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  1. #1
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    What would be the pecking order of the 2018 grid?

    I think the 2018 season would be exciting and harder at the sharp end and for the midfield teams for a number of reasons. Firstly, teams are now only allowed to use three engines for the entire season. Renault and Honda powered teams would be very wary of this. But we expect Renault to improve their engine and its reliability by the start of 2018 season at Australia.

    Secondly, seeing how close Ferrari were to the Mercedes in 2017, it is looking very tantalizingly likely that they would be even more closer in 2018. The lovely thing about 2017 was that Ferrari has tasted better success than they have been able to achieve since Kimi won their last driver title over a decade ago. The winning mentality within the team would be consolidated in 2018 without a doubt. But they have to be flawless to beat the mighty Mercedes in 2018. Vettel would be more determined to pip Hamilton to five driver world championship titles. But the Englishman is at the very top of his game but handicapped by the fact that he has to overcome internal rivalry before he can take the fight to Vettel that is guaranteed not to have anything in his way fighting for the drivers title.

    Thirdly, Mclaren switching to Renault power unit could mix up the sharp end of the grid. I doubt they would bother Mercedes too much but they would certainly be a real bother for Redbull and Force India. There is an outside chance that both Redbull and Mclaren may also be a real bother for Ferrari.

    Fourthly, with Paddy Lowe joining Williams in 2017, we can expect some transfer of Mercedes knowledge to the Williams team. Hence one can expect a better Williams car in 2018. You may say that Williams are likely to be directly in the mix with Redbull, Mclaren and possibly Force India forming the second group clear of the midfiled but behind the sharp end. If Paddy is successful at turning the Williams design issues around, Williams have the potential to step up the grid to their customary [2014/5] third place. Williams could be a real bother to Redbull Mclaren and Force India which may effectively cause the sharp end to break away from this group but energize this group to break away from what use to be the midfield. We may well return to a three tier grid of sharp end , midfield and back markers.

    I wonder how things would shape out for Sauber with a 2018 Ferrari engine. They may well be the surprise of the 2018 season but my expectation is dampened somewhat because they do not have a driver of Werhlein's ability and experience in their 2018 car. My guess is they would do well but be very much in the third tier as usual.

    Then there is Torro Rosso switching to the Honda power unit. While it was disappointing that the Mclaren-Honda partnership failed to deliver on their promise of jointly building a package that could be disruptive to the frontend of the grid, Honda has over the years attained some very valuable knowledge and experience of the F1 hybrid formula. I think, Honda would overcome their reliability issues in 2018 and begin to explore the true potential of their engine. Hence l would not be surprised if the Honda is on par or even better than the Renault engine in 2018. If James Key can turn out another excellent chassis for 2018, Torro Rooso may also be a delightful surprise in 2018. There is promise that they may well be in the same group as Redbull, Williams, Mclaren and Force India. But if we go by current 2017 performances, you would probably say, they would firmly be in the back marker group.

    So how would one guess what the pecking order might be come Abu Dhabi 2018?

    2018 Constructors World Champion - Mercedes [Strongly]
    2018 Constructors Second place - Ferrari
    2018 ConstructorsThird Place - ??? [Could be any of the following - Redbull, Mclaren or Williams]


    2018 Driver World Champion - ???
    [Vettel would be favorite as he would not have internal competition but we cannot rule out Hamilton if the Mercedes is better in 2018]
    2018 Driver second place - ???
    2018 Driver third place - ???
    Last edited by Nitrodaze; 18th December 2017 at 09:57.
    Better a witty fool than a foolish wit.
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  2. Likes: andyone (11th February 2018)
  3. #2
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    * I think Mercedes will obviously be very good, 3 PU's per year will suit them (more than others). If pushed to answer, who will win the championships, I'd say Merc and Hamilton.

    * Ferrari really impressed a lot this year, a far cry from the disappointment of 2016. But in crucial moments they have shown some weaknesses, like reliability issues or Vettel's Baku/Singapore. It would take an absolutely perfect storm for them to beat Mercedes. Can they do it? I can't answer, but I'd like to see another fascinating title fight.

    * For Red Bull everything will be dependent on Renault, their power but also crucially reliability. Chassis is obviously very good and Max is such a fast driver he can easily take the fight to top dogs given opportunity. But will RBR have to use Honda PU in 2019? It could mean Renault wouldn't give them upgrades during 2018. Tough call how it's going to end.

    * McLaren will get an engine upgrade. But it also means they will be thrown into a straight fight against the chassis of Red Bull and Renault with the same PU. With Alonso having claimed at each race weekend how they are "the fastest in corners", these comments will be put into stern test.

    * Renault will be relieved to have a driver like Sainz for full season instead of Palmer. This fact alone will give them a points boost compared to 2017. However, they still have some work cut out to move forward. Reliability must improve a lot, and also chassis lags a long way behind Red Bull thus far, even if they have already got the legs on the rest of the midfield with Hulk often qualifying around 7th positions last season as long as his car actually worked.

    * Force India is a solid and strong team with two good drivers. I expect more of the same old, but as you mention competition in midfield gets tougher. They'll have an immense job of fending off McLaren and Renault in the Constructors. If they can do it, hats off.

    * Williams could have a good chassis, but I really don't expect a good constructors position, because it seems they are seriously handicapped by drivers. Stroll will most likely improve, but all too often he qualified a whole second (!) behind Massa and this points to fundamental lack of speed in my view. I can't tell much about the second driver, whoever it is going to be (Sirotkin?), but I suspect points will be lost by that guy too.

    * Sauber, yes, gets a new engine. Will be interesting to see, what Leclerc can do. After dominating GP2/F2 as a rookie like no-one has done before, expectations are high. But as Vandoorne has shown, it can still take time for a rookie to get his speed up in F1. But, at least, the season should be better than 2017 with a better engine.

    * Haas has had a solid if inconsistent chassis and solid if inconsistent drivers. Seems like a match made in heaven, lol. In all seriousness don't expect much change for them. Will get points here and there, but also prone to being nowhere.

    * Toro Rosso indeed has a good chassis guy in James Key. It will be interesting to see, what STR can do with Honda in place of McLaren, but they face an uphill battle. Because STR's budget and infrastructure is not as good as McLaren's, and also they don't have a driver of Alonso's caliber to wring the car further up in the field. So if Honda has the worst PU, I don't think STR stands much of a chance considering even McLaren ended up 9th in WCC. But with Renault PU Toro Rosso could do a solid job for years and get points. If Honda could improve to Renault' level, this could continue. However, still, drivers need to step up a lot. Sainz could deliver loads of points (i.e 48 this year), but then Kvyat ended up with almost nothing. I fear STR may lack a driver, who has the edge to make the difference in wringing some points out of the car, but I may be proven wrong.
    Last edited by jens; 14th December 2017 at 19:53.

  4. #3
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    I feel Hamilton will be strong from the season start and Mercedes may have to turn the wick up a little bit more IF Ferrari show pace I expect the same of Bottas I feel most married drivers are on the side of safety a little more than a single guy. I expect Vettel to realize that to win the championship this coming year he needs to not get the "Red Mist" when things get heated and not squeeze other drivers to the point where his or his team mates car gets damage and retires .I expect the same from Kimi ,he knows his place ,and the moneys good too .I think Max will give RBR another year to improve and maybe he can expect a ferrari or Merc drive for 2019.Ricciardo I like whatever goes wrong ,he still smiles ,and I enjoy the boot drinking although Rosberg didnt.Perez and Ocon are solid competitors ,and Perez has been told what his job is and not to knock his team mate off And if he wants to be in front of Ocon then pass him dont moan to the team .Hope Williams can get a driver to ring the cars neck and get the best out of it ,Rob Smedley needs a good driver to coax round .I would love to see Sainz do well ,I feel Hulkinburg may qualify well but fades away .Would love to see HAAS improve ,but they need better drivers i feel I would love to see Alonso perform like he did 10 years ago ,but he needs the car to be competitive to deliver the goods Another low points season and he will move to pastures new .Where will Wherlin finish up ? I get the impression Merc didnt want him any more But he hasnt shined this year .I feel we need another Max Verstappen to arrive and set the world of F1 on fire ,as its losing the loyal followers that have followed the sport since Phil Hill and Richy Ginther ,and Wolfgang Von Trips were racing on the edge in the 60s And lets have it made easier for overtaking ,we get fed up of a driver catching another and then following for another 10 laps .Best of luck to Ross Brawn ,and even the pit lane girls may vanish too

  5. #4
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    I'm hoping that, with the new engine, McLaren can move up to be a top tier team again. Alonso is a little long in the tooth, but still has more talent than half the grid. More realistically, it's Mercedes again though. I agree with driveace about the Haas drivers. They definitely need an upgrade. While they were a good choice to get the team off the ground, that time has passed. Red Bull & Ferrari will be very close for second. Vettel is his own worst enemy, a great driver who can't seem to curb bad impulses. Red Bull could be the surprise in 2018. We'll have to wait and see how that works. Toro Rosso, what can you say. I don't see much in the way of points in their immediate future. In another time scoring a Honda power plant would have been a coup, not so much now.

    driveace's comments about the general state of on track action is also well taken.
    "Old roats am jake mit goats."
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  6. Likes: driveace (15th December 2017)
  7. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by jens View Post
    * McLaren will get an engine upgrade. But it also means they will be thrown into a straight fight against the chassis of Red Bull and Renault with the same PU. With Alonso having claimed at each race weekend how they are "the fastest in corners", these comments will be put into stern test.
    They might have had a superb chassis this year, but that also had to do with the chassis and engine being designed in unison; especially before this year when they changed their engine layout, the "size zero" engine was supposed to have amazing dynamics for chassis guys to work with. Would they be able to have as good a chassis with a Renault engine?

  8. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by jens View Post
    * Williams could have a good chassis, but I really don't expect a good constructors position, because it seems they are seriously handicapped by drivers. Stroll will most likely improve, but all too often he qualified a whole second (!) behind Massa and this points to fundamental lack of speed in my view. I can't tell much about the second driver, whoever it is going to be (Sirotkin?), but I suspect points will be lost by that guy too.
    If the theory that Paddy Lower would transfer some valuable knowledge to Williams were to hold up, and they build a better chassis than they currently have, then the selection of the second driver become all the more important as to where they may end up next season. Having two rookies for their lineup in 2018 may definitely be very costly point wise. Beside the cost of rookie mistakes and resulting car damage etc.

    If they put someone with Hybrid experience and with at least three full season of recent F1 racing in the other seat, the Williams chance to mix it with the sharp end increases considerably. But if they send unseasoned boys to fight with the tigers at the sharp end, they would most certainly end up in the outskirts of the midfield as they did in 2016.

    I hope they put an experienced driver in the second seat because we would get a better idea of Williams progress in 2018 from such a driver. I think Mercedes would unlikely make the same mistake that they did with their 2017 chassis next season. So the rare opportunity that put Stroll on the podium in 2017 may not arise in 2018, especially if Ferrari also overcome their reliability issues and improve also.
    Last edited by Nitrodaze; 21st December 2017 at 16:00.
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  9. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by jens View Post
    * Renault will be relieved to have a driver like Sainz for full season instead of Palmer. This fact alone will give them a points boost compared to 2017. However, they still have some work cut out to move forward. Reliability must improve a lot, and also chassis lags a long way behind Red Bull thus far, even if they have already got the legs on the rest of the midfield with Hulk often qualifying around 7th positions last season as long as his car actually worked.
    The 2017 Renault package; chassis and engine did not excite in 2017. Hulkenburg did a fantastic job dragging the Renault into the top 10 regularly. But the car seemed always to be on its very ragged edge while doing so. They would have to build a completely new chassis for 2018 to make significant aerodynamic progress. And they have two main hurdles to clear on the engine front; to improve reliability and to narrow the BHP gap to the Mercedes and Ferrari engines.

    But there is a silver lining for Renault since they have a real chance to overcome their problem when they start to exploit the knowledge of Marcin Budkowski the FIA inspector that Renault employed recently amidst criticism from other teams. Based on this premise, the Renault car of 2018 is very likely to be a considerably better car than the 2017 package. Renault may well be the dark horse of 2018. And with Sainz and Hulkenburg lineup, we may see Renault frequently on the podium in 2018.

    Also, Renault seems set to provide most of the exciting controversy of the 2018 season. If they make massive improvements in their package, other teams are likely to make regular visits to the FIA compliants department. The odd lawsuits may also occur as interlectual property disputes may be a frequent feature of the 2018 season.
    Last edited by Nitrodaze; 21st December 2017 at 10:11.
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  10. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Koz View Post
    They might have had a superb chassis this year, but that also had to do with the chassis and engine being designed in unison; especially before this year when they changed their engine layout, the "size zero" engine was supposed to have amazing dynamics for chassis guys to work with. Would they be able to have as good a chassis with a Renault engine?
    Yes, integration is going to be a concern for McLaren. It looks like since 2015 till 2017 they have steadily managed to improve the chassis - which was pretty average in 2014, mind you. But the last three seasons they have been the works team with all geared around them. With Renault they are going to be a customer.

    It doesn't look like being a Renault customer has hindered Red Bull much, but then again RBR has extensive experience with Renault and know all the ins and outs of their PU. McLaren needs to start from scratch.

  11. #9
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    Franz Tost thinks Torro Ross can fight for fourth in 2018. It would be egg in Mclaren's board faces if the Torro Rosso with the Honda engine turn out to be quicker than the Mclaren with the Renault engine. I would love to hear Alonso's radio comments should that be the case.
    Better a witty fool than a foolish wit.
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  12. #10
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    It will be interesting whether Mercedes adapts the high-rake concept with its 2018 challenger. They have to address the weaknesses of the '17 car, they suffered particularly at low-speed circuits and sometimes they couldn't get the tires work.

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