With most of the 2019 Formula one cars launched, we now look ahead to Barcelona as the first pre-season test of 2019 gets underway on Monday.
Can Mercedes stay on top?
It’s been 5 years of dominance for the silver arrows since the V6 hybrid regulations were introduced in 2014 but can the team keep up the momentum and remain champions for another year?
All the signs would say yes. They have the best engine, potentially the best chassis, the best management structure on the gird and now 5-time world champion Lewis Hamilton behind the wheel. Whatsmore Bottas appears to have been reduced to a wingman role and always does what needs to be done for the benefit of the team.
Compare this to Ferrari or Red Bull and you can see where they may crumble. Both have insane talents leading the team in Vettel and Verstappen but unlike Mercedes, they both now have a young protege drivers in the other car both of whom will be desperate, to prove themselves against their more experienced teammates.
Factor in the uncertainty around the Honda engine in the Red Bull and it starts to look pretty good fo Mercedes.
Red Bull this year move to Honda engines alongside sister team Toro Rosso after their relationship with Renault publicly broke down from 2015 onwards. But there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding how this will turn out.
Even in 2018, where Honda seemed to have finally got a decent engine going, they still used 38 power unit elements more than allowed between the two Toro Rosso drivers.
This could cause problems for Red Bull who have been trying to get back to the front of the grid since they won 4 double world titles in the trot form 2010-2013.
The other question looming about the new power unit is how their led driver Verstappen will take it. He was very vocal about his Renault engine in 2018 notably at the Hungarian Grand Prix where he went on a tirade of expletives over the radio after it broke down.
Has Kubica still got it?
It’s the fairy tale story of a generation Robert Kubica will return to F1 in 2019 with the Williams team that he took his one and only race victory with in 2008. He’s the driver everyone tipped to be the next great in the late 2000’s, that was until a rallying accident before the 2011 season left him with a partially severed arm and out of the car seemingly for good.
But ever the fighter, he’s managed to impress Williams enough the earn a drive for 2019.
But the question that remains is will he be able to rekindle his former glory and bring Williams back to being a competitive team? He has already said that the limited movement in his arm does not affect his driving and until we see him on track we’ve no reason to believe otherwise.
It won’t be easy tough, he has an extremely talented rookie teammate in F2 champion George Russell and the Willaims car has been the slowest over the last few seasons.
But even if he isn’t able to get back to the level he once was many fans will be happy just to see him race in F1 again.
Alfa Romeo returns
After an impressive season for Sauber in 2018 they come into 2019 rebranded as Alfa Romeo and with an all-new lineup.
The recently released images of their 2019 car on a shakdown run has sparked conversation over, not only its similarities to the Ferrari, but also it’s unusually shaped front wing which appears to have no elements at the far edges. Could be the beginning of some extreme developments for the team in 2019? It’s impossible to tell at this stage but it will certainly be something to keep an eye one over the 2019 season.
On top of this, they now have a lineup of Ferrari drivers with young driver Antonio Giovinazzi and Ferrari’s last world champion Kimi Raikkonen.
Will Mclaren improve?
It’s been the age old question for a number of years now as Mclaren last won a race in 2012. They have since been through 3 engine suppliers with the latest being Renault who have do seem to be on the up but have had an infamously rocky relationship with Red Bull.
But it would appear Mclaren have taken a leaf out of Ferrari’s book and decided to stop shouting about how good they are and focus on properly improving the car, 2018 was a massive improvement on 2017 although there is still a long way to go for the British team.
How well they do may also be dictated by their drivers as they no longer have the services of Fernando Alonso but take on Carlos Sainz from Toro Rosso and promote their F2 runner up Lando Norris. Both are incredible talents but haave plently to prove.
Another factor that might signal improvement for Mclaren is the wealth of new sponsors littering their car which will be bringing in plenty of cash to help push forward their development.
So what are you expecting from the 2019 season and what surprises do you think we will see in the coming tests?
Let me know and please share.