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  1. #1
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    Rookie battles in 2019

    With a flock of some of the most exciting rookies for some time getting promotion into F1 seats, sets up the 2019 season for a number of very exciting stories that would develop throughout the season. Stories that may see some rookies triumph over their more experienced teammates like Verstapenn and Ricciado, or be crushed by their more experienced teammate like Vandoorne from Alonso.

    Charles Leclerc
    The most exciting promotion into a senior f1 seat is Leclerc, who is going head to Head with four times world champion Sebastien Vettel in what is promising to be the "thriller di monza" as both men take the scarlet Ferrari through the 2019 calendar. Everyone is expecting Vettel to get a nasty shock from a very impressive Leclerc. How hard would Ferrari allow Leclerc to fight Vettel; is yet to be seen. But if left to race without interference by the team, there are some who think Leclerc might beat Vettel over a full season. That is, if the last two seasons that has seen Vettel crack and self destruct under pressure is anything to go by. Such a feat would instantly make Leclerc a new true force in F1. The reverse would not hurt Leclerc if he manages to be as close as possible to Vettel in the points or races.

    Saying Leclerc may beat Vettel over a full season is easily said than done. I would say this would not happen if Leclerc gets Raikonen's mechanics. More so, Ferrari do not historically feature two number one drivers, they always put their support in one driver. Hence, l think Leclerc is going to be taking a wingman station until he proves himself when Vettel fumbles.

    Pierre Gasly
    Equally as exciting as the Vettel/Leclerc pairing, is the Verstapenn/Gasly pairing for 2019. While Verstapenn has established himself as the driver with the potential to snatch a driver's title from the exclusive enclave of Hamilton and Vettel, Gasly has in his very short F1 tenure shown that he can perform at the level of Verstapenn, given a competitive car.

    In the cut throat environment of the Redbull world, this pairing has the potential to be very destructive for either men. If Gasly manages to weave a feat that puts him ahead of Verstapenn at the end of the 2019 season, it is safe to say the Verstapenn roadshow may come to an end, as would his stature as a potential world champion. Gastly would essentially become the new golden child of the Redbull establishment. This would be more so, if Redbull turns up with a Honda powered car that ends up winning the 2019 double titles with Gastly as their new drivers world champion.

    Is this possible, quite frankly yes. Like Mercedes, Redbull is the other team that allows their drivers to race each other fairly. Hence, Gasly would have all the tools and support to do as well as he can produce. But there are other factors to bear in mind, Verstapenn is well integrated into the senior Redbull team, with good rapport with the engineers and management alike. Hence Gasly would be going into what would feel like a Verstapenn team.

    On the flipside, Gasly have a full season's experience of the Honda engine. He knows all the quirks and characteristics of that engine. Gasly would not be judged too harshly if he finishes the season close behind Verstapenn. The reverse would not be good for Verstrapenn. Hence, this pairing is potentially going to be one of those bitter rivalry like we saw between Verstapenn and Sainz.

    However, which of them is going to be on top? It is hard to tell. Verstapenn is more experienced but still green compared to Hamilton or Vettel or Ricciado for that matter. Gasly has one full F1 season under his belt but surprisingly made less mistakes compared to Verstapenn's first years in F1. Verstapenn is a very emotional driver, especially when beaten. If Gasly turns up at his best, he could easily get into Verstapenn's head l think. I don't know if that would be enough for Gasly to beat Verstapenn. I have a feeling Verstapenn would keep ahead.

    George Russell
    The next most eagerly awaited duel is between Kubica and Russell. Russell comes into Williams after winning the 2018 F2 championship which was initially thought would be won by Lando Norris. Taking up a seat alongside Kubica whom has just completed an incredible journey from what most had described as a career ending injury to a Williams seat. Kubica has a full year's experience as reserve and test driver for Williams over the 2018 season. Hence, he has the benefit of understanding Williams as a team and how they work. He knows the Williams car very well and also has a much valued experience of the Mercedes hybrid engine.

    Kubica did not get the seat for the 2018 season because Sirotkin turned out to be quicker than him; probably had better financial backing at the time. Hence, the expectation is that Russel would be easily faster than Kubica in one lap. I think he would out-qualify Kubica regularly. But Kubica may finish most races ahead due to his vast experience.

    To land the Bottas seat in 2020, Russel must comprehensively beat Kubica. Is failure to do so would gift the seat to Ocon. Kubica has nothing to prove really, regardless of whether he beats the youngster or not. To complete the season would be like winning the drivers title in my opinion. However, we are curious to see if the Kubica speed of old is still there. My money is on Russell to win this one.

    Lando Norris
    Norris has a more difficult challenge compared to Russel. He has to go head to head with Sainz who is as fast and experienced as Verstapenn. Sainz is just has hungry as the new comer, and as determined to make Mclaren his team. Sainz would be the main driver for Mclaren as they would be looking to him for the information to help develop and improve the car.

    Norris has his work cut out, but he must raise above it, to give a comparable performance, to ensure he retains his seat at the end of the 2019 season. I would be impressed if Norris can pull off an upset. I have a strong feeling that Sainz would be on top of this one.

    Antonio Giovinazzi
    Giovinazzi partners the oldest driver in F1; Kimi Raikonen. This thought is misleading, Kimi has proved to be as quick as ever this season. Hence, l fear Giovinazzi would be humbled by Kimi's performance. But it presents Giovinazzi an excellent opportunity to learn from the vast knowledge and experience of a F1 world Champion with a very long career.

    I don't see Giovinazzi beating Kimi over a full season. But he would be measured by how well he gives Kimi a fight on the track. Of course, that would depend on whether Kimi is motivated to give his best in a Sauber that is slower than his previous Ferrari.

    Alexander Albon
    Albon finished his F2 career as runners up to George Russell in the 2018 F2 season. He finished a close 2nd ahead of Lando Norris in 3rd. A crash at the start of the very last race in Abu Dhabi effectively handed the F2 championship title to Russell who was ahead anyway.

    Albon shall be teaming up with Kyvat who returns from a spell out of F1, working as a reserver and test driver for Ferrari over the 2018 season. Albon is a brilliant racer, very fast and one of the most exciting overtakers in the 2018 f2 serias. Kyvat on his day is super fast and a talent that deserve a seat in F1. Kyvat comes with a wealth of F1 Hybrid experience and knowledge. He would be the one that the team would be looking to for information to help them develop the car.

    Can Albon outperform Kyvat, is an interesting question? Kyvat has not raced for a full season and Albon has just come out of one of the hardest fought F2 season. Hence it is not easy to say which way this would go. But l have a feeling that Kyvat may use his experience and knowledge to stay ahead. However, that would depend on if he can keep it together. But if l have to place a bet, l would put my money on Albon.
    Last edited by Nitrodaze; 18th December 2018 at 08:07.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member N. Jones's Avatar
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    Sep 2004
    Woodridge, Illinois, USA
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    The way most rookies have fared the last few years I'll hold my judgement.
    I will say that I don't think anyone could have hauled that Williams POS any higher that Sirotkin did, so sad to see him go.
    " Lady - I'm in an awful dilemma.
    Moe - Yeah, I never cared much for these foreign cars either."

  3. #3
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    Dec 2018
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    These are my predictions:
    Charles Leclerc
    I believe Leclerc will put up a fight with Seb, the only question here is that can Seb handle this? Remember what happened when Ricciardo joined Red Bull. Vettel has been number 1 driver for Ferrari for few years, but what happens when Charles challenges Seb? If Seb cant handle the pressure then Leclerc will win the battle between Ferraris.

    Pierre Gasly
    In my mind, this is the closest battle between teammates. I'm sure Verstappen wont give anything for free to Pierre. This would be the most entertaining couple to watch on races, I expect them to collide more than once. But i think Verstappen will outscore Gasly next season. Just by pure fact that he has more experience in Red Bull.

    George Russel
    The future star for Mercedes, lets hope that he wont share same destiny as Wehrlein and Ocon. I believe that this next season is just learning to cope with F1 car, he might surprise Kubica in few races, but thats it (assuming that Robert will perform same level that he did before accident)

    Lando Norris
    Lando has a though start to his F1 career. Sainz has proven himself to be fast, and has way more experience. All I see in this case is Vandoorne all over again. Hoping that Lando could outperform Sainz in few races, but I wouldnt hold on to that.

    Antonio Giovinazzi
    This is a learning year for young italian. Kimi will be good mentor for this "kid". If he performs well, he could be close to Kimi, but he wont be outscoring Räikkönen. And for the future for Antonio? I think road to Ferrari is blocked, so this could be his only change to prove other teams that he can drive in F1. I'm afraid he will be in F1 just a season or two. Hoping he proves me wrong!

    Alexander Albon
    To be fair, I dont have much knowledge on Albon. In F2 he proved that he can drive, but can he outscore Kvyat? When the Russian Torpedo is on his best performance, then no. I would assume that Kvyat has lot to prove to Red Bull, and will try his hardest, but he could over try and give Albon the edge.

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