Formula One is coming back with a grid in 2019 which is almost unrecognisable from the last. Like always, there are driver combinations with a clear hierarchy as well as teams with drivers starting off on an equal footing.
Ferrari has a new and star, McLaren are starting with a clean slate with Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris, Williams have a brand new look with Robert Kubica and F2 champion George Russell, Red Bull have promoted Pierre Gasly to partner Max Verstappen, while sister team Toro Rosso has re-hired Daniil Kvyat to be Alexander Albon's partner.
Also returning is Kimi Raikkonen to Sauber, to drive alongside Antonio Giovinazzi. Sergio Pérez stays on at Racing Point to partner Lance Stroll and Renault pairs Nico Hulkenberg with the man who started the frenetic shuffling of driver-line-up in the first place in 2018 - Daniel Ricciardo.
It is one of the most talented, closely matched grids to have assembled in recent past with almost everyone earning a drive on merit and not sponsor money. That makes the team line-ups stronger too. Here are the top 3, in ascending order. All the constructors featured here are, incidentally, works outfits.
#3 Lewis Hamilton-Valtteri Bottas | Mercedes
Mercedes is the only squad apart from Haas, which has maintained their driver line-up. Winless in 2018, Valtteri Bottas is under pressure, however, the duo is experienced and both have won races.
They work well in tandem and as a package, they are one of the strongest on the grid. It is odd to slot the defending constructors' champions in the third slot, and while they might very well end up winning again, they don't have the best driver combination.
It can't be when an overwhelming majority of the polls are projecting Hamilton to dominate Bottas again and with comfortable ease. We might as well see a driver line-up change if things go south with the talented but out-of-luck Finn.