2019 Brazil Grand Prix – Preview

Lewis Hamilton claimed his sixth Formula One World Championship to move to within one of Michael Schumacher’s record of seven after finishing second behind his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas at the 2019 United States Grand Prix, and will be looking to not only match and surpass his race victory tally in 2014 and 2018 over the course of the last two rounds of 2019, but also score 400 points or more for the second-straight season as the grid heads to the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in São Paulo in Brazil for the 2019 Brazil Grand Prix, Round 20 of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Hamilton (381 points) leads by an insurmountable 67 points over Bottas (314 points) after a season which both him and his team have faced some challenges, the death of three-time world champion Niki Lauda, who was the non-executive chairman of Mercedes, and the surge of form towards the end of the season from Ferrari, but a year which Hamilton has confirmed his place as a legend of the sport.

He won Formula One’s 1000th race back at the Chinese Grand Prix in April, and in Monaco, produced arguably the best drive of his career, certainly one of the two best defensive drives of his career, along with the 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix, to win the Monaco Grand Prix for the third time, keeping Max Verstappen (who had a five-second penalty to be added), Sebastian Vettel, and Bottas behind him, and then we had the race-long battle between Hamilton and Verstappen at the Hungarian Grand Prix, with Hamilton and Mercedes taking a strategic gamble in switching to a two-stop strategy on Lap 48, and with a lack of challengers from behind, it worked with Hamilton catching and passing Verstappen with the best part of four laps to go to clinch a memorable victory.

However, Hamilton’s legendary career has had so many moments that we will remember forever, his first race victory in Canada back in 2007, his fourth race victory of his career in torrential rain at Fuji Speedway in Japan in 2007, his dominant victory in Australia in 2008 in scorching hot conditions, his first win in Monaco in 2008, his first win at the British Grand Prix in 2008 in extremely wet conditions, winning by over a minute from Nick Heidfeld, to his charge to victory at the 2008 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, his first victory of the 2009 season in Hungary after McLaren managed to get back up to speed after a difficult start to 2009, his amazing drive in China in 2011 after almost being forced to start from the pit-lane due to a technical issue, then his first victory with Mercedes in Hungary in 2013, to a number of countless performances over the last six seasons that have left us all watching in awe!

The question for 2020 for Hamilton is, can he equal Schumacher’s record? Only time will tell with that one, but you wouldn’t bet against him, that is for sure!

For his teammate Bottas, he has only been outscored by two points by Hamilton over the last four races, and will be looking to beat him over the last two races to give himself a huge confidence boost heading into 2020.

Behind the two Mercedes drivers, there is a three-way battle for third in the championship between Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc (249 points), Max Verstappen (235 points) from Red Bull Racing-Honda, and Leclerc’s teammate in Vettel (230 points).

Leclerc has had a magnificent first season at Ferrari, winning both in Belgium and Italy, as well as taking seven pole positions, while Verstappen has been simply superb in dragging the Red Bull car to two race victories in Austria and Germany, as well as securing his first career pole position in Hungary, but Vettel hasn’t quite been at his best in 2019, with his only win this year so far coming at the Singapore Grand Prix.

Leclerc can claim third in the world championship this weekend if he outscores Verstappen by 13 points, and Vettel by eight points.

Behind the Top Five in the standings, Alexander Albon (84 points) has moved up to sixth in the championship for Red Bull Racing-Honda after finishing fifth at the Circuit of the Americas, and has now been officially confirmed as Verstappen’s teammate at Red Bull for 2020.

However, Carlos Sainz Jr. (80 points) for McLaren-Renault, and Pierre Gasly (77 points) for Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda will be looking to challenge Albon for sixth in the standings over the course of the final two races of 2019.

Completing the Top 10 in the world championship are Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo (46 points), and Sergio Pérez (44 points) from Racing Point-BWT Mercedes.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (695 points) lead by 216 points over Ferrari (479 points) as they look to score 700 points in a season for the fourth time in the last six seasons, with Red Bull Racing-Honda (366 points) 113 points behind Ferrari, with both Ferrari and Red Bull locked into second and third respectively.

Behind the Top Three, McLaren-Renault (121 points) are on the verge of officially securing fourth in the championship, which would be their first Top Four finish in the Constructors’ Championship since 2012, when they finished third, with Renault (83 points) looking like finishing in fifth, a spot worse than in 2018.

Behind those two, Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (65 points) and Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (64 points) are in a titanic battle for sixth with only a point separating the two teams with two races remaining, while Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (35 points) and Haas-Ferrari (28 points) are in a battle for eighth with Williams-Mercedes (one point) looking certain to finish 10th and last.

So, who is going to win the 2019 Brazil Grand Prix?

Mercedes have found some form in recent races, winning the last four, and you feel that a big weekend, and a huge performance is just around the corner from Lewis Hamilton to really put the icing on the cake celebrating his sixth world championship. I think he will win in Brazil for the third time, and end his eight race drought without a pole position in the process!

2019 United States Grand Prix – Preview

Despite expectations of not being as competitive compared to their rivals, Lewis Hamilton delivered Mercedes a wonderful victory at the 2019 Mexico Grand Prix, his 10th for the season, the 83rd of his career, and is now very much on the verge, if he wasn’t already, of becoming a six-time world champion as the grid heads to the Circuit of the Americas for the 2019 United States Grand Prix, Round 19 of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Hamilton (363 points) leads the championship by 74 points over teammate Valtteri Bottas (289 points) after a brilliant drive at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, with Mercedes outsmarting Ferrari on strategy to allow Hamilton to jump ahead of Sebastian Vettel in the battle for the win, and Bottas to move, and then stay ahead of Charles Leclerc in the fight for third.

With that result for Hamilton, he has an even better opportunity to move to within one of Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world championships this weekend if (and please note that you must finish inside the Top 10 in the race to claim a point for setting the fastest lap):

1. If Bottas wins the race (with the fastest lap), Hamilton must finish 8th or higher.

2. If Bottas wins the race (without the fastest lap), Hamilton must finish 9th (with the fastest lap if he finishes in 9th) or higher.

3. If Bottas finishes second or lower (with or without the fastest lap).

Behind the Top Two in the championship, Leclerc (236 points) sits in third in the standings for Ferrari, six points ahead of teammate Vettel (230 points) after finishing a disappointing fourth in the end at the Mexico Grand Prix after inheriting pole position from Red Bull Racing-Honda driver Max Verstappen, his seventh for the season, which means he cannot be overtaken for most pole positions in 2019, but Ferrari must review and rectify their inability to convert pole positions, and front row starts in victories in the last three races of 2019 if they are going to give themselves the best chance of success against Mercedes in 2020.

Verstappen (220 points) is fifth in the world championship after a disappointing Mexico Grand Prix after firstly being stripped of pole position after failing to adhere to the yellow flag after the Bottas accident, followed by a scruffy opening lap of the race, and then being forced to pit at the end of Lap Five after suffering a tyre puncture after the front wing of Bottas’ car made contact with the right rear tyre on Lap Four, but managed to fight his way back to finish in sixth.

The circumstances surrounding Verstappen being stripped of pole position, and the subsequent three-place grid penalty, will be something that he will learn from going forward, but the race stewards should have reported the incident earlier than they did, and quite possibly, both Verstappen and the race stewards should have taken into account that Verstappen would have still been on pole position even if that final lap wasn’t completed, and you would hope that both parties will learn from this experience going forward.

Behind Verstappen in the championship, there is a huge three-way battle for sixth between Pierre Gasly (77 points) from Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda, Carlos Sainz Jr. (76 points) from McLaren-Renault, and Alexander Albon (74 points) from Red Bull Racing-Honda, although you sense that Albon will be the favourite to take sixth by the end of the season due to the superior car that he has underneath him, compared to the Toro Rosso and McLaren.

Racing Point-BWT Mercedes driver Sergio Pérez (43 points), and Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo (38 points) complete the Top 10 in the standings after both achieved points-scoring finishes in Mexico.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (652 points), who are just four points from surpassing their points tally of 2018 (655), and 17 points from surpassing their points tally of 2017 (668), lead by 186 points over Ferrari (466 points), with Ferrari being 125 points ahead of Red Bull Racing-Honda (341 points) with three races remaining.

Ferrari can claim second in the Constructors’ Championship for the third-straight season, and the fourth time in the last five years if Red Bull Racing-Honda don’t outscore Ferrari in the United States by 37 points or more.

Behind the Top Three, McLaren-Renault (111 points) are heading towards fourth in the championship, ahead of Renault (73 points), Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (64 points), and Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (64 points) battling for fifth, with Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (35 points), Haas-Ferrari (28 points), and Williams-Mercedes (one point) rounding out the field.

So, who will win the 2019 United States Grand Prix?

This should be a great race, like last year, and while Ferrari have had the one lap speed advantage over Mercedes since the mid-season break, you sense it will be Mercedes with the fastest race car this weekend, and I think Lewis Hamilton will claim his sixth Formula One World Championship in style!

2019 Mexico Grand Prix – Preview

It was a magnificent, but more importantly a morale-boosting performance from Valtteri Bottas to claim the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix, his third race victory of the season, and is now the only driver that can challenge Lewis Hamilton for the 2019 championship, which means for the first time in Formula One history, a team, which in this case is Mercedes, will win six-consecutive driver and constructor championships after Mercedes claimed their sixth-straight Constructors’ Championship at Suzuka!

However, with Ferrari showing fantastic speed over one lap, and Red Bull Racing-Honda normally very strong at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, there will be a lot of factors for Mercedes to deal with as we head into Round 18 of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship, the 2019 Mexico Grand Prix.

Hamilton (338 points) leads the championship by 64 points over his Mercedes’ teammate Bottas (274 points), the only driver that can challenge Hamilton for the world championship, and this weekend, Hamilton can move to within one of Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world championships if (and please note that you must finish inside the Top 10 in the race to claim a point for setting the fastest lap):

1. Hamilton wins the race (with the fastest lap), and Bottas finishes fourth or lower.

2. Hamilton wins the race (without the fastest lap), and Bottas finishes fifth or lower (with or without the fastest lap).

3. Hamilton finishes 2nd (with or without the fastest lap), and Bottas finishes eighth or lower (without the fastest lap).

4. Hamilton finishes 2nd (without the fastest lap), and Bottas finishes ninth or lower (with or without the fastest lap).

5. Hamilton finishes 3rd (with the fastest lap), and Bottas finishes ninth or lower.

6. Hamilton finishes 3rd (without the fastest lap), and Bottas finishes 10th or lower (without the fastest lap).

However, you sense it is going to be uphill struggle for Hamilton and Mercedes this weekend given the challenges they have had in recent times at high altitude in Mexico, which could very well mean that the championship goes onto the Circuit of the Americas the week after the Mexico Grand Prix.

Charles Leclerc (221 points) is third in the championship, and the best of the rest for Ferrari despite finishing the Japanese Grand Prix in seventh after fighting back through the field after colliding with Max Verstappen on the opening lap, forcing Leclerc to come into the pits to change his front wing.

Verstappen (212 points) is still fourth in the standings for Red Bull Racing-Honda despite having to retire from the race at Suzuka due to damage suffered to his car after the collision with Leclerc. Vettel (212 points) is now level on points with Verstappen for Ferrari after finishing second behind Bottas in Japan, but still trails Verstappen in the championship due to having more wins than Vettel (two wins to one).

Behind the Top Five in the world championship, Carlos Sainz Jr. (76 points) is sixth in the world championship for McLaren-Renault, followed by Pierre Gasly (75 points) and Alexander Albon (64 points) for Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda, who will be changing their name to Scuderia Alpha Tauri-Honda in 2020, and Red Bull Racing-Honda respectively, while Sergio Pérez (37 points) for Racing Point-BWT Mercedes and Lando Norris (35 points) for McLaren-Renault complete the Top 10 in the standings following the disqualifications of both Renault drivers (Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hülkenberg) from the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix after both cars were found to have had illegal pre-set, automated brake bias system after a protest by Racing Point-BWT Mercedes.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (612 points) have claimed their sixth-consecutive title, and have an unassailable 177-point lead over Ferrari (435 points), who have a 112-point lead over Red Bull Racing-Honda (323 points). Ferrari can claim second in the 2019 Constructors’ Championship this weekend if they outscore Red Bull Racing-Honda by 21 points or more.

Behind the Top Three, McLaren-Renault (111 points) have increased their grip on fourth, while Renault (68 points), after the disqualifications of both their cars from the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix, are slipping back into the clutches of Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (62 points), and Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (58 points), with Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (35 points) and Haas-Ferrari (28 points) in a battle for eighth, while Williams-Mercedes (one point) look set to remain in last barring a minor miracle in the last four races.

So, who will win the 2019 Mexico Grand Prix?

Mercedes have a poor recent record at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez due to the track characteristics in part, but more specifically the higher than usual altitude, which affects the usual cooling package of their car, meaning that they have to allow more air into the car to cool various components, including components within the power-unit, thus reducing the overall performance of the car.

With that being the case, I look towards both Ferrari and Red Bull Racing-Honda, and while Ferrari have shown a great upturn in form since the mid-season break generally, I am going to tip Max Verstappen to grab his third race victory of 2019, and place heavy pressure on Charles Leclerc in the battle for third in the world championship.

And, with that, the championship battle between Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas will continue onto the United States!

2019 French Grand Prix – Preview

The 2019 Canadian Grand Prix was largely uneventful, but in the end, it proved very controversial with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel given a five-second time penalty by the race stewards for re-joining the track unsafely at Turn Three, and forcing Lewis Hamilton off the track on Lap 48, with Hamilton being forced to take evasive action to avoid hitting the wall, and Vettel, which would have resulted in a massive accident!

This meant that Hamilton claimed his seventh Canadian Grand Prix victory to equal Michael Schumacher’s record, in terms of race wins, at the Canadian Grand Prix, despite Hamilton crossing the line in a close second behind Vettel.

However, Ferrari have requested their right to have the decision reviewed, and is arguably the biggest subplot heading into the 2019 French Grand Prix at the Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet for Round Eight of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Hamilton (162 points) leads the championship for Mercedes by 29 points over his teammate Valtteri Bottas (133 points) after claiming his fifth race victory in the opening seven races of 2019, and it is the ninth-straight race that Hamilton has finished either first or second. And, in the six previous occasions that Hamilton has won five or more races in a season, he has gone onto win the world championship five times.

While for Bottas, you feel that the French Grand Prix has turned into a must win race for him after finishing 51.043 seconds behind his teammate in fourth at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. If Bottas can’t win this weekend, and is beaten by his teammate, you sense that his world championship hopes might start to slip away.

Vettel (100 points) is third in the championship after having the almost perfect weekend, claiming pole position ahead of Hamilton by a margin of 0.206 seconds, and then led 63 of the 70 laps to cross the line first ahead of Hamilton. However, Vettel made a mistake on Lap 48, running wide at Turn Three, missing the corner, and then in the opinion of the race stewards, re-joined the circuit unsafely, and almost causing what would have been a massive accident with Hamilton, with Hamilton having to take evasive action to avoid a collision.

Looking at the incident over and over again, I feel like it was one of those 50/50 incidents where you could argue that Vettel did all he could to re-join the track safely and not have the situation of a potential collision, but you could have also argued the opposite.

I think though what the race stewards (and in large the FIA) are trying to say is that if a similar thing happened involving one or two inexperienced drivers (in terms of Formula One experience), especially if the inexperienced driver had been in Hamilton’s position, it would have almost certainly have resulted in a massive accident, and with safety being absolutely paramount in the sport today, the race stewards really had little choice but to penalise Vettel, much to the disgust of most fans, and most certainly to the anger of former Formula One drivers, most of whom participated in the sport in an era(s) where safety was of lesser consideration than it is today, and no matter how they justify their opinions on this and similar incidents, they cannot remove the fact that they participated in the sport in an era(s) where danger was almost at every turn, and that their opinions are shaped by those experiences, even if it is merely subconscious.

In the end, I don’t think Ferrari’s chances of overturning the penalty are that strong, and will have to regroup after Vettel’s “near perfect” race, and unfortunately in this era of Formula One with a team like Mercedes producing the results they are producing right now, being “near perfect” is just not good enough!

Max Verstappen (88 points) is fourth in the world championship for Red Bull Racing-Honda after finishing fifth in Canada from ninth on the grid, and the last car on the lead lap, and remains ahead of Vettel’s teammate Charles Leclerc (72 points) in the standings despite Leclerc finishing a close third in Montréal.

Behind the Top Five in the championship, Verstappen’s teammate Pierre Gasly (36 points) is 36 points behind Leclerc, and seemingly a mile away from being in contention for a race win, but remains ahead of McLaren-Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr. (18 points), and Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo (16 points), who put in a magnificent performance to finish in sixth after qualifying in a remarkable fourth! Ricciardo is now eighth in the standings, ahead of Haas-Ferrari’s Kevin Magnussen (14 points), and Racing Point-BWT Mercedes driver Sergio Pérez (13 points), who is equal on points with Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari driver Kimi Räikkönen (13 points).

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (295 points) still dominate to the tune of a 123-point margin ahead of Ferrari (172 points), with Red Bull Racing-Honda (124 points) in a lonely third. Behind them, McLaren-Renault (30 points) are still in fourth, but Renault (28 points) are right behind them, and are starting to show the form that we were expecting, with Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (19 points), Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (17 points), Haas-Ferrari (16 points), Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (13 points), and sadly Williams-Mercedes (zero points) behind them.

So, who is going to triumph at the 2019 French Grand Prix?

Although I think the characteristics of the Circuit Paul Ricard could potentially suit Ferrari, I still think it will suit the characteristics of the Mercedes even better, and I feel like Lewis Hamilton will make it four wins in a row this weekend!

2019 Canadian Grand Prix – Preview

It was arguably one of the best performances of his career! It was a drive that would have made three-time world champion and Non-Executive Chairman at Mercedes, the late-great Niki Lauda hugely proud! It was a gutsy, tough, strong drive which enabled Lewis Hamilton to win the Monaco Grand Prix for a third time, and allow him to take a relatively firm grip on the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship, which heads to Montreal in Canada, and to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for the seventh round of 21.

Hamilton (137 points) leads the championship by 17 points for Mercedes over his teammate Valtteri Bottas (120 points) after a champion-like drive on the streets of Monaco, putting together his best lap at the right time to claim pole position, and then holding off Max Verstappen, who had a five-second time penalty hanging over him for an unsafe release into Bottas in the pit stop under safety car conditions, on the medium-compound tyres to take a memorable race victory dedicated to Lauda.

Meanwhile, Bottas had some troubles of his own after pitting under safety car conditions on Lap 11 for medium-compound tyres, and having his tyres punctured after Verstappen was released into the path of Bottas in the pit lane, forcing Bottas to pit again, this time for hard-compound tyres, and losing track position, coming back out in fourth behind Hamilton, Verstappen, and Sebastian Vettel, and while he was able to gain a place after the race due to Verstappen’s penalty, he was unable to pass Vettel, and for the first time in 2019, Mercedes weren’t able to finish first and second. It is a huge blow for his championship challenge against Hamilton, although largely not his fault, but you sense he needs to respond in Canada against his teammate who has now got all the momentum!

Vettel (82 points) is third in the world championship for Ferrari after finishing second in Monaco in what was an underrated drive, but the championship hopes for Vettel are largely up in smoke, and they will need improvements fast just to get close to Mercedes on a consistent basis.

Verstappen (78 points) is fourth in the championship for Red Bull Racing-Honda after finishing fourth after his five-second time penalty despite putting in a sterling drive, applying extreme pressure on Hamilton on the more ideal hard-compound tyres, but despite a late attempt heading into the Nouvelle Chicane, was unable to pass the five-time world champion, and therefore unable to gain enough time to remain on the podium, or drive away and win the Monaco Grand Prix in what was his best drive of the season.

Charles Leclerc (57 points) is fifth in the standings for Ferrari after a horrible weekend, failing to get out of the first part of qualifying after a tactical error from Ferrari, and in the race as he took a hero or zero approach, after a few great overtakes, he collided into Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg into La Rascasse on Lap Nine, damaging his car extensively as he tried to take his car back to the pits after a tyre puncture that became apparent on the following lap, and his race was effectively over at this point.

In his situation, while you could understand his desperation to get back to the front, patience might have been the better part of valour, something which he has learnt the hard way here, and you sense has now made him the clear second driver at Ferrari going forward into the rest of 2019.

Verstappen’s teammate Pierre Gasly (32 points) is sixth in the world championship after finishing fifth in Monaco, ahead of McLaren-Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr. (18 points), who finished in sixth on the streets of the principality, while Haas-Ferrari’s Kevin Magnussen (14 points), Sergio Pérez (13 points) of Racing Point-BWT Mercedes, and Kimi Räikkönen (13 points) of Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari complete the Top 10 in the standings after finishing outside the points in Monaco.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (257 points) have a dominant 118 point lead over Ferrari (139 points), with Red Bull Racing-Honda (110 points) closing in on Ferrari in third. Then, it is slim pickings for McLaren-Renault (30 points), Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (17 points), Haas-Ferrari (16 points), Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (16 points), Renault (14 points), Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (13 points), and unfortunately no points as of yet for Williams-Mercedes in 2019.

So, who will win the 2019 Canadian Grand Prix?

You feel like this should be one of Ferrari’s best chances of halting the winning run of Mercedes, due to the straight-line speed advantage Ferrari have had, but Mercedes are on such a crest of a wave right now, and I think Lewis Hamilton’s win in Monaco, especially in the way it was done, will give him such a boost, and given Hamilton has won six of the 11 races he has competed in at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, he is going to be such a hard man to beat this weekend!

2019 Monaco Grand Prix – Preview

Another race, another dominant performance from Mercedes, and a fifth-straight one-two finish with Lewis Hamilton finishing ahead of Valtteri Bottas after beating him off the line from second on the grid, while Ferrari continue to underperform in contrast to expectations prior to the season, and would need a massive change in fortune to get on terms with Mercedes when Round Six of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship gets underway from the iconic streets of Monaco.

However, before I move into more of the preview, I would like to pay tribute to former three-time world champion Niki Lauda, who has sadly passed away at the age of 70. Lauda was quite simply a Formula One legend, winning the world championship with Ferrari in 1975 and 1977, and one with McLaren in 1984, claiming 25 wins, 54 podiums, 24 pole positions, and 24 fastest laps across a 177 (171 starts) race career.

However, Lauda was also amazing in his entrepreneurial pursuits in the aviation industry in particular, but came back to work in Formula One later in his life, being employed as a consultant for Ferrari in the 1990s, and was the team principal of Jaguar from 2001 to 2002, but most successfully as non-executive chairman of Mercedes since September 2012, and played a huge role in the signing of Lewis Hamilton, and as they say in the classics, the rest is history! It was a life well lived, a winner, a fighter, a legend! The great Niki Lauda! Rest In Peace!

Looking ahead to the 2019 Monaco Grand Prix, Hamilton (112 points) leads the championship by seven points over his teammate Bottas (105 points) after his third race victory of the season, and the 76th win of his career. Hamilton will be looking to win the Monaco Grand Prix for the third time in tribute to the man who helped get him to Mercedes, while Bottas will be looking to bounce back after finishing second in Spain, and continue his sublime qualifying form, having taken pole position in each of the last three races.

Max Verstappen (66 points) is a distant third in the world championship for Red Bull Racing-Honda, 46 points behind the five-time world champion Hamilton, while Ferrari continue to struggle in contrast to their expectations with Sebastian Vettel (64 points) and Charles Leclerc (57 points) 48 and 55 points behind Hamilton respectively after the opening five races, and face an uphill battle to get somewhat back into contention for race wins, and the championship against the might of Mercedes.

However, the top five currently in the standings have finished inside the top five in each of the opening five races of 2019, and have pulled away from the rest of the grid, with Pierre Gasly (21 points), the teammate of Verstappen, now 36 points behind Leclerc in sixth in the world championship after a disappointing start to his time at Red Bull Racing-Honda.

Behind the top six in the championship, Kevin Magnussen (14 points) is seventh for  Haas-Ferrari, ahead of Sergio Pérez (13 points) for Racing Point-BWT Mercedes, while Kimi Räikkönen (13 points), and Lando Norris (12 points) complete the Top 10 in the standings for Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari, and McLaren-Renault respectively.

However, beyond the Top 10 in the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship, we find last year’s Monaco Grand Prix winner in Daniel Ricciardo (six points) in 12th position in the standings for his new team Renault after just one points-scoring finish, which was back in the third race of the season in China, the 1000th race in Formula One history, wearing the Jack Brabham tribute helmet, but have largely struggled for speed, and have struggled to be regularly inside the Top 10.

So, how do I think Ricciardo is going to go in Monaco?

I think it is going to be tough for Ricciardo to win for a second-straight year on the streets of the principality, but I think he will be in the thick of things for a high points-scoring finish!

Looking at the Constructors Championship, Mercedes (217 points) lead by 96 points over Ferrari (121 points), with Red Bull Racing-Honda (87 points) in a comfortable third. Then in the battle of the rest, McLaren-Renault (22 points) is fourth ahead of Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (17 points), Haas-Ferrari (15 points), Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (13 points), Renault (12 points), and Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (six points), with Williams-Mercedes (zero points) sadly at the back of the field, and looking unlikely to score points anytime soon!

So, who is going to win the 2019 Monaco Grand Prix?

I feel like Mercedes have the strongest car to tackle the slow and tight corners around the streets of Monaco, ahead of Red Bull Racing-Honda, while the understeer balance in the Ferrari will hurt them this weekend, and certain teams, in particular Renault, will move up closer to the three front-running teams.

So with that, I am tipping Lewis Hamilton will win the Monaco Grand Prix for the third time, with Valtteri Bottas coming home in second, while Max Verstappen will grab his first Monaco podium in Formula One ahead of the amazing Daniel Ricciardo in a brilliant fourth!

2019 Spanish Grand Prix – Preview

Another race, another Mercedes 1-2, and another race where Ferrari need to look deep within themselves, and ask themselves why they can’t live up to the potential that they had shown during pre-season testing? And you sense their championship chances are slipping away heading into Round Five of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the 2019 Spanish Grand Prix.

Valtteri Bottas (87 points) leads the championship for Mercedes by a single point over his teammate five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton (86 points) after taking victory in Azerbaijan over Hamilton, with the difference between the two after the opening four rounds being the fastest lap achieved by Bottas in the first race of the season in Australia. However, you sense that there are a number of tracks coming up which have generally suited Hamilton in the past, and it is going to be interesting to see whether Bottas can keep pace with the defending world champion over the coming rounds.

Sebastian Vettel (52 points) has moved up into third in the world championship for Ferrari after finishing in what is now becoming a disappointing third place behind the Mercedes in Baku. Serious questions have got to be asked internally at Ferrari as to where their speed continues to go because other than in Bahrain with Charles Leclerc, they haven’t looked like having race-winning speed.

Max Verstappen (51 points) is an impressive fourth in the championship for Red Bull Racing-Honda after finishing fourth at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, ahead of Leclerc (47 points) in fifth after he came back from his crash in qualifying to finish in fifth and with the fastest lap, and like Vettel, is under pressure to deliver Ferrari their first race victory of the season in Spain this weekend.

Behind the Top 5 in the world championship, Sergio Pérez for Racing Point-BWT Mercedes after finishing an impressive sixth, Pierre Gasly for Red Bull Racing-Honda after retiring with a driveshaft issue, and Kimi Räikkönen for Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari after sneaking into the points in Azerbaijan are tied for sixth in the standings on 13 points, with Lando Norris (12 points) for McLaren-Renault and Kevin Magnussen (eight points) for Haas-Ferrari completing the Top 10 in the standings after the former finished eighth, and the latter finished outside the points in 13th.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (173 points) lead by 74 points over the underachieving Ferrari (99 points), with Red Bull Racing-Honda (64 points) a further 35 points behind in third. Behind them, it is McLaren-Renault (18 points), followed by Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (17 points), Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (13 points), Renault (12 points), Haas-Ferrari (eight points), Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (four points), and Williams-Mercedes (zero points).

So, who is going to win the 2019 Spanish Grand Prix?

Mercedes have to be the favourites after four-consecutive 1-2 finishes, and while Ferrari were strong at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya during pre-season testing, they haven’t been able to translate this into consistent race-winning performances, while Red Bull haven’t really looked like challenging for victory at any of the opening four races.

I think Lewis Hamilton is the favourite to win here, and I think he will be followed closely by his teammate Valtteri Bottas in second-place, with Charles Leclerc to come home in third.