The new F1 season begins again next weekend in Portimao, Portugal just six months since Alex Carella was crowned 2017 World Champion, and the driver line-up is sporting several changes although there is only one new face in the paddock this year.
Before the curtain had come down on the 2017 series we discovered American Shaun Torrent had signed up for the Abu Dhabi team, replacing Alex Carella who had taken over Torrente’s seat in the Victory team.
Team China’s line-up has remained unchanged with three time world champion Philippe Chiappe staying with Peter Morin in Eric Chan’s powerful Chinese partnership.
Francesco Cantando’s team mate Bartalek Marszalek was finding his best form as 2017 drew to a close, but he is starting 2018 with a new partner Marit Stromoy in Emirate Racing. Ironically Cantando has recruited F1’s second lady driver in the shape of Germany’s Simone Shuft, and only time will tell if she is as good as her CV indicates.
Australia’s Grant Trask will be a valuable asset to Duarte Benavente’s Team Atlantic only this term he will be driving a boat built by his father Bob’s company.
Jonas Andersson’s Team Sweden has a new addition with Erik Eden who joined his fellow countryman in the last two races of 2017. Missing from the Swedish team is multi-world F2 champion Erik Stark who has failed to acquire sponsorship this year.
One of the most powerful line-up’s this year will be Team Abu Dhabi with Shaun Torrentte as well as veteran UAE pilot Thani Al Qamzi and reigning F2 world champion Rashid Al Qamzi in their three boat team.
Former world champion Sami Selio will be hoping his 2017 season is just a nasty memory and the Mad Croc returns to his winning ways in 2018. It was the Mad Croc second driver Filip Roms who was scoring the teams points last term.
Frenchman Cedric Deguissne’s Maverick team has welcomed a new addition this year when Germany’s Mike Szymura joined the squad. Szymura has had two seasons now to ‘learn the ropes’ and he is hoping he can now enjoy a top ten finish.
China’s Philippe Chiappe has to have our 5 star rating for favourite this year as he already has three gold medals to his name. Shaun Torrente has been knocking on the door of the championship for three seasons, and now he has signed up for probably the most professional team on the grid, the Florida racer must also now be rated as a prime candidate for gold. And in spite of his unfortunate 2017 results we can’t rule out Sami Selio for Gold. After a winter testing a new boat, the Finn from Helsinki is hoping all the effort was worthwhile and he can collect his third world championship.
Alex Carella with Team Abu Dhabi last year and Philippe Chiappe remains with Team China