F1 2019 - A personal view.
The cars are good. The team is full of excellent managers, technicians and mechanics, and there is no reason to believe it will not continue at the top. Hamilton is showing no signs of weakening and again there is every reason to believe he also will remain at or very near the top. Bottas, on the other hand, must be a very frustrated driver. He arrived at Mercedes confident of taking the challenge to Hamilton, but was very quickly put in his place, and try as he might and as good as he is, he is struggling to keep up. ThatÕs not to say he isnÕt one of the top drivers out there,
Putting their failure to beat Mercedes at Team Principle Maurizio ArrivabeneÕs feet, his departure was thinly disguised as a mutual agreement so he could take a senior position at the Italian football team Juventus. It comes after disagreements between Arrivabene and Technical Director Mattia Binotto whom Ferrari have moved up to replace Arrivabene as Team Principle!!! Who takes over as the new technical director isnÕt clear but Ferrari will probably promote one of the ŌlowerÕ directors. Whether this will have any effect on their fortunes this year remains to be seen but Fiat will continue to throw money at the team as they could hardly expect to be pleased to be beaten by a German team again! Vettel has his work cut out dealing with Hamilton again, but this year wonÕt have Rikknen breathing down his neck - in fact, he wonÕt have anyone breathing down his neck because I donÕt think Leclerc will be anywhere near him. If IÕm wrong, thereÕs a bargain to be had here!
Red Bull-Honda £30M
The car price is based mostly on VerstappenÕs potential. Gasly is, to me, an unknown entity. I wasnÕt overly impressed with his performances in Toro Rosso and was surprised when they promoted him to fill the gaping chasm left by RicciardoÕs departure. As Adrian Newey remains as Chief Technical Officer there can be little doubt the chases will be up to the job, but will Honda?
Surely Renault cannot skulk about in the midfield for another year - not now it has one of the best drivers in the lead car. And unlike Ferrari and Red Bull the number two seat is filled by another star - well I rate him fairly highly anyway, and now he has Ricciardo alongside him he will strive for greater things - surely?
I almost lost sleep over trying to decide which order the next three teams would be in (I said ŅalmostÓ!). Eventually I settled on Haas / Force India (now Racing Point) / Sauber, and now IÕm not so sure. Anyway the damage is done and Haas are where they are. I also worried a little bit about putting Magnussen higher up the price list than Grosjean. I seemed to think at the time that Magnussen had greater potential for a decent result than Grosjean, who is still prone to silly errors.
Racing Point-Mercedes £24m
As silly team names go, Racing Point must be up there with (in no particular order) Fondmetal, Super Aguri, Footwork, Leyton House, Token, and Trojan. However, I suppose Force India wasnÕt that much less silly, but we got used to it and in a way IÕm sorry to see the name go. But, the team itself is fundamentally the same and there are some good people there. The only thing wrong is the second driver, whom I think I have overpriced considerably!!
Alfa Romeo-Ferrari £22m
Changed their name from Sauber F1. Could this be THE bargain car? Not only is it likely to be under-priced and itÕs value going up more than any other after the first race, but itÕs one of only two teams where the top driver is worth more than the car - and by a long chalk! And it is the biggest gap between the prices of the two drivers. Giovinazzi did a few Friday morning runs last year but didnÕt set the paddock alight.
How are the mighty fallen? They managed to get more points than Force India last year only because Force India had to go back to zero and start all over again when they changed their name half way through the year. To see McLaren and Williams, both once among greatest teams in F1, languishing at the back of the field last year was heart-breaking. Surely they will do better this year. Surely?! Sainz is better than many people think, but Norris is an unknown quantity.
Toro Rosso-Honda £18m
Powered by Honda again, I canÕt see this team doing very well at all. Yes, the Russian is back. The team reckon heÕs much improved. Really? And who is Albon? Still, you never know.
The other failed great, 2018 was a terrible year for FrankÕs once world-beating team, even with the championship-winning Mercedes engine. So can then drag themselves kicking and screaming up the field to some respectability? They have taken the once highly-rated Kubica (he of the rally accident that nearly severed his arm) and weÕre all hoping he can manage an F1 car for a whole race weekend. He was once in line for a Ferrari seat before his accident, so can he show that sort of form again? I doubt it. Russell is alongside him and heÕs pretty much an unknown quantity as well so I had no choice but to put them at the bottom of the pile. Could they be a bargain? I really donÕt know.