Things we're looking forward to in 2018

It's a chilly grey day here in MK but we're keeping warm with a big to-do list, the leftover mince pies and the thought of all the thrilling stuff to come in 2018.

A new season always feels like a great new horizon, as it's not only the chance to get out there and race hard but it always brings with it new things to get excited about. Here are five things that we're looking forward to this season.

Bonjour, France!
It's been a decade since we last had a French Grand Prix but finally it's here. We're thrilled to the moon and back to witness its return (not least because we're already salivating at the thought of the food and wine!) and we can't wait to bring F1 back to the fantastic French fans.

Last held at the much-loved Magny-Cours, in 2018 the race will take place at the Circuit Paul Ricard (a former host on both the long and short layouts) at Le Castellet. Upon opening in the seventies, Paul Ricard was considered one of the safest circuits and was especially loved for its great facilities, airstrip and layout options. A popular choice for testing, it's also hosted WTCC, MotoGP and other motorsports. The current F1 circuit has made several modifications to ensure a thrilling race for all, and offers 15 tricky turns and 5.861km of juicy racing for our challengers.

The French GP is one of the oldest in existence, dating back to 1906 where the first race was held on the roads of Le Mans. Since then, the event has taken place at several different circuits including Dijon and Rouen.

Fact: French driver, Alain Prost, has won the French GP six times at three different locations!

And... it's back again!
Is it on or is it off? Is it Hockenheim or is it the Nürburgring? We can't keep up! Either way, it's always a joy to return to Germany and returning we are in 2018, to the charming Hockenheim.

Originally constructed as a Mercedes-Benz test track in 1936, it started life as two long straights connected by two bends, at 8km length. The circuit, taking on board many modifications over the years, hosted its first F1 race in 1970, but didn't officially take over from the Nürburgring as the host of the German GP until 1977, something which continued for 30 years (missing out 1985) until the next era, when it began alternating as host with the Nürburgring.

In 2001, Herman Tilke redesigned the circuit, focusing on the speedy and dangerous forest sections in particular. New corners were added, the length reduced and the laps increased. The current circuit comprises 4.574km of fierce turns and straights, and offers spectators some incredible views from the grandstands and an atmosphere with plenty of adrenaline.

Fact: The race in 1970 was the first to be won posthumously, by Austrian driver Jochen Rindt

Hello, Halo!
Much debated and much awaited, 2018 is the year of the Halo. Everyone including your gran has an opinion on it but like most things in F1, after a few races it'll probably become a thing of normality. Aesthetically pleasing? Perhaps not, but that's not really the point of it.

The case for the Halo can't be ignored. Racing, as fun as it is, is not without danger and although the number of extremely serious incidents has been greatly reduced in comparison to the F1 days of old, the potential danger is something that everyone involved in the sport takes very seriously. It's been in development for many years and now the Halo is now mandatory.

So, what is it? It sounds simple enough: a cockpit protection device. The eagle-eyed amongst you will have seen prototypes during 2017, but for those that didn't, it looks a little like a titanium and carbon fibre wishbone, strutting around a driver's shoulders before meeting at a central point in the cockpit. Of course, it looks simple but it isn't. Enormous amounts of rigorous design and testing are involved and the device itself must meet FIA regulations or, well, it'll be a rather large case of time out in the garage.

Fact: The Halo presents the F1 community with new opportunities for the future, including areas such as sponsorship and digital marketing.

In with the new
2017 saw the first ripples of change in the sport as Liberty Media settled into their seats, culminating in the unveiling of a brand new logo at the end of the season, something which hotly divided opinion.

Other new ventures included wider exposure to F1 footage and events such as the fantastic F1 Live in London in the summer, which saw central London filled with the sound of engines as drivers and cars took to Trafalgar Square to rev up the roads.

Looking ahead, we can expect plenty of new initiatives at the circuits to make the fan experience even better, more city demos (the Team is no stranger to those, of course!) and a continuation of the much-enjoyed esports series. As ever, changes in such a well-loved sport won't be to everyone's taste. Much like the removal of classic races from the calendar, or the introduction of new ones, changes can sometimes take time to absorb, but in a sport that has innovation and progress at its heart, the opportunity for change is always something to get excited about.

Fact: The former F1 logo was incumbent for 23 years and is one of the most recognisable logos in sport. The new logo design is inspired by two cars battling for the finish line.

Daniel and Max put the gloves back on
Let's be honest, aside from seeing what we can do alongside our F1 family on the track, our biggest thrills will likely come from seeing our very own drivers battling it out all season!

Despite some bumps in the road last year, when our chaps raced each other, they raced hard! As every driver knows, the biggest challenge always comes from your teammate: that hungry F1 driver on the other side of the garage, behind the wheel of the same car, using the same engine, and deep amongst an F1 crew as hungry as your own for a brilliant race and the chance of a podium.

Having picked up more than a few bits of bling between them, the pair is even hungrier than ever and is keen to get even more metal for the mantelpiece this year. We can't wait to see what they do!

Fact: Last season, Daniel and Max collected 13 podiums and 3 wins between them!