Kiwi driver and Supercars championship leader Shane van Gisbergen thinks the debate around the 2018 Holden's composite panels is a storm in a teacup.

The 2016 series champion dominated the opening round on the streets of Adelaide earlier this month but rival teams complained about an unfair weight advantage the new 2018 ZB Commodore had over rivals. It features light-weight composite panels on the bonnet and roof as opposed to the steel panels used on the Ford, Nissan and old model Commodores.

But van Gisbergen said those views are ill-informed.

"The thing people don't realise or they haven't looked at is the hatchback of the car – the way the car separates at the firewall, there was no firewall so we had to make our own," he told The Herald. "Then there is all steel hinges for the hatchback on the top of the roof and all the weight is back up high again.

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"It really isn't an advantage. I think people got excited about the composite roof and don't see all the stuff that goes with it.

"I think it is fair. We do have a lighter car, which is great, but it isn't the centre of gravity that is the advantage.

"I think it is a storm in a teacup. It has been allowed because it isn't an advantage. People kick up a stink about it. Last year, we didn't have the best car to start with and we ground it out and brought the pace back.

"Other teams don't remember the same result happened last year at the same race."

While it proved extremely fast on the Adelaide street circuit van Gisbergen said the real test of his new car will come this weekend at the Melbourne Park Formula 1 circuit.

"It was interesting at the testing trying to figure out how the car was going to be," van Gisbergen explained. "When we got to Adelaide it was pretty quick and similar to last year.

"We couldn't really ask for more.

"But I think we will only find out what it is like over the next few rounds what it is really like. Adelaide isn't really an aerodynamic circuit so we are not too sure.

"I think it is pretty similar [to last year's car]. It gets done with all the parity testing and it actually didn't feel like it had big downforce. It actually felt less in some corners. But the way it drives it is a lot smoother and a lot less attitude through the corners so that makes it easier to drive and set up.

"You don't really know until you get to a place with faster corners like Melbourne this weekend or Phillip Island – that is when we will get the true picture of how good it really is."

This year Supercars races will count as championship rounds and points will be up for grabs. But despite that change van Gisbergen isn't expecting the racing to be any different.

"Everyone races flat out there anyway. Maybe you try some stuff with the setup that you might not have done.

"They have done a decent job with the format – it is always tight with the time we are allowed. There are two short races and two long ones. Hopefully that makes for good racing.

"As a race track it is good – being an F1 circuit it is so wide so there are heaps of passing opportunities.

"Also it is very hard on tyres so that makes it quite good in terms of strategy – you can use them early or you can save them for later in the race."

Predictions
Driver to beat: Scott McLaughlin
Dark horse: Chaz Mostert
Under pressure: Jamie Whincup – he cannot afford another DNF this early in the championship
Keep an eye on: Andre Heimgartner – the Kiwi impressed without much luck in Adelaide

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