With the new Formula One season upon us our team of writers have put their necks on the line and made their predictions for the new campaign.
Do you agree with their views?
Winning driver: It’s difficult to see any driver other than Lewis Hamilton lifting the title this season. Although Sebastian Vettel may offer an early challenge, expect the Briton to romp to his fifth world crown.
Winning constructor: Based on their form during testing, Mercedes should clinch a fifth consecutive constructors’ crown. Ferrari and Red Bull have made strides but have not moved on as far as their rivals.
Best rookie: Williams may be lacking experience in their line-up this season, but in Sergey Sirotkin, they possess a driver of real quality who has the chance to establish himself as the team’s leading star.
Biggest flop: It’s frustrating to see a driver in one of the best cars not pushing himself, and this further reinstates why Kimi Raikkonen does not warrant a seat at Ferrari. At 37, the Finn’s best days are behind him and this will be the year he’s finally found out.
Suprise storyline: With a potential vacant Ferrari seat up for grabs at the end of the season, Sauber’s Charles Leclerc will not be short of motivation as he bids to back-up his stunning GP3 and F2 form in recent years.
Winning driver: Lewis Hamilton is undoubtedly the favourite, but it’s worth remembering just how strong of a season Sebastian Vettel was having last year until it all came undone. The German will need a little bit of luck for sure, but the sport will have a new champion.
Winning constructor: Regardless of whether or not they’re knocked off their perch for the driver’s title, Mercedes aren’t bending the knee to anyone in the constructors’ championship. They’ve once again looked like the ones to beat in testing.
Best rookie: While he won’t be in the best car, Sauber’s Charles Leclerc oozes talent and has proven on the lower levels that he’s a star in the making. He should be fun to watch all season, even if it means he isn’t winning races.
Biggest flop: There’s a lot of hype around Max Verstappen coming into the season and it’s almost assumed he’ll overtake teammate Daniel Ricciardo, if he hasn’t already. But as much talent as the 20-year-old has, he’s not ready to make the massive leap many are expecting.
Surprise storyline: I’ll go out on a limb here and say Fernando Alonso is going to rise back to prominence. Yes, he’s not shown much interest in winning races recently, but his passion for competing may return this year and with it, the chance to be fairly competitive in the championship.
Winning driver: Lewis Hamilton. Very tough to look beyond him. The car at his disposal this season is said to be even more reliable than the one that won him the last championship. A fifth world championship is very much attainable.
Winning constructor: Mercedes. Super strong during testing. Reliability is their strongest suit and the W09 looks capable of lasting the distance. Red Bull and Ferrari will pose a threat, no doubt, but the Silver Arrows retain their edge.
Best rookie: Charles Leclerc. The Sauber driver is the youngest rookie on the grid. The Monaco man was GP3 champion in 2016 and F2 champion in 2017. Has been with Ferrari academy since 2016. Top pedigree.
Biggest flop: Fernando Alonso. Seems to have lost that spark. His interest in endurance racing coupled with the reliability issues of McLaren might just make it another forgettable season for the Spaniard.
Surprise storyline: Halo becomes a hazard. The cockpit head protection system is supposed to protect drivers from flying debris. But drivers are complaining about restricted vision. Expect numerous issues once the season starts.
Winning driver: Sebastian Vettel. Do I sound like I’m just being a contrarian? The German had two very unlucky retirements last year whereas Hamilton escaped without any. If Ferrari have closed the gap to Mercedes even just a smidgen, it’s game on.
Winning constructor: Mercedes and there’s no other argument to be made here. As long as an uninterested Kimi Raikkonen remains Vettel’s No2 for the Scuderia, this is a sure thing. A consistent Red Bull may even fancy second.
Best rookie: Brendon Hartley. He may not score the points that LeClerc does for Sauber, but he can certainly beat out fellow greenhorn Pierre Gasly as the top dog at Toro Rosso. At 28, and after being cut as a Red Bull reserve driver eight years ago, the Kiwi has a chip on his shoulder he can use to good effect.
Biggest flop: Esteban Ocon. The Mexican is in the hunt for a Silver Arrows drive in 2019, alongside Daniel Ricciardo and his Force India team-mate Sergio Perez. There’s just a feeling though that Ocon, at 21, is being built up a little too much too soon.
Surprise storyline: Honda actually supply a Formula One engine that is fit for purpose to Toro Rosso, leaving McLaren – now taking a punt on Renault – fuming after being supplied with years of misery by the Japanese manufacturer.
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