F1 2019 Season Preview: Toro Rosso

Toro Rosso begin their second season with Honda power as they look to fight at the top of the midfield battle in 2019.

Who’s Who?

Toro Rosso - Kvyat 001 - @Toro Rosso.jpg

Copyright: Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda

Daniil Kvyat returns to Toro Rosso as he begins his third stint with the team, the experienced Russian has a lot to prove this year in what is likely his last chance to make a success in Formula One.

Alexander Albon will make his Formula One debut after impressing in Formula 2 last season. After a late call to the team following negotiations with Nissan e.dams to break him from his contract Alex hadn’t turned a wheel in a Formula One car prior to the shakedown in Misano. Alex impressed in winter testing despite his lack of experience and is one of our drivers to watch in 2019.

Key changes:

Outside of their driver lineup change there are some changes revolving the technical structure of the team. Jody Egginton replaces James Key as Toro Rosso’s technical directors with James Key heading to McLaren at the end of the month.

Toro Rosso will also benefit from a close technical relationship with sister team Red Bull. Toro Rosso will use the same gearbox and rear suspension with Red Bull as well as having a shared engine partner with Honda. This allows the team to focus more on aerodynamic development as well as working with a rear end that works for Red Bull.

Season predictions:

2019 can be a good year for Toro Rosso, the Honda power unit is getting better and better. They will also benefit from a close relationship with Red Bull, their car has looked okay on track if not hard to read, some are putting them near the front of the mid field and some further down.

Toro Rosso has a very strong driver lineup with a highly rated Alexander Albon and a rejuvenated Daniil Kvyat, Renault will be hard to beat over an entire season but Toro Rosso has the capacity to fight for 5th in the constructor’s championship this season.

Toro Rosso - Albon 001 - @Toro Rosso.jpg

Copyright: Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda

Make sure to join in on the conversation and follow us on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram – @drivenbysport

 

F1 2019 Season Preview: Williams

Former world champions Williams had their worst ever season in 2018 finishing 10th and last in the constructor’s championship and with consistently the slowest car on the grid but can this change in 2019?

Williams can only improve from where they finished last season but they have already had a troubled start to the season. Getting your car ready for winter testing is always a challenge for every team.

Williams planned on running a shakedown for their car on the Saturday prior to the first week of testing but the car wasn’t ready in time, it also transpired that the car would not be ready for the first 2 days of winter testing. With testing being only 8 days long, losing 2 days is a massive hit, especially when you’re trying to recover after a bad season.

Williams - @F1.jpg

Williams had only their display car available at the opening two days of winter testing. Copyright: Formula One

The 2018 car was one of Williams’ worst yet, scoring just seven points across two races, with ex-Mercedes man Paddy Lowe in charge of the technical department, there should be no reason for Williams to build a bad car.

Williams have gone from fighting for podiums to brining up the rear of the grid in just a couple of seasons, 2019 has to be a big year if they want to fight towards the front of the midfield again.

The Williams has looked the least convincing during pre-season testing and is expected to once again bring up the rear of the pack in 2019 but according to Paddy Lowe, the feedback from their driver Robert Kubica gives them some optimism that they’re turning a corner.

“Robert has driven the old car around here quite a lot last year and has some very encouraging comments on the qualities of the car.” Said Lowe.

“He feels that we’ve made a huge step forwards in terms of the platform.”

“A car that is far more drive-able, a car that you can work with from a driving point of view, you can control your management of tyre, you can control the balance and pace, was definitely not a description we could have given about last year’s car.”

Williams - Paddy Lowe - @F1.jpg

Copyright: Formula One

There is huge pressure on Paddy Lowe’s shoulders this season as Williams’ cannot afford to finish 10th in the constructors consistently. The car will need continuous upgrades throughout the season if it wishes to mix it with other teams and regularly fight for the points.

Williams also have new sponsors onboard, following the departure of title sponsor Martini, Williams now have a new title sponsor in mobile phone startup ROKiT as well as new sponsor Orlen.

2019 also sees an all-new driver line-up with current Formula 2 champion George Russell and F1 returnee Robert Kubica who makes his comeback after injury in 2011, both with little experience racing in the current Formula One cars but both equally as exciting.

Russell Stats.png

George Russell begins his first of a two-year deal with Williams after impressing in his debut Formula 2 season where he won the championship.

George’s mature and calm manner are one of his key strengths, during his F2 campaign he never looked flustered, rarely made an error and had the speed to clinch the title in a very competitive season. His F2 campaign can only be compared to the level that now Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc delivered in his title-winning season and is one of the most exciting young talents around.

There is not real pressure on George this season, it will all be about finding his feet in Formula One, learning as much as he can from his teammate on the feedback side and try to build a team around him.

Kubica Stats.png

Robert Kubica makes his comeback after 8 years when he suffered a rally crash resulting in part of his arm being amputated. Despite his accident, Robert has found his way back onto the grid and has a point to prove.

The driver who was once tipped as a future world champion will find the top ten a struggle this season, the Williams car looks like the least competitive out there and with Robert not being able to put the laps in due to part limitations in testing it will be an uphill struggle initially for the Pol.

“Coming back after eight years, probably I know 20 percent of the things that I should know before going to Australia.” Kubica said, commenting on the lack of running in testing.

“The rest is unknown. I haven’t done longer than 15 laps long run.”

“There is a lot of question marks. But that’s the reality, we cannot change it.”

Williams look set for another tough season but if the team have a better understanding of the car and can out-develop others throughout the season they can at least end 2019 in a much better space.

Williams - Kubica & Russell 001 - @Williams.jpg

Copyright: ROKiT Williams Racing

Make sure to join in on the conversation and follow us on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram – @drivenbysport

McLaren confirm Alonso in ambassador role, testing duties confirmed

Fernando Alonso has been confirmed as a McLaren ambassador following his departure from racing in Formula One.

The two-time champion will help advise the engineers and drivers in the team as well as test the 2019 and 2020 cars.

This perhaps will keep Fernando’s foot in the door if he decides to make a full racing comeback in 2021.

“Fernando is part of the McLaren family. He has set his place in the team’s history and continues to write his chapter of the McLaren story,” said McLaren Racing Chief Executive, Zak Brown.

“So it is entirely appropriate that we formalise his status as a McLaren ambassador, joining another double champion, Mika Häkkinen.”

Fernando will be racing with McLaren in this years Indy500 as he looks to become only the second driver in history to take the coveted triple-crown.

“Becoming a McLaren ambassador is a true honour. It is a special team, and despite the challenges we have endured recently, it remains so.” Said Fernando Alonso.

“We have the Indianapolis 500 in May of course, which I am looking forward to immensely, but this is just the beginning of many things we can do together.”

“I am particularly passionate about nurturing young talent, whether that’s with my own team or helping the new generation of Formula 1 drivers at McLaren unlock their true potential.”

Copyright: McLaren Racing

Make sure to join in on the conversation and follow us on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram – @drivenbysport

What to expect in week two of testing

With one week of testing in Barcelona ahead of the 2019 Formula One season already completed, we take a look at what to expect in the second and final pre-season test in 2019.

Reliability to be mostly resolved:

Renault - Hulkenberg 001 - @F1

Copyright: Formula One

As is always the case in testing, breakdowns are a common occurrence. This is mostly due to the fact that this is the first time the new cars have hit the track and no matter how good your CFD and other calculations are it is almost impossible to predict whether the cars components will work in their configuration until it hits the track.

Teams try to run their cars cooling as aggressively as possible, the more cooling you have on the car the more it affects the car’s performance. Teams of course also try and run as tight as they can with the cars packaging, particularly at the rear to help with aerodynamics but there must be a compromise as cars can easily overheat and shut down.

Most teams and in-particularly Haas had dealt with an array of stoppages in the first week of testing. Some of these issues should now be resolved in-between the two tests and teams should have a more reliable running in the second test.

Lap times to fall:

 

Alfa Romeo - Raikkonen 001 - @F1.jpg

Copyright: Formula One

With most teams starting to understand their cars more and reliability gremlins resolved we should expect more performance runs from most of the teams.

Nico Hulkenberg currently has the fastest time of a 1:17.393 on the fastest C5 compound but we expect the likes of Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari to beat that. Some may choose to sandbag like we have seen in the past but overall the majority of teams will now push their cars to see the performance potential of their 2019 car.

A better understanding of the pecking order:

Red Bull - Gasly 002 - @F1

Copyright: Aston Martin Red Bull Racing

It is always said that you can’t read too much into testing in terms of performance but it does always give fans and rival teams an idea of where some might stand in the pecking order.

Some already have Ferrari clear of both Red Bull and Mercedes with the reigning champions seeming to struggle with handling relatively to their rivals in the first week of testing.

Many also expect there to be a tight midfield battle behind with Renault and Alfa Romeo leading that fight. With a more central focus on performance set to take place this week, expect a clearer picture of the pecking order by the end of the test.

Plenty more car updates:

Ferrari - Leclerc 003 - @F1

Copyright: Formula One

With performance runs having a higher focus this week, expect to see plenty more updates on the cars this week.

Williams in-particular should have a remarkably different car this week compared to last after the team started the test 2 days late when they failed to get the car ready in time. The teams will start to fine tune their aerodynamic packages and expect more complexity to the bargeboards and rear wing mountings.

One thing we will not see this week in tech developments is any dramatic shift in front wing concept from any of the teams. A change in concept would have a massive impact on the rest of the car and will take months to have the changes ready so teams are stuck with the concepts they have now for the first few races at least.

Plenty more laps:

Williams - Kubica 002 - @Williams.jpg

Copyright: ROKIT Williams Racing

With reliability sorted and more parts available to teams in the second week, it is not hard to expect plenty more running from all the teams as they look at doing more race runs and qualifying sims.

Williams won’t find it hard to beat their lap count from the first week of testing having only completed 88 laps after just a day and half’s worth of running.

Testing Laps T1.png

Make sure to join in on the conversation and follow us on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram – @drivenbysport

Alfa Romeo officially revealed in first day of testing

It’s the first day of pre-season testing and Alfa Romeo have officially revealed their 2019 challenger.

Shots of the Alfa were released on Thursday during their shakedown in a camp livery but the official livery with the car was revealed today.

This is the first season with Alfa Romeo as the entry name, relocating Sauber whose name had been present in F1 since 1993.

Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi form an all new lineup at the Swiss team as they target the top end of the midfield.

See images of the first Alfa Romeo in 3 decades below:

Make sure to join in on the conversation and follow us on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram – @drivenbysport

Report: Lucas di Grassi wins dramatic Mexico City E-Prix

After a thrilling *45 minutes of racing, Lucas di Grassi narrowly took the chequered flag ahead of Antonio Felix da Costa and Edoardo Mortara.

3 rookies made a great impression in qualifying with Oliver Rowland and Felipe Massa qualifying 4th and 3rd respectively with Pascal Wehrlein taking pole position ahead of Lucas di Grassi in only his 3rd Formula E race.

Wehrlein maintained his lead off the line and into turn one while Oliver Rowland broke much later than those around him putting himself into 2nd ahead of di Grassi.

It did not take long for the drama to begin, Nelson Piquet suffered a huge crash, launching over the Techeetah of Jean-Eric Vergne after the Brazilian was caught out by Vergne’s early braking. Piquet would be out of the race while Vergne and Alexander Sims who got tagged by the crashing Piquet would require repair.

The red flag would be brought out, putting a temporary stop to the race while debris and the stricken Jaguar were cleared up. As the race got under way, the majority of the filed opted to use their first Attack Mode.

Wehrlein would continue to lead Oliver Rowland at the front while the two Envision Virgin Racing cars would slowly make their way up the pack, Sam Bird failed to set a lap in qualifying due to a technical issue while Frijns had a picked up a grid drop for impeding Jerome D’Ambrosio.

Jean-Eric Vergne was once again having a nightmare, whilst able to continue after the Piquet incident, he would make contact with the other Jaguar of Mitch Evans and spin to near the back of the pack.

In the closing staged of the race the top 5 would start activating their Attack Mode, each taking it in turns to activate it. da Costa would be first to activate this in 5th place but failed to pass Sebastien Buemi before he activated his. di Grassi would then be next to use his Attack Mode before 2nd place Rowland would do the same but would lose 2nd place to di Grassi in doing so.

Wehrlein and di Grassi would pull away from the rest of the top 5 in the remaining laps with both Nissan E.DAMS cars running out of battery with 1 lap to go. Wehrlein was also marginal on battery and slowed his pace considerably on the final lap bringing da Costa and Mortara who had the most energy of all in on the fight for the lead.

Wehrlein and di Grassi would make contact forcing Wehrlein to cut the chicane, ultimately earning himself a 5-second time penalty, it wouldn’t matter as he would run out of battery on the final straight and di Grassi would pass him across the line.

Make sure to join in on the conversation and follow us on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram – @drivenbysport

2019 Ferrari breaks cover

Runners up in 2018 Ferrari are the latest team to reveal their title challenger.

There has been some reshuffling in Ferrari management over the winter as the Italian team looks to win it’s first constructors championship since 2008 and drivers championship since 2007.

Charles Leclerc joins the team after just one season in the sport. Leclerc is one of our drivers to watch this season but will need to beat 4-time champion Sebastian Vettel in equal machinery if he wants to win the title.

See images of the SF90 below:

Make sure to join in on the conversation and follow us on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram – @drivenbysport