As the latter news about Lance Stoll’s confirmation in the Racing Point team (former Force India) came out, we can now observe all the line-ups for the next 2019 season:
- Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas
- Ferrari: Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc
- Red Bull: Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly
- Renault: Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg
- Haas: Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen
- McLaren: Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris
- Racing Point: Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll
- Sauber: Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi
- Toro Rosso: Daniil Kvyat and Alexander Albon
- Williams: Robert Kubica and George Russell
As we can see here, there are a few rookies that will start their Formula 1 journey, but we won’t concentrate on them in the current article. What we really want to discuss now are the old ones, the drivers that maybe are given the last chance in their current teams to show themselves, to fight the pressure and to verify their positions.
Let’s start from the top of the above list.
The Finn has looked promising enough when he started his F1 career in Williams, then, after Nico Rosberg’s retirement, it seemed like it’s his lucky moment to join Mercedes with its best car on the grid. His first year with the new team was not perfect though, but at least Valtteri managed to stay in the top-3 by the end of the season, winning four races. But now, where has it all gone? How can the man, that still has the best car, finish the year on the 5th place while his team mate becomes a 5-time world champion two races before the end?
Bottas himself is very disappointed with the results, stating that “it was the worst season so far” for him in Formula 1.
Of course, someone can blame the team’s strategy, someone can say it’s all the Finn’s fault because of his calm character, but the fact doesn’t change: Valtteri Bottas has a one-year contract extension and nobody knows what will come next (especially if we take in account Esteban Ocon, who is now Mercedes’ reserve driver for 2019).
It may seem a little strange to mention Sebastian here, but we really think that it’s appropriate. The past few years has showed us that Vettel has to make some changes in his approach to win the title again, because it’s not only the team who makes mistakes, the driver’s work is sometimes not perfect as well. Being a number one in the team, the German still misses something to be able to fight Hamilton, and everything could be even more complicated next year as Leclerc steps in.
At the one of press-conferences last week Sebastian was asked to name one thing he will miss about Kimi Raikkonen – “Silence” he answered with a smile. It was a joke obviously, but yet, there is some truth behind every joke, isn’t it?
Despite the fact, that Ferrari has signed him as their development driver for 2018, last year we were all sure, that Daniil’s career in F1 as a racing driver is almost over. He’s gone through the tough seasons, making mistakes, but mainly – making them in a wrong time, which led to his return to Toro Rosso and eventually losing his F1 seat.
Today Kvyat returns to Toro Rosso the second time – this time, it’s a positive step. The fans can see him racing and fighting again, and hope for the better results, as he confirmed himself:
"I never gave up hope of racing again, I am still young and I have kept in good shape to always be prepared in case another opportunity presented itself. I will give my best to deliver what the team expects from me and I can’t wait for everything to start again.”
Kubica’s return to F1 world is truly a special case. He had some chances of returning even the last year, but ended up being Williams’ reserve driver; it was a long way for him, after the injury in 2011 up until today, the end of 2018.
“It will not be easy,” Robert said. “It’s been a big challenge to get into F1. It will be an even bigger challenge from a sporting point of view to make sure I’m delivering what we’re expecting from my side. I’m not scared at all. I’m ready and excited and it gives me additional motivation and dedication to what I have been doing already this year.”
Some may say he should thank his sponsors for the opportunity, but actually it doesn’t matter. What really matters here is the result – could the Pole make a splash or not, that’s the actual question.