Formula 1 might have looked very different when the cars rolled out at Circuit de Catalunya for pre-season testing back in February (nine months ago!) but the season finale in Abu Dhabi will mark another shake-up of changes and alter the make-up of the sport for 2018.

Obrigado Massa!

It feels oddly familiar, considering F1 said goodbye to Felipe Massa 12 months ago only for a dramatic U-turn coupled with Nico Rosberg’s exit, but this time the sport will REALLY be bidding farewell to its last-standing Brazilian driver as he retires from the sport having burst on to the scene in 2002.

Massa’s exit means there will be no Brazilian driver on the F1 grid for the first time since 1969 – one of the longest runs in the history of the sport by any nation – and given the troubling reports of gunpoint robberies in Sao Paulo earlier this month during the Brazilian Grand Prix the country’s love affair with the sport hangs in the balance.

The nation is iconic to the history and culture of F1 but with no clear future talents climbing the junior ranks and a Grand Prix under threat Brazil’s future has become clouded with uncertainty.

McLaren and Honda head separate ways

Arguably the highest profile failure of a manufacturer partnership in the history of Formula 1 is coming to an end as the McLaren-Honda effort officially splits up at the end of the season at the Yas Marina circuit.

McLaren hopes to find new love with Renault as its engine supplier while Honda is looking for a less-combative partner in Toro Rosso (who themselves are going through a messy breakup with Renault) but the changes are well underway for two very different looking teams in 2018.

Time will tell who’ll be the biggest winners from the changes but almost certainly McLaren and Honda won’t do much worse than their previous three F1 campaigns which tarnished the iconic image of the combination from the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Say Halo to the new-look F1

A goodbye followed quickly by a new hello as the sport’s own identity will take a new shape from 2018 with the introduction of the Halo cockpit protection device on all cars.

Aerodynamic and integration challenges aside, F1 cars will appear drastically different with the large sweeping Halo bolted over the drivers effectively making every pre-2018 model or toy car a historic throwback in design and safety.

The jury remains undecided on how the Halo will be received – something that probably won’t be decided until winter testing next year – but all eyes will be trained on how teams have integrated it into their 2018 cars when the launches begin in February.

Further changes could also be introduced on whether the engine fins will remain or not while elsewhere in next year’s rulebook T-wings will definitely be a thing of the past having been banned along with the practice of oil burning in engines. Pirelli will debut a new and sixth tyre compound with pink markings to open up even greater choice of tyre variations.

Force who?

Consecutive best-ever F1 World Constructors’ Championship finishes with double fourth places demonstrates Force India are a team on the rise but 2018 is predicted to be a new challenge for the Silverstone-based squad.

An expected resurgence from Renault and McLaren will put them under threat while sleeping giant Williams looks to get its house in order with 12 months of Paddy Lowe at the helm.

But the pink for 2017 team is also expected to take a new identity by dropping the “India” part of its name to open up its commercial opportunities globally. When every penny counts in a tight F1 budget fresh sponsorship could prove key for the team to maintain its charge against the bigger boys on the grid.

Force India might not be the only team to forge a new brand identity as Formula 1 itself bounces around the idea of a new logo and look in a move which is seen as Liberty Media stamping its image over anything which resembles the Bernie Ecclestone era.


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