Only a few hours have gone by since the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix of 2018 ended with Hamilton doing what he’s done for the better part of the year: win another race! The entourage has moved on from Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the fanfare disappearing into thin air, but have the fans gotten enough of racing despite there being 21 races in 2018?
The fans, however, have quickly resorted to contemplation about what’s in store ahead?
What is going to happen in the 2019 F1 season?
Will the next year be finally the season where Max Verstappen raises his game to the extent of threatening the most complete driver on the grid: Lewis Hamilton. Or will 2019 be that season where Vettel finally ends his ‘unfinished business’ with Ferrari. The talk about the German adding another title to his current tally, hence, his first with the Prancing Horse seems to have become a figment of the imagination.
Not that when Sebastian arrived at Ferrari, at the back of a commanding run at the Red Bull, it was anything but unlikely; the current predicament surrounding the Red camp and the German driver, their woes exacerbated by Mercedes’ superior and all-round show.
Track after track, Grand Prix after another, there’s been no stopping the prevalence of Hammertime. We saw that in 2017. We saw that with an even greater obduracy from Lewis’ side in 2018. One wonders if the worst fears of some of the fans are realized should Hamilton demonstrate that class all over again and steal another year to leave Ferrari and Vettel grim in 2019.
As the dust settles down on the 2018 F1 season, one wonders what’s in store ahead for 2019? Many exciting changes are in store for 2019 whose seeds were sown this concluded season.
Let’s immediately delve into what’s in store for 2019:
How close can Lewis get to Schumi’s tally?
If anyone were looking for an adjective for the word consistency, then, it’s Lewis Hamilton. It’s as simple as that. You don’t debate this one. It makes no sense.
Had the man shown even a tiny speck of inconsistency post winning the title, he may not have been able to win the Brazilian Grand Prix and the season-finale, Abu Dhabi GP.
Having said that, Hamilton, with an incredible stack of 73 Grands Prix win is second only to F1’s most premier visiting card to both fans and critics alike, Michael Schumacher.
While the debate regarding who’s the better among the two is about as needless and unsolvable puzzle as say solving the Bermuda Triangle’s mystery, what’s certain is that Hamilton, only 33, now stands nearer to the brink of F1’s greatest accomplishment: that of winning 91 wins, a feat Schumacher mastered.
The next year could well be about Hamilton edging only closer to the 7-time World Champion driver’s tally.
So what’s your bet. How many wins is Lewis going to manage?
How do McLaren contest the season?
The stylish donut moves at the conclusion of the 55-lap contest under the electrifying night lights at the Yas Marina meant that a big chapter was coming to a close, at McLaren and eventually, in the pinnacle of Motor-Racing.
Alonso’s retirement means that a titan hung his boots in a car that was, well, a legacy, once upon a time. But all of that nostalgic touch could be replaced by new youth power in the form of newbie Lando Norris driving for some fighting places alongside the more experienced Carlos Sainz Jr.
Against a backdrop of McLaren being this waning team but one hoping for a resurgence given a new hope stems from the promise of two young drivers, what might 2019 bring, we don’t know.
What we do know, however, is that the team that bagged a fighting sixth on the constructor’s this year, over Force India Racing Point and Sauber- two of their biggest rivals- would want to scale at least one or two steps higher for 2019.
Charles Leclerc and the bright promise
A P5 during qualifying at Abu Dhabi, a hat-trick of seventh-place finishes starting Mexico, Brazil, and Abu Dhabi and the biggest talking point in the battle of the midfield this passing year, that P5 at Azerbaijan have catapulted Charles to the attention of the rest of the world.
His contemporaries, those along the same age bracket- Max, Ericsson, Gasly, Ocon- are aware of the threat Charles brings. Furthermore, his move to Ferrari, arguably, a much powerful force than the Sauber of 2018 only consolidates Leclerc’s standing as a potential threat in the coming season.
What can you expect from young Charles? For starters, the mild-mannered bloke, responsible for collecting 39 of Sauber’s 48 points could be a real dampener for those challenging his authority.
But having said that, let’s not forget, there’s always going to be the challenge of filling in Raikkonen’s big boots at the Scuderia.
The big return of Robert Kubica
It’s always a thrill when an old guard returns.
It was the case when Raikkonen returned to the sport in 2012 with Lotus Renault after spending two years away from the F1 circus.
With Robert Kubica returning with Williams, it’s time for another experienced bloke to mark a return and possibly try for podiums.
The possibility of Williams fighting for podiums the next year looks rather more certain than say a Sauber with Giovinazzi in it? But wait, there’s Raikkonen in there as well, isn’t it? We know what he can do when he’s left alone. The good news for Kimi is that he’s no longer in a team that would treat him as a ‘second-rate driver.’
The question, therefore is, what can Raikkonen and Kubica do for their respective sides, with all that experience?
The fight for supremacy at Renault
Everyone, it was said, once upon a time, became happy when Kimi won a Grand Prix. Not that this has changed for the worse. The last season, Raikkonen, with an amazing win at the US Grand Prix made some hearts cringe and some bloated with an uneasiness: how was a bloke, nearly 40, able to beat the best driver on the grid: Hamilton?
That said, only another name has been added to the list of drivers whose win brings about a smile to fans’ face. That man is former Red Bull but Renault-bound driver, Daniel Ricciardo.
In 2018, Ricciardo managed two amazing wins, one each at Shanghai and at Monte Carlo and then found his season spoiled by an utterly unreliable car.
Luckily for Ricciardo, the current MGU-H is no longer going to feature in 2019. With its going, could Ricciardo’s woes be over too? Who knows, for currently, the big question is how do Renault shape up for the next season.
To their advantage, they will hope to benefit from the pairing of two genuinely talented drivers. In Nico Hulkenberg, still podium-less there’s someone who’s been the main man experiencing the team’s transformation having been a lackadaisical unit in 2016 into being a more resolute force as seen in 2017 and 2018 seasons.
And the other, is Daniel, a smiling assassin if you like. How will the two pair up?
For an easy-going guy such as Daniel, there may not be the case for a power struggle as the silent problems he admitted, albeit with much difficulty at his incumbent outfit, Red Bull that was, well, more Max-skewed.
Moreover, will Hulkenberg succumb to the pressure of a driver’s arrival, someone who has a few wins under his belt or will the German respond with familiar grit and improve?
Light’s out and away with go, well, in next 3 months.