1)Sebastian Vettel vs Charles Leclerc
Ferrari’s protégé Charles Leclerc replaces Kimi Raikkonen. Big shoes to fill, but if any of the new young guns can do it, Leclerc’s the one. His stunning drive in Baku to sixth place in a Sauber was the making of his season. He never looked back, consistently finishing in seventh place in four out of the last six races of 2018. What was looking like a fifth title for Vettel at the start of last year eventually went to Hamilton, who appeared to raise his game even further.
Did Vettel crack under pressure? If he did, the last thing he needs is a super quick new young team mate.
2)Max Verstappen vs Pierre Gasly
It feels like only yesterday we were talking about Verstappen being the young hunter for Danny Ric, and now he’s potentially the one being hunted. Much like Leclerc, Gasly had a stunning drive to 4th place in Bahrain which was only 2018’s second race. He never finished 4th again that season but did manage a 6th and a 7th. Put that into context: he was driving a Toro Rosso and had the Honda engine that McLaren ditched at the end of 2017. Red Bull must have seen something to promote him and they’ve got a pretty good record of finding stars.
3)Honda vs Renault
So much talk of these two engines over the last few years, but can either properly rival the Mercedes and Ferrari? We’ll find out soon enough. Red Bull’s chassis’s have always been sound, and with the Renault engine installed won a few races last year. So the spotlight will be on Honda. Red Bull are confident. If Honda don’t produce, expect some tears.
4)Lando Norris vs George Russell
Norris and Russell both impressed in F2 last year, with Russell pipping Norris to the title. It will be fascinating to see who comes out on top at the end of 2019. Both have excelled in the junior categories, but that means nothing – just look at Stoffel Vandorne. McLaren and Williams’ cars were pretty poor last year so both will want to make up for that. So this could come down to who has the best car.
These guys are mates, but for how much longer? It’s going to be fun to watch.
5)Daniel Ricciardo vs Nico Hulkenberg
When Danny Ric announced he was leaving Red Bull to go to Renault last year, not only did it take everyone by surprise (maybe even himself) but it also kickstarted a flurry of seat changes. Danny has a point to prove: he’s one of the fastest drivers out there and will be wanting to show Red Bull it was their loss. Hulkenberg’s another underrated driver and will want to prove he can still stick with the top drivers. This one has the potential to be as exciting as Vettel vs Leclerc. But can Renault build them a car and an engine good enough for a win, let alone a championship?
6)Lewis Hamilton vs Valtteri Bottas
No guesses who needs to win this one. Bottas. He needs to get on top on Hamilton early doors and make a bid for a title run. Can he do a Rosberg? It’s the only way to stop Hamilton running away with it. But as ever with Hamilton, he’s so damn quick you just can’t see anyone beating him.
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