Motorsport always attracts lots of attention and any new Formula One season piques more interest than most. With the 2019 iteration of the leading global motorsport tournament about to kick off, the excitement surrounding the teams and the top drivers is palpable. Not only is there genuine fascination from those interested in online sports betting, but many pundits now consider the tournament to be more competitive than it has been in recent years. After all, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have won eight out of the last nine championships between them, taking the title for Mercedes and Red Bull respectively.
Will the 2019 end the most recent dominance of Hamilton and see a return of Vettel, or will a newcomer breakthrough? Will the hotly tipped Italian team, Ferrari, win the drivers’ championship for the first time since 2007? Let’s examine the drivers who stand the most chance of winning and their respective teams.
1. Lewis Hamilton
After his record-breaking rookie season for McLaren in 2007, Hamilton has continued to succeed in the sport he loves. He took the title in 2008 for the English constructor before joining Mercedes in 2013. Since then, Hamilton has won all but two of the ensuing seasons. As such, few would consider him to be anything other than a serious contender for the 2019 title. After all, the driver amassed well over 400 points in the drivers’ championship last year, the most of any driver in the history of Formula One.
However, some think that the competition is hotting up on Hamilton and his teammate, Valterri Bottas. Some have pointed out that Bottas has seen less reliability with his car in previous seasons than Hamilton and that mechanical problems could easily impact on the results of both drivers. Others see Hamilton’s greater success in the same car as a mark of his genius behind the wheel, as a driver who can nurse his racing car around the world’s tracks which mean he sees fewer failures on average. Only time will tell if someone will knock him off the top spot!
2. Sebastian Vettel
With 52 race wins and four world championships to his name, no serious motorsport fan would write Vettel off. The German’s rivalry with Hamilton is already legendary but it would take on a whole new chapter if he could win in 2019, thereby matching the Englishman’s total haul at five apiece. Furthermore, since 2015 Vettel has been driving for Ferrari despite winning four consecutive championships from 2010. Many think that this move will pay off in the long-term because of the Italian constructor’s resources and sheer desire to improve. Many fans of Formula One have a great love for Ferrari, one of the most glamorous brands in sport, and there can be little doubt that a Vettel win would go down well right across the globe.
3. Charles Leclerc
The Frenchman may be an unknown quantity because he has never competed for a top team in Formula One before, but many think Leclerc might turn out to be something of a dark horse. The Monaco-born driver only broke into Formula Two as recently as 2017. Since then, Leclerc has progressed quite naturally to Formula One. During the 2018 championship, he drove for Sauber which was rebranded as Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 for the season. The 21-year-old performed well for his team, taking points in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix with an impressive sixth place. He consistently performed better in qualifying than his more experienced teammate. Clearly, his potential was noticed by Ferrari who signed him up following a run of seventh-place finishes towards the end of the season. Some think that in a faster car, he will push the top drivers all the way to the chequered flag.
4. Max Verstappen
Despite never having been in pole position for a Formula One race since he began competing at the top level of the sport in 2014, Verstappen has won five Grand Prix. The Dutchman finished fourth in the 2018 drivers’ championship which many fans thought was strong given his car’s problems at the early part of the season. Verstappen will start for Red Bull in 2019 once more and if he can put together a more consistent set of results, then he will be able to challenge for the title. His old teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, has left now and Verstappen will drive alongside Pierre Gasly, previously of Toro Rosso. Some believe that as the undisputed senior driver, he will be given the additional team resources that his skill behind the wheel truly deserves.