Formula 1: 19 reasons to be very excited by F1 2019
Just a few of the things to look out for in the new Formula 1 season. Get ready to get very excited; Sunday's season-opening Australian GP starts at 5.10am on Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Main Event...
Last Updated: 13/03/19 9:02am
Mercedes have a huge fight on their hands
F1 winter testing has a deserved reputation over the years for telling porkies. But all the signs from the eight days of running in Barcelona in February pointed to a mighty challenge for Mercedes to retain their supremacy in 2019. "This is going to be the toughest battle yet," predicted Lewis Hamilton in the wake of Ferrari's searing start. "The challenge is going to be harder than ever." Great.
It's all change in the driver market
Well nearly all. In total, only eight drivers haven't changed teams for the new season - less than half the grid and a tally which compares to 15 'staybes' for 2018. Of the 10 teams, just Mercedes and Haas have an entirely unchanged driver line-up for 2019. Everybody else has rolled the dice.
Vettel has it all to prove
After the mistakes and ultimate disappointment of 2018, the pressure is on for Sebastian in 2019. And there's a new challenge to tackle as well close to home: Vettel vs Leclerc in 2019 has all the required ingredients to be an Alonso vs Hamilton 2007 re-run. Can't wait.
Red Bull are starting on a brave new world
It's Renault out and Honda in for the former world champions. Mistake or masterstroke? In 2019, we will find out.
When's the Australian GP on Sky?
Race underway at 5.10am on Sunday, live on Sky Sports and Sky Sports Main Event. Full schedule here!
There are two more Brits on the grid
Forgive the flag-waving, but we're very much looking forward to finding out just how good Lando Norris and George Russell are.
Ricciardo has a gamble to justify
Ricciardo's decision to quit Red Bull for Renault has split opinion in the paddock. By December 1, we should be close to a consensus on whether his gamble was inspired or reckless.
And the battle at Renault will be fascinating
Ricciardo should be top dog at Renault, but we have a sneaking suspicion that Nico Hulkenberg will be a far tougher proposition than forecast. If ever Nico is going to prove himself to be truly the real deal, the time is now.
Ferrari has a new boss
Maurizio Arrivabene is out, and Mattia Binotto is up to the role of team boss. Now they just need to land their first world title since 2007...
...And a new approach
Look forward to a new era openness at the Scuderia. F1, and Ferrari themselves, can only win.
Hamilton has history in his sights
His record demands the tag of 'legend'. But another history-making landmark is within Hamilton's reach in 2019 as he goes in hunt of a sixth world championship which would propel him to the stand-alone position of second place in the pantheon of greats and just a single title behind Michael Schumacher, the most successful driver in F1 history.
How to follow F1 2019 with Sky F1
On TV, Online, On Demand and on the go: All the ways you can watch every Formula 1 race weekend on Sky Sports F1 this year...
Sky F1 will have a champion at every race
Whether it be Nico Rosberg, Damon Hill or Jenson Button, or a combination of the aforementioned, Sky F1 will have a world champion present at every race in 2019. We just thought we'd mention it.
Hope for more overtaking
Wider, higher and simplified front and rear wings are designed to allow cars to race closer to one another, which should make overtaking easier. And there's also an increased impact of 'DRS'. Opinion has been split about how big a difference these changes will make, but the early feedback from drivers at testing was certainly promising...
Force India will no longer be paupers
So we will finally learn just how high a team renowned as being the best pound-for-pound outfit in the sport can rise with serious financial backing.
Hamilton vs Verstappen is coming
Here's a fact to whet your appetite for 2019: Max Verstappen overtook Lewis Hamilton in each of the final three races of 2018. The circumstances of each move varied widely (in Mexico off the start, in Brazil for the lead prior to crashing into Esteban Ocon and in Abu Dhabi with a mugging after the pit-stops). But the cumulative effect was a strengthening impression that the era of Hamilton vs Verstappen is fast approaching, if not dawning.
The champion vs the heir apparent. The master and apprentice. The old guard versus the next generation. If and when it arrives, Hamilton vs Verstappen will be a battle of the ages for the ages.
McLaren and Williams eye revivals
Sixth and tenth places for winners of a combined 36 world titles was far below expectations last season, so 2019 represents a chance for two of the sport's former heavyweights to start the revival process. All-new driver line-ups at Woking and Grove, plus structural and management changes over the past 12 months, are aimed at the long term, but watching any immediate gains will be fun for fans of both F1 giants.
And Robert Kubica is back
One of sport's most astonishing, and uplifting, comebacks is complete with Robert Kubica's full return to Formula 1, but just how will the Pole fare in his first racing season for nine years? Will he have an advantage over rookie team-mate George Russell? Can he help propel Williams back up the midfield? Step by step both the Pole and F1 fans will find out plenty of answers.
A Schumacher is back at Ferrari
19-year-old Mick, son of seven-time world champion Michael is now part of the Ferrari young driver academy. There's no guarantee of a full graduation to the race team, but we will, almost certainly, see a Schumacher drive a Ferrari car this year: Mick is expected to appear in one, if not both, of 2019's two in-season tests driving for the Scuderia.
Raikkonen back at Sauber
One for the romantics as F1's oldest driver goes full circle by returning to the team where he made his F1 debut, some 18 years ago. There's reason too to believe that Kimi and Sauber can pull off a midfield surprise or two. Could they prove to be the best of the rest?
Formula 1 reaches a special landmark
April's Chinese GP is the sport's 1000th race. Fortunately F1 gets better with age...