The new Formula 1 season kicks off of 17 March, and it promises to deliver yet another thrilling showcase of motor racing talent. All eyes will be on the British driver, Lewis Hamilton, who will be fighting hard to get his second successive championship title, and his Mercedes team will be working hard to ensure that they come top in the constructors’ table again. But things can change remarkably quickly in the dynamic world of Formula 1 racing. So here’s a quick look at how the current batch of Formula 1 stars have been preparing for the 2019 season.
There has been feverish activity in the pre-season testing, and for once it looks like Ferrari have managed to get a car that gives them their best chance of a title in years. The two weeks of pre-season testing concluded in Barcelona last week, and all admitted that Ferrari have delivered a car that could be a good half a second faster than their rivals.
Mercedes will clearly be unsettled by the test results, as their record of winning the past five world titles now looks like it will face its toughest test. Whilst pre-season testing has often proved to be an unreliable guide as to the way that things can pan out, it’s definitely something worth paying attention to if you were to go to a betting resource and put your money down on the season winner.
So if you are willing to disregard variables like fuel loads and track conditions, then you will see how Ferrari managed to clock up some excellent lap times in their winter testing. The results showed that Sebastian Vettel put in the fastest lap which was just a shade ahead of Hamilton’s Mercedes. Following these stars we saw Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault put down some surprisingly fast times, whilst the newcomer Alexander Albon looks like he could be the season’s driving sensation thanks to his pace in the new Toro Rosso car.
On the whole, the pre-season results have shown that Vettel and his new team-mate, Charles Leclerc, have a Ferrari car that is responsive and easy to work with. This can be contrasted with the fortunes of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas who seemed to struggle with the new Mercedes car. This could have been due to factors ranging from aerodynamics to the tyre usage, and it shows that Mercedes have plenty to work to do before the first 2019 Formula 1 race takes place in Melbourne in a couple of weeks.
However, it’s important to remember that Red Bull took the surprising step to not carry out any low-fuel soft-tyre test laps. As a result, it’s going to be hard to gauge where this promising team will sit in the rankings for the 2019 Formula 1 season. All motor racing fans will know that Max Verstappen is one of the most exciting drivers in years, and if he can keep his fiery temperament in check, we can expect big things from this talented Dutch star in the coming months.
Whilst previous Formula 1 seasons had largely been about the battle between Mercedes and Ferrari, there are signs that things could be tightening up thanks to some impressive developments in the midfield. Teams like Haas, Toro Rosso, Renault and even McLaren managed to put in some very promising test results, and it’s going to be interesting to see where they go from here.
But spare a thought for teams like Alfa Romeo and Racing Point who have struggled with the test conditions and look like they could have a difficult season. Plus Williams are clearly lagging behind the rest of the field having given us perhaps the slowest car of the pre-season testing.
Of course, it’s easy to forget that pre-season testing doesn’t give us too clear an indication of how things will pan out once the season actually starts. Lewis Hamilton spent much of 2018 proving that he had the temperament and the talent to deliver win after win, whilst Vettel repeatedly threw away strong positions that led to him missing out on what could have been his fifth Formula 1 championship title.
The next season will include a few important milestones such as the Chinese Grand Prix which will be the 1000th race in the history of the tournament. And with Robert Kubica making his return to Formula 1 after life-threatening injuries, it’s set to be a fascinating season of motor racing.
Photo by Shawn Ang on Unsplash