Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2018

Start spreadin’ the news: The stories RaceFans broke in 2018

2018 F1 season

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At the beginning of 2018 this site took on a new identity – RaceFans – and the goal of becoming the home for original, reliable, independent motorsport journalism.

As the year draws to a close, it offers an opportunity to reflect on how we’ve done and what we’ve uncovered.

This is not an exhaustive list of the hundreds of news stories we covered this year which emerged via press releases, social media posts or group interviews. This is a selection of the stories RaceFans revealed first.

This kind of original news reporting is what we set out to do more of this year. It often yields the most surprising stories – something which was certainly true of the stand-out story of the 2018 season, which RaceFans revealed in August.

Daniel Ricciardo’s shock move to Renault for the 2019 F1 season rocked the sport and led to a profound shake-up in the driver market. It provoked a degree of scepticism on social media when we broke it, but by the end of the day all the major players involved had confirmed what we’d written.

Stories of this magnitude come along only rarely. But looking back on 2018 we feel we can draw a lot of satisfaction from how often we were able to break the news. Here’s a selection of our favourite stories.

Minimum driver weight rule planned for 2019 – Taller (and therefore heavier) drivers will be at less of a disadvantage from next season thanks to this rules change.

Fernando Alonso, Toyota, World Endurance Championship, Spa, 2018
Fuji’s WEC round was moved for Alonso
Fuji’s WEC race could be moved so Alonso can enter – Would a world championship really move a race to suit one driver? The unthinkable happened after Fernando Alonso signed a deal to race for Toyota in the World Endurance Championship.

New FIA rules tweak to make F1 engine customer teams more competitive – Were manufacturer teams stopping their customers from using the most powerful engine modes in recent seasons? RaceFans revealed a pre-season rules clarification intended to put a stop to it.

Full F1 TV Pro launch delayed, limited beta test planned for first race of 2018 – F1 fans had waited a long time for a dedicated streaming service. They had to wait a little longer when the launch of F1 TV, originally planned for the first race of the year, was postponed to the Spanish Grand Prix.

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Claire Williams, Bahrain International Circuit, 2018
Williams liked what they saw from Liberty in Bahrain
Revealed: The winners and losers under Liberty’s 2021 F1 prize money plan – In Bahrain, F1 owners Liberty Media revealed details of its planned shake-up of the sport to the teams. Key among them were changes to the sport’s much-criticised prize money distribution, which gives huge bonuses to the sport’s wealthiest teams.

F1 2021: Liberty’s masterplan for Formula One’s future uncovered – Liberty’s plans for 2021 went far further, as our in-depth analysis explained, and they became a focus of discussion and debate throughout the year.

F1 teams could lose ‘mission control’ rooms in new plan to improve races – Several F1 team bosses were unimpressed by plans to restrict their use of ‘virtual garages’.

How Ecclestone’s parting shot to Liberty added to their F1 calendar woes – Before Liberty took over, Bernie Ecclestone gave discounts to what had been some of F1’s highest-paying races.

McLaren receives £200 million cash injection from company linked to F2 driver Latifi – Having lost huge financial backing from Honda when it split with the Japanese manufacturer, McLaren found itself in need of investment. As RaceFans revealed, they obtained it from the father of F2 driver Nicholas Latifi.

Formula 1 to introduce 18-inch wheels in 2021 – A change which had been mooted for some time was finally approved as part of Liberty’s 2021 overhaul of the sport. New tyre companies were invited to submit tenders to become F1’s tyre supplier.

Michelin considering Formula 1 return in 2020 – Michelin took a look at the proposal but turned it down as they would still have been required to produce 13-inch tyres for 2020. It also didn’t like the demand for high-degradation rubber.

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Formula 1 scraps Bahrain test plan – After snow played havoc with pre-season testing, F1 briefly considered holding a 2019 test in Bahrain, but the idea was nixed.

Sergio Perez, Force India, Hungaroring, 2018
Perez “pulled the trigger”
Perez behind legal proceedings to put Force India in administration over $4m debt – Force India had a harder season than most and it brought no pleasure to relate the news of the team’s fall into administration at the end of July. Remarkably it was one of the team’s own drivers who, in the words of current team principal Otmar Szafnauer “pulled the trigger”. Happily, the team returned to competition without missing a race, though the full ramifications of their rebirth as ‘Racing Point’ – for now – have not yet become clear, as events at the season finale showed.

Formula 1 teams’ prize money payments for 2018 revealed – Force India’s entitlement to this year’s prize money payments later came into dispute. However at the time, based on Liberty’s earnings forecasts, this is what all the teams could expect to receive.

Ricciardo to quit Red Bull and join Renault for 2019 – RaceFans broke the shock news of the season. Ricciardo’s defection had several consequences: it cost Carlos Sainz Jnr his seat at Renault, handed Pierre Gasly a potentially career-making move to Red Bull but squeezed Esteban Ocon out of a drive for 2019.

Mazepin company challenges Stroll’s Force India rescue deal – While Lawrence Stroll’s consortium was selected as the buyer of Force India’s assets one of the rival bidders, owned by GP3 racer Nikita Mazepin’s father, was turned down. The matter is now in the hands of the lawyers.

Formula E driver Rosenqvist joins Ganassi IndyCar team for 2019 – The European Formula Three champion who wasn’t even given a test by an F1 team landed a plum IndyCar drive for 2019. It was eventually confirmed weeks after we broke the story.

Why Ferrari puts a bag over its onboard camera – One of the more unusual technical developments of 2018.

Hankook confirmed as Pirelli’s rival for 2020 F1 tyre contract – Although Hankook put in a rival bid to Pirelli, the latter was ultimately chosen for another four years.

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“Shame on you, Formula 1”: Alonso’s unheard mid-race tirade – Five races from the end of his F1 career, Alonso was increasingly frustrated with the state of the sport. His team radio messages at Suzuka made that clear. This was another “GP2 engine” moment, but the FOM TV director chose not to share with the world feed. If a tree falls in the woods and no-one hears it, does it make a sound?

Charles Leclerc, Sauber, Circuit of the Americas, 2018
Leclerc’s strategy tried his patience
F1 to hold next three Brazilian Grands Prix ‘for free’ – Another cut-price Ecclestone deal…

Leclerc told 50 times to save his tyres in Sauber’s extreme Mexico strategy – The amount of tyre preservation drivers were having to do in some races became a major talking point at the end of the year partly due to races like Mexico, where it reached extremes. Drivers put their concerns to Pirelli after this race.

Alonso to drive for GM brands in 2019 Daytona 24 Hours and Indy 500 – As was widely suspected, Alonso did not reunite with Honda for his return to the Indianapolis 500. RaceFans revealed he will use Chevrolet power for his second attempt at the race next year.

Thanks to our readers and Supporters

On behalf of myself, Dieter, Hazel, Will, Josh and everyone else who’s contributed to the site this year, thanks to all of you who have read, replied to and shared our work during 2018. We hope you’ll all keep reading us in 2019.

Special thanks also goes to our Supporters. Producing original journalism isn’t cheap and your contributions are sincerely appreciated

If you would like to become a RaceFans Supporter for just £12 per year or £1 per month, and get an ad-free account, you can sign up or find more information here:

2018 F1 season

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

20 comments on “Start spreadin’ the news: The stories RaceFans broke in 2018”

  1. Yep, the site has gone up a notch. Some opinion pieces I could not get onboard with (especially the verstappen crash with Ocon one) but all in all my fav site, quality better than ever and a happy yearly supporter. A merry Christmas to all the staff

  2. Omg, I didn’t know all that. I come here just cause I think Keith’s journalism rates as well as any top publication or journalists. I don’t chime in much cause I always sound like a sap for saying that. Whatever. Once again, good work Keith.

  3. Very impressive guys. I became a supporter this year. Also like the adult user discussion here.

  4. I wasn’t too sure about the rebrand at first but as the year’s gone on you’ve pivoted towards being a legit player across motorsport. Your breaking news as highlighted here should be commended and the comment pieces are great, not everyone has to agree with them but they allow you to take a story by the scruff of the neck and push it often towards much bigger issues. People need to understand that the Comment articles are different to the news updates and for me this is what sets you apart as journalists from other “news” sites. Wishing the team the very best.

    1. @alec-glen – well said about the comment pieces, they – along with Dieter’s articles – are what bring the greatest value to the site. If anything, the only thing I’d like changed in the comment/opinion pieces is to see some more of them!

      1. @phylyp: Seconded. Or thirded.

        Just add more complimentary commenters agreeing with my comments and racefans would be comment perfect!


    2. Well said. I have to add to my first comment (higher up the page) that while I can’t get onboard with all comment pieces, it doesn’t mean I’m not happy with there being comment pieces.

  5. I still think it wasn’t really fair to move Fuji’s WEC date because of Alonso. A sudden major change such as something like this shouldn’t be made just because of the needs of one person but at the expense of all the other people involved. These type of things should be thought through better.

    1. Not to mention it gives him an even more swollen head. :-)

      Then again, WEC needed Alonso more (for publicity reasons) than vice versa, so it was a bit of a necessary evil.

      1. @phylyp, it’s worth noting that, according to the talk in the world of sportscar racing, Toyota had kept Alonso in the dark about the idea and he didn’t find out until they publicly announced the deal – if anything, he seems to have been a bit embarrassed at how Toyota acted in the whole affair.

        It seems that it was Toyota who were driving the decision, and their decision was based on economics and not wanting to lose face with their fans. When the original date was announced for that race, ticket sales were extremely high because Alonso was a major draw for the fans – I think they were some of the best ticket sales that have been recorded for years, if not decades.

        Now, because some of the drivers wanted to double up with an IMSA race in the US, that lead to the date being shifted back a week, creating the clash for Alonso that would have stopped him racing. For Toyota, which owns the Fuji circuit, that would have been a financial disaster given that several tens of thousands of fans were threatening to cancel their tickets if Alonso didn’t race – it was also rather embarrassing for them to not have one of their highest profile drivers not race at the circuit that they own.

        It was therefore Toyota that went back to the ACO and told them that they wanted them to move the race back to the original date – and, given they own the circuit, that gave Toyota considerable leverage in the debate. It seems that Toyota didn’t ever ask Alonso what he thought at any point – they decided that he must race and therefore went ahead and went straight to the ACO to ask them to revert back to the original date.

        1. Why should they ask him what he thought? He’s a de facto employee, Toyota own the circuit and team, and he signed to race according to a calendar. There’s also no need for him to be embarrassed, although I somehow doubt that’s a characteristic he’s overly blessed with.

        2. Ah, that’s news to me, anon. It appears I owe Alonso an apology!

  6. Congrats one and all, i continue to love the site and almost exclusively rely on it.
    In jest, i do want to mention the comment Keith made about formula e congratulating itself…!

    One minor point, i do think racing lines and deiter’s pieces need better editing and trimming for the online reading format. I’m an avid reader of even classic russian and french 19th century books – but am struggling to stay engaged with his output. It feels a bit like a successful author being too big to be managed, like how jk rowling or stephen king’s books just get longer and longer over time.

  7. Very well done. The site really grew up this year and I’m happy to be one of the F1Fanatics of the first hour.
    I like this post even if it’s a bit of a humblebrag, but you definitely deserve it.

    Now. It is that time of the year, where you start thinking about what’s coming and how you can improve.

    We’ve seen this site has reached a much higher level than before. But if you continue building and going up, you reach a point where you need to also strengthen your foundation, otherwise, the whole thing will fall and crumble.

    I’ll just cite a couple of examples of foundation strengthening which I find more urgent:

    The commenting system is broken and it needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Editing capabilities, better threading and maybe an up-down voting system à là Reddit are much needed. Better notification and citation. Comments are a vital part of each article, they deserve to be treated better.

    The coverage of free practice needs to include tires information. The chart with the visual gaps is absolutely useless without this information.

    I always try to use constructive criticism, so I’m more than open to discuss the matter.

    And since it’s “the most wonderful time of the year”, may I wish @keithcollantine @dieterrencken, all the staff and all of you fellow F1 fans a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year or whichever thing your culture celebrates during these days.

  8. Thank you for doing what you do, the way you want to do it. Keep up the great work in 2019. Happy Holidays one and all!

    1. Man, that has got to be the most boring post you ever made. Love your amusingly snarky ones!

  9. Motorsports see you spreadin’ they hatin’

  10. Although the reporting has gone up in quality this year (it was already pretty damn good), the best thing about this website is still this robust and efficient social ecosystem of comments that provide such useful and insightful inputs aside from the articles themselves!

  11. Great work this year guys!
    Love the content that your team creates and knowing the articles aren’t biased by commercial interests.

    Looking forward to many more years supporting this piece of the internet!

  12. This article deserves WAY more comments than it currently has. That’s a really impressive list and illustrates something I simply didn’t realise. Makes me even happier to be a Supporter. Congratulations, Keith, Dieter and everyone else involved. Looking forward to more of the same in 2019. Forza Racefans!

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