2020 Styrian Grand Prix – Preview

What a return! What a dramatic race! Only 13 cars were classified as finishers, with just 11 cars crossed the finishing line at the end in a race of great attrition, with all nine cars that didn’t cross the finish line retiring due to mechanical issues, and with a number of others right on the edge of their reliability limits.

Despite this, the racing was first class, Valtteri Bottas winning the 2020 Austrian Grand Prix from pole position in what was one of the best performances of his career so far, leading all 71 Laps of the race, while Lewis Hamilton after receiving a three-place grid penalty for going too fast under yellow flags in qualifying, moved up from fifth to second by Lap 11 following the retirement of  Max Verstappen due to electronic issues with his Red Bull Racing-Honda, pressured his teammate Bottas throughout the race while both Mercedes were battling gearbox issues, which were compounded to a degree by three safety car periods, the first on Lap 25 when Kevin Magnussen retired at Turn Two with brake issues for Haas-Ferrari, the second on Lap 50 when George Russell had to retire with a loss of fuel pressure in his Williams-Mercedes, and on Lap 54, the lap the second safety car period ended when Kimi Räikkönen of Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari lost his right-front wheel.

This was before Hamilton clashed with Verstappen’s teammate Alexander Albon on Lap 61 after Albon attempted to pass Hamilton around the outside of Turn Four, ending Albon’s hopes of a first podium in Formula One (although he retired (classified 13th) from the race on Lap 67 due to electronic issues), and Hamilton, who finished second on the track, received a five-second time penalty as a result.

This gave the opportunity for Charles Leclerc in a Ferrari that was no where near the quickest cars on merit during the weekend to pounce and grab a surprise second-place, while Lando Norris snatched his first podium in Formula One for McLaren-Renault by setting the fastest lap of the race on the final lap, beating Hamilton to third (after Hamilton’s time penalty) by 0.198 seconds!

That was just a small snapshot of the return of Formula One, which remains at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria this weekend for the first-ever running of the Styrian Grand Prix, Round Two of the 2020 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Bottas (25 points) leads the championship for Mercedes by seven points over Ferrari’s Leclerc (18 points) after the opening round of 2020. Ferrari, despite finishing second through the efforts of Leclerc, were never in the hunt for the race victory. Leclerc just managed to scrape into the third period (Top 10) of qualifying on Saturday, while his teammate Sebastian Vettel (one point), who finished the opening race of 2020 in 10th after spinning and almost colliding with McLaren-Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr., who incidentally will be replacing Vettel at Ferrari in 2021, on Lap 32 as the race resumed after the first safety car, just missed out on getting into the third period of qualifying.

Right now, Ferrari have the fifth-fastest car on paper, which is worse than expected, and are now going to bring updates to their car for the Styrian Grand Prix, instead of waiting for the following weekend at the Hungarian Grand Prix as they had originally intended. If the updates don’t work for Ferrari, then Leclerc’s second-place finish at the Austrian Grand Prix could well become a distant memory for the Prancing Horse.

Norris (16 points) is third in the standings for McLaren-Renault after becoming third-youngest driver in Formula One history to score a podium finish, while Hamilton (12 points) is fourth for Mercedes after his clash with Albon at Turn Four, which is the second time they have touched each other in the last three races after coming together last year in Brazil.

In my view, while the stewards were probably right to give Hamilton a five-second time penalty, I felt it was very close to a racing incident just because of the high degree of difficulty of making a pass around the outside of someone at Turn Four at the Red Bull Ring, especially around the outside of a six-time world champion.

If it had been Albon’s teammate Verstappen in that position rather than Albon, I think Verstappen would have made a successful pass around the outside of Hamilton due to the extra level of speed Verstappen has, thus the extra level of respect that Hamilton would have had for Verstappen due to his extra level of speed, and this extra level of respect is not the type of respect that you can earn over time!

It is the type of respect that you either born with, or not born with (relative to the opposition), and if Albon is going to be successful in his Formula One career, he is likely going to have to be done through greater hard work and grit, rather than going down the route of doing it via audaciousness and natural speed!

Carlos Sainz Jr. (10 points) is fifth in the world championship for McLaren-Renault, Sergio Pérez (eight points) is sixth for Racing Point-BWT Mercedes after receiving a five-second time penalty for speeding in the pit-lane, although that wouldn’t have moved him up any further, while Pierre Gasly (six points) for AlphaTauri-Honda, Esteban Ocon (four points) for Renault, Antonio Giovinazzi (two points) for Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari, and Vettel (one point) for Ferrari complete the points-scoring finishers, while Nicholas Latifi missed out on a points-scoring finish for Williams-Mercedes on his Formula One debut.

As for the other drivers who didn’t finish the race (that I haven’t mentioned), Daniel Ricciardo retired on Lap 17 for Renault due to overheating and cooling issues with his car, Lance Stroll was a casualty for Racing Point-BWT Mercedes three laps later with an engine issue, while Romain Grosjean (brakes) and Daniil Kvyat (suspension) retired on Lap 49 and Lap 69 for Haas-Ferrari and AlphaTauri-Honda respectively, with Kvyat classified in 12th.

As far as the Constructors’ Championship is concerned, Mercedes (37 points) lead by 11 points over McLaren-Renault (26 points), with Ferrari (19 points) a further seven points adrift, while Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (eight points), AlphaTauri-Honda (six points), Renault (four points), Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (two points) all claimed points in a car-breaking grand prix, with Williams-Mercedes (zero points), Red Bull Racing-Honda (zero points), and Haas-Ferrari (zero points) yet to get off the mark.

So, who will win the inaugural Styrian Grand Prix?

If the conditions are cooler this weekend, particularly for race day, then you would expect a more predictable race, especially in terms of reliability, and likewise a more predictable final result. If Mercedes are reliable, they should finish first and second, and if that is the case, I tip Lewis Hamilton to bounce back to his very best this weekend!

However, if rain or car reliability (through failures or grid penalties) affects the weekend, then all bets will be off once again, but regardless of what happens, it should be another great race!

2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Preview

It was a masterful performance in an entertaining and chaotic 2019 Brazil Grand Prix by Max Verstappen at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in São Paulo to claim his third race victory of the season, the eighth win of his career after starting from pole position for the second time, and while Verstappen produced one of the great drives in his young career to date, others had problems with Valtteri Bottas retiring from the race with an oil pressure issues on Lap 52, both Ferrari’s taking each other out with arguably the most innocuous collision in Formula One history, and Lewis Hamilton making a rare mistake in taking out Alexander Albon from podium contention for what would have been Albon’s first podium, and after Hamilton’s five-second penalty after the race allowed both Pierre Gasly and Carlos Sainz Jr. to claim their first podium’s in Formula One.

Now, the grid heads to the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi for the 21st and final round of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship, the 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Hamilton (387 points), despite finishing seventh in Brazil after the five-second penalty for the collision with Albon, still extended his lead over his Mercedes teammate Bottas (314 points) to 73 points, and now has the opportunity to not only match his race victory tally in 2014 and 2018, as well as score 400 points or more for the second-straight season, but also finish every race of a season for the second time in his career.

Hamilton will also have the opportunity to equal his own record of most consecutive points finishes in Formula One history with 33-straight points finishes. Hamilton, coming into this weekend, has finished 65 of his last 66 races inside the points, with his retirement at the 2018 Austrian Grand Prix being the only race he hasn’t finished inside the points since the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix, where his engine and ultimately his world championship hopes went up in flames after leading the race comfortably!

Bottas will also be looking to finish his season on a high, and prove to himself that he has the capabilities to challenge Hamilton in 2020!

Verstappen (260 points) moves up into third in the championship for Red Bull Racing-Honda, and will be battling for third-place in the standings this weekend with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc (249 points), who surrendered third in the world championship to Verstappen after his collision with teammate Sebastian Vettel in Brazil.

For Verstappen to finish third in the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship:

1. If Leclerc wins the race (with the fastest lap), Verstappen must finish in second.

2. If Leclerc wins the race (without the fastest lap), Verstappen must finish third or higher (with or without the fastest lap).

3. If Leclerc finishes second (with or without the fastest lap), Verstappen must finish sixth or higher (with or without the fastest lap).

4. If Leclerc finishes third (with the fastest lap), Verstappen must finish seventh or higher.

5. If Leclerc finishes third (without the fastest lap), Verstappen must finish eighth or higher (with or without the fastest lap).

6. If Leclerc finishes fourth (with the fastest lap), Verstappen must finish ninth or higher.

7. If Leclerc finishes fourth (without the fastest lap), Verstappen must finish 10th or higher (with the fastest lap if he finishes in 10th).

8. If Leclerc finishes fifth or lower (with or without the fastest lap).

Vettel (230 points) is fifth in the championship after losing his chance to finish third in the final standings after his race-ending collision with Leclerc in Brazil, but still has the opportunity to finish fourth in the world championship in front of his teammate if he can out-score Leclerc by 19/20 points in Abu Dhabi.

Behind the Top Five, there is the battle for sixth between Gasly (95 points) of Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda, Sainz (95 points) of McLaren-Renault, and Albon (84 points) of Red Bull Racing-Honda, while Daniel Ricciardo (54 points) from Renault, and Sergio Pérez (46 points) from Racing Point-BWT Mercedes complete the Top 10, with Lando Norris (45 points) from McLaren-Renault, Kimi Räikkönen (43 points) from Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari, Nico Hülkenberg (37 points) from Renault, and Daniil Kvyat (35 points) from Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda still a realistic chance of finishing the championship inside the Top 10 in the standings.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (701 points) will finish in first, ahead of Ferrari (479 points) in second, Red Bull Racing-Honda (391 points) in third, and McLaren-Renault (140 points) in fourth. The battle remains open though for fifth between Renault (91 points) and Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (83 points), as well as the fight for seventh between Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (67 points) and Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (57 points). Haas-Ferrari (28 points) will likely finish in ninth, ahead of Williams-Mercedes (one point), who will finish in 10th, barring a minor miracle!

So, who will win the final race of 2019?

I feel like at a circuit which typically offers little shocks or surprises, that a dominant performance from Lewis Hamilton, especially given the race he had in Brazil, would be expected, but you cannot rule out Ferrari, or Max Verstappen from Red Bull Racing-Honda giving him a run for his money in the 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix!

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 Japanese Grand Prix – Preview

Mercedes rebounded in Russia, a place which they have always won at, with Lewis Hamilton winning in Sochi for the fourth time, claiming his ninth race victory of the season in a Mercedes one-two finish.

However, with Ferrari once again showing great speed in Sochi, and Red Bull Racing-Honda wanting to perform well in Honda’s own backyard, the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, Round 17 of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship, is going to be interesting!

Hamilton (322 points) leads the championship by 73 points over teammate Valtteri Bottas (249 points) after taking advantage of the mechanical issues for Sebastian Vettel, and getting lucky with the virtual safety car (which turned into a full safety car) to overtake Vettel’s Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc to take his 82nd career victory, with Bottas also finishing ahead of Leclerc.

Bottas needs to win the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend you feel to keep his slim championship hopes alive.

Leclerc (215 points) for Ferrari, and Max Verstappen (212 points) for Red Bull Racing-Honda are still in mathematical contention for the world championship, but are likely to be knocked out of contention this weekend, but Leclerc will be looking to continue Ferrari’s general upturn in form, while Verstappen will be looking to show off the brand new Honda power-unit, and take victory at the home circuit of Honda, which would be the first win for a Honda-powered car in Japan since Gerhard Berger for McLaren-Honda in 1991.

Meanwhile, Vettel (194 points) is out of contention for the 2019 championship, but will be looking to rebound after losing power with his power-unit in Russia, and challenge Leclerc and Verstappen for third in the standings.

Behind the Top Five, Pierre Gasly (69 points) is sixth in the championship for Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda after starting the first 12 races of 2019 with Red Bull Racing-Honda, three points ahead of McLaren-Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr. (66 points), with Alexander Albon (52 points) closing quickly in eighth since joining Red Bull Racing-Honda from Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda, ahead of Lando Norris (35 points), the teammate of Sainz, while Daniel Ricciardo (34 points) remains inside the Top 10, just ahead of his Renault teammate Nico Hülkenberg (34 points) based on finishing fourth ahead of Hülkenberg at the Italian Grand Prix.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (571 points) lead by 162 points over Ferrari (409 points), and have a chance of clinching their sixth-straight Constructors’ Championship this weekend, which would equal Ferrari’s record for most consecutive Constructors’ Championships from 1999 to 2004 by out-scoring Ferrari by 14 points or more.

Red Bull Racing-Honda (311 points) have secured at worst third in the Constructors’ Championship, but are still a chance of claiming second, with McLaren-Renault (101 points) in a clear and comfortable fourth behind them.

Renault (68 points) are leading the battle for fifth ahead of Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (55 points) and Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (52 points), with Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (35 points) and Haas-Ferrari (28 points) battling for eighth, with Williams-Mercedes (one point) still in 10th and last.

So, who will win the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix?

The weekend looks set to be affected by adverse weather conditions, and while Suzuka not in the direct path of Typhoon Hagibis at the moment, Saturday in particular looks set to be wet, and there could be a chance that qualifying might have to be postponed until Sunday morning, but regardless of whether that happens or not, Sunday looks set to be fine and sunny at Suzuka.

So, in terms of my prediction, I think Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes will be the ones to beat as he searches for his sixth victory in Japan to equal Michael Schumacher’s record at the Japanese Grand Prix, and his fifth at Suzuka, but it is set to be a tight fight between the Top Three teams on the grid.

2019 Russian Grand Prix – Preview

It wasn’t the greatest race of all-time, but it was the end of a 392 day victory drought for Sebastian Vettel, undercutting Lewis Hamilton and most crucially his teammate Charles Leclerc during the pit-stop period to claim the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix, his 53rd race win in his Formula One career, and the third-straight victory for Ferrari in what was Ferrari’s first one-two finish since the 2017 Hungarian Grand Prix.

It is just the second time since the start of 2014 that Mercedes haven’t won over a three-race period, and they will be determined to turn their recent form around at the Sochi Autodrom, a place where they not only haven’t been beaten at, but have also had three one-two finishes.

It is the 2019 Russian Grand Prix, Round 16 of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Lewis Hamilton (296 points) still leads the championship by 65 points over his Mercedes teammate in Valtteri Bottas (231 points), and both will be desperate to end Ferrari’s great run of form.

Charles Leclerc (200 points) is up into third in the world championship for Ferrari, and ahead of Max Verstappen (200 points) from Red Bull Racing-Honda based on having one more second-place finish compared to Verstappen after finishing behind his teammate Vettel in Singapore, and given his form since the mid-season break, he could potentially challenge Bottas for second in the championship, something which Verstappen will also fancy his chances of grabbing with a couple of rounds coming up that he and Red Bull should enjoy, in particular in Mexico at high altitude, which will take away the power-unit advantage that both Mercedes and Ferrari have over the Honda (and the Renault).

Vettel (194 points) will also have this same mindset after ending his victory drought in Singapore, and you wouldn’t bet against him in challenging Bottas for second-place in the world championship.

Behind the Top Five in the championship, Pierre Gasly (69 points) remains in sixth in the standings after finishing eighth for Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda, ahead of McLaren-Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr. (58 points), while Alexander Albon (42 points) moves into eighth in the world championship after finishing sixth in his third race for Red Bull Racing-Honda, and is ahead of Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo (34 points) and Gasly’s teammate Daniil Kvyat (33 points), who both failed to score in Singapore.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (527 points) have a lead of 133 points over Ferrari (394 points), with Red Bull Racing-Honda (289 points) continuing to consolidate third in the standings.

Behind the Top Three, McLaren-Renault (89 points) pull away slightly from Renault (67 points), with Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (55 points) closing in slightly on the French constructor, followed by Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (46 points), Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (35 points), Haas-Ferrari (26 points), and Williams-Mercedes (one point).

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

Ferrari on paper look very competitive at the Sochi Autodrom, but you feel you need a well-rounded, all-round car in Sochi, and Mercedes have that, and have shown this throughout 2019, consistently having the best race pace, but if Ferrari can win this weekend, they could start changing the face of this championship, if not for a championship challenge at Lewis Hamilton this season, a championship challenge at him and Mercedes in 2020.

2019 Singapore Grand Prix – Preview

Charles Leclerc has emerged as Ferrari’s lead driver in 2019 after claiming the second win of his career, and his second in as many races to move himself ever closer to third-place in the championship, and while Mercedes haven’t won any of the last two races, you sense the tide is about to turn back in their favour as they head to the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore for Round 15 of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Lewis Hamilton (284 points) leads the championship for Mercedes by 63 points over his teammate Valtteri Bottas (221 points) after finishing third despite applying a lot of pressure on Leclerc throughout the Italian Grand Prix, before making a mistake later in the race at Turn One, allowing Bottas to move ahead of Hamilton into second place.

However, you sense the track characteristics in Singapore will suit the Mercedes better, compared to Belgium and Italy.

Max Verstappen (185 points), and Red Bull Racing-Honda will also be thinking the same way after finishing in eighth at Monza despite starting from the back of the grid, and despite pitting for a new front wing at the end of the opening lap in what was a brilliant drive.

However, he is starting to feel the heat from Leclerc (182 points), who will look to challenge Verstappen for third in the world championship in the final seven races in 2019, while Sebastian Vettel (169 points) had an absolute shocker at Monza, finishing 13th after spinning on Lap Six, and then received a 10-second stop-go penalty for hitting the car of Lance Stroll after re-joining the track unsafely. Vettel will be looking to re-bound in a big this weekend in Singapore.

Behind the Top Five in the championship, Pierre Gasly (65 points) for Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda, and Carlos Sainz Jr. (58 points) for McLaren-Renault are still sixth and seventh in the standings respectively, while Daniel Ricciardo (34 points) is up into eighth in the world championship after finishing fourth at Monza, the best result Ricciardo has had since joining the team, and the team’s best result (under the Renault banner) since Nick Heidfeld finished third for the team back at the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix, with teammate Nico Hülkenberg (31 points), who is currently 11th in the standings, finishing fifth.

Alexander Albon (34 points) is ninth in the championship after finishing sixth in his second race with Red Bull Racing-Honda, while Gasly’s teammate Daniil Kvyat (33 points) completes the Top 10 in the standings.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (505 points) have extended their lead over Ferrari (351 points) to 154 points despite the win for the latter at Monza, while Red Bull Racing-Honda (266 points) remain in a comfortable third.

Behind the Top Three, McLaren-Renault (83 points) remain in a strong fourth, Renault (65 points) move into a solid fifth, while Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (51 points) and Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (46 points) are locked in a battle for sixth, with Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (34 points) and Haas-Ferrari (26 points) in a battle for eighth. Williams-Mercedes (one point) remain in a distant 10th and last in the Constructors’ Championship.

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

I sense it is going to be battle between Mercedes and Red Bull Racing-Honda, and most likely, a battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen on a circuit that should be well-suited to their cars, and given the form that Verstappen has shown in challenging Hamilton in Monaco and Hungary, I think the Red Bull driver can win in Singapore for the very first time.

2019 Hungarian Grand Prix – Preview

It was a chaotic 2019 German Grand Prix in changeable conditions, Max Verstappen got his second race victory of the season, Sebastian Vettel finished second from 20th on the grid after technical issues in qualifying, Daniil Kvyat grabbed his third career podium in Formula One, and the second-ever podium for Scuderia Toro Rosso!

However, many others had shocking races, with five drivers, including Charles Leclerc and Valtteri Bottas, crashing out of the race, a further two retiring due to mechanical issues, including Daniel Ricciardo, while Lewis Hamilton almost crashed out of the race, not once, but twice, as he managed to somehow finish ninth in what was one of his worst races in his career to extend his championship lead heading into the 2019 Hungarian Grand Prix, Round 12 of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Hamilton (225 points) leads the championship for Mercedes by 41 points over teammate Bottas (184 points) after what was his worst race result, excluding retirements, in his Formula One career since the 2017 Mexican Grand Prix after both Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi from Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari received 30-second time penalties after the German Grand Prix for infringements regarding the start, which they are going to appeal against, promoting Hamilton from 11th, which would have been his worst race result, excluding retirements, since the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix, where he finished 12th, to ninth.

Hamilton will be looking to bounce back this weekend at the Hungaroring, a place where he has won at six times (the most race wins at the Hungaroring), and will aiming to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of most pole positions in Hungary (seven).

Meanwhile, Bottas must be feeling quite awful after crashing out of the German Grand Prix from fourth position to miss out on a golden opportunity to close the championship deficit, and with his drive under scrutiny from some quarters, he desperately needs a win in Hungary this weekend.

Verstappen (162 points) is third in the world championship for Red Bull Racing-Honda after his seventh race victory in Formula One in what was arguably the best performance of his career to date, and while you don’t necessarily think he is in contention for the championship, he could certainly challenge Bottas for second!

Vettel (141 points) is fourth in the championship for Ferrari after his come from behind drive at his home race, while his teammate Leclerc (120 points) is in fifth in the standings after a race that was in some ways similar to Monaco earlier this season, a race to forget!

Behind the Top Five in the world championship, Verstappen’s teammate Pierre Gasly (55 points) remains sixth in the standings despite going out late in the German Grand Prix due to collision damage on Lap 62, while McLaren-Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr. (48 points) closes up on Gasly in the championship after finishing in fifth.

Behind them, Kvyat (27 points) has moved up to eighth in the standings after his shock podium finish for Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda, ahead of Räikkönen (25 points) for Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari, while McLaren-Renault’s Lando Norris (22 points) and Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo (22 points) are tied on points for 10th in the world championship, with Norris ahead due to two sixth-place finishes in 2019 compared with Ricciardo’s one.

Looking at the Constructor’s Championship, Mercedes (409 points) still have a huge 148-point lead over Ferrari (261 points), while Red Bull Racing-Honda (217 points) close their deficit to Ferrari to 44 points.

Behind the Top Three, McLaren-Renault (70 points) consolidated their position as Formula One’s fourth-best team, while a huge fight is brewing for fifth in the championship between Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (42 points), Renault (39 points), Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (31 points), Haas-Ferrari (26 points), and Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (26 points), and at long last, Williams-Mercedes (one point) score their first point of 2019 thanks to a 10th-placed finish for the courageous Robert Kubica.

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

Mercedes showed in Monaco earlier this year what type of car they have in low speed corners, and given that the Hungaroring is similar in nature in so many ways (without the walls so close of course), you feel that Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton are the ones to beat, but you cannot rule out Ferrari and Red Bull Racing-Honda giving Mercedes a run for their money!

 

 

2019 German Grand Prix – Preview

It was a record-breaking sixth British Grand Prix victory for Lewis Hamilton in front of his home crowd at Silverstone in what was a Mercedes one-two, while it was a race to forget for Sebastian Vettel, colliding into Max Verstappen in the braking zone to Vale (Turn 16), and then receiving a 10-second time penalty on his way to 16th.

And, with the form of Red Bull Racing-Honda starting to improve, Ferrari will be starting to feel the heat as they both attempt to chase down Hamilton and Mercedes at the 2019 German Grand Prix at the Hockenheimring, Round 11 of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Hamilton (223 points) leads the championship by 39 points over his teammate Valtteri Bottas (184 points) after a dominant performance by Mercedes at Silverstone. Bottas grabbed pole position ahead of Hamilton, and led during the early stages of the race, despite Hamilton putting him under tremendous pressure, before pitting on Lap 16 for a new set of medium-compound tyres, giving Hamilton the lead, before a safety car four laps later gave Hamilton a “free” pit-stop, and a strategic advantage in that he was able to pit for a new set of hard-compound tyres, and go to the end of the race on that set, while Bottas had to pit again (since he hadn’t used at least two of the three available tyre compounds), and with Hamilton showing superior speed, the five-time world champion was able to cruise to victory.

This weekend in Germany, it is a must win for Bottas, given that Hamilton will be very hard to beat in Hungary in just over a weeks’ time, to remain a realistic hope of winning his first world championship.

Max Verstappen (136 points) is third in the world championship for Red Bull Racing-Honda after finishing the British Grand Prix in fifth after recovering from the collision with Vettel in the middle of the race, and remains ahead of the four-time world champion in Vettel (123 points), and his teammate at Ferrari in Charles Leclerc (120 points), who managed to claim third at Silverstone behind the two Mercedes.

Behind the Top Five in the championship, Verstappen’s teammate Pierre Gasly (55 points) is sixth after finishing fourth at the British Grand Prix, his best race finish since joining Red Bull at the start of 2019, while McLaren-Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr. (38 points) is seventh in the standings, pulling away in the lead of the battle of the rest so to speak, ahead of Kimi Räikkönen (25 points) of Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari, his teammate at McLaren-Renault Lando Norris (22 points), who is ahead of Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo (22 points) based on two sixth-place finishes compared with one, to complete the Top 10.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (407 points) have extended their lead over Ferrari (243 points) to 163 points, with Red Bull Racing-Honda (191 points) closing to within 52 points of Ferrari. Behind the Top Three, McLaren-Renault (60 points) continue to pull away from Renault (39 points), who likewise continue to pull away from Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (26 points), while we have a great battle for seventh between Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (19 points), Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (19 points), and Haas-Ferrari (16 points), with Williams-Mercedes (zero points) sadly behind this battle, and last in the Constructor’s Championship.

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

Mercedes are the favourites, but it is going to be an absolute scorcher at the Hockenheimring, with maximum temperatures set to be around 34 to 39 degrees Celsius, at least on Friday, if not on Saturday as well, which will bring both Ferrari and Red Bull Racing-Honda back into the discussion, but as I currently write this preview, there is set to be rain on Saturday and on Sunday, with the temperature set to drop to around 25-26 degrees Celsius for Sunday.

It is set to be an exciting weekend, and perhaps one of the races of the season, and with a point to prove, especially after the last three races since Canada, and after crashing out of the lead in the German Grand Prix last year, I predict Sebastian Vettel will get Ferrari’s first race win of 2019, and his first race victory since the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix.