Many people are already excited ahead of the new F1 season, especially as they’re eagerly anticipating what defending world champion Lewis Hamilton will be capable of this time around.
He trailed for much of the campaign last season before poking his nose ahead of rival Sebastian Vettel and holding firm to secure his 4th world title. Hamilton is aiming for a fifth this season which would see him match Juan Manuel Fangio, leaving him only two adrift of Michael Schumacher.
It took a phenomenal effort from the Brit and Mercedes to wrestle control of the championship from Vettel last season, as well as a bit of luck along the way too. With that in mind, Hamilton himself has said that he is aiming to set new standards in 2018. The 33 year old Mercedes driver said “I want to somehow be better than I was last year.” While many may feel that he’s setting the bar high, you simply can’t write off Hamilton achieving his targets.
Teams have been improving during the off season as expected and Hamilton has already expressed his feelings on the competition, claiming that that he expects it to be a “closer season” but he has so far failed to outline who he sees as major threats this time around. Many expect him to renew his rivalry with German Sebastian Vettel but it’s likely others will be in the mix in 2018 too.
There’s also been concern of late over Hamilton’s long term future at Mercedes with his deal set to expire at the end of the season. Hamilton has however hinted that a new deal, potentially for another two or three years, was in the offing. Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolf also moved to quash concerns by insisting that they expect the situation to be resolved “in a few weeks.”
While Hamilton’s future looks secure and this season seems likely to be a successful one once again for him, there are still question marks over the future of his racing partner Valtteri Bottas. The Finn’s deal also expires at the end of the season but recognises that he must improve in order to secure a future with Mercedes.
Bottas has already said that he intends to improve on last season and that he actually feels he’s got it in himself to beat Hamilton. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Force India’s Esteban Ocon are rumoured to be waiting in the wings should Bottas depart at the end of the season.
It should be another huge season for both Mercedes and their drivers, especially Hamilton, who looks like he has the bit firmly between his teeth as he hunts down a fifth world title. Last season was probably the best year Hamilton had in terms of performance but he firmly believes he can better both his achievements and performances, even in a title race that is set to be even more competitive. You wouldn’t back against him doing just that either.