Hamilton took pole, Bottas soon followed and, as we saw in the 2018 run of the Melbourne Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel emerged third.
That’s the starting grid at Down Under for the season opener at Melbourne.
This is a track where Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes last won back in 2015.
This is a track where Hamilton will begin right from the front, once again, in a familiar fashion akin to a lion leading the rest of the pack that often play catch up.
Calling it a cat and mouse chase would be severely undermining a sensational contest. Right?
But thankfully, at least from the Ferrari perspective, this was just the qualifying run for the 2019 Melbourne Grand Prix. The real action is to take place in the next few hours.
The start to any F1 season can be unusually tricky and nervy, to say the least. But all 10 teams and their 20 drivers would know the importance and significance of the stage.
This, mind you, is Formula 1.
This isn’t just any tug of war.
It’s a fist-fight between men, whose weapon of choice is speed, reflexes, and superlative control.
And these aren’t ordinary men. They are, as James Hunt in Ron Howard’s “Rush” exclaimed, people who “run around in circles!”
Competence alone won’t suffice. It never has. Never will.
Winning alone matters.
Those who clinch Second and third are hailed. But beyond that, the world’s not really interested in the Fourth or the Fifth and so on and so forth.
Lewis Hamilton, who stormed to pole, The contest is about a spike of adrenaline so surreal and sublime that only 20 men from the globe have been deemed fit to compete in rip-roaring action.
It’s thrash metal being played live in front of hundreds of thousands of live audiences with millions of eyes glued onto the idiot box, hand-held devices, smart gadgets, and whatnot.
And out here in the parameter of the pinnacle of Grand Prix racing, anything can happen.
Unpredictability, it seems is an unsaid rule of a sport where surreal things happen every now and again.
For instance- how on earth has Hamilton, a man who’s won everywhere whether, in China, Azerbaijan, Hungary, France, Russia hasn’t won at Australia in the past 3 runs?
Want another shocker?
How on earth has someone like Valtteri Bottas, who set 7 fastest laps in 2018, last managed a win well over a year ago?
That said, what are Ferrari’s chances, one might wonder? In fact, do Ferrari have a chance to gather a win at the 2019 Melbourne GP?
Who knows what’s to happen?
Here are 4 key predictions for the 2019 Melbourne GP?
Vettel clinches win despite modest place on the grid
In 2018, Sebastian Vettel won at Melbourne despite starting from third on the grid. He was behind his then-teammate Kimi Raikkonen. Later, he’d beat Hamilton, who had then grabbed his 73rd pole, to win the season opener.
A year before that, Sebastian Vettel raced to win the season-opener once again.
So, what could be expected in 2019, the Tifosi would wonder.
Well, an exactly similar position for Sebastian Vettel, who begins third on the grid would definitely remind the German of the similar situation he’s been in previously.
Ferrari would expect nothing less than a grand win for the team from their go-to man. Isn’t it?
Bottas sets the fastest lap, misses the podium
For the better part of 2018, Valtteri Bottas was the man most derided and some felt sorry for. After all, despite setting the maximum number of fastest laps, Bottas endured a winless season.
This year, however, the Finn, who begins second behind teammate Lewis Hamilton, will set the fastest lap once again. But in so doing, will find it tough to match pace with Max Verstappen of Red Bull, who’ll grab a podium in the very first race of the season.
That said, Bottas will continue to fight and will improve with time.
Raikkonen will struggle as will Ricciardo
While Kimi Raikkonen of Alfa Romeo suffered an ordinary start to the season, securing no better than a P9 for the opening race, it the dress rehearsal for the season-opener wasn’t too bright an outcome for Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo.
In managing a P12, Ricciardo, who’s eight-tenths of a second behind teammate Hulkenberg doesn’t seem to be in a great position.
Eventually, both Raikkonen and Ricciardo, among the fastest men on the grid will suffer an ordinary race and shall see an immense fight from the two Haas’ of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen.
The sixth and seventh-placed drivers, Grosjean and Magnussen, will prove to be tough for the likes of Alfa Romeo to beat and shall, therefore, prove themselves to be worth their salt in a season where they’re anyways expected to counter McLaren, Renault and Kimi’s Alfa Romeo.
Hamilton second behind Vettel
Five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton will barely miss the podium by a whisker of a second and shall manage a closely-fought second in the 2019 Melbourne GP.
In so doing, Hamilton would fail to convert his 83rd pole- imagine the mighty number- into a race win. The Briton in the coming races would invariably better this.