2019 British Grand Prix – Preview

Mercedes winning start to 2019 came to an end at the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring, and it was a phenomenal performance by Max Verstappen, overcoming a poor start to come back through the field to claim an exhilarating victory for Red Bull Racing-Honda, the sixth of his career, and is the best-placed driver behind the two Mercedes in the standings heading into Round 10 of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship, the 2019 British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Lewis Hamilton (197 points) remains the leader of the championship by 31 points over his teammate Valtteri Bottas (166 points) despite his worst result of the season, finishing fifth, 22.805 seconds behind race winner Verstappen, at a circuit Mercedes expected they would struggle at, but will be looking to bounce back quickly at his home race this weekend, a race which he has won five times (2008, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017), and if Hamilton wins this weekend, he will become the first driver to win the British Grand Prix six times!

While for Bottas, he needs to win this weekend to really start asserting some serious pressure onto Hamilton as far as the world championship is concerned as he hasn’t won since Round Four in Azerbaijan, and if the general trend continues, you feel like his chances of winning his first world championship will start slipping away.

Verstappen (126 points) is third in the championship after his first race victory of the season, defeating Charles Leclerc in the final laps after being behind his teammate Pierre Gasly in the initial laps of the races, who Verstappen later lapped in what was arguably the drive of 2019 so far, and will surely have opportunities for another win or two as the season progresses.

Sebastian Vettel (123 points) is fourth in the world championship for Ferrari, narrowly behind Verstappen after experiencing some mechanical issues in qualifying at the Red Bull Ring, forcing him not to take part in Q3, and costing him the opportunity to grab pole position, and maybe control the race in Austria in what was Ferrari’s best chance to take victory since the missed opportunities in Canada and Bahrain.

Vettel’s teammate Leclerc (105 points) is in fifth in the championship after finishing second at the Red Bull Ring, being passed by Verstappen in the final laps to narrowly miss out on what would have been his first race victory in Formula One. Surely, his time to convert is near, but I am not sure if it will be this weekend.

Behind the dominant Top Five in the standings, Verstappen’s teammate Gasly (43 points) is sixth after another disappointing performance in Austria, and really needs to improve if he wants to be competitive with his teammate at the back-end of the season.

Carlos Sainz Jr. (30 points) is seventh in the championship for McLaren-Renault, ahead of teammate Lando Norris (22 points), and Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari driver Kimi Räikkönen (21 points) after all three scored points at the Red Bull Ring, while Daniel Ricciardo (16 points) remains inside the Top 10 in the world championship despite finishing 12th at the Austrian Grand Prix in his struggling Renault.

In terms of the Constructor’s Championship, Mercedes (363 points) still dominate Ferrari (228 points) to the tune of 135 points, while Red Bull Racing-Honda (169 points) remain in a lonely third. However, it is a tighter battle behind, although McLaren-Renault (52 points) are pulling away from Renault (32 points) in the battle for fourth, but it looks set to be a colossal battle for sixth between Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (22 points), Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (19 points), Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (17 points), and Haas-Ferrari (16 points), while Williams-Mercedes (zero points) continue to struggle in 2019.

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

We all know that Silverstone is a really fast, exciting, traditional race track, and while there are some straights and flat out sections that should suit the Ferrari, I think there are more than enough corners to give Mercedes the advantage, and with that, I think Lewis Hamilton will claim the British Grand Prix for a record sixth time, and for the fifth time in the last six years, but I think Ferrari could potentially give him and Mercedes a run for their money!

Advertisements

2019 Austrian Grand Prix – Preview

Lewis Hamilton has claimed his sixth race victory of 2019, and his fourth win in a row at the French Grand Prix in what was Mercedes sixth one-two finish of the season, and had extended his lead over his teammate Valtteri Bottas. And with Ferrari failing to fire once again, can anybody stop Hamilton from winning his sixth world championship, and from moving to within one of Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world championships?

That is the questions that all of Hamilton’s rivals will be trying to answer this weekend at the 2019 Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring, Round Nine of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Hamilton (187 points) leads by 36 points over Bottas (151 points) after a near faultless performance. Pole Position (for the 86th time), race victory (the 79th of his career), led every lap of the race (for the 18th time to move to within one of Ayrton Senna’s record of 19). However, he did miss out on taking the fastest lap of the race, which would have given him his sixth Grand Slam of his career, and would have moved him into outright second behind Jim Clark for most Grand Slams.

However, despite this, you feel like Hamilton is starting to hit top form, and with some races that he loves coming up, most notably the British Grand Prix (Round 10), and the Hungarian Grand Prix (Round 12) within the next month and a half, you sense he could take full control of the 2019 championship.

Meanwhile, Bottas has got to lift if he wants to be any hope of defeating Hamilton, and winning his first world championship, but right now, you feel that Bottas is right at the maximum of his capabilities, and would need misfortune to hit Hamilton hard if the current trend is to be flipped on its head!

Sebastian Vettel (111 points) is third in the championship after Ferrari failed to overturn his penalty in Canada, and after a sub-par qualifying performance (7th), managed to came home in fifth over a minute behind Hamilton, but snatched the fastest lap (the 37th of his career) from Hamilton on the final lap of the race to salvage something on what was a hugely disappointing weekend in so many ways for Vettel.

Max Verstappen (100 points) remains in fourth in the standings for Red Bull Racing-Honda after out-performing his car again to finish in a strong fourth, but Charles Leclerc (87 points) is starting to close in on Verstappen after a second-straight podium finish for Ferrari.

Behind the Top Five in the world championship, we find Verstappen’s teammate Pierre Gasly (37 points), who just managed to scrape into the points in 10th, his sixth points finish of the year, but only three of those six have been Top Six finishes, and the questions will start to come asking whether Gasly’s performance has been up to scratch.

In my opinion, I think Gasly is performing largely to the potential of his car, but Verstappen right now is on another planet in comparison to his teammate, and if Verstappen gets in a better car than what he is in right now, he is surely capable of winning world championships!

Behind Gasly, Carlos Sainz Jr. (26 points) is seventh in the championship for McLaren-Renault after an impressive sixth-placed finish at Circuit Paul Ricard on a weekend where McLaren actually looked faster at times than Red Bull, and is ahead of Kimi Räikkönen (19 points), who finished the French Grand Prix in seventh for Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari.

The two Renault’s of Daniel Riccardo and Nico Hülkenberg complete the Top 10 equal on 16 points after the latter’s eighth-placed finish, and after the former’s two separate five-second penalties due to gaining advantage by exceeding track limits, and then by failing to re-join the track safely.

In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (338 points) have extended their lead over Ferrari (198 points) to 140 points, while Red Bull Racing-Honda (137 points) are continuing to be left behind by Ferrari.

And, then it is McLaren-Renault (40 points) and Renault (32 points) in a tight battle for fourth, while it is a dogfight for sixth between Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (19 points), Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (19 points), Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (17 points), and Haas-Ferrari (16 points), with Williams-Mercedes still stuck on zero points.

So, who will win the 2019 Austrian Grand Prix?

You feel that if Bahrain and Canada were good for Ferrari, and that for a large part of the weekend in Azerbaijan, Ferrari were on top of Mercedes, then the Red Bull Ring has to be Ferrari’s best chance so far to claim their first win of 2019. Sectors One and to a lesser extent Sector Two should suit Ferrari, and while the more technical final sector should suit Mercedes, you feel that Ferrari should have enough up their sleeves to claim their first race victory of 2019!

I am tipping Sebastian Vettel to claim the Austrian Grand Prix for Ferrari, just ahead of Lewis Hamilton, while it will be a tight battle between Valtteri Bottas, Charles Leclerc, and Max Verstappen for the final spot on the podium.

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 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 Azerbaijan Grand Prix – Preview

Lewis Hamilton claimed victory in the 1000th championship race in Formula One history, the 75th of Hamilton’s legendary career, and his fourth victory in the last five races. As a result, he takes the lead of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship heading into the fourth round of the season, the 2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, which takes place this weekend at the Baku City Circuit in the capital of Azerbaijan.

The defending and five-time world champion Hamilton (68 points) leads the championship by six points over his teammate Valtteri Bottas (62 points) after Mercedes took a third-straight one-two finish to start the season, the first time that Mercedes as a team has achieved this since the start of the turbo-hybrid era back in 2014, and the first team to achieve this in Formula One since Williams with Nigel Mansell and Riccardo Patrese back in 1992, but it hasn’t necessarily been anything but dominant.

In Australia, they certainly dominated, with Bottas claiming victory over Hamilton in what was arguably the best performance of his career, but in Bahrain, Ferrari were dominant, with Charles Leclerc taking his first-ever pole position, and should have taken his first-ever race victory in Formula One, before mechanical issues stopped him almost in his tracks, allowing Hamilton to take his first win of 2019, and Bottas to slip past into second spot, but Leclerc managed to hang on for his first Formula One podium in his career.

However, the form guide in China returned back to the one that we saw in Australia, with Mercedes being dominant! So, what form guide will we see in Azerbaijan?

More on that later!

Max Verstappen (39 points) is currently third in the world championship believe it or not for Red Bull Racing-Honda, 29 points behind Hamilton, and ahead of both Ferrari drivers in Sebastian Vettel (37 points) and Leclerc (36 points). Red Bull haven’t really been in the front-runners fight so far in 2019, but Ferrari have failed to capitalise on the potential that they seemingly showed in pre-season testing, and the form they showed in Bahrain, and as a result, the difference between themselves and Mercedes looks like a chasm!

Ferrari really need to hit back in Azerbaijan, otherwise their championship hopes will seemingly start slipping down the drain!

Behind the top five in the world championship, Verstappen’s teammate Pierre Gasly (13 points) is sixth in the standings, ahead of Kimi Räikkönen (12 points) for Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari, Lando Norris (eight points) for McLaren-Renault, Kevin Magnussen (eight points) for Haas-Ferrari, while Nico Hülkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo are locked on six points for Renault after the latter’s first points-scoring finish of 2019, and the former’s retirement from the Chinese Grand Prix due to a power-unit issue (the third mechanical retirement for Renault in 2019), but Hülkenberg remains ahead of his teammate due to being classified higher than Ricciardo in Bahrain after both retiring within metres of each other with separate mechanical issues.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (130 points) leads by 57 points over Ferrari (73 points), with Red Bull Racing-Honda (52 points) a further 21 points behind in third. Then, it is slim pickings, in terms of points, for Renault (12 points), Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (12 points), Haas-Ferrari (eight points), McLaren-Renault (eight points), Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (seven points), Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (four points), and Williams-Mercedes (zero points).

So, back to the earlier question of what form guide will we see in Azerbaijan? And, who is going to win on the streets of Baku?

The Baku City Circuit is a technical, but fast street circuit, which should suit Ferrari on paper compared to Mercedes, especially considering the smooth surface, but the cooler temperatures this weekend could swing the balance back in Mercedes favour. However, I think it will come down to which driver from the top two teams gets into a good grove.

With plenty on the line, Ferrari need to win in Azerbaijan to keep their championship hopes alive, and I think Sebastian Vettel will respond to give Ferrari their first victory of 2019.

2019 Chinese Grand Prix – Preview

It was heartbreak in Bahrain for Charles Leclerc as a first-ever win in Formula One disappeared due to an engine issue, it was devastation for both Nico Hülkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo for Renault, who were heading towards points finishes before they retired at the start of Lap 54 (and within metres of each other) due to power-unit and power loss issues respectively, with Ricciardo lucky not to be electrocuted by his own car, but it was joy once again for Mercedes as Sebastian Vettel succumbed once again to the pressure that Lewis Hamilton applied to him, and then took advantage of Leclerc’s problems to take the 74th race victory of his career in a Mercedes 1-2.

So, what will happen this weekend at the Shanghai International Circuit in Round Three of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship, which is also the 1000th race in the history of Formula One?

Looking at the championship standings, Valtteri Bottas (44 points) leads the championship by a single point over teammate Hamilton (43 points) after finishing second at the Bahrain Grand Prix after taking advantage of Leclerc’s issues. However, you sense Mercedes have plenty of work to do as Ferrari showed the speed that they had during pre-season testing, and without the problems for Leclerc, would have won in Bahrain.

Max Verstappen (27 points) is third in the world championship for Red Bull Racing-Honda after finishing fourth in Bahrain, but Red Bull right now don’t look like serious championship contenders, and maybe, despite the reliability of the Honda power-unit compared with the Renault power-unit, may not be getting the results from it that they have been looking for.

Leclerc (26 points) is a point behind Verstappen in fourth, ahead of teammate Vettel (22 points) after a performance throughout the weekend in Bahrain, which included him becoming the second-youngest driver in history to take pole position in Formula One, that should have been rewarded with his first-ever race win.

However, Ferrari have at least shown the speed that everyone was expecting from them, but they must sort out any niggling reliability issues they might have because they can’t afford to give a team like Mercedes any sort of advantage, and have now given themselves a bigger mountain to climb than what it should have been.

As for Vettel, he was dominated by his teammate in Bahrain, and then had his pants, figuratively speaking, pulled down by Hamilton. Vettel really needs to win in China to reassert his authority over teammate Leclerc, and lay down some kind of marker towards Mercedes in the championship battle.

Behind the top five in the world championship, Kimi Räikkönen (10 points) is sixth in the standings for Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari, ahead of Lando Norris (eight points) for McLaren-Renault, who claimed his first-ever points finish in Formula One after finishing sixth in Bahrain, while Kevin Magnussen (eight points) for Haas-Ferrari, Hülkenberg (six points) for Renault, despite stopping near the end of the Bahrain Grand Prix, and Pierre Gasly (four points) for Red Bull Racing-Honda complete the Top 10 in the championship after the opening two rounds.

Gasly has struggled so far to match the performance of his teammate Verstappen in his first two races with Red Bull, and really needs to put in a great performance in Shanghai to keep any doubters at bay.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (87 points) leads by 39 points over Ferrari (48 points), with Red Bull Racing-Honda (31 points) a further 17 points behind in third. Behind them, Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (10 points), McLaren-Renault (eight points), Haas-Ferrari (eight points), Renault (six points), Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (three points), and Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (three points) have all scored points in 2019, while Williams-Mercedes (zero points) don’t look close to scoring a single point right now with a best finish of 15th through George Russell in Bahrain proving how far the once mighty team have fallen.

So, who will win Formula One’s 1000th race?

It is looking like a battle between Mercedes and Ferrari, and quite possibly, the straight-line performance of Ferrari might show through this weekend, but you cannot rule out Lewis Hamilton, and I am predicting a battle between him and Sebastian Vettel, the most successful drivers currently in the sport with five and four world championships respectively, and 74 and 52 race victories respectively, to decide who will win the 2019 Chinese Grand Prix, and the 1000th race in Formula One history.

2019 Bahrain GP – Preview

The speculation that Mercedes had been knocked off their perch as Formula One’s dominant force had been greatly exaggerated, but it was Valtteri Bottas, not Lewis Hamilton, who took full advantage to win the 2019 Australian Grand Prix, claiming the single point for the fastest lap of the race to take the lead of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship, which heads to the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir for the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Bottas (26 points) leads the championship by eight points over his teammate and defending world champion Hamilton (18 points) after defeating him by 20.886 seconds at Albert Park to claim the fourth race victory of his career, a performance Bottas himself regarded as the best of his career.

However, Hamilton suffered floor damage to his car on the fourth lap of the Australian Grand Prix, affecting the aerodynamic performance of the car, denying him any opportunity to challenge his teammate for the race victory after claiming pole position for the sixth-straight year, and the eighth time at Albert Park, becoming just the third driver after Michael Schumacher (Suzuka) and Ayrton Senna (Imola) to achieve eight pole positions at one circuit.

Whether Hamilton would have won the opening race of the season without his floor damage is up for debate, but it certainly would have been a lot closer, that is for sure!

Max Verstappen (15 points) is third in the world championship for Red Bull Racing-Honda after pushing Hamilton close at Albert Park, ahead of the two Ferrari’s of Sebastian Vettel (12 points) and Charles Leclerc (10 points), who after dominating pre-season testing, finished 57.109 and 58.203 seconds behind Bottas at the opening race of the season, and rightfully would feel ashamed of their performance in Melbourne, and will be hoping that this performance is just a one-off, and that they can challenge Mercedes for the championship throughout 2019.

Behind them in the standings are Kevin Magnussen (eight points) for Haas-Ferrari, Nico Hülkenberg (six points) for Renault, Kimi Räikkönen (four points) for Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari, Lance Stroll (two points) for Racing Point-BWT Mercedes, and Daniil Kvyat (one point) for Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda, who all scored points in the opening race of 2019.

However, it was a disappointing weekend in Australia for Daniel Ricciardo, his first race with Renault, having some difficulties or teething issues with the car in practice, qualifying outside of the Top 10 in 12th, and then sustaining damage to his car just metres off the start line on Sunday, which forced him to retire from the Australian Grand Prix after 28 laps.

Ricciardo will be hoping for a much better weekend in Bahrain, but you sense the best result he can hope for at the moment, given the car that he has at the moment, is a sixth or seventh-place finish, and most likely a lap down on the leaders (Mercedes, Ferrari, and Red Bull Racing-Honda).

So, who is going to win the Bahrain Grand Prix?

In my opinion, it is always very hard to see a team bouncing back to win the next race after being smashed by almost a minute in the previous race, but if Ferrari’s performance in pre-season testing was genuine, and that Mercedes, and to a lesser extent Red Bull Racing-Honda haven’t actually gained genuine performance between pre-season testing and the first race, and that both of their performances in Australia were simply track specific, then they are a strong chance to bounce back.

However, it is not the first time that a team involving Lewis Hamilton has gained a huge chunk of time, usually in the region of about a second, in a short space of time to instantly become more competitive.

Think mid-season in 2009 when McLaren, the team Hamilton was driving for at the time, moved from near the back of the field, where they were at the British Grand Prix, to challenging Brawn and Red Bull, on speed at least, at the following race at the Nürburgring in Germany, with Hamilton winning the following race in Hungary.

Think 2011, when McLaren (with Hamilton) moved from what many predicted was a midfield position for the team in pre-season testing to being arguably the second-best car on the grid for the start of the season in Australia, although comfortably behind Red Bull generally throughout 2011.

It cannot be a coincidence because if you were to add a second to the times both Mercedes achieved in qualifying at Albert Park, those were the times/margins that many experts thought Mercedes were behind in relation to Ferrari, and to a lesser extent Red Bull Racing-Honda.

Hamilton has proven, if the form is genuine, to be the face of the catalyst of turning the competitiveness of a team around once again, and if you believe this, then you cannot be surprised of his standing today as a five-time Formula One World Champion!

I am predicting Hamilton to bounce back from the floor issue he suffered in the race with his car in Australia to win in Bahrain, but I think Max Verstappen can put in a sterling performance to finish in second, with Valtteri Bottas to finish in third, just ahead of the two Ferrari drivers.