F1 drivers and teams for 2019
Promotion of young guns could prevent another predictable Hamilton vs Vettel dogfight
While last year was another straight fight between Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, the promotion of some exciting young guns to top teams could see a three- or four-way battle for this year’s Formula One title.
In the build up to the 2019 season which begins with the Australian Grand Prix on March 17, F1 has seen one of its biggest driver shake-ups in recent years with only two of the 10 teams retaining their 2018 line ups.
Charles Leclerc arrives as Vettel’s new team-mate to replace Kimi Raikkonen, who has gone back to Sauber, and could bring a fresh new wind to Ferrari who haven't won a driver’s title since Kimi bagged it for them in 2007.
The 21-year old from Monaco impressed with his performance at Sauber in his debut F1 season last year and outclassed his more experienced team-mate Marcus Ericsson. Leclerc was also right on the pace in his first test for Ferrari at the Abu Dhabi post-season test in November.
Another young gun who could become a title contender is Max Verstappen, with his Red Bull team believing their fortunes will improve with their switch to Honda power after 12 years with Renault.
Though McLaren struggled with the Honda power unit, Red Bull say it’s more powerful than the Renault unit, which should give Verstappen the ability to win more than the two races he picked up last year.
Verstappen should have an intra-team fight on his hands with the arrival of Pierre Gasly, the 2016 GP2 champion. The 22-year old French driver moves over from Toro Rosso to replace Renault-bound Daniel Ricciardo, and Gasly’s impressive fourth place in last year’s Bahrain GP demonstrated his potential.
Other fresh talent in F1 includes three drivers who have taken 12 wins between them in the Formula 2 junior series: George Russell joins Williams, Lando Norris arrives at McLaren to replace the departing Fernando Alonso, and Alexander Albon joins Toro Rosso.
While much interest will focus on the up-and-coming youngsters, so will the return of Robert Kubica who is back in F1 for the first time since nearly losing his right arm in a horrific rally crash in 2010.
The Polish driver will be at the wheel of a Williams, for whom he was a reserve driver last year, alongside 20-year old Briton George Russell who is the reigning Formula 2 champion.
FORMULA ONE LINE UPS FOR 2019
Lewis Hamilton (Britain)
Valtteri Bottas (Finland)
Sebastian Vettel (Germany)
Charles Leclerc (Monaco)
Max Verstappen (Netherlands)
Pierre Gasly (France)
Nico Hulkenberg (Germany)
Daniel Ricciardo (Australia)
Kevin Magnussen (Denmark)
Romain Grosjean (France)
Carlos Sainz (Spain)
Lando Norris (Britain)
RACING POINT (FORMERLY FORCE INDIA)
Sergio Perez (Mexico)
Lance Stroll (Canada)
Kimi Raikkonen (Finland)
Antonio Giovinazzi (Italy)
Daniil Kvyat (Russia)
Alexander Albon (Thailand)
George Russell (Britain)
Robert Kubica (Poland)