Number 297: The 2019 Preview Issue
As I type, Formula 1 pre-season testing is in full swing and the NTT IndyCar Series has just wrapped its two days of Spring Training at Circuit of The Americas. It’s that time of the year when anything and everything is still possible.
The skeptics (Cynics? Realists?) among us might take the times racked up in thrashing around Barcelona or COTA with a pinch of salt, but the optimists – count us in – are seeing some intriguing trends and storylines emerging from the subterfuge and the sandbagging.
In F1, Ferrari’s SF90 appears a genuine pacesetter, with long-run speed and impressive consistency. Add in new signing Charles Leclerc looking totally at ease alongside team-leader Sebastian Vettel, and is this the year when the Scuderia finally gets on season-long terms with Mercedes?
Over at the Silver Arrows, has it taken a wrong turn on front-wing development under 2019’s new aero regulations, and will we see F1’s benchmark squad forced to play catchup in the early grands prix? That’s a fascinating thought. As is Red Bull Racing’s near-bulletproof start with new power-unit partner Honda, and Renault’s straight-out-of-the-box pace as it seeks to narrow the gap to F1’s “big three.”
Speaking of big threes, Andretti Autosport, Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing didn’t stray too far from the top of the time sheets at COTA’s IndyCar dress rehearsals, but some exciting interlopers hint at how wide open the 2019 season could be. Rookie Colton Herta fastest overall for Harding Steinbrenner Racing? Ganassi newbie Felix Rosenqvist edging teammate and reigning champ Scott Dixon? Graham Rahal and James Hinchcliffe putting Rahal Letterman Lanigan and Arrows SPM in the mix, too? This is going to be good!
In the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the Rolex 24 at Daytona provided hard data to go with the speculation. Cadillac made it three wins in three attempts at Daytona but the pace of Mazda’s RT24-P was a revelation. In this issue of RACER, find out why it seems only a matter of time before the DPi class gets a new winner.