With les than month until the 2019 Formula 1 season opener in Melbourne, Australia, and news relevant to current and past F1 champions, the forthcoming season promises to be even more dynamic than this year’s.
There will be 21 Grands Prix, covering almost every continent, with eleven to be raced in Europe. There will be five in Asia including Japan’s Suzuka which has had their contract renewed for three years. It will also be the 30th anniversary of the Japan Grand Prix. 2019 will also see the 1000th F1GP, which will be held in China on April 14.
The end of 2018 brought forth news that Michael Schumacher’s medical condition is allegedly better than media speculation has had it, with still unconfirmed reports saying he is conscious and mobile, with a rumoured relocation to a specialist facility in Dallas, Texas, in December of 2018. It must be made clear that this information is yet to be officially confirmed, however if there is improvement, the F1 family would welcome such news.
2019 will bring with it new teams lineups. Potentially the biggest news for the upcoming season will be Daniel Ricciardo’s move to Renault. After a solid start the seaon rapidly went backwards, with electrical, mechanical, and resultant grid space penalties sending his season into a spiral.
Of 2018 Ricciardo says: “The feeling crossing the line in Monaco was more relief than anything else because that victory was two years in the making. Don’t get me wrong, I was ecstatic, but with everything going on with the car, relief was uppermost. The car started having problems early in the race and, initially, I didn’t think I could hold on. “
Charles Leclerc moves into the red-zone for 2019. The Monaco-born youngster has set himself a target of a minimum of two wins in 2019 with Ferrari. Knowing he has a big space to fill, Leclerc says: “I would like to win two Grands Prix: Monaco, my home and on the roads I have traveled on the bus, and Monza. I cannot wait to race in Italy with the Cavallino.”
Lance Stroll moves across to the current Force India named team, with Esteban Ocon being picked up by Mercedes as a reserve driver. The team itself is preparing to be officially rebranded as Racing Point and are due to hold their 2019 season launch at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto in February. Stroll said in a prepared statement about his move as being: “…the beginning of an incredibly exciting journey in my Formula One career. I look forward to working alongside a successful team with a great culture. It’s a new challenge and I am excited to embrace this new opportunity.”
But perhaps the biggest news is the return to F1 of Polish driver Robert Kubica. Joining the Williams team, at the expense of Sergey Sirotkin, Kubica rejoins F1 after a severe crash whilst competing in a rally in 2011.
With years of physical rehabilitation to rebuild and regain strength in his right arm and chest, Kubica says: In order to drive at the top level you have to drive as naturally as possible. It has to come from no thinking, just driving.
“The turning point was last year when after a few tests in F1 I realised I’ve actually started driving naturally. Then of course I had to adapt my driving more of a technical point of view because the cars had changed a lot. But this I’m happy with what I did this year. And that’s it. There is nothing more to add.”
2019 also brings rule changes to the teams. Front and rear wings have been reprofiled, wing mirrors have been redesigned and repositioned for better vision, and the fuel allowance has been upped to 110kilograms. This is to entice drivers to use full engine power for longer to look at more active engagement on track.
It’s perhaps the changes to the wings that will help most. The front wings will be given standardized end plates, have dimensional changes, and have the upper flaps removed. The rear wing end plates will have the horizontal gills removed, and receive an increase in height.
F1 for 2019 gets underway on March 19, at Albert Park, just a few kilometers south of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.