Sophisticated Living Indianapolis

MAR-APR 2019

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With the 2019 season beginning on March 17 in Melbourne, Australia, Formula 1 returns to the world's streets and circuits with some new rules and a seemingly unprecedented number of drivers switching teams. Now in the sixth year of the turbo- hybrid era, this year promises to offer an even higher level of competition as teams continue to refine their machines. Five-time F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton will return to defend his title with Mercedes AMG Petronas; a win this year will put the British racing legend within striking range of Michael Schumacher's seven championships. For the first half of the 2018 season, it appeared that Hamilton was on the back foot: his car was widely considered inferior to Scuderia Ferrari's and he was struggling. Yet the British driver was able to string together a series of brilliant wins after the spring break, including an awe-inspiring pole lap at Singapore, wrapping up the championship with two races to spare. Mercedes power and Hamilton's talent aside, Scuderia Ferrari last year was its own worst enemy, making poor decisions from the pit wall and failing to rein in driver Sebastian Vettel's apparent frustration on the track. In Formula 1, the margin between success and abject failure is impossibly thin. Last year Scuderia Ferrari made a number of small but crucial errors that, when compounded, guaranteed their ultimate loss. Scuderia Ferrari is hoping that a new team principal will help bring some focus to the garage, not to mention the addition of the brilliant young driver Charles Leclerc, who will replace veteran Kimi Räikkönen as number two driver. Also on the move, former World Champion Fernando Alonso, having endured several dismal seasons, mostly due to poor engine reliability, has finally retired from F1, and will return to Indianapolis this year as part of a new McLaren team assembled specifically for the one race. Elsewhere in the field, Red Bull Racing is looking to contend with the top two players with its switch to Honda power after several frustrating seasons with Renault engines. Whether the young Carlos Sainz will be the best choice to replace the supremely talented Daniel Ricciardo remains to be seen, but there is every hope that the combination of Red Bull's superior aerodynamics with a new engine will prove highly competitive. For his part, Ricciardo will be sticking with Renault, driving the all-new factory car in a bid to return the team to its former glory. Casual (and even seasoned) spectators will no doubt welcome tire supplier Pirelli's plans to rename its range of tires for 2019 following a request from the sport's management. Under the new plan, the various compounds of tires available each race will simply be referred to as hard, medium and soft, and will be color-coded white, yellow and red. is should also come as some relief to the commentators, who have struggled in the past to clarify the differences among the various tires. With 21 races this year, ending in December at Abu Dhabi, the 2019 Formula 1 campaign promises to be long, grueling and even closer than ever. e American Grand Prix in Austin will be run November 1-3. It's a great weekend of food, music and cars; tickets are still available. If all goes to plan, Sophisticated Living will be blogging from Austin all weekend. We hope to see you there. sl Written by Neil Charles FORMULA 1 2019 campaign promises intensified competition. 104

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