I hate these overnight races because for me, it’s not even the right day of the week. It’s Saturday dammit and will be until I take a nap. Last year was totally confusing with many rule changes, site changes, and a complete revamp of the Broadcast Network, schedule, and Announcers. At least when the moved from FS1 to NBC Sports most of the show was the same and they did rebroadcasts of Practice, Qualifying, and the Race during reasonable hours so you could listen to the commentary on the technical aspects, while the new format focuses on Driver personalities (#1, I’m not interested and #2, most of the Drivers are horrible people).
The F1 website changed too, not the front pages where they want you to watch these boring videos, the back pages where you can go to get Grid positions and Lap Times and Running Order. I’m not going to attempt to cover any of that this time out because I have yet to make up my mind whether without those things it’s worth the subscription (boring videos are free).
In terms of technical changes there’s some tweaking of the aerodynamics which changed pretty radically last year (not enough for Maranello). Some people think the DRS is more effective this year, I’m not sure about that. There are only 5 Tire Compounds at all, ranging from C1 to C5 (hardest to softest) out of which Pirelli selects 3 for a given Track. Teams are allowed to decide their own mix of the available tires but the 2 Compound Rule still applies. There is now a Bonus Point awarded each Race for Fast Lap. I can’t imagine it will make any difference.
There have been 2 changes in badging, Sauber is now Alfa Romeo and Force India is now Racing Point.
Speaking of Maranello, after testing in Barcelona everyone expected them to dominate. Not so much at Albert Park. The Grid is exactly what you would expect- Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull. There have been some personnel changes among the back markers, you can read about them here. The warm and fuzzy story is that Robert Kubica is back after losing his arm in a 2011 crash. Among the top Teams the big news is that Raikkonen has been replaced by Leclerc at Ferrari.
If you happen to be up at 6:30 am you can watch the repeat on ESPN2. If I’m up at 6:30 something is terribly wrong.