F1: 2019 Australian Grand Prix Preview
The teams setting up their garages for the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix 2019 (Photo credit: Vince Caligiuri, Getty Images)

F1: 2019 Australian Grand Prix Preview

Lights-out is fast approaching in Melbourne, and the world of motorsport readies itself for another year of twists and turns ahead of the 2019 Formula 1 season.

matthewwatkinson
Matthew Watkinson

Formula 1 returns to the track for its 70th season, and this year promises to be one of the most eventful seasons ever.

Mercedes and Ferrari are tipped to engage in what could be one of the tightest title battles in recent history, ahead of a midfield scrap that is shaping up to be even more unpredictable than last season.

Across the paddock Ferrari’s pre-season pace has been the talk of the town, with the prancing horse seemingly the team to beat ahead of lights out in Melbourne on Sunday, though testing is not always the be-all and end-all of a teams’ destiny.

Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton are expecting their toughest season yet and are braced to be pushed to the limit by Ferrari.

For the past two seasons Hamilton has clinched pole position in Melbourne but has seen fierce rival Sebastian Vettel clinch victory on the Sunday, he will be hoping for different fortunes this weekend.

New season, new driver line-up

The new season boasts a host of driver changes throughout the grid and only two of the ten teams have relied upon last seasons drivers to deliver the goods.

Mercedes and Haas have an unchanged driver line-up with World Champion Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas aiming high in 2019, and Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean hoping to build on a successful debut season for the Haas F1 team.

Charles Leclerc impressed last term and has earned a seat beside Vettel who will no doubt be seeking his 5th drivers title after 2018’s disappointment.

Red Bull will be entering their new Honda era with Dutch hopeful Max Verstappen and Frenchman Pierre Gasly at the helm. The pair aim to bridge the gap to the front two teams but could also face a tricky transitional period after the engine switch.

Aussie favourite Daniel Ricciardo announced last year that he was joining Renault for the 2019 season, and he partners Nico Hulkenburg who will hope to prove his pace beside his new teammate.

McLaren, Williams and Toro Rosso have all new driver line-ups with Brits Lando Norris, George Russell and Alexander Albon aiming to impress in their debut seasons for their respective teams.

After it was confirmed that his father partially owns Racing Point, Lance Stroll has been paired with Mexican Sergio Perez after Esteban Ocon narrowly missed out on a seat and will be a Mercedes reserve driver.

Alfa Romeo, formerly Sauber, named Kimi Raikkonen to partner Antonio Giovinazzi in 2019 and the Swiss team are hopeful of being prominent in what will be an enthralling midfield battle.

The Track

Melbourne is preparing to host its 24th Grand Prix since first doing so in 1996.

The track is partially made up of public roads that wind through Albert Park and with the high-speed chicane in turn 11 and 12, this will be testing for the drivers who will need to get to grips with the immediate change of direction very quickly to avoid the nearby gravel trap.

As a street circuit, overtaking has never been easy in Melbourne, but the drivers will hope that a new regulation change to simplify the front and rear wings will aid overtaking on Sunday.

The forecast ahead of this weekend shows no sign of rain, with all three days expected to be clear skies leaving teams able to plan for an uninterrupted weekend.

When can I watch it?

Schedule:

Friday

Free Practice 1: 01:00 – 02:30

Free Practice 2: 05:00 – 06:30

Saturday

Free Practice 3: 03:00 – 04:00

Qualifying: 06:00 – 07:00

Sunday

Race: 05:10 – 07:10

All times UK.

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