Predicting the F1 midfield of the 2019 season
The 2018 midfield has had some epic battles, with different teams claiming the 'best of the rest spots' in different races.
After Haas ran 4th and 5th for a long time in Melbourne, we all thought they would easily take 4th place in the constructors. Then, Renault came in with the consistent Carlos Sainz and the even more consistent Nico Hulkenberg, and looked pretty strong on most tracks, although Haas clearly had the power advantage.
It looked pretty tight until Force India joined the gang and started to produce great results, with Sergio Perez's podium at Baku. Toro Rosso looked good at Bahrain, Fernando Alonso had some great results and so did the Saubers.
With five teams battling it out for a few points, it made for some brilliant viewing.
There are many drivers with new teams in 2019, like Daniel Ricciardo, Kimi Raikkonen, Robert Kubica and the crucial top 3 from this year's Formula 2 Championship. It will be quite interesting to see how these drivers adapt to the new surroundings (old surroundings for our old friend, Daniil Kvyat), and take on the slight rule changes in the upcoming season.
The FIA say the new rules will enhance overtaking. And with the amount of overtaking among the midfield pack this year itself, you'd better get 21 packets of popcorn ready for the 2019 season.
Assuming that Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull will be the top 3 next year - they might get challenged by the others in a surprise turnaround though - we can expect the other teams to be even closer than they were this year, and they know that as well. This is why the teams start working flat out immediately after the end of the season.
Here's a list of the teams I'm expecting to be in the midfield fight, along with some predictions about them for next season.
With one of the strongest line-ups in F1 for next year in Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, who have improved a lot in the past few years, will surely try and challenge the Red Bulls who have their new Honda power units coming. Their chassis is pretty good, and with a quick engine, they can be very strong.
The two drivers are surely capable of throwing in some great results for any team.
They got some really good P5 and P6 results with an engine that looked even weaker than the globally hated Honda engines this year. But with a good chassis, they were fine with the lack of power, and made up time in the corners compared to the other teams.
With a good engine next year, expect some podiums!
Prediction: Hulkenberg breaks his streak of zero podiums, and Ricciardo pulls his shoes out...