know about the new season.
1. Lewis Hamilton is going for his fifth world title
Forget Nigel Mansell, Graham Hill, Jim Clark and Sir Jackie Stewart. After accelerating away from Sebastian Vettel to claim his fourth crown in 2017, Lewis Hamilton is officially the greatest British Formula One driver of all time. This year, the 33-year-old is aiming to join Argentine icon Juan Manuel Fangio on five world titles. If he succeeds, that would put him just two behind the great Michael Schumacher.
2. The grid girls are gone
In a bid to bring the sport in line with modern society, Formula One will no longer be using female models to promote its sponsors and teams. Instead, it’s taking a leaf out of Formula E’s book and using “grid kids”. These children will all be junior racers, who have been chosen for the role by national motorsport authorities.
3. Every F1 car has a new “halo” device
As ever, a new F1 season means a glut of new technical regulations. T-wing and shark fin engine cover designs and trick suspensions have all been banned for 2018, but the year’s most noteworthy rules alteration sees the introduction of the “halo” cockpit protection device. This mandatory modification looks a bit like a wishbone and is designed to improve driver safety in the event of an accident by deflecting debris away from the head.
4. France and Germany are back on the calendar
Good news! After missing the 2017 Formula One season, the German race returns to the 2018 schedule, with the Hockenheimring hosting July’s contest. Really good news! Following a nine-season absence, the French edition is back, too. The historic race, which first took place in 1906, will be held from 22-24 June at the Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet. Meanwhile, Malaysia drops off the calendar for the first time since 1999 to leave us with a 21-race championship.
5. Sergey Sirotkin has replaced Felipe Massa
With most of the sport’s big names deciding to stay put, the headline driver change from 2017 to 2018 sees Sergey Sirotkin take the retired Felipe Massa’s place on the Williams Martini Racing team. The Russian’s lack of racing pedigree has led some critics to suggest he has been given the seat due to the sponsorship money he can bring in, but the 22-year-old performed well in last year’s post-season tests and his team insists he is the real deal.
6. Every single race is live on Sky Sports F1®
There’s only one way you can enjoy live coverage of every track session and all 21 races from the 2018 season. Sky Sports F1® is the home of Formula One, and their unrivalled coverage will get you closer to the action than ever before. Strap yourself in and enjoy the ride.
LIVE FORMULA ONE 2018 ROLEX AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX
Friday 23 March, 1am, Sky Sports F1®/HD (CH 516/506)
Friday 23 March, 5am, Sky Sports F1®/HD (CH 516/506)
Saturday 24 March, 3am, Sky Sports F1®/HD (CH 516/506)
Saturday 24 March, 6am, Sky Sports F1®/HD (CH 516/506)
Saturday 24 March, 6.22am, Sky Sports F1®/HD (CH 516/506)
Saturday 24 March, 6.45am, Sky Sports F1®/HD (CH 516/506)
Sunday 25 March, 5.10am, Sky Sports F1®/HD (CH 516/506)
Sunday 25 March, 6.10am, Sky Sports F1®/HD (CH 516/506)
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