At first glance, and with the very notable exception of the new Halo device, not much appears to have changed in Formula 1 this season.
The chassis and engine rules are the same and the top teams are back with unchanged driver line-ups – including reigning champion Lewis Hamilton bidding for a fourth crown in five seasons with Mercedes to take his overall F1 world title tally to five.
But, as ever with F1, it’s all about the details. And there are plenty of small changes that will have an impact this year, both on and off track. We asked ex-Renault F1 racer Jolyon Palmer, who has joined the BBC Radio 5 Live commentary team for 2018, about some of the key storylines of the season ahead.
Can anyone stop Mercedes?
Mercedes has dominated since V6 turbo engines were introduced in 2014, claiming a title double again last year despite a challenge from Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
Pre-season testing suggests Mercedes is again the team to beat, although Palmer reckons Red Bull could be its closest challenger. “Red Bull ended last year strongly with a couple of wins and can build on that,” says Palmer. “They started last year on the back foot in testing and developed well, and they’re in much better shape this year.”
After three increasingly acrimonious seasons, McLaren and Honda staged a very public divorce at the end of last year. British team McLaren landed a supply of customer Renault engines and Honda salvaged its spot on the grid by agreeing to supply Toro Rosso, Red Bull’s ‘B team’.