F1 2019: team-by-team guide to the cars and drivers | Giles Richards

Lewis Hamilton has repeatedly had an edge over Sebastian Vettel but Mercedes now seem to have a gap to close on Ferrari

Mercedes

Car W10 Engine Mercedes Principal Toto Wolff Debut France 1954 GPs 189 Titles 5 2018 1st


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    Attempting to take a record sixth consecutive drivers and constructors championship doubles, it appears Mercedes have work to do to match Ferrari. Yet there is no doubt they have the strength in depth, experience and clinical team efficiency to catch their rivals. Have stuck with their tried and tested low-rake car that can be expected to come up to pace in short order.

    Lewis Hamilton

    No 44 Debut Australia 2007 Wins 73 Poles 83 Titles 5 Last season 1st Odds 5-4

    Still highly motivated, Hamilton is simply driving better than ever. He has repeatedly proven he has the edge over Sebastian Vettel and will be confident he can do so again. Still extracts the best from his car, will be relentless in his pursuit of a sixth title and is likely to be spurred to even greater heights if starting on the back foot.

    Valtteri Bottas

    No 77 Debut Australia 2013 Wins 3 Poles 6 Best finish 3rd Last season 5th Odds 25-1

    A below-par 2018 marred by bad luck has put Bottas under pressure to keep his seat. Needs a strong start to build the confidence that took a battering last season but was buoyant in pre-season so expect a feisty Finn out of the blocks.

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    Ferrari

    Car SF90 Engine Ferrari Principal Mattia Binotto Debut Monaco 1950 GPs 969 Titles 16 2018 2nd

    The Scuderia have the car to beat, quick and beautifully balanced it is forgiving of error and allows the drivers to attack the corners. Binotto has brought apparent harmony and they have every chance but must make the most of any early advantage over Mercedes and be relentlessly successful in development.

    Sebastian Vettel

    No 5 Debut USA 2007 Wins 52 Poles 55 Titles 4 Last season 2nd Odds 15-8

    Errors cost the German last season and he cannot afford a repeat if he is to beat Hamilton. At his best when out front and dictating the race and full of confidence, starting the season strongly and then piling on the pressure may be key.

    Sebastian
    Sebastian Vettel signing autographs. The Ferrari driver will be determined to eliminate the mistakes that were so costly last season. Photograph: Albert Gea/Reuters

    Charles Leclerc

    No 16 Debut Australia 2018 Wins 0 Best finish 6th Poles 0 Best qualifying 7th Titles 0 Best finish 13th Last season 13th Odds 4-1

    The hugely talented Leclerc faces vast scrutiny and pressure on his debut for Ferrari. Every indication is he can cope and will be allowed to race Vettel. Has the potential to do so and could threaten the four-time champions position.

    Red Bull

    Car RB15 Engine Honda Principal Christian Horner Debut Australia 2005 GPs 265 Titles 4 2018 3rd

    There is every sign is that Adrian Newey has once again delivered a very strong car and the team are optimistic of their new relationship with Honda but it is unlikely their engine can yet match Mercedes or Ferrari. Certainly wins are within their grasp, as is a fearsome development of both chassis and engine.

    Max Verstappen

    No 33 Debut Australia 2015 Wins 5 Poles 0 Best qualifying 2nd Titles 0 Best finish 4th Last season 4th Odds 10-1

    Ended last season brilliantly after a ragged start but appears to have learned his lessons and will be expected to lead the team. Will likely have to deal with some setbacks as Honda go after performance but in turn will exploit every opportunity he is given.

    Pierre Gasly

    No 10 Debut Malaysia 2017 Wins 0 Best finish 4th Poles 0 Best qualifying 5th Titles 0 Best finish 15th Last season 15th Odds 66-1

    Put in a strong season with Toro Rosso last year, with superb performances in Bahrain and Hungary, before being promoted. Unlikely to match Verstappen, he is quick and capable but must come up to speed quickly and avoid errors as the team build around Honda.

    Renault

    Car RS19 Engine Renault Team principals Jrme Stoll, Cyril Abiteboul Debut GB 1977 GPs 362 Titles 2 2018 4th

    Renault have invested heavily to bridge the gap to the top three, not least in securing Daniel Ricciardo. The car looks good but what will be crucial is whether the optimism behind the new power unit proves justified and if they can leave the midfield behind.

    Daniel Ricciardo

    No 3 Debut GB 2011 Wins 7 Poles 3 Titles 0 Best finish 3rd Last season 6th Odds 80-1

    After the bold move to leave Red Bull looking for long-term success, Ricciardo certainly seems content with his decision but the Aussie faces some season-long tough scrapping ahead, with little chance of a win. A challenge that for this year at least he will relish.

    Daniel
    Daniel Ricciardo hopes to have something to shout about at Renault. Photograph: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Images/Rex/Shutterstock

    Nico Hlkenberg

    No 27 Debut Bahrain 2010 Wins 0 Best finish 4th Poles 1 Titles 0 Best finish 7th Last season 7th Odds 200-1

    Now in his third year at Renault, Hlkenberg is rated highly by his team but he is facing his toughest test in Ricciardo. That he has yet to score a podium seems inexplicable and if Renaults engine performs, may well finally make it this year.

    Haas

    Car VF-19 Engine Ferrari Principal Guenther Steiner Debut Australia 2016 GPs 62 Titles 0 Best finish 5th 2018 5th

    Once again exploiting their technical partnership with Ferrari, Haas have produced another strong car, potentially the best of the midfield as the season opens. Now must eliminate driver and team errors to exploit what is clearly a quick, consistent and stable platform that should target fourth place.

    Romain Grosjean

    No 8 Debut Europe 2009 Wins 0 Best finish 2nd Poles 0 Best qualifying 2nd Titles 0 Best finish 7th Last season 14th Odds 300-1

    Costly errors frustrated his team last year but Grosjean can be quick and has shown some superb, inch-perfect judgment. If he is to hang on to his ride must exhibit the latter before Haas lose faith and look to a driver who can guarantee points

    Kevin Magnussen

    No 20 Debut Australia 2014 Wins 0 Best finish 2nd Poles 0 Best qualifying 4th Titles 0 Best finish 9th Last season 9th Odds 300-1

    Stronger over last season than Grosjean if not as quick in the second half, Magnussen did score well. He is unafraid to get his elbows out and is a tenacious defender characteristics that may prove vital in a tightly-contested midfield.

    McLaren

    Car MCL34 Engine Renault Principal Zak Brown Debut Monaco 1966 GPs 842 Titles 8 2018 6th

    Rebuilding slowly McLaren at least have moved on from the terrible car of last season. They are still trying to manage expectations but at least now have cause for optimism and must prove they can develop strongly too. Their young driver line-up faces a formidable task, which will be fascinating to watch.

    Carlos Sainz Jr

    No 55 Debut Australia 2015 Wins 0 Best finish 4th Poles 0 Best qualifying 5th Titles 0 Best finish 9th Last season 10th Odds 200-1

    Proven to be quick and now relatively experienced Sainz is effectively McLarens senior driver. He needs to show leadership and help the team bring their car on. Unafraid of a scrap, the Spaniard should deliver much-needed points.

    McLarens
    McLarens senior driver Carlos Sainz Jr during pre-season testing in Barcelona. Photograph: Albert Gea/Reuters

    Lando Norris

    No 4 Debut season 2018 F2 second in 2018 Odds 300-1

    The British rookie faces an intense start to his F1 career. As a McLaren fan he has embraced the concept of building his career with them as they attempt to return to the front. Settling in successfully and maintaining his confidence will be a major plus.

    Racing Point

    Car RP19 Engine Mercedes Principal Otmar Szafnauer Debut Belgium 2018 GPs 9 Titles 0 Best finish 7th 2018 7th

    Formerly Force India, Racing Point, backed by a consortium led by driver Lance Strolls father, have real funding to support a very strong organisation led by the astute technical director Andrew Green. A basic car in testing is expected to advance dramatically and cutting the bigger teams down to size is again well within their scope.

    Sergio Prez

    No 11 Debut Australia 2011 Wins 0 Best finish 2nd Poles 0 Best qualifying 4th Titles 0 Best finish 7th Last season 8th Odds 250-1

    The teams senior and long-standing driver Prez has proved his worth time an again. He is reliable, when staying clear of tangling with this teammates, has repeatedly maximised what the car can offer and if it delivers will aggressively mix it in the midfield.

    Lance Stroll

    No 18 Debut Australia 2017 Best finish 3rd Poles 0 Best qualifying 2nd Titles 0 Best finish 12th Last season 18th Odds 500-1

    Joined his fathers money in fleeing from Williams to Racing Point and now faces his sternest test in a car that should be well-proven and consistent. With Prez a rock-solid benchmark, Stroll has a chance to finally prove if he deserves his place in F1.

    Alfa Romeo

    Car C38 Engine Ferrari Principal Frdric Vasseurr Debut Britain 1950 GPs 110 Titles 0 Best finish 6th 2018 8th (as Sauber)

    Having taken over Sauber, Alfa Romeo return to F1 for the first time since 1985, a welcome comeback for the marque that won two drivers titles with Giuseppe Farina in 1950 and Juan Manuel Fangio in 1951. The team is on an upward curve and has once again brought an aggressive design that should only come on.

    Kimi Rikknen

    No 7 Debut Australia 2001 Wins 21 Poles 18 Titles 1 Last season 3rd Odds 100-1

    Returning to the team with whom he made his F1 debut in 2001 seems to have revitalised Rikknen away from the Ferrari straitjacket. His hunger just to drive seems strong and he is the experienced hand needed to bring on the car. Will be having a lot of fun jousting in the pack.

    Antonio Giovinazzi

    No 99 Debut Australia 2017 Best finish 12th Poles 0 Best qualifying 16th Titles 0 Best finish 22nd Last season Sauber test driver Odds 500-1

    Put in two races for Sauber in 2017 but his chance for greater things at Ferrari was blown away as Leclerc burst to prominence. Giovinazzi however has excellent form in F2 and this is an excellent opportunity to make his case once more, especially in a car now firmly in the midfield.

    Saubers
    Saubers Italian driver Antonio Giovinazzi showed fine skills in F2 and has now a fresh opportunity to make his case in F1. Photograph: Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images

    Toro Rosso

    Car STR14 Engine Honda Principal Franz Tost Debut Bahrain 2006 GPs 247 Titles 0 Best finish 6th 2018 9th

    Already have a year with Honda under their belts and are now exploiting their relationship with Red Bull by using as many parts as possible from the senior squad. All of which makes for another solid car with more to come. Have lost technical director James Key to McLaren but strength in depth makes top 10 finishes a realistic target.

    Alexander Albon

    No 23 Debut season 2018 F2 third in 2018 Odds 500-1

    The London-born driver who races under the Thai flag, went somewhat unnoticed as George Russell and Norris dominated F2 but Albon is also a real talent. He has a fine touch and proved in testing an ability to adapt and learn quickly. Likely to make other teams take notice.

    Daniil Kvyat

    No 26 Debut Australia 2014 Wins 0 Best finish 2nd Poles 0 Best qualifying 4th Titles 0 Best finish 7th Last season Ferrari development driver Odds 500-1

    Another chance for Kvyat after being dropped for Verstappen by Red Bull and then by Toro Rosso in 2017. This surely is his last and marrying his often impressive pace to consistency will be key. If Albon makes him look average however he once more might not see out the season.

    Williams

    Car FW42 Engine Mercedes Principal Frank Williams Debut Spain 1977 GPs 706 Titles 9 2018 10th

    Already on the ropes after missing two and a half days of testing and with a car that is off the pace, last seasons woes look all too likely to be revisited by the once mighty team. The car is clearly better than last years however and has promise. Nothing if not fighters, rescuing anything after this start will be positive.

    Robert Kubica

    No 88 Debut Hungary 2006 Wins 1 Poles 1 Titles 0 Best finish 4th Last season Williams test driver Odds 250-1

    Making his unlikely comeback after a horrific accident in 2011, that Kubica is behind a wheel at all is remarkable. With limited track time thus far how he copes has yet to be seen but he was one of the best, if he can come even close to that level again Williams have a huge asset.

    George Russell

    No 63 Debut season 2018 F2 first in 2018 Odds 500-1

    Rightly highly rated by Mercedes, Russell has pace and intelligence on track and more than deserves his place on the grid. It will be a baptism of fire in a struggling car but he has the ability to handle such pressure. Likely to make others in better machinery look ordinary.

    Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

     


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