One of the most controversial seasons of Formula One in recent memory is almost upon us, as the 2018 world championship kicks off with the Australian Grand Prix on March 25 at Melbourne.
The thing capturing everyone’s attention is, of course, the controversial halo cockpit protection. If you can somehow look past this new safety feature, though, there are a host of aerodynamic modifications which make this year’s cars look better than the 2017 entrants.
As it turns out, the cars also sound better. During the first round of pre-season testing in Spain, all of the teams hit the track, revealing that some serious efforts have been made to ensure the 1.6-liter V6 turbo engines produce a far more pleasant soundtrack than before.
Ever since the introduction of the hybrid engines in 2014, fans around the world have complained about how they sound, particularly when compared to the V8s, V10s and V12s of the past. With the changes adopted for 2018, things seem to be on the right track.
The first day of pre-season testing in Barcelona saw Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo top the time sheets. Additionally, the Australian was the only driver to complete more than 100 laps. Mercedes‘ Valtteri Bottas claimed the second quickest time, while Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen came home in third.
Elsewhere down the paddock, there were positive signs for both McLaren and Toro Rosso. The two swapped engine partners for this season and, during the tests, Fernando Alonso secured the fifth fastest time, while Toro Rosso’s Brendan Hartley was eighth fastest, slightly behind reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton.