After winning his fifth title in 2018 and catching up with the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio, Lewis Hamilton will seek in the new Formula 1 season, which begins this weekend in Australia, a sixth crown that will leave him just one of the most successful man in the world. history, Michael Schumacher, who achieved seven.
Hamilton and Mercedes will put their titles at stake and will initially have Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari as the theoretical main opponents.
That foreseeable pulse for the title will be almost the only thing that has continuity in F1, which undergoes important changes in 2019.
To begin with, with the aerodynamics of the single-seaters, which is simplified to facilitate overtaking.
But above all with the new faces of the starting grid. Only Mercedes and Haas repeat the same pair of drivers.
The Polish Robert Kubica (Williams) and the Russian Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) return to the queen of motorsport competition, where there will be four ‘rookies’ (debutants); the British George Russell (Williams) and Lando Norris (McLaren), the Italian Antonio Govinazzi (Alfa Romeo Racing) and the Thai Alexander Albon (Toro Rosso).
In 2017 and 2018, Vettel, 31, and Hamilton, 34, clashed for the title. In both cases, the Briton was the winner of the pulse, seeing his cold blood and perseverance rewarded.
Hamilton, with maximum confidence after a dream season with which he equaled Fangio in the list of titles, says he feels “stronger than ever.”
But does the same thing happen to Mercedes? The pre-season tests have cast doubt on its performance and have given the impression that Ferrari has taken advantage of the change in technical regulations to make a qualitative leap, although the Hamilton team already showed last year that it never gives up.
– Verstappen, ‘outsider’ –
At Ferrari, the problem seems to lie more in whether he is going to be able to relieve Vettel of the pressure.
The best management of the team is also another challenge, to avoid moments of chaos or contrary to the interests of the ‘Scuderia’, such as when he seemed to shoot himself in the foot when announcing in the framework of the Italian Grand Prix that Kimi Raikkonen was not going to continue.
The death in July of Sergio Marchionne has led to changes in the leadership of Ferrari. Goodbye has been said to Maurizio Arrivabene, who has led the team since 2014 and was replaced by technical director Mattia Binnoto. A field man for a dispatch man.
Ferrari also has as a novelty the signing of the driver Charles Leclerc, the second youngest to enter its ranks as a starter, at 21 years old.
The Monegasque, who won his first F1 season with Sauber last year, appears to have a bright future ahead of him. Mentally strong after overcoming the deaths of his pilot friend Jules Bianchi and his father, he seems more than ready to handle the pressure.
For Red Bull, the eye will be directed above all at Max Verstappen, another young talent of 21 years. The Dutchman made noticeable progress last year in the second half of the course, with seven podium finishes in nine races, and even a victory.
Another young rider called up to great evenings on the circuits, 23-year-old Frenchman Pierre Gasly, was promoted to Red Bull as a starter after 26 Grands Prix at Toro Rosso.
– Without Fernando Alonso –
Frenchman Esteban Ocon lost his seat at Racing Point (the former Force India) to the benefit of Canadian Lance Stroll, son of the new owner and who will be the partner of Mexican Sergio Pérez. Ocon found a place in Mercedes as the third driver.
McLaren, meanwhile, will continue its reconstruction, now without the Spanish Fernando Alonso, but with a new general and technical direction.
The only Spaniard this season will run with that team, Carlos Sainz Jr.
For its part, Renault, which returned to F1 as a constructor in 2016, has signed a first-line driver, Australian Daniel Ricciardo, and hopes to reduce the disadvantage with the ‘top teams’.
For his part, Williams enters the new season with great uncertainty.
The British team, last in 2018, missed the first two days of pre-season testing due to not being able to finish their car on time. The capabilities of the Polish Robert Kubica, who is returning to Formula 1 after a rally accident in 2011, which left significant consequences on his right arm, remain to be seen. AFP