2019 F1 Championship - Round 1 - Australian Grand Prix

happy_eagle

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The first race of the 2019 season. Kind of glad that the GP weekend doesn't have to be shared with the opening round of the AFL this time round. Unfortunately this is going to amplify the commentary surrounding the GP, especially if we end up having a pretty boring race which is not uncommon for Melbourne.



Here is a quick run through of the teams ahead of this race, with a brief overview of how they faired in winter testing

Mercedes AMG Petronas
Drivers: Lewis Hamilton and Valterri Bottas
Winners of the last 5 World Titles, including 4 with Lewis. Bottas is on a 1 year deal and it will be interesting to see what he needs to do to see that extended. The theory is that Lewis enjoys having a non-threatening teammate, and Bottas is a company man through and through ("Yes James"). After winter testing they are probably the next in line on pace after Ferrari, but its their development throughout the year that wins them titles.

Scuderia Ferrari
Drivers: Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc
This is one of the driving pairings I am most interested in seeing. There has been discussion that Leclerc has been recruited as a number two driver, and I hope that he doesn't become the Bottas of Ferrari because he has championship quality written all over him. Ferrari were the absolute standouts from Winter testing by a country mile and all things considered should be looking for a double podium in Melbourne.

Aston Martin Red Bull Racing
Drivers: Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly
I have the same worries with Red Bull as I do with Ferrari, especially after watching the Netflix documentary. Verstappen appears to be the number one driver at RBR and I worry that Gasly will not get an opportunity to race him. The signs from winter testing were surprisingly positive from the Honda powered car, but I don't think you can expect Honda to have developed a better engine in 3 years than Ferrari and Mercedes in 5. Probably still the clear 3rd best car, except at Monaco where they should dominate.

Renault F1 Team
Drivers: Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg
It will be interesting to see how Ricciardo fits in at Renault. The environment seems a lot less tense than having to deal with Max, Christian and Helmut and I think this was a huge motivator for the move. Anybody expecting Daniel to be winning races this year is going to be disappointed. If anything, winter testing showed that the fight for 4th is going to be a pretty open scrap between a few teams including Renault. I wouldn't write off Hulkenberg either, he knows the car well and is a great driver.

Rich Energy Haas F1
Drivers: Romain Grojsean and Kevin Magnussen
Talk about a team that will want to forget about last years season opener, particularly the pit crew. Haas were one of the few teams to not make any changes to their driver lineup, which is surprising given how volatile KMag and Grojsean can be. Haas seemed to struggle with some reliability issues in testing, but I still expect them to be around the same mark they were last year challenging Renault for that 4th constructor spot.

McLaren F1 Team
Drivers: Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris
I am excited to see what this driver pairing can do. You feel like with the amount of money that McLaren throw into F1 they are eventually going to come up with something that works, and return to their place as a strong performer. Winter testing was better this time round for McLaren in terms of pace and durability, so even without Alonso I expect them to improve on last year, and participate in the Formula 1.5 battle in most races.

Racing Point F1 Team
Drivers: Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll
The artist formally known as Force India F1 Team. I am still annoyed that Ocon isn't driving this year, but the reality is that money talks in F1 and as long as his dad owns the team, Lance Stroll will continue to be an F1 Driver. Winter testing was not great for Racing Point, who only managed to complete around 100 more laps than Williams who missed out on the first 2 and a half days of testing. I expect the pink cars to fall back a bit this year but being the only midfield team with a Mercedes engine could prove beneficial on some tracks.

Alfa Romeo Racing
Drivers: Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi
The artist formally known as Sauber F1. Its hard to not have a soft spot for any team that includes Kimi Raikkonen, the guy is an absolute fan favourite. I am not sure how Giovinazzi will go, my only memory of him in F1 is him losing his car in qualifying in China a couple of years back in Alonso's absence. Winter testing was really positive for the Ferrari powered Alfa Romeo and I expect them to basically switch places with Racing Point from last year, challenge for that 4th spot.

Red Bull Torro Rosso Honda
Drivers: Danil Kyvatt and Alexander Albon
Unfortunately this is not a driver pairing that fills me with a lot of confidence, and I wonder whether or not Brendan Hartley can consider himself unlucky not to have a seat this year. Torro Rosso had a very promising winter testing, and were up there on pace and reliability with Renault, Alfa Romeo and their senior Team Red Bull Racing. I'm just not confident enough they have the right driver pairing to get the most out of what is a clearly improved car.

Rokit Williams Racing
Drivers: George Russell and Robert Kubica
I didn't think it would be possible for Williams to regress even more than they did last year, but it looks pretty certain that they will be a clear 10th car on the grid this year. It's gotten to the stage where people are starting to question the long term viability of Williams in F1, which is terrible for the sport. I wonder what on earth Patty Lowe is doing to try and turn them around. They missed the first 2 and a half days of testing, and were clearly just happy to have their car on track for the rest. Its a real shame because the return of Kubica and the debut of hyped youngster Geroge Russell would have been great to watch if they were in the position to race those around them.


So onto this weekends race

Qualifying: Saturday 5PM EST
Race: Sunday 4PM EST
Laps: 58



New rule for Grand Prix this year that kind of floated under the radar. There is an extra championship point up for grabs in each race for the fastest lap, provided that the driver is in the Top 10. What this will mean is that when there is a large gap between drivers, there is more incentive for a late pit stop in order to hunt down a fastest lap and extra championship point (potentially 21 points up for grabs over the season).

I'm not going to mention which specific tyre compounds we have this weekend because it gets too confusing. Just know that for this race there are Hard, Medium and Soft Tyre options.

Historically we do not see a lot of overtaking in Melbourne, so look towards qualifying to see who is where.

My tip for the race is Sebastian Vettel. I would love to see Leclerc get a podium, and would like to see Bottas beat Hamilton. Unfortunately I think a lot will have to go right to see Daniel on the podium.
 
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Quokka

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#5
Some great liveries this year, the blue is a perfect contrast to the orange for McLaren and although I was always a fan of Sauber the Alfa Romeo looks fantastic. Its a shame to lose the Force India name but I suppose that's always been F1. And only one predeominately black car with HAAS.

Insane that we're seeing Kubica out there 8 years after his rally accident and really hope he gets to the finish line in his first race back.
 

Sven

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#6
Looks like it is going to be really close in the midfield this year - things are very bunched after Mercedes/Ferrari/Red Bull (apart from Williams who look way off the pace, as expected)
 

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imadodgyumpire

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#18
Imagine how many "experts" all over the web have wasted time pumping up Ferrari and diminishing Vettel over how the Ferrari was supposedly better than the MB?

As long as the engine regs we have are the same from 2014, MB are always going to have the best package.
 

drd23

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#25
Red Bull and Haas have had some problems already.

Red Bull have had to replace the chassis of Verstappen's car, and Haas mechanics apparently pulled an all-nighter to repair an oil leak in Grosjean's car
 
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