Scorching temperatures were matched by red-hot track action at Silverstone, as the 2018 British Grand Prix delivered the race in which the 2018 title fight was truly ignited.
Sure, this was round 10 of the season and chief title protagonists Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel had already exchanged top spot in the drivers’ championship on three occasions in 2018.
However, the billed ‘Fight for Five’ – in which four-time champions Vettel and Hamilton would fight each other in a duel to secure a fifth crown – had somewhat been lost in other storylines. Valtteri Bottas has starred, only to be hampered by misfortune. Red Bull has won three races with it’s strongest package since 2013.
These distractions dissolved at Silverstone, replaced by what felt like the first gloves off duel between Vettel and Hamilton. It highlighted and potentially foreshadowed some of the themes that will define the outcome of the championship.
With Formula 1’s Strategy Group having recently approved an increase of next year’s fuel limit from 105kg to 110kg per race, the category is obviously moving away from being a fuel efficiency formula.
That’s ultimately a good thing. F1 is no longer able to compete against the likes of Formula E for being pioneers of the technological future. Having lost the high ground in that fight, it has to instead focus on becoming the most entertaining racing series on the planet instead of necessarily being the most technologically advanced one. Providing enough fuel to allow “drivers to use the engine at full power at all times” fits this mandate perfectly.
However, the news has reignited a debate on whether F1 should cut the half-measures and return to in-race refuelling. That would be a bad thing.
Things change quickly in the world’s fastest sport. Be it the height of rear wings following a regulation change or a driver’s form, it doesn’t take long for F1’s tectonic plates to shift. Four years ago today, Kimi Raikkonen secured his 20th career race win and second on his return to the sport.
Winning the first race of the season is historically an indication of imminent championship glory. In the previous ten curtain raisers, ten of the victors went on to lift the Drivers’ crown come season’s end.
Despite other podium appearances, his Australian Grand Prix triumph was the highlight of Raikkonen’s 2013 campaign. You could even go as far as saying that the Finn has failed to secure any headline results since.
It’s taken some time, but Thursday brought the confirmation of a story that has been brewing for several weeks. James Allison, former Lotus and Ferrari Technical Director, is to fill the void left at Mercedes by the departing Paddy Lowe.
On the face of it, Allison’s signing seems to be a like-for-like substitution. In reality, it has several significant plot points.
Evolution over revolution has been the theme emanating from F1’s factories this winter and with the technical regulations remaining static, this has hardly been surprising. However, as they look to overthrow the sport’s current front-runners Mercedes, Ferrari have unveiled a 2016 challenger which looks decidedly different to it’s predecessor from both a technical and aesthetic standpoint.
Whenever a new Ferrari is uncovered, the world stops to have a look – after all, they are a luxury brand of global proportions. The SF15-T will be the first Ferrari of a new era for the team. A seismic shift within the outfit’s hierarchy over the winter and the arrival of Sebastian Vettel means that this car is intended to be the first step on a journey to a return to the top of the pile.