Well here we are; It’s March and the Formula 1 circus is almost ready to unleash power, noise controversy and drama on petrol-heads all over the world right up until late November!
This is, without doubt, a pivotal season for the owners of F1 due to the complete dominance of Mercedes over the last few years – the owners themselves will be desperately hoping that Ferrari or Red Bull are able to mount a credible challenge over the season and prevent Mercedes from winning their 6th consecutive championship – frankly, the racing public are bored of this seemingly one-horse race each year and viewing numbers have been steadily dropping, all over the world.
F1 boss Chase Carey has promised excitement and drama and everyone in the paddock will be hoping he is right!
Lewis Hamilton will continue to split opinion across British sports fans – Hamilton really is a strange case – we are a sports mad country and in general revere our sports stars, particularly those as successful as the Stevenage born, five-time world champion. However, Hamilton seems to annoy British fans like no other with his demeanour and petulance; even the good-folk of Stevenage ‘disowned’ him last year when he declared leaving the town was akin to escaping the slums – nice work Lewis, now that’s how to win friends!
So how are the various F1 teams shaping up following pre-season testing and as we head towards The Albert Park circuit in Melbourne, Australia for the sports traditional season opener?
The answer will delight F1 fans everywhere and Chase Carey will be breathing a sigh of relief because it looks at this stage as if Ferrari will be genuine challengers for 2019.
They have topped the speed and time charts during both pre-season testing weeks and look to be pre-season favourites – tests can be a little misleading of course, with teams sometimes ‘sand-bagging’ to ensure they are not showing their hand too early – however, informed paddock whispers seem to suggest that Ferrari are genuinely fast with their 2019 car and that it is Ferrari themselves who are sand-bagging with the car capable of going even faster.
Mercedes finished testing as the second fastest team, around half a second slower than their Italian rivals – half a second in F1 terms of course is a significant difference and Mercedes will be working hard right up to the first green light in Australia to close that gap – Hamilton was up to his usual tricks after testing by ‘praising’ Ferrari for their closed-season work and declaring his delight that they might challenge him this year – Ferrari’s response to this ‘patronising comment’ is unprintable – way to go, again Lewis!
Surprisingly for most, Renault were third in the speed/time charts during testing – the French team showing genuine improvement on last years car and putting themselves ahead of Red Bull who declared themselves delighted with their car after signing a long term contract with Honda for engine supply – their fourth place in testing may prove to be a little misleading and I expect them to be challenging Ferrari and Mercedes on a regular basis this year – their star driver, Max Verstappen will continue to ruffle feathers with his aggressive driving and refusal to concede ground – long may that last!
Things aren’t looking that positive for McLaren (8th) or Williams (10th), so expect difficult seasons for these two British teams as they scramble to find more speed – a sixth place finish for either team would be considered progress! Here’s to an exciting season!