- The DHL Fastest Lap Award goes into its twelfth season
- Lewis Hamilton as defending champion
- Improved aerodynamics and new tires promise new lap records
It’s what completes the weekend hattrick: posting the fastest race lap. Anyone who claims pole position on Saturday and wins the race on Sunday also has to prevail in this third classification to have their name up there with legends such as Jim Clark, Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher.
In 2017, Lewis Hamilton won the DHL Fastest Lap Award for the third time in his career having recorded seven fastest laps. As in the drivers’ championship, the Brit was up against his big rival Sebastian Vettel. The German for his part, registered five fastest laps in 2017.
The fastest lap is highly coveted among the drivers themselves. Just like the drivers, the engineers at Ferrari, Mercedes and other top teams are constantly striving to set new records in the design of their cars, and this award is considered to be an important indicator of their work. And that was the case in 2017, when Vettel, Hamilton, Kimi Räikkönen, Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez set no fewer than eleven new lap records between them over the course of the 20 races in the season.
The 2018 race calendar will be the busiest in the history of the series with 21 grands prix, which means that there is at least one new record to be set. The odds are that the upcoming Formula 1 campaign will be the fastest of all time. The aerodynamic development within the framework of the technical regulations introduced in 2017, are enough on their own to ensure faster lap times.
Test drives raise expectations of new records
When the 2018 generation of F1 cars were unveiled, the much more aggressive look of the aerodynamic elements immediately caught the eye.. As soon as the winter tests began in Barcelona, the teams delivered the proof on the timesheets. With a lap of 1:17.182 minutes, Vettel set a new track record at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya – 1.5 seconds faster than the best test time of the previous year.
Further evidence, alluding to 2018 record-breaking can be found in the new tires from exclusive supplier Pirelli. The Italian manufacturer has made all of the compounds slightly softer this year. As a result, Ultrasoft, once the softest tire in the Pirelli range, was over half a second faster in Barcelona than last year.
What’s more, Pirelli has introduced a new compound at the soft end of the range – the Hypersoft. This performed a further eight tenths of a second quicker than even the grippier Ultrasoft in the test drives. The above-mentioned changes will to some extent compensate for the increase in minimum vehicle weight to 733 kilos, necessitated by the addition of the new Halo cockpit protection system in 2018.
So fans can once again relish the prospect of an ultra-fast and spectacular Formula 1 contest. The favorites for the DHL Fastest Lap Award are again the star names of the top teams. In 2017, 18 of the 20 fastest laps of the race went to Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.
DHL Fastest Lap Award: Previous winners
- 2007: Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) - 6 Fastest Laps
- 2008: Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) - 10 Fastest Laps
- 2009: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) - 3 Fastest Laps
- 2010: Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) - 5 Fastest Laps
- 2011: Mark Webber (Red Bull) - 7 Fastest Laps
- 2012: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) - 6 Fastest Laps
- 2013: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) - 7 Fastest Laps
- 2014: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) - 7 Fastest Laps
- 2015: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) - 8 Fastest Laps
- 2016: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) - 6 Fastest Laps
- 2017: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) - 7 Fastest Laps