Hamilton versus Vettel, five-time world champion versus four-time champion, silver versus red: Before the start of Formula One season 2019, of course, almost everything revolves around the two superstars.
But in the (wind) shadow of the perennial races, many interesting pilots fight for fame, victories, Points
CHARLES LECLERC: Will the polite Monegasse become Sebastian Vettel’s career killer? Not a few experts find this quite imaginable. And Leclerc, 21-year-old and just experienced 21-formula-1 races, entered his post as Vettel teammate at the Scuderia anything but submissive. Offensively he announced that he wanted to win races as soon as possible. He underscored this statement with strong performance during the test journeys. Unlike the predecessor Kimi Reiikkunen, who was more of an adjutant than a counterpart to Vettel, Leclerc could force the four-time champion from Heppenheim to take up a running stable. If the winner were Leclerc, Vettel’s future with Ferrari would probably be in the stars in spite of the contract up to 2020.
VALTTERI BOTTAS: The stoic from the Finnish Nastola has taken on a edgy look. With ten-day beard, Bottas presented himself in the tests before the season and also made it clear verbally that he wants to be more aggressive. In fact, the 29-year-old must be more than a reliable number two in his third Mercedes year, which is only occasionally faster than world champion Lewis Hamilton. Bottas’contract expires again, another season without victory he will hardly be able to afford. In Esteban Ocon, Mercedes also has an ace up his sleeve: The high-ranking Frenchman had left empty in the cockpit lottery for 2019 under almost ridiculous circumstances, he could take Bottas’silver arrow at any time.
MAX STOPPEN: Somehow, every autumn, one feels that it’s Max Verstappen’s turn in the new season. Only: Individual errors that are typical for a first 21-year-old and material deficiencies often reduced Mad Max’s chances of winning the World Cup to a minimum in spring. Also 2019 will have to endure hiding. Red Bull’s new engine partner Honda has apparently shortened the delay on Mercedes and Ferrari, but behind the reliability of the Power Unit there are big question marks. For the super talent, it’ll be “just” about individual victories again. Understanding the greatest ally, however, is the time: the Plazhirsche Hamilton and Vettel arrived already in the autumn of their careers.
NICO HULKENBERG: 156 Formula-1 race, no victory, not even a podium place –so you don’t actually read the balance sheet of a top pilot. But it is precisely this reputation that precedes Hullkenberg. Alone: Never before has the Rhine had a car for the absolute top. That is unlikely to change 2019. For this, Renault’s 31-year-old has to stand up to a teammate this year, who may well act as a measuring board for Hullkenberg’s class. DANIEL RICCIARDO is a seven-time Grand Prix winner, at Red Bull the Australian 2014 enchanted the then incumbent world champion Vettel, with Megatalent Max Verstappen he delivered to himself 2016 and 2017 a stable bull at eye level. If Hilkenberg emerges from this comparison as a winner, this should also be registered with the top teams.
ROBERT KUBICA: It is the formula-1 fairy tale of the year. Eight years after his horror accident as a Rallye guest starter, Williams gives confidence to the now 34-year-old Poland, although his right arm will never be the same as before. But not for this reason Kubica will probably find itself at the end of the field: his Williams FW42 was finished as the last car and is lagging significantly behind at the speed. Kubica’s performance will be measured by his teammate George Russell. The 21-year-old as well as the other two newcomers, the 19-year-old Lando Norris (McLaren) and 22-year-old Alex Albon (Toro Rosso) – all Brits -[top talent.
KIMI COUNTRIES: The “Iceman” does not have enough! At the end of the season, the 39-year-old old old champion and former world champion did not react by resigning, but by changing to the relatively small team Alfa Romeo (formerly clean). There are many who have doubts about the meaning of this decision. It is up to the equally caustic and cult Finn to punish them with lies.