Driver line-ups for the 2019 F1 season
The off-season period allows teams to tweak not only their vehicles, but also their driver line-ups as they aim to improve upon the ups and downs of the previous season. These are the changes that each team has made to their driver line-ups.
The silver arrows field an unchanged line-up, with their two current drivers having already shown how well they work together on the track. Lewis Hamilton chases a sixth drivers championship, whilst his partner Valtteri Bottas aims to build upon his past seasons work.
With the departure of the experienced Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari have opted for the talented young driver Charles Leclerc to pair up with four time champion Sebastian Vettel. The partnership is touted to turn heads in the coming season, with highly rated Leclerc provided with an opportunity to truly show his mettle.
The flying Dutchman Max Verstappen spearheads the Red Bull team that makes its switch to Honda power-plants for the coming season. In place of Daniel Ricciardo who moved to join Renault, steps in Pierre Gasly who gains promotion from the Torro Rosso team. The two rapid, young drivers, both graduates of the Torro Rosso team, will make for an electrifying pairing to watch in the coming season.
The surprising destination for Daniel Ricciardo, Renault creates a partnership between the Aussie and Niko Hulkenburg as they aim to top a positive previous season. Ricciardo will be desperately looking for more reliability out of the Renault power-plants than was provided to him in the Red Bull team. This will play a major role in his successes as a Renault driver.
Both drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen are maintained by the team from the west as they aim to build upon the successes of their 2018 season. Placing their trust in the drivers who earned them their most successful season in Formula One, Haas will be looking for consistency, an attribute key to a good season in the highly competitive sport.
The departure of legend Fernando Alonso has paved the way to big changes in the McLaren F1 team. The team that was largely unable to hit the mark consistently will be led by two new drivers, one being former Renault driver Carlos Sainz and the other the promising rookie driver Lando Norris.
Racing Point Force India
In a surprising turn of events, Esteban Ocon loses his spot to the young Lance Stroll from the Williams Racing team, being relegated to only the reserve driver for Mercedes. That means that there is only one space left for last seasons talented pair, with Sergio Perez maintaining his position. This development has sparked controversy with many outraged at the idea of a talented driver like Ocon somewhere other than the race track. We must however trust that Mercedes (his head team) is doing this for the best of their driver and his future in the sport.
The acquisition of Kimi Raikkonen from Ferrari brings much needed experience in to the 2019 Sauber line-up. He will be paired up with the young Italian Antonio Giovinazzi who has the potential to be the next Charles Leclerc.
In a complete overhaul, Toro Rosso will field another youthful line-up with Formula 2 third place finisher Alexander Albon linking up with Russian Daniil Kvyat who makes his return to the team after an impromptu departure in 2017. The teams' progress will be interesting to watch as graduates from the Toro Rosso team feature in the higher rated Red Bull team, thus, at any given time, we could easily be watching the next Max Verstappen in action.
A strong line-up would put them in a domineering position to greatly improve over the woes of the previous season and compete more effectively. This is exactly what they are pitting themselves for with the acquisition of Formula 2 champion George Russel and with the return of Robert Kubica, who steps on to the grid for the first time since 2010 after a long stint away from the sport. Nevertheless, the "one win wonder" has surely done more than enough to prove himself to Williams, who put him in a vehicle to race at the top level, placing their trust in the Pole.
Will Mercedes clinch the championship once more, or will the Ferrari finally be ready for domination?