The 2018 Formula 1 season started its’ kick off this weekend in Australia. With pre-season testing out of the way in the last month, it is sometimes hard to tell where the teams truly are performing and who is sand bagging.
This weekend was a huge surprise for some of the mid-field competition where HAAS and McLaren took the show and the headlines. McLaren for the last 3 season was partnered with a troubling Honda engine supplier, most people on the grid said McLaren had the best chassis and the worst engine on the grid. In 2018 McLaren dropped Honda and has taken on Renault as the engine supplier. At the checkered flag Mclaren saw their Fernando Alonso edging out the young Max Verstappen. Alonso during the cool down lap broadcasted, “We can now fight, we can now fight.”
The HAAS team was looking extremely strong throughout the weekend and during the race, until both of their cars fell victim to threaded wheel nuts one after another. The team was extremely disappointed after having one of their best races and pace in their third year of Formula 1.
The race went to Vettel after a virtual safety car was deployed when one of the HAAS cars retired on track due to the wheel nut issue. During the virtual safety car Vettel was able to use the pit lane speed that is higher than on track at the time of a safety car to pass Hamilton. Hamilton was never able to regain the lead.
The first race of the year definitely shows that 2018 will have some new players in the mix but also Ferrari has said that if not for the virtual safety car and the speed difference Mercedes has incredible speed.