F1: the struggle may be unpredictable in the middle of the pack this season

F1: la lutte risque d’être imprévisible en milieu de peloton cette saison

Photo: William West Agence France-Presse
Red Bull has replaced in spite of itself, Daniel Ricciardo (pictured, above) with the hope Pierre Gasly.

Fans of Formula 1 may be need a little time to familiarize themselves with the new bunch of drivers who will end up on the starting grid of the Australian Grand Prix of Formula 1, following a winter of troubled.

Of the ten teams entered in the championship in 2019, only Mercedes, five-times defending champion, and Haas have opted for the status quo with their duo of drivers.

Ferrari has “exchanged” his veteran Kimi Räikkönen at Sauber — now Alfa Romeo — the return of the young prodigy, Charles Leclerc, then that Red Bull has replaced in spite of itself, Daniel Ricciardo hopes Pierre Gasly.

The fight promises to be lively behind the three teams advanced, and many observers question the ability of Ricciardo to give the advantage to his new team, Renault, on its main rival the past few seasons : Haas and Force India — now SportPesa Racing Point, which belongs to the father of the quebec driver Lance Stroll, the billionaire Lawrence Stroll.

Stroll will certainly not do worse than last year when he was travelling in the back of the pack behind the wheel of the wretched Williams. The technical director of Racing Point, Andy Green, however, has suggested during the winter test as it will be a season of transition for the team based at Silverstone, as the car was already almost finished when Lawrence Stroll and his consortium have taken over as Force India last August.

“Previously, we had to wait forever on the side of the production, until a new package aero worthwhile, explained Green’s Auto Motor und Sport.

“Now, if we can find a few tenths in the wind tunnel, the changes will be implemented immediately. All of a sudden, we get all our parts in time. It’s a whole new way of working for us. It is almost a shock. We are in the process of becoming a normal team. In 2020, we really want to make a big step forward. This is why we have already started working on the next car, ” he added.

In this sense, during the unveiling of the car SportPesa Racing Point last February in Toronto, Stroll and his team-mate Sergio Perez have not hidden their excitement at the idea to start a new era.

“It’s going to first need to see where we will find ourselves in relation to others, and then build on it until the Grand Prix of Spain, where traditionally all the teams bring their first technical innovations, explained Stroll to The canadian Press. We’ll have to work on our consistency this season, but according to me, there is no doubt that we will be able to fight for podiums. “

New players

The unpredictability in the middle of the pack is boosted by the presence of three recruits in Lando Norris (McLaren), Alexander Albon (Toro Rosso) and George Russell (Williams), who have all made their marks in the series below. It may also need to eye the return of the pilots who have some experience in F1, such as Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo), Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) and Robert Kubica (Williams) — appointed by the british team, eight years after his serious accident in rally.

Also, if there is a certainty on which to wager this season is that Williams croupira again in the bottom of the grid.

Only ten days before the Australian Grand Prix, the technical director Paddy Lowe has announced that he ” took leave from the company for personal reasons “. Lowe is not the first member of management to leave the ship, as the head of aerodynamics Dirk de Beer, the chief designer Ed Wood and the head of performance Rob Smedley have all slammed the door since the past year.

In addition, Williams has missed the first two days of the winter test last month in Barcelona, and it has registered systematically the worst lap times of the practice sessions, to more than two seconds from the stables of edge — such as Mercedes and Ferrari.

The front wing talking point

One of the main topics of conversation during the winter test was the new front wing, higher and wider, which was adopted this year in order to reduce turbulence and facilitate overtaking in F1. Stroll was discussed in February.

“It is sure that the changes in aerodynamic will affect the whole world, he mentioned. But I think it is a positive thing, because it’s going to perhaps allow some teams to shake up the established hierarchy. “

Magnussen also said that he was optimistic about the new spoiler, after two weeks of winter test.

“A lot of people said that it would not make any difference, he referred to the Internet site F1.com. This is not a big difference, but it is enough to allow me to take in hunting [a opponent]. The car seems to be more stable behind an opponent, so I look forward to see if this will be the same on other circuits. “

Stroll, Magnussen and colleagues will have the answers to these questions this weekend, in Melbourne Park.

The novelties of the season

The front wing will not be the only new one to watch this season. Among the other elements that will grab the attention in 2019 :

The new side fins. They will be reduced by 150 mm in height, in order to reduce the turbulence for the cars which are behind, and to facilitate overtaking.

The new rear spoiler. It will be the highest (20 mm) and wider (100 mm), in order to reduce the turbulence behind and increase the power of the system drag reduction (DRS) of about 25 %. All this to facilitate overtaking.

A new color code to the gums. Rather than a range of colors like last year, there will be three on the sides of the Pirelli tyres in 2019 : white (hard), yellow (medium) and red (soft). The manufacturer will choose their variants depending on the circuit, limiting them to three. Finished, the hypertendres, ultratendres and supertendres.

An additional point will be awarded, as the Grand Prix of Australia, to the author of the best lap in the race. This bonus point will, however, be granted that if the driver author of the best lap in the race also ended among the top ten of the event and is not subject to a penalty. This extra point will go not only to the driver but also to his team the constructors Championship.

Racing fans that will be at circuit Gilles-Villeneuve this summer will see the new paddocks and state of the art. These are likely to be ready in time for the Canadian Grand Prix, which will take place from 7 to 9 June.