Potential storylines to follow during the 2019 Formula 1 season revisited

Ahead of the 2019 Formula 1 season I wrote a post about the potential storylines that could materialise during the season.

With nearly a quarter of the season gone already and with the current Mercedes domination I decided to revisit what I covered in that post to see which storylines have developed and which haven’t.

I’ll also have a follow up to this which will identify some new storylines that could develop throughout the rest of the season, taking into consideration what has happened in the opening five rounds.

Hamilton v Vettel Part 3

Unfortunately the third part of Hamilton and Vettel’s title fight has not materialised so far this season with Ferrari’s preseason form having vanished and Hamilton’s Mercedes team getting practically everything right to score five consecutive 1-2 finishes.

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Although Ferrari may sort out the issues with their 2019 car, they will need to fix them quickly if this Hamilton v Vettel part 3 storyline is ever going to materialise during the rest of 2019. That is also assuming they get strategy and everything on the operational side working flawlessly, as this will be key to reining in Mercedes.

Leclerc at Scuderia Ferrari

This was almost always going to be a storyline of 2019 regardless of how well or poor the 2019 Ferrari car performed on track.

Charles Leclerc’s life as a Ferrari driver has been up and down with the notable high of qualifying on pole in Bahrain and leading a large portion of that race.

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Unfortunately that race also showed some of the lows so far in 2019 with reliability denying him of a maiden victory. He has also got caught up in numerous team orders issues, since he has been battling mostly his teammate in the opening races of the season while Ferrari, at the same time, have tried to maximise their results.

He has currently been out-qualified by Vettel four to one so far this season although one of those four was in Azerbaijan when Leclerc crashed during qualifying.

Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes

Without a rejuvenated Bottas in 2019 this season could be even more processional and boring than it is currently being perceived.

With that in mind, helped by winning the opening Grand Prix of 2019, Bottas has been a major story so far this season and will continue to do so as he is the only major threat at the moment to Hamilton and with also needing to prove himself to keep his Mercedes seat for 2020.

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Red Bull and Honda

The Red Bull/Honda partnership has started well with two podium finishes already thanks to Max Verstappen.

Due to the Red Bull-Honda package and Verstappen’s early 2019 form, he and the team as a whole have amplified Ferrari’s issues by being able to wedge themselves to a certain extent between Mercedes and Ferrari at some of the Grand Prix this season already.

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Everything seems to be going well for the partnership at the moment, with the question now over when Red Bull-Honda will be able to challenge for race victories, with the upcoming Monaco Grand Prix offering such an opportunity.

Renault

This season for Renault was expected to be when they pulled away from the midfield in a sort of no man’s land as they made their way closer to the front.

Unfortunately, the team have struggled in the opening rounds of 2019, leaving them eighth in the constructors’ standings going into the Monaco Grand Prix weekend.

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It has also meant it has been a far less than ideal start for Daniel Ricciardo at his new team, having managed only a solitary points scoring finish in China.

Nico Hulkenberg

Similar to Charles Leclerc at Ferrari, it didn’t really matter how competitive the Renault was when it came to Nico Hulkenberg increasing his stock by having Daniel Ricciardo as a teammate and therefore having the chance to prove himself.

They currently have only scored one points finish each and they have both been a seventh place. Unfortunately for Hulkenberg he has been out-qualified four to one so far this season.

Like Leclerc’s qualifying record against Vettel’s, Hulkenberg’s has been influenced by certain issues, notably an engine issue hampering him during Bahrain qualifying.

Haas F1 Team

Haas too have struggled this season, mainly with getting tyres to work during the race.

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Haas VF-19 / Romain Grosjean / FRA / Haas F1 Team” by Artes Max is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

They have managed to qualify in the top ten four times in the opening five races, but have only managed to convert this into two point scoring weekends so far this season.

It hasn’t left them adrift however with being only seven points behind fourth placed McLaren going into the Monaco Grand Prix. But with a tight midfield battle, and Haas well aware of the cost of the points they dropped in 2018, they can’t be doing the same too often this season.

Lance Stroll against Sergio Perez

Like Hulkenberg, 2019 is a big season for Lance Stroll as he finds himself in more competitive machinery with the Racing Point when compared to the Williams he drove in 2018.

He has managed to score points in two Grand Prix so far this season, but has been hampered by his qualifying having been knocked out in Q1 in all five races so far this season.

It also means he trails Perez in the drivers’ standings with Perez on thirteen points thanks to three points finishes while Stroll is on four points from two points finishes.

Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo have started 2019 positively, currently in seventh in the constructors’ standings ahead of Renault, Scuderia Toro Rosso and Williams.

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This is mainly thanks to Kimi Raikkonen who has scored all of Alfa Romeo’s thirteen points this season thanks to four consecutive points finishes in the opening four Grand Prix which only came to an end last time out in Spain.

Antonio Giovinazzi has been close to point finishes as well having finished eleventh in Bahrain and twelfth in Azerbaijan.

Overall the team is slightly better off points wise when compared to this same stage in 2018 where they had eleven points after five rounds.

Scuderia Toro Rosso

Both Toro Rosso drivers, Daniil Kvyat and Alexander Albon, have started life well at the Italian team in the opening rounds of 2019.

Both of them have managed to claim two points finishes with Kyvat scoring in Australia and Spain while Albon scored points in Bahrain and China.

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It means that the only race the team have failed to score points in is at Azerbaijan, although Albon did finish eleventh in that race. This is an improvement of sorts on 2018 where they had failed to score points in three of the opening five rounds.

They are currently ninth in the constructors’ standings, six points adrift of their nearest rival, Renault. Toro Rosso may feel the impact of not achieving a standout result this season, like they did in 2018 when Gasly finished fourth in Bahrain, for example.

Robert Kubica

It hasn’t been the sporting comeback that many would have hoped for Robert Kubica as he finds himself in an uncompetitive Williams.

He has been out-qualified by his teammate, George Russell in all five Grand Prix so far and has finished behind the Briton in all five Grand Prix.

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Rookies

Unfortunately there hasn’t quite been a four way enthralling battle between the 2019 rookies in Formula 1 with Antonio Giovinazzi having not been able to get points yet and with George Russell in an uncompetitive Williams.

However it has been slightly different with Alexander Albon at Toro Rosso and Lando Norris at McLaren who have managed to claim a few points scoring finishes and have impressed in the opening rounds of the season.

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The major storylines that many would have hoped for have not really developed so far in the opening rounds of the 2019 season, but look hard enough and there are interesting stories elsewhere on the grid.

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