Ferrari in red and black as they launch new 2019 F1 car

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Ferrari have become the last of Formula One’s major players to unveil the car they hope will end their long championship drought.

The famous Italian team have not won a drivers’ title since Kimi Raikkonen triumphed in 2007, while they are without a constructors’ championship since 2008.

Ferrari’s challenge is set to be spearhead by Sebastian Vettel, although the four-time world champion will have new company in the sister car following highly-rated Charles Leclerc’s arrival from Sauber, with veteran Raikkonen moving in the opposite direction.

Vettel will be under pressure to deliver in 2019 after his series of mistakes afforded Lewis Hamilton the chance to sew up last year’s title with two rounds to spare.

Ferrari are also under new management for the forthcoming campaign as Maurizio Arrivabene was axed in January and replaced by Mattia Binotto, the team’s technical director for the last three years.

Ferrari held the performance edge over Mercedes at a number of races in 2018 but, like their number one driver, were guilty of making errors.

Speaking at Ferrari’s Maranello headquarters on Friday, Vettel said: “I am looking forward to this year. The team is on the right path, and hopefully, we can continue improving.”

Binotto added: “The car is a development from last year, it’s not a revolution.

“We simply tried to push again, raise the bar, raise the level, and have tried to be as extreme as we could.”

The new Ferrari, the SF90 to commemorate Ferrari’s 90th anniversary, will hit the track at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya on Monday for the opening winter test following a shakedown at the track on Sunday.

Hamilton, who drove his Mercedes during a shakedown test at Silverstone on Wednesday, begins his quest for a sixth title in Melbourne on March 17.

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Lewis Hamilton fires title warning as new Mercedes hits the track

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Lewis Hamilton has delivered an ominous warning to his Formula One rivals by vowing to improve on his almost flawless championship-winning campaign.

Hamilton emerged from his winter hibernation at Silverstone on Wednesday to see the Mercedes he hopes will fire him to a sixth world title.

The 34-year-old British driver delivered the season of his career, winning 11 of the 21 races, to beat Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and secure his fifth championship with two rounds to spare last year.

And as he enters the first campaign of the new two-year Mercedes deal which will earn him £40million-a-season, a fully-refreshed Hamilton is ready to continue his dominance of the sport.

“2018 was a great year, but I feel like 2019 can be even better,” he said.

“I want to achieve more, I want to continue to keep pushing. I feel energised and I am ready to attack.”

Hamilton, who will be partnered at Mercedes for a third successive season by Valtteri Bottas, will get his first taste of the new Silver Arrows during a private filming event at Silverstone on Wednesday afternoon.

The Englishman has kept a relatively low profile over the off-season, spending time in America, while also attending the Super Bowl earlier this month.

Hamilton added: “I had a great Christmas with my family and then I went snowmobiling, I went skiing, I went surfing with Kelly Slater, which was amazing.

“I completely switched off from racing for a while, trying to focus and re-centre myself and training hard for the new season.

“I’m really looking forward to the next step of our journey together with Mercedes and embarking on what’s not been done before.”

Toto Wolff, the Mercedes team principal, said: “When we met after the winter break, Lewis was refreshed.

“He’s extremely hungry and wants to start racing again.”

The opening winter test gets under way in Barcelona on Monday before Hamilton opens his championship defence in Melbourne on March 17.

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Claire Williams spared the axe as F1 team unveil new colour scheme

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Claire Williams claims she would have been sacked if father and boss Frank had not liked the paint job on the team’s latest Formula One cars.

Williams have ditched their traditional navy-and-white colour scheme, instead unveiling a sky-blue-and-white look at their Grove headquarters on Monday.

The British outfit have won a combined 16 driver and team titles, but haven’t celebrated a grand prix victory since 2012. Last season they finished rooted to the foot of the constructors’ championship.

For this year British rookie George Russell teams up with Robert Kubica, who will be back on the grid for the first time since 2010 following a horror rally crash that almost claimed his life.

Deputy team principal, Claire, hopes to usher in a new era. Speaking about the reaction to the new livery by her father, who founded the team more than 40 years ago, she said: “Frank loved it, and you might be surprised to hear that.

“I was a little nervous presenting it to him. Frank is very traditional and protective of the traditional navy blue and white, but also understanding of the arguments behind the change.

“We are telling the world a very clear story and clear message as to where we are as a company.

“He is fully behind it. I am still here, and if he didn’t like it, he would have fired me.”

Williams have signed with a new title partner, ROKiT – a telecommunications company which is expected to bring substantial investment to the team – on a multi-year deal.

At the end of last year, Williams were left without a main sponsor after drinks brand Martini chose not to renew its contract.

Williams added: “Martini’s departure gave us a great opportunity to show how we wanted to position Williams moving forward.

“This is a very important year for us, so we spent a lot of time on this livery.

“A lot of people are fully aware of our traditional colours, but I wanted to move away from that and show the world we are a fresh, revitalised brand.

“A Formula One car is your shop window to the world so I wanted to make sure we came out with a really bright livery.”

Russell, the reigning Formula Two champion, makes the step up to F1 this season after a year as Lewis Hamilton’s understudy at Mercedes.

The Englishman, who turns 21 on Friday, said: “It is important to try and build a great relationship with the team and show what I can do on track as well as behind the scenes.

“The help I have had from Mercedes and Lewis has been mainly listening and learning.

“Lewis goes out there to work on every aspect and really build that team around him, which is why he and Mercedes are so strong. That is what I want to do here.”

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