F1 Preview: What to expect from teams and drivers in 2019
The winter is over, the testing is complete and by the end of this week the first race of the season will be finished. So, before the chequered flag gets waved for the first time, now seems like a good chance to make wild speculation about what’s to come, even if in one week half of these predictions may be proved to be completely wrong!
While the battle for top of the constructors is going to be a three horse race at most, and that's presuming that the now Honda powered Red Bull is able to compete with the powerful constructors engines, the competition for the top of the best of the rest is wide open to potentially of all of the teams.
Even the bottom of the grid is up for debate with Williams being the most likely to occupy it but their strong past in Baku could see them getting unexpected points that would jeopardize Alfa Romeo and Mclaren depending on how their upgrades progress throughout the season.
So with all this uncertainty with the positions of the team at the start of the season let alone by the end, it is still possible to make some predictions about where the teams might fall and what their difficulties might be going into the future. The first thing to ask is simply whether testing is useful for these predictions?
Short answer - yes - but not in the way you might think. Whilst I would love McLaren and Renault suddenly to have some of the fastest cars on the grid, the simple matter is that the teams probably won’t show their real potential until the first round of Qualifying.
However, general feelings about the teams can be useful for predictions (such as Ferrari being thought to be the strongest of the front runners). The other key feature is reliability and it’s there that we must start with our first team.
A quick roundup of the facts: the lowest scoring team last season; the loss of a key member of the design team shortly before the start of this season; a car that wasn’t even ready at the start of the testing; then showed poor reliability on the circuit and had its testing ended early due to lack of parts.
George Russell definitely impressed in Formula 2 but far too often drivers are promoted into the formula one and while initially impressing are disillusioned by the move from racing for wins to struggling for points.
Still, it’s a better position than a returning driver who was uninspiring the last time he was in F1 and recently quoted as saying he felt only 20% ready after the end of the abysmal testing.
This is without a doubt the worst starting position for a team who almost every fan of the sport wants to see up at the front competing for wins and a Championship.
What might be even worse is that the clearly-floundering team is probably going to spend the season at the back of the pack?
Enduring questions about the job security of everyone in the team from the drivers to the team principal; with the only silver lining being Williams’ oddly high speed completely suiting the Baku circuit which will allow them to re-live their glory days for an all too brief moment.