We travelled to Barcelona for the first week of testing ahead of the 2019 Formula 1 season. Here’s our photos and thoughts on the leading midfield runners: Renault, Haas & McLaren.
Renault is on the rise after returning to F1 in 2016. After a slow start – 9th in 2016 – the French automotive giant rose to 6th in 2017 and 4th last year. Now the going gets harder. Renault scored 122 points for 4th place in last year’s constructors championship compared to 419 for Red Bull in 3rd. Regular podiums this year have to be the target for new recruit and 7-time race winner Daniel Ricciardo, who join perennial mid-fielder Nico Hülkenberg – will this be the year that the German finally stands on the F1 podium?
Can Renault take it to the top 3 teams in 2019? Will Daniel Ricciardo get podiums? Comment below!
The team that flies under the radar has a lot to prove in 2019. Now in its fourth year of Formula 1, the only US-based team on the grid made a big leap last year in the constructors standings – from 8th to 5th. This year, they’ve signed a somewhat controversial new UK-owned energy drink in Rich Energy – but retain the same driver lineup as last year. Romain Grosjean will be hoping for a better start to the season than last year, when he retired in three out of the first eight races and finished out of the points in the other five. He did follow up with a season-best 4th in Austria, however and somewhat redeemed himself with some good performances during the remaining races. Meanwhile Kevin Magnussen quietly impressed, comfortably outscoring his Swiss-French colleague.
Will Haas retain their position in an increasingly competitive F1 midfield in 2019? Leave a comment!
It’s been a slow retreat into the midfield for the once-great McLaren, which finished in 6th place among the constructors last year (7th if Force India/Racing Point hadn’t lost half their points.) The team that last won back in 2012 have made some wholesale changes to its management as a result of poor on-track results in recent years – the switch from Honda to Renault power in 2018 also failed to propel the orange cars back up the grid. Racing Director Eric Boullier quit before the British GP last year and Gil de Ferran, a former IndyCar champion, was appointed to the new role of Sporting Director. Alonso also called it quits at the end of the season and Vandoorne decamped to Formula E, creating an all-new driver lineup for 2019; exciting rookie Lando Norris and 5th year veteran Carlos Sainz Jr.
Will McLaren move up the grid in 2019? Comment below.
All photos © Andrew Balfour / motorsportguides.com