Bob McMurray: Show and tell
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That’s it then. Testing for the pre-season 2019 is done and dusted and if you haven’t got the car where you want it now, then time has run out for you.
There were lots of encouraging words from most of the teams at the end of the two four-day testings at the Circuit Catalunya, as there always is at this time of year, “upbeat”, “encouraging”, “the feeling is great”, “can’t wait” and all the rest of the scripted quotes but they were accompanied by some fairly average ones like “we clearly have work to do” and “we are not quite where we want to be”.
It’s show-and-tell time in just a few days and the relative performances of the teams, the cars and the individual drivers will be laid bare for all to see, and analyse to the maximum.
Huge sighs or relief could be heard in the world of websites covering Formula 1 that now, after a seemingly endless winter for them, the world has been put back on its proper axis and an endless flow of news, fake or otherwise, can flow ceaselessly to finally settle in an ocean of internet storage.
Hopefully this coming season will provide a feast of competition, speculation and intrigue.
At the end of the second week of testing it seems that Ferrari will be a force on track.
This is not the first time the Scuderia have been strong pre-season only for them to gradually fall off the pace. Like many fans, I hope that will not be the case in 2019.
Mercedes will be the robotic, unemotional force yet again but perhaps this year some cracks have appeared in the overall team performance.
Red Bull and Honda seem to be making huge strides in performance and there are encouraging signs that the Renault-equipped McLaren team may have turned a corner and will settle towards the top of a close division two.
That midfield group, McLaren, Renault, Haas, Racing Point, Toro Rosso and Alfa Romeo, has some sorting out to do and I expect Alfa Romeo, with an up-to-date Ferrari engine and the incomparable Kimi Raikkonen, to quickly rise to the top.
Sadly it looks, again, that the Williams cars, just like last year, will be at the bottom of the heap.
There can be few fans who would not desperately hope and wish to see the Williams name riding high again.
Currently, it seems that the new driver combinations are reasonably evenly matched.
This puts pressure on the likes of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel up against Charles Leclerc and we know that Vettel has not relished that sort of situation in the past.
Pierre Gasly against Max Verstappen in the Red Bull team is another intriguing prospect but there I think the mental constitution of Verstappen will be a force to be reckoned with by the junior driver.
Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll in the “Racing Point” cars will see Perez come out on top as will, eventually, Carlos Sainz against Lando Norris in the McLaren team.
Renault has Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg and that contest will be won over 14 rounds of a 21-round bout by Ricciardo.
Daniil Kvyat makes his return to the grid, and Toro Rosso, against Alexander Albon and if Kvyat fulfils the predictions of team boss Franz Tost Albon will be struggling against him.
Personally I am not so sure.