With Mercedes cleaning up so far in Formula 1 during 2019, what are the storylines to keep track of during the rest of the year in what could become a processional season.
Mercedes going after the 1988 McLaren record
After the Spanish Grand Prix, there was some talk about Mercedes potentially being invincible this season and claiming victory at every Grand Prix in 2019.Embed from Getty Images
This would surpass and emulate in certain ways what McLaren managed to achieve in 1988 when they managed to win fifteen of the sixteen races that season.
It’s a tall ask, something that Mercedes themselves have admitted, considering the development of their nearest rivals Red Bull and Ferrari with both having enough Grand Prix left to either improve their overall package or rectify issues with their car.
Who besides Mercedes will win a Grand Prix
On the flip side of Mercedes potentially winning every Grand Prix available is who besides the Silver Arrows will win in 2019 and if so, how many will that team or teams win.
Ferrari and Red Bull are the obvious, and seemingly, only contenders to prevent Mercedes taking a clean sweep.Embed from Getty Images
The fewest that a team other than Mercedes have won in the V6 turbo hybrid era is two in 2016 when Red Bull won in Spain and Malaysia during the twenty one race season. The most that a team/teams that aren’t Mercedes have won in a season during the current engine era is ten which happened in 2018 when Ferrari won six races and Red Bull won four races.
This weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix is the first big opportunity that Red Bull and Ferrari have to win a Grand Prix with Red Bull winning around the principality in 2018 and Ferrari winning in 2017. Mercedes haven’t won since 2016, even then that victory was gifted to them when Daniel Ricciardo, driving for Red Bull, had a disastrous pit stop.
Valtteri Bottas championship challenge
Without a rejuvenated Bottas, this 2019 season could be even more of a foregone conclusion.
The main story will be how long Bottas will be able to challenge Lewis Hamilton and keep the title race alive. For context Hamilton won his 2017 and 2018 titles with two races to spare while he clinched his 2015 title with three races to spare.
Should Bottas be able to replicate keeping the title mathematically alive with three or four races left, it can be considered a success of sorts as one alternative would have Hamilton emulating Michael Schumacher in clinching the title with potentially six races spare.
Who will finish fourth in the Constructors’ standings
Unfortunately, it looks like first, second and third in the constructors’ championship is sorted with Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull having pulled away from the rest of the field, with there being already a sixty five point gap between Red Bull in third and fourth placed McLaren.
However, from fourth to ninth is a very different story with Racing Point, Haas, Alfa Romeo, Renault and Toro Rosso all battling with McLaren for fourth in the standings.Embed from Getty Images
Sixteen points covers McLaren down to Toro Rosso and with Haas, McLaren, Renault and Racing Point all having claimed ‘Class B’ victories in the opening five rounds of 2019, it is a more fluid championship than the main one up front and will be a big provider of the on track entertainment during the remainder of the season.
When will Gasly join the top five
With Ricciardo having moved to Renault, Pierre Gasly was promoted to the senior Red Bull team.
Gasly’s 2019 season hasn’t started brilliantly in part due to a team error during qualifying for Australia and a penalty being awarded in Azerbaijan. He has also been quoted as saying he has struggled adapting to the 2019 Red Bull car.Embed from Getty Images
All this means that the top six of 2018 is now currently a top five with the two Mercedes having finished no lower than second, the two Ferrari’s having finished no lower than fifth and Verstappen having finished no lower than fourth.
This has meant that Gasly is a little adrift of the top five fight, and it will therefore be interesting to see when he becomes more of a factor at the front and make the current top five more of a top six.
Will there be twenty different points scorers by the end of the season
Despite the trouble Williams encountered during 2018, through a few exceptions at Grand Prix and some post race penalties applied to other teams, both 2018 Williams drivers managed to score points, as did the other eighteen drivers from 2018.Embed from Getty Images
Currently seventeen drivers out of twenty have scored points in 2019 with only Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi and the two Williams drivers of George Russell and Robert Kubica having failed to score so far.
There is still enough races this season, through strong racing, a good strategy, or luck for those three drivers yet to score points to do so at some stage in 2019.
Not all of my original potential storylines are redundant with the battle between rookies Alexander Albon and Lando Norris worth keeping track of as Norris has taken an early initiative. It will also be worth seeing when and if Antonio Giovinazzi in the Alfa Romeo becomes a factor.Embed from Getty Images
The rivalries between teammates is always worth following regardless of how entertaining or otherwise the season is with Robert Kubica’s battle with George Russell at Williams, Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo at Renault and Lance Stroll against Sergio Perez at Racing Point all worth tracking.
I’ve mentioned the midfield battle and the fight for fourth, specifically it is still worth following how Renault, Haas, Alfa Romeo and Toro Rosso perform throughout the rest of the season as Renault aims to pull away from the midfield and Haas attempts to build on their impressive 2018 season and potentially finish fourth themselves. Not to forget seeing how Alfa Romeo build on their 2018 season considering they wanted to challenge for fourth in the constructors’ this season, as well as how Toro Rosso do and whether either of their drivers come under pressure or fall out of favour from within Red Bull.