The new Formula One season is rapidly approaching, and the 2018 campaign is poised to be a classic.
Lewis Hamilton is the reigning world champion, and the Brit will be eyeing a fifth title this year.
But he’ll face a renewed challenge from Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari, plus Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
So ahead of the new season, the Ladbrokes News Team pick out the top five things to look forward to…
Hamilton is the man to beat
Lewis Hamilton had to really up his game to see off Vettel last season. He did so in supreme style, but can he do it again in 2018?
He may have to contend with Verstappen and the Dutchman’s team-mate Daniel Ricciardo too.
So Lewis could have his hands full this season and it will be thrilling to see how he deals with that.
Ferrari and Vettel must challenge again
Ferrari and Vettel could and arguably should have won last season’s world championship. But a calamitous second-half of the season of unreliability and driver errors ended their chances.
Many believed the Italian squad had a better car than Mercedes last year, and the sport needs the Scuderia to be competitive once again this season.
This will be Vettel’s fourth season with Ferrari, and the pressure is on to end the team’s title drought.
The return of McLaren and Alonso
Fernando Alonso made plenty of headlines last season, but it was often the wrong reasons as McLaren endured yet another disastrous campaign.
The strain with engine supplier Honda proved too much, and the Woking-based squad have now signed an agreement with Renault.
Though not yet a match of Mercedes, McLaren have seen Red Bull win a number of races with the power unit over the last two seasons.
Both the team and Alonso are desperate for a return to form, and the sport will benefit hugely if they can mix it for wins and podiums in 2018.
Say hello to HALO
The elephant in the room is Formula One’s most eye-catching rule change.
This year will see the introduction of the HALO safety device, and opinion is firmly split on its inclusion.
Some welcome the safety benefits it will bring, while others say the aesthetics will ruin the sport’s appeal. Even the driver’s are split on the device.
Expect the HALO to make plenty of headlines throughout the season.
More magic from mighty Max
Many feel that Max Verstappen could be the most gifted racing driver in a generation, but as yet the Dutchman hasn’t had a car capable of winning the world championship.
The 20-year-old claimed two excellent wins in the second half of last season, and will be eagerly hoping that Red Bull can provide that final step to consistently challenge Mercedes and Ferrari.
If they can, then Verstappen is about to reach new heights.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing