In our final TCF Picks piece we take a look forward to the year ahead and what our writers think you should be looking out for!
TCR UK Series
The TCR UK Series continues to gather pace heading into the winter season, so it will be interesting to see the final outcome.
An initial calendar was a promising sign for these efforts, containing no BTCC clashes and adding a visit to Castle Combe. It also now finds itself sharing the package with a solid support championship offering, including Formula Ford 1600.
BTCC squads continue to hint at their interest, Motorbase Performance recently testing their Volkswagen machinery for the first time. Coverage, grid sizes and the quality of championship will be next under the radars of touring car fans, but the signs are finally looking promising.
– Dan Mason / Steven Batey / Tim Lumb
Lewis Hamilton vs Max Verstappen
If Red Bull can keep up their momentum that has been building for the last few months in Formula One, they could be a serious challenger to Mercedes and Ferrari next year. With Max Verstappen having scored more points than any other driver over the last few races, if Red Bull can give him the car this year, there could be the great opportunity for a title battle featuring Hamilton and Verstappen. What a show that would be! – Jordan Groves
It’s been brewing for the last part of this season, but this year I think we’ll really have to watch out for the rise of Max Verstappen. Throughout the month of October, he scored more points than any other driver on the grid, which makes you wonder what might have been had he not suffered so many retirements earlier in the season. Whether Red Bull can give him a championship winning car or not, you can bet that Verstappen will still be a thorn in the side of Mercedes and Ferrari next year. – Megan Cantle
Having switched to Renault power for 2018, McLaren must make significant progress next season in order to prove it was an inspired move. Hopefully it will be and McLaren can fight for podiums, at the very least, again!
– Rachel Hack / Aaron Gillard
2018 Le Mans 24 Hours
This is going to be the most intriguing and interesting race of 2018 in my honest opinion. With the FIA World Endurance Championship restructuring to have its Super Season for 2018 – 2019, there are already so many factors to consider: Privateer LMP1 entries, Fernando Alonso in a Toytota Hybrid LMP1 (Potentially) going for a piece of the Triple Crown, The possibility of Toyota’s best chance to win Le Mans, New GTE-Pro cars from Aston Martin and BMW, another year of quality LMP2 entries and GTE-Am…
Hell, I can’t wait for this already! And its on the Calendar twice during the Super Season!
– Phil Kinch / James Eagles
Another blockbuster MotoGP Season
2017 produced yet another memorable MotoGP season. Sure, Marc Marquez ended up winning the title once again but it was far from easy. 2018 looks like it could be even better!
Jorge Lorenzo now has a full year’s worth of experience on the Ducati, a bike that Andrea Dovizioso proved can win multiple races and challenge for the title. Expect Dovi to be up there once again as well. Then you have the Yamahas! 2017 was disappointing for the factory team and they will be working extremely hard over the winter to ensure that they are challenging once again. 2018 could very well be Valentino Rossi’s final season, so he’ll want to go out on top!
Of course, we can expect to see more of the same from Marquez, as he pushes the Honda beyond its limit. It’s going to be very hard to stop him, but the factory Ducati and Yamaha outfits will try there best… alongside a certain Frenchman!
– Josh Close / Tim Lumb
The birth of any championship is always interesting but Electric GT is something else. It’s got good looking, road relevant cars which look like machines that you can buy today. The cars are developed enough to do a full race in a single chassis and its affordable enough for racing hopefuls to secure a seat.
I’ll go as far as to say that Electric GT could well be the decade’s most important motorsport development, and could be just the saviour that Formula E needs now cracks are starting to show at the top.
-Nick Smith / Tom Jeffries
2018 FIA World Rally Championship
The 2018 season was a game changer, with the new specification cars and the almighty Volkswagen pulling out of the series at the end of the 2016 season, last year was fantastic. Ok so we still had the same driver champion we had for the previous four years, but Ogier proved why he is the best as he fought hard for the title.
Looking ahead to this year, Ford are back with an increased partnership with M-Sport, Andreas Mikkelsen has a full time drive for the season with Hyundai and Ott Tanak has switched to Toyota, add in to this the return of nine-time champion and all-round rally legend Sebastien Loeb for three rallies… what more could the WRC fan want?
In addition to this WRC are leading the way in interactive coverage of their events, with the announcement of the WRC+ All live package fans will be able to see live video from every stage of every rally this season, along with GPS maps and a massive archive of analytical programmes and more!
– Vince Pettit
Hamilton Vs Vettel – First to five?
It has to be the ‘strive for five’, hasn’t it? Formula One’s two heavyweights, Hamilton and Vettel, both gunning for a fifth title. If Mercedes and Ferrari can produce evenly matched cars once again (and the latter can maintain a year-long championship challenge) then it should be fascinating. Of course, there are spoilers in the pack too; Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo, Valtteri Bottas, and what about Fernando Alonso? Will a McLaren-Renault prove good enough to return him to the head of the field? I can’t wait, I’m getting worked up about it already…
– Craig Venn
Toro Rosso – Make or break?
After the decision to drop Daniil Kvyat and release Carlos Sainz to Renault, Toro Rosso promoted Pierre Gasly and signed Brendon Hartley. The pair struggled to get points in the few races they competed in, with the big question next year being whether the team make the right choice.
– Chloe Hewitt
The Ginetta Junior Class Of 2017 Stepping Up
With recent series graduates including this year’s British F4 champion Jamie Caroline and British GT4 champions Will Tregurtha and Stuart Middleton, it’s clear the Ginetta Junior Championship is providing all the skills that drivers need to taste immediate success in the next step of their careers.
The class of 2017 will be determined to build on the potential they showed this year, and it’s going to be exciting to see how their careers progress in 2018, in particular the final top three of Tom Gamble, Sebastian Priaulx and Daniel Harper.
While champion Gamble’s next move hasn’t been announced yet, Priaulx will make the transition to single-seater racing in British F4 and with a strong testing programme under his belt, he could well be an instant front-runner with leading squad Arden.
Harper meanwhile will make the huge leap to the Porsche Carrera Cup GB after winning the 2018/19 Junior scholarship and it will be intriguing to see what he can achieve, as well as the likes of Harry King, Tom Wood and Kiern Jewiss wherever they go next.
– Simon Paice
Rossi’s Last Chance?
The silly season speculation will form a huge part of the 2018 MotoGP season with almost all of the key players out of contract at the end of the year. The fate of many a rider will hinge on one man’s decision, whether Valentino Rossi decides to continue into his forties.
By the time next season starts, The Doctor will be 39 years old and with a decision on his future likely to come before his home round at Mugello, 2018 could well be his last chance to secure the holy grail of a tenth world crown, and indeed our last chance to see one of the greatest motorcycle racers ever seen compete at the highest level.
– Louis Suddaby
BSB: Young guns, Having some fun
The young guns in British Superbike. Dixon, Mossey, Hickman are all capable of winning races, making it into the Showdown and disrupting Byrne, Haslam and Brookes’ winning rhythm.
– Emily Macbeth
As a fan of the feeder-series and the competitive racing they encourage, I’m very disappointed to hear the end of one of the most exciting on-track championships for young drivers. Especially when that series has seen five of its eight champions step up to Formula One, with this years success story joining the Mercedes Young Driver programme. While its demise still seems unnecessary, only time will tell whether it was for the good of the young driver ladder. Enjoy while you can.
– Connor Jackson
Lando Norris vs. George Russell in F2
Lando Norris remains one of the hottest prospects in motorsport after adding the 2017 FIA European Formula 3 Championship title to his resume, and will be the official reserve driver for the McLaren Renault Formula 1 Team in 2018 alongside his commitments in Formula 2 for Carlin.
However, another Briton made his mark in single seaters in 2017, with George Russell claiming the GP3 Series crown, and the Mercedes-Benz protégé will be looking to emulate Charles Leclerc, who went onto win the F2 crown a year after the GP3 title.
Both Britons are highly thought of, both within their young driver programmes and outside, and it is interesting to see how they will compare in Formula 2 as they both aim for Formula 1.
– Paul Hensby
Audi Vs. Renault in Formula E
The battle between Audi and Renault for the Formula E championship. Renault have dominated the series so far, but testing showed that Audi have made huge gains and could be ahead in terms of race pace. With bitter rivals Lucas di Grassi and Sebastien Buemi leading both teams it should be another explosive season as they battle to win their second driver’s title. Both drivers struggled in the opening race in Hong Kong, and how they bounce back will be intriguing.
– Scott Douglas