Barcelona, March 10: Ahead of the opening race of the 2019 Formula One season in Australia on March 25, we take a look at how each team is shaping up for the new campaign.
Here, we assess Ferrari's chances of finally ending Mercedes' dominance of the sport.
HOW DID THEY PERFORM IN 2018?
F1 finally looked set to see a real title race when Sebastian Vettel followed up a strong start to the season by winning the Belgian Grand Prix in the first outing after the mid-season break. However, Ferrari were unable to keep pace thereafter and had to settle for finishing as runners-up in the drivers' standings and constructors' championship.
THE 2019 LINE-UP
The German sounded very confident during pre-season in Barcelona and will be desperate to top the drivers' standings after finishing as runner-up to Lewis Hamilton in each of the past two seasons.
Four-time champion Vettel provided the only major issue in the Scuderia's preparations when he crashed his car on the second day of the final test, something the team put down to "a mechanical problem".
However, the 31-year-old assured he still feels very confident in the car and will surely believe he has the best opportunity to depose Hamilton and win a title for the sport's most iconic team.
Ferrari academy driver Leclerc, the GP3 and Formula 2 champion in 2016 and 2017 respectively, took just four races to score his first F1 points, guiding a rather dismal Sauber to sixth place in a chaotic Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
The Monegasque accumulated 30 more points than team-mate Marcus Ericsson over the course of the season and will no doubt benefit from linking up with the experienced Vettel.
There will be pressure for Leclerc but Ferrari giving him a contract at 21 suggests they have the long term in mind.
THE TO-DO LIST
- Keep on top of Leclerc's enthusiasm. Max Verstappen's vigour in the Red Bull led to a number of run-ins with team-mate Daniel Ricciardo and Ferrari will need to keep a close watch on Leclerc to avoid a similar situation arising.
- Despite recording the fastest time in the second test, Ferrari's running was held back by exhaust and electrical issues. Team principal Mario Binotto expressed the desire to work on greater speed and reliability before taking to the grid in Melbourne.
HOW WILL THEY FARE?
Ferrari were quicker than Mercedes in race simulations during testing and looked in good shape in Barcelona. This year could be their best opportunity to upset the established order.