Barcelona, March 10: Ahead of the opening race of the 2019 Formula One season in Australia on March 17, we take a look at how each team is gearing up for the new campaign.
Here, we assess Mercedes' chances of continuing their dominance.
HOW DID THEY PERFORM IN 2018?
For the fifth year in a row, Mercedes were crowned constructors' champions in 2018 and they also celebrated another drivers' crown as Lewis Hamilton finished top of the pile.
After ceding ground to Sebastian Vettel in the early weeks of the season, Hamilton came to the fore in Azerbaijan when he won the first of his 11 victories, setting him up to win the title by 88 points from his Ferrari rival.
It was not all plain sailing for the Silver Arrows, though, with Valtteri Bottas struggling to build on an impressive first season, the Finn finishing a disappointing fifth in the standings after failing to win a race.
THE 2019 LINE-UP
The Briton has established himself as the man to beat in recent years and has Michael Schumacher's seven world titles firmly in his sights. Another successful campaign would move him past Juan Manuel Fangio onto six and second outright. Undoubtedly Hamilton goes into the opening race as title favourite.
After the hostility between Nico Rosberg and Hamilton, Bottas was a welcome addition in 2017 and he also delivered on the track. He was not in contention enough last year, however, as reliability issues affected his progress. Things have to better for him this season if he is to remain alongside Hamilton in the future.
THE TO-DO LIST
- Getting to the top of any sport is hard but staying there is even harder. Mercedes have made it look easy in recent seasons despite Ferrari and Red Bull threatening to challenge. Pre-season testing has shown Mercedes' advantage may not be as big as previous years, so trying to stay ahead of the field is top priority.
- Hamilton's ability to shine only highlights Bottas' problems further, and for him 2019 is massive. He has to provide more support for his team-mate in order to take crucial points away from their rivals. Failure to do so is likely to see his exit from the team, especially with Mercedes having such talent at their disposal.
HOW WILL THEY FARE?
Undoubtedly, the Silver Arrows start as title favourites given their recent dominance of the sport, and with a settled driver line-up they have a solid foundation to keep improving. Ferrari and Red Bull are expected to be closer in 2019, however that has been said before.