After a major change in the technical regulations for 2017, Formula 1 doesn’t bring too many changes for 2018, but some of them will be very noticeable.
T-wings and shark fins banned
In 2017, teams used a loophole in the technical regulations which allowed them to use 750 mm wide T-wings in front of the rear wing and during the season the complexity of these wings increased.
Also, shark fins that longitudinally divide the engine cover used to make the rear wing work better will also be banned in their 2017 configuration – in 2018 they’ll be much smaller.
Halo cockpit protection mandatory
Most definitely the biggest change on 2018 F1 cars. All the cars will have to be equipped with a halo head protection system that should improve safety in situations where the driver’s head is threatened by flying objects such as tyres or car parts.
Although design of the halo system is determined by the rules, the teams may use their own aerodynamic covers that will help direct the airflow around and above the driver’s head.
Minimum weight increased
Due to halo protection introduction, the total weight of the car with the driver will be increased by 6 kg to a total of 734 kg, but the halo system actually weighs up to 14 kg, which will make it harder for the teams to lower the weight of their cars below the 734 kg limit.
Trick front suspension systems banned
Some teams like the Red Bull and the Ferrari used smart front suspension systems in 2017 that made it possible to change the ride height depending on the steering angle of the steering wheel.
The FIA has decided to ban such systems because of the influence they have on the aerodynamic performance of the car.
Three power units per driver
In order to make the power units more reliable and to reduce costs, drivers will be able to use only three engines, three MGU-Hs and three turbochargers in 2018, but only two MGU-Ks, two energy stores and two control electronics.
The change could play into Mercedes’ hands because they have the most reliable power unit while the engine manufacturers will only have two opportunities to introduce new specifications due to this change (unless they decide to break the allowed number of components and accept the grid penalty).
Simplified power unit grid penalty system
Any driver who receives a penalty of 15 or more places will start the race from the back of the grid.
If more than one driver receives such a penalty they will be arranged at the back of the grid in the order in which they changed power unit elements.
Wider range of dry weather tyres components
In 2018, Pirelli expanded its dry tyre range, which now has seven different tyre components and the new components are super hard and hyper soft.
The Italian manufacturer wants greater flexibility when selecting components for a single race and on each race the drivers will still have three components and freedom to choose 10 components for themselves, while one set of the softest components assigned for Q3 and one set of the each of remaining two components for the race will continue to be assigned automatically (a total of 13 sets of dry tyres per weekend remains the same as in 2017).
Engine ‘tricks’ clampdown
FIA has decided to further clear certain parts of the regulations to prevent the use of gray zones and mutual interrogation of engine manufacturers.
In short, three areas are going to be more strictly monitored and regulated – engine plenum air temperature, alternative use of recycling fluids and oil definition and oil burn limits.
Engine plenum air temperature control
One of the most intriguing changes in the technical regulations for 2018 is related to engine plenum air temperature monitoring, suggesting that the engine makers had previously cooled the air in that place to get more performance out of the engine.
Recycling fluids control
New article 5.1.12 states that all liquids in the power unit can only come into the atmosphere and must pass through the opening at the back. Liquids must not be returned to the power unit.
This suggests that engine manufacturers used such fluids to get extra power from the engine from their combustion.
Oil consumption and definition
The FIA has even tightened the maximum permitted amount of oil that the engines can use so far, so all the specifications introduced by the 2017 Italian GP had to comply with 0.9 liters of oil per 100 km limit (before it was 1.2 l/100 km) and this year the limit has dropped to 0.6 liters per 100 km.
Also, the teams may only use one fuel and oil specification during race weekend to prevent them from using specific specifications in the qualifying and the race.
The definition of the oil itself became more strict to ensure that the constructors use it only for lubrication, cleaning and cooling rather than for combustion to create extra power.