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Written by @Damien_Marquez   
Sunday, 25 February 2018 11:10

It is usually with a lot of excitement that F1 fans welcome the first test but this year seems unusual for several reasons. Whilst the regulations itself remain broadly since the start of the 2014 season in terms of aerodynamics and powertrain, a lot of visible changes are taking place for 2018.


The most noticeable addition to the cars this year is the mandatory halo introduced for safety purposes. The general feedback on F1 sites and social media has been largely negative. Let's hope someone within the FIA will come up with a more aesthetically pleasing solution such as the windscreen tried by Indycar. Fully closed cockpits may also be an alternative. But if the on-track action is exciting enough, it's likely our attention will focus on the racing.

Regular visitors to this site will be most concerned with the new start times of European grands prix and the impact these will have on travel arrangements. These races will now start at 3:10 pm local time, which is 70 minutes later than previously. Notable exceptions are the French GP, delayed to 4:10 pm to accommodate a football world cup game between England and Panama. The Silverstone race start will be at 2:10 pm as it was previously scheduled at 1 pm due to the different time zone.

Photo: Sauber F1® Team / Sauber Motorsport AG

Some flights, trains and ferries will need to be rebooked. There will probably be some instances where visitors will also have to spend an extra night. In this day and age where most live coverage is behind a paywall (Sky in the UK and Italy, Canal+ in France, ESPN in the USA, etc), it seems odd Liberty Media chose to prioritise TV viewers over team personnel and spectators.

Another change this year is F1 abandoning the use of grid girls. They'll be replaced by grid kids issued from local motorsport clubs who'll have the opportunity to be within touching distance of the drivers that inspire them. It is very much a case of getting rid of an anachronism. However, if you've been disappointed about this move, bear in mind there will still be models employed as race ambassadors, starting with the Australian grand prix next month.

Image: McLaren

On the driver front, line ups will remain similar with no driver swapping between teams since the last race in Abu Dhabi and only two new rookies, Sergey Sirotkin and Charles Leclerc replacing the retiring Felipe Massa at Williams and and Pascal Wehrlein at Sauber respectively. Charles Leclerc is the reigning F2 champion and is the most exciting prospect since Lewis Hamilton joined in 2007. Keeping also an eye on Alonso who'll be doing a full WEC season of sportscar racing with Toyota alongside his F1 commitments.

Recap of changes ahead of 2018 F1 testing

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