My Dream 2019 F1 Grid

I am sure that, as F1 fans, we have all thought up our dream line-ups for favourite teams, eras and races. Designed for high drama, create amazing racing or simply to put our preferred man on pole week in and week out. Senna and Schumacher in the same team? You bet. But which car? A great British time-warp of Jim Clark and Lewis Hamilton? Yes! But it would be a Williams? Right? How many titles would Prost have won in the current generation Mercedes? A scintillating question... This post is not quite THAT fantastical. But, I have been thinking about this for a while and wanted to write up a full 2019 driver-grid that I believe would provide passion, rivalries & epic driving! So, strap in for trips into alternate reality and bring grains of salt! Some teams, for the interest in this fictional season, will have better performance levels. Also, for your pleasure halo has evolved to a screen and the sound-levels of V10 engines (not their tech) are back! Adding drama and looks! Petty politics in the F1 grid (drivers who veto quick guys from joining their own team) & team-orders at any occasion are banned! I will justify why I believe line-ups COULD and SHOULD happen. Just imagine, if you will, this list was confirmed by the FIA & teams after Abu Dhabi & promo shots have been released...even though stats are current (I'm not psychic!)...Ferrari, who lead the championship, are first in this fun list!

Sebastian Vettel Age: 31 Nationality: German Number: 5 Titles: 4 (2010, 2011, 2012, 2014) Wins: 51 Podiums: 105 Poles: 54 Fastest Laps: 34 Past Teams: BMW Sauber, STR, Red-Bull

Daniel Ricciardo Age: 29 Nationality: Australian Number: 3 Best Season Finish: 3rd (2014 & 2016) Wins: 7 Podiums: 29 Poles: 2 Fastest Laps: 12 Past Teams: HRT, Toro Rosso, Red-Bull Why Changes Happened & What To Expect With Ferrari entering 2019, they have to contend with the retirement of dependable number 2 driver Kimi Raikkonen. The options were clear but both with various bad and good implications. Choose the promising Charles LeClerc who, in winning cars, could be a legend (with his epic, superior, pace in the Sauber-Romeo) bu is a relative F1 rookie with only one, low pressure, season. The other open option was to choose the vibrant Aussie Daniel Ricciardo, who has shown his pace and over-taking panache on many occasions with Red-Bull and chalked up 7 wins to boot.. With Raikkonen's retirement, Seb's contractual veto-grip on the number 1 slot has ended. Had it not then their move would have been different. But with that freedom re-established, the choice was clear for Ferrari management, who usually favour proven racers with an immediate title chance. So, in comes Daniel. Fireworks may fly.... The rivalry between these drivers from 2014 is well known, where Daniel beat Vettel (then the sitting Red-Bull champion) in the standings in his first year with the team. He really got under his collar too, he only finished 5th that year! This history might be cause for concern should they run close together on track, but Ferrari's prerogative was to be a much stronger team this campaign; as Raikkonen often languished behind and damaged constructor's bids. Ricciardo will be up to speed. Vettel's pedigree is, of course, without question. He has been with Ferrari for 4 years. So he remains the clear favourite between these two. But, history has shown that Ricciardo can rock the boat in unexpected ways and he, at the age of 29, is certainly ready and hungry for that title shot....

Lewis Hamilton Age: 33 Nationality: British Number: 44 Titles: 4 (2008, 2014, 2015, 2017) Wins: 65 Podiums: 124 Poles: 76 Fastest Laps: 38 Past Teams: McLaren

Fernando Alonso Age: 36 Nationality: Spanish Number: 14 Titles: 2 (2005, 2006) Wins: 32 Podiums: 97 Poles: 22 Fastest Laps: 23 Past Teams: Minardi, Renault (x2) McLaren (x2) & Ferrari Why Changes Happened & What To Expect Having beaten Schumacher to the WDC at only the young ages of 24 and 25, Alonso is now well known as being one of the best all-round drivers of his generation. This was later confirmed with his successful outings in IndyCar and the WEC championship in 2017 & 2018. Fernando could well be a five time champion in F1 too, having narrowly missed the title with both McLaren & Ferrari (missing by 1 point in 2007, 4 points in 2010 and 3 points in 2012)...His constant ability to thrash all team-mates, out-perform his current McLaren's problems, turn radios blue with funny complaints & make excellent over-takes as he is does it, means he is a fan favourite...or villain. It depends on your allegiance... So, despite big spicy history between these two drivers (during a season where they fought off track, drew on points, wins and second places in the 2007 McLaren) Mercedes finally did the right thing and offered Fernando his final shot at a title (as they should after Rosberg retired) whether Lewis Hamilton agreed or not. Esteban Ocon can wait. Now, as both men are older, Mercedes are taking the chance that matured minds and cooler heads will propel the team back to the dominance enjoyed in 2014. With Fernando at the wheel, instead of the oft-unlucky, oft-outpaced Bottas, it is probable we will see an improved output in terms of points and reclamation of a control over constructor titles. Whether or not the driver's egos will get in the way of progress, it yet to be seen. Hamilton, for one, will not be ready to re-hand Alonso the crown of Formula 1. The Brit's talent is supreme but has, on the whole, gone unchallenged. That alone means we are in for a great treat as his resilience & ability is tested to the limit. Strap in! This will be great racing and brilliant media, but it could get very messy, very fast!

Max Verstappen Age: 20 Nationality: Dutch Number: 33 Best Season Finish: 6th (2016) Wins: 4 Podiums: 15 Poles: 0 Fastest Laps: 4 Previous Teams: Toro Rosso

Carlos Sainz Age: 23 Nationality: Spanish Number: 55 Best Season Finish: 9th (2017) Wins: 0 (Best Finish Of 4th) Podiums: 0 Poles: 0 Fastest Laps: 0 Past Teams: Toro Rosso, Renault Why Changes Happened & What To Expect Sainz, who has been on loan at Renault, has been instantly promoted (within his parent team) to the Red-Bull car after Ricciardo announced his move. The Spaniard has a tough season ahead of proving himself, despite doing very well in the yellow team. He will join up once again with his ex-Toro Rosso team mate and F1's apparent "wonderkid" Max Verstappen. Their last outings together provided more than a fair share of controversy, with both of the drivers disobeying team-orders and scrapping in the media as well as on track. But with team-orders of all kinds being irrevocably banned, the politics of the situation will be limited. Instead we will get two young drivers promising to prove themselves a-new to the racing world with no restrictions. But, with the team moving over to Honda engines for the first time this year, it is an understatement to say that all aspects of their set-up are young and inexperienced. If you look at the struggles of the McLaren team and also the Toro-Rosso team, both one-time Honda partners, then it might be logical to suggest things will get worse before they get better. A temporary drop down the grid might be in order for Christian Horner's men. But, they are certainly building toward a bright future.

Valtteri Bottas Age: 28 Nationality: Finnish Number: 77 Best Season Finish: 3rd (2017) Wins: 3 Podiums: 26 Poles: 5 Fastest Laps: 6 Past Teams: Williams, Mercedes

Nico Hulkenberg Age: 30 Nationality: German Number: 27 Best Season Finish: 9th (2014 & 2016) Wins: 0 (Best Finish Of 4th) Podiums: 0 Poles: 1 Fastest Laps: 2 Past Teams: Williams, Sauber, Force-India Why Changes Happened & What To Expect After learning he was to be dropped by Merecedes, Valterri Bottas faced an uncertain future in F1; especially as the Scuderia had already sourced a replacement. So, Ferrari was off-limits. But Daniel's move meant Carlos Sainz was instantly pushed into Red-Bull, thus clearing a place within Renault. The French Team were happy to oblige. Whilst his time at Mercedes was not overly rosy, Valtteri is exactly the kind of driver they are wanting in their quest to rise up the grid and take advantage of hiccups in the new RBR-Honda relationship. He is fast & dependable in equal measure and can always put in a quick lap when needed. With 3 wins and 28 podiums now under his belt he also knows more of the kind of pressurised driving that Renault are hoping to target in the future. He also shares many similarities with his new team-mate, Nico Hulkenberg. Both drivers have now reached a stage in their career where they are chasing lost potential. Despite some excellent solo performances the German is still yet to score a podium. He will hope that an improved car and the pressure of a quicker driver in Valtteri will push him toward that goal with renewed purpose. The team will hope that things don't get nasty as their racers scrap to fulfil their promise. Everyone in team and cockpit will keep fingers crossed the grand stride made in 2018 continue to deliver him a title-winning car within the next 4 years. A lot of work needs to be done by all to realise their dreams.

Kevin Magnussen Age: 25 Nationality: Danish Number: 20 Best Season Finish: 11th (2014) Wins: 0 (Best Finish Of 2nd) Podiums: 1 Poles: 0 Fastest Laps: 0 Past Teams: McLaren, Renault

Charles LeClerc Age: 20 Nationality: Monegasque Number: 16 Best Season Finish: N/A (GP3 & GP2 Champion) Wins: 0 (Best Finish Of 6th) Podiums: 0 Poles: 0 Fastest Laps: 0 Past Teams: Sauber Why Changes Happened & What To Expect With the woefully underperforming Romain Grosjean being dropped into Formula E after a terrible 2018 campaign, there was really only one place where Haas could turn. Whilst the electric, promising, rookie Charles LeClerc had been touted for Ferrari due to his excellent turns of pace and stellar quali laps in the slow was not yet a match made in heaven. Ferrari, for one, wanted Charles to get experience in a more competitive team. Haas, who made great performance leaps in 2018 due to their close ties with Ferrari, was the obvious choice. Charles had even tested with them before. LeClerc will also be pushed to the absolute limit. This is because he will be racing alongside the often controversial, often brilliant, driver Kevin Magnussen. Despite being only 25, the Dane has a wealth of experience in Formula 1. He is the only man to have raced with all 4 engine manufacturers currently in the sport. With a great haul of points in 2018, some were even tipping him at an outside chance of a Ferrari drive in the future. Perhaps this season we will find out whether Magnussen or LeClerc actually deserve that drive! As long as they stick to good racing and not running each-other off track with a basket full of profanities for afters, as Kevin frequently enjoys, then we will be in for a treat.

Esteban Ocon Age: 21 Nationality: French Number: 31 Best Season Finish: 8th (2017) Wins: 0 (Best Finish Of 5th) Podiums: 0 Poles: 0 Fastest Laps: 0 Past Teams: Manor, Force-India

Sergio Perez Age: 28 Nationality: Mexican Number: 11 Best Season Finish: 7th (2016 & 2017) Wins: 0 (Best Finish Of 2nd) Podiums: 8 Poles: 0 Fastest Laps: 4 Past Teams: Sauber, McLaren, Force-India Why Changes Happened & What To Expect Out goes Force-India, in comes Rich-Energy Racing. Despite the change of owner for the Silverstone based team; very little has changed in it's make-up for this season. This is because, with sweeping changes imminent behind the scenes, at least some consistency had to be retained on track. The dependable Ocon and Perez, both still under contract with the outfit, were the obvious choices to give that stability in terms of media image and racing pedigree.... Although, they have had their problems with on-track incidents, coming together in the past quite famously. With Ocon, who has been forced to wait for his chance in the Mercedes, now sound beating Perez this season in terms of one-lap pace there could be war! The big question, now Vijay Mallya's run in's with financial laws and lack of Force-India funding are behind the team, can Rich-Energy now make better in-roads onto the top teams than 2018 suggested?

Stoffel Vandoorne Age: 26 Nationality: Belgian Number: 2 Best Season Finish: 16th (2017) Wins: 0 (Best Finish Of 7th) Podiums: 0 Poles: 0 Fastest Laps: 0 Past Teams: N/A

Lando Norris Age: 18 Nationality: British Number: 19 Best Season Finish: N/A (F3 Champion) Wins: 0 (Best Finish N/A) Podiums: 0 Fastest Laps: 0 Past Teams: N/A Why Changes Happened & What To Expect With the departure of Fernando Alonso and his huge wage, the once-mighty McLaren have suddenly seen a world of funding options open up to them. The question is, given departure of Eric Boullier & other key previous members, can they turn that cash to the competitiveness they've been so lacking? With the new replacement, promising young rookie Lando Norris, they have a driver who can deliver now and far into the future. Indeed, he will certainly put under-performing Stoffel Vandoorne under pressure; who now has no place to hide after Alonso's departure. He could be forgiven for losing that badly to the Spaniard, but not to this young Brit. At the age of 26, he only has so long to improve. Questions still remain on how well McLaren utilise Renault's engine; but with strong performances in 2018 for their engine manufacturers, there really can be no excuse to not find the same kind of good consistency and pace. With Red-Bull perhaps set to struggle with the Honda engine, there will now be plenty of opportunities to pick up higher points...should they get their house in order. With their low-cost driver pairing, their car really should see great improvements....should being the key word.

Pierre Gasly Age: 22 Nationality: France Number: 10 Best Season Finish: N/A (2016 GP2 Champion) Wins: 0 (Best Finish Of 4th) Podiums: 0 Poles: 0 Fastest Laps: 0 Past Teams: N/A

Sebastian Buemi Age: 29 Nationality: Swiss Number: 15

Best Season Finish: 15th (2011) Wins: 0 (Best Finish Of 7th) Podiums: 0 Poles: 0 Fastest Laps: 0 Past Teams: N/A Why Changes Happened & What To Expect The return of Sebastian Buemi, over younger available drivers such as Ferrari's test man Daniil Kvyat might have raised a few eyebrows. But the Swiss is now a seasoned veteran of racing! Since he last held a race seat, also with Toro Rosso, in 2011 he has gone on to become champion of both WEC in 2014 and of Formula E in 2015. Whilst similar credential did not help the man he replaces, Brendon Hartley, perhaps this time in F1 will be better for a wiser, older, Buemi. First he will have to try & beat one of the upcoming stars of the grid, the speedy Pierre Gasly. That will not be impossible, given that even Hartley sometimes had his way with the Frenchman in race and qualifying. If rarely. As for Gasly himself, now is this season where he needs to really step up his claim for a Red-Bull seat should either Carlos Sainz or Max Verstappen falter. With only 2 points finishes in F1 so far, albeit one incredibly impressive 4th placed finish in Bahrain, there is a lot of improvement to be found. He will hope that Honda, with their new relationship with both Red Bull and so Aston Martin, can provide a much better engine for their handy Toro Rosso chassis. Honda have bad track-record of improvement in recent seasons. Just ask McLaren. So that awaits to be seen.

Pascal Wehrlein Age: 23 Nationality: German Number: 94 Best Season Finish: 18th (2017) Wins: 0 (Best Finish Of 8th) Podiums: 0 Poles: 0 Fastest Laps: 0 Past Teams: Manor

Lance Stroll Age: 19 Nationality: Canadian Number: 18 Best Season Finish: 12th (2017) Wins: 0 (Best Finish Of 3rd) Podiums: 1 Poles: 0 Fastest Laps: 0 Past Teams: Williams Why Changes Happened & What To Expect Sauber, who had a very good 2018 season thanks to the introduction of current spec Ferrari engines, will now hope to enjoy more competitiveness thanks to money from Lance Stroll's financial backers! That is not all the young Canadian offers though, given that he has proven himself capable on many occasions when the Williams car was more competitive in 2017. That included a podium. But, it isn't just Stroll's inclusion that catches the eye! It is all change at Sauber this campaign as Marcus Ericsson, who hadn't beaten team-mates in 4 years, rightfully lost his seat! When Stroll might fail to perform, his team-mate: Pascal Werhlein (who returns to the team after year absence) might not! He showed himself handy with Sauber in 2017 and had a decent season in DTM in 2018, so deserves another shot! Whilst a Mercedes seat might be beyond him, a good Formula 1 career certainly is not! Whilst the loss of Charles LeClerc was sadly inevitable, there is so much to be happy about with such promising line-up & extra funding. Upwards from here perhaps?

Nico Rosberg Age: 33 Nationality: German Number: 6 Titles: 1 (2016) Wins: 23 Podiums: 57 Poles: 30 Fastest Laps: 20 Past Teams: Williams (05-09) & Mercedes

Robert Kubica Age: 33 Nationality: Polish Number: 40 Best Season Finish: 4th (2008) Wins: 1 Podiums: 12 Poles: 1 Fastest Laps: 1 Past Teams: BMW Sauber, Renault Why Changes Happened & What To Expect It took an awful lot to convince 2016 F1 Champion Nico Rosberg to return to his old team Williams, especially as he was flirting with Ferrari. But huge new funding from Microsoft (insert your own idea here guys for believability!) made it all possible! He brings a wealth of experience, both in racing and his relationship to head technical officer Paddy Lowe (who was instrumental in the decision) to help these struggling yester-year giants. Whilst Rosberg will not be fighting high up the grid this time his consistency and undeniable pace will eke out everything the car can give. It is all change at Williams too this year, with both Stroll and the woeful Sirotkin leaving the team. In comes fan favourite Robert Kubica to complete a miraculous return to a race-set after an accident in 2011 left one of his arms partially severed. The comeback was not as "impossible" as he thought at the time and his return buoys the whole paddock. These two drivers will have to work very hard to make the most of this Williams car as the Grove team begins it's return from a shocking 2018...but who knows with such funds at their disposal maybe they will climb much faster than expected?

Outro Obviously this was just a bit of fun! I tried to make it as realistic, but interesting as possible; given that the real-life grid seems tied down with veto's and power-plays at Ferrari etc! Daniel staying at RBR seems to confirm that! But you have to admit these moves would make our F1 incredibly interesting going forward! The teams, with funding or drivers, would be closer! Feel free to comment with how you think these teams would pan out over 2019 and if you have any other suggestions for who would fill the seats let me know! If you enjoyed this let me know, and I can try to do a similar thing for the REAL grid (should their be changes) for my season preview next season! Happy racing everyone!

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