The 2018 F1 championship will see the introduction of a rather large number of changes, mostly aimed at safety and the show. The arrival of the head protection system ‘halo’ may pose the biggest challenge, but the governing body FIA implemented a series of other changes on the safety, power unit and sporting side as well.
After a thorough technical revamp last year which transformed some of the core aerodynamic and mechanical features of the cars, the sporting and technical regulation of the pinnacle of the motorsport remains pretty stable. However, the FIA intends to make huge strides on the safety level of the F1 machineries and it also tries to urge and force manufacturers to carry out ceaseless work on the reliability of the power units.
The most visible regulation change will be the widely discussed introduction of the head protection system called halo. Despite to the concerns of fans, drivers and teams regarding its impact on the aesthetic of the cars, the FIA decided to make the halo obligatory. After having tested it during several free practice sessions, drivers expressed their concerns how the visibility will be affected by the titanium element. It is believed to improve the safety of the drivers’ head and protect them from bigger flying objects like tyres or bigger carbon parts.
The Halo will be a standard part, but teams are given some possibilities to aerodynamically optimize the upper surface. Several squads have already trialed individual solutions to improve the airflow around that critical area. The system is believed to weigh around 14kgs, a mass that is only partially covered by the increase of the minimum weight of the cars, up from 728kg to 734kg.
Another visible change will be the removal of the shark fin engine cover. This was originally planned for the 2019 season, but a last-minute-veto from the Woking-based McLaren team meant each squad has to put that engine cover extension off and return to a more conventional solution. The ban of the shark fins cause headaches not only for the technicians, but also for the marketing experts who lose an enormous advertising surface and therefore have to replace the starting numbers and sponsor names to other visibly fortunate surfaces.
The disliked T-wing will also disappear from the sport after its presence throughout 2018.
A gift for the fans from FOM will be the introduction of a 360-degree camera which has been a feature in the American IndyCar Series for several years. The device which will be mounted directly ahead of the central Halo pillar has been trialled on several occasions last year.
On the other side, engine manufacturers hardly get presents from the governing body. The 2018 season will bring further clampdown on the number of power units. This complex unit is made up of six different elements: internal combustion engine, turbocharger, MGU-K, MGU-H, battery and control electronics. In the previous year, each driver had a pool of four power units which meant four units of each component. For 2018, the number of internal combustion engines, the turbochargers and the MGU-H was decreased to three while only two units can be used of the other three components. After the reliability woes of Renault, Ferrari and Honda in 2017, this clampdown may play well into the hands of the field leading Mercedes power units.