F1 2019 Season(Spoilers)

I saw a post for the F1 2018 season and wanted to make one for the 2019 season. Pre-season testing is under way and the first race is on March 17th. It's time to get hyped!

I started following F1 a few years ago. I actually got into it because of my BlackBerry phone. One of the websites mentioned they sponsored an F1 team so I dove in head first and started there. I've been excited about it ever since! My team of choice is currently Mercedes, mostly because they were the team I started following first at the very start of their recent dominance. I'm looking forward to see how Haas does this year.

I'm excited for this season. I think with the newer spec'd cars as well as the various changes to the grid that it's going to be an interesting season.

What do you all think? What is your team of choice?

So the testing is over, my hot takes:
Ferrari and Mercedes both look fine.
Red Bull have integrated the Honda engine well.
Renault aren't in the top set yet.
Haas and Toro Rosa will do what they normally do.
McLaren have stopped the rot.
Williams are a complete shambles.
Racing Point (Force India) haven't recovered from their bankruptcy scare.

My hope for the season is that Riccardo can surprise us in the Renault with at least one podium.

This feels exactly like the beginning of last season. Ferrari looking like they should be able to easily take this thing if nothing goes wrong. If.... uh... nothing goes wrong.

Prederick wrote:

This feels exactly like the beginning of last season. Ferrari looking like they should be able to easily take this thing if nothing goes wrong. If.... uh... nothing goes wrong.

Ha! Hasn't that been the case the last few seasons? At least now they are on par with Mercedes. While as a Mercedes fan I enjoyed their dominance(back when Rosberg was still driving with them) it led to some boring races. Now that the top is more contentious and the middle is even more ravenous, it's going to lead to some good racing!

I'm interested to see where the Honda teams end up. I remember when they first relaunched a year or two ago and it was just a disaster.

I'm curious what folks who follow F1 regularly think of the Netflix documentary series about the 2018 season that launched last weekend.

My wife and I have been threatening to become casual fans of some kind of racing (F1 or rally or rallycross, most likely) for years now, but nothing has really stuck past whatever one off event or coverage caught our eye from time to time. But for us at least, that series was remarkably good marketing, and their timing launching it just before the 2019 season was pretty impeccable. Now, chances are we'll probably just watch half a race or two and then fade away until this time next year when the next season of the Netflix show is released, but still, it grabbed us and didn't let go until the last episode was over.

Supplementary questions:

- How do you all watch races as they happen (in the US)? Do you just watch ESPN's coverage, do you use F1's paid streaming service, or are there other methods you prefer?

- Do you have other methods of following the sport that you really like? Good sources for digest/summary coverage, perhaps, or well produced/insightful analysis?

Yeah, Drive to Survive was a lot of fun. A very good table-setter for the upcoming season.

If you get ESPN, there's no reason not to watch the races that way. They are just simulcasting the Sky Sports coverage, which I think is quite good, and if they continue the trend from most of last season, will do so commercial-free.

ESPN also just announced that they will be carrying two additional Sky Sports F1 programs on their app.

New this season will be Sky’s Welcome to the Weekend program, which will air on Thursdays of race weekends on ESPN3. The half-hour show previews the race with driver interviews as well as commentary and analysis from the Sky team.
Also part of ESPN’s expanded F1 coverage this year will be Sky’s Pit Lane Live, a one-hour program airing on race day. Pit Lane Live features the Sky F1 commentators discussing the upcoming race and all the latest news from the paddock, with the show also including feature stories. Pit Lane Live from Australia will air at 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 16, on ESPN3, also streaming on the ESPN App.

As for other ways to follow the sport, there are all sorts of blogs and podcasts if you want to dive in. The official F1 YouTube channel is also a good source of additional content, including Paddock Pass videos hosted by Will Buxton during each race week, which serve as good previews and typically feature lots of driver and team interviews.

I really enjoyed Drive to Survive but not a huge F1 fan, it was a great way to get caught up in the drama of the season without having to watch the boring races.

Although we would never get it, I still think if they wanted to make it really interesting, we would have a season where all the drivers were on a central contract and move around the different teams, to find out who is really the best driver and not just in the best car.

The documentary was great. We really liked how it gave you more insight into the drivers themselves, and basically ignored the front 2.5 teams. That's something that's sorely lacking in the regular race coverage.

If you're interested, I'd definitely encourage giving it a shot. Now that it's on ESPN, it's much more accessible than when it was on NBCSN, since that wasn't in nearly as many cable packages.

Some random thoughts from someone who's only been watching for three or four seasons now:

- Set your DVR. Trying to watch live is a really tall order when the races are in the eastern hemisphere. Add some extra time (~1 hour) to the recording to cover you if there are any stoppages.
- Definitely watch the race. Probably watch qualifying. Practice sessions are totally optional. If you get into it, practice can tell you some interesting things about how various cars are handling the track, but it's totally skippable. If anything happens that's vital, they'll recap it during qualifying and the race.
- Qualifying is sometimes more interesting than the race itself. Several tracks are almost impossible to overtake on, so starting position is massively important.
- Get used to keeping an eye on the gap times (distance to the person in front) instead of just what's on screen. There's frequently a few interesting fights happening, and they can't show you everything. If you see a particular gap growing or shrinking, it tells a story.
- Like baseball, F1 can sometimes be better as a background thing than something you're riveted to. We've gotten into a habit of putting on one of the sessions each weekend morning when there's a race, and watching while having breakfast and generally hanging out. Keep an eye and ear on it, because it can get interesting quickly, but don't be surprised if there's long stretches of slow development.
- If you're starting to watch because of the documentary, keep in mind that the doc is like reading a Crusader Kings 2 AAR, while watching during the season is more like playing Crusader Kings 2. The AAR picks out and focuses on certain elements, extrapolates certain things, and stitches it into a tight narrative by editing out a lot of stuff. Playing yourself means you'll have stretches of not a lot happening, and you have to do a certain amount of pulling the various storylines out yourself. I don't mean this to discourage anyone, just trying to manage expectations.
- If you're into podcasts, I highly recommend listening to Shift+F1. It's a watchalong featuring Danny O'Dwyer, Drew Scanlon, and Rob Zacny. They do a preview and recap of each race, plus background info about the rules and history. They're a good mix of more recent fans, and long time watchers, and aim at a more casual audience while dipping into some of the wonkier elements. Before each season, they do a primer episode that gives a bunch of basic info about the rules and teams that's totally worth listening to.

Stuff from this race, spoilers ho!
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Man, Williams is in a bad spot. We obviously knew that was going to be the case, but seeing them sitting in the back of the pack and watching the gap between the front Williams and the next car up grow and grow was rough.

Ricciardo can't be happy with this start to the season. At least his car didn't catch fire? The McLaren actually seemed to have some pace (aside from catching fire that one time), so that potentially bodes well.

Really happy for Bottas. Mercedes is totally the Yankees, and I'm tired of them winning, but seeing half a minute between him and Hamilton made me grin. I do wonder what caused that gap. Was Bottas' pace that much better, or was Hamilton intentionally sandbagging to hold up Verstappen, and being willing to take a safer second place instead of trying to challenge for first, with a higher risk of overcooking it and retiring.

I'm playing fantasy F1 this year, and took both Ricciardo and Grosjean this week. That didn't work out great for me.

Thanks for all the input!

So yeah, Shift-F1 was definitely first on my list once we decided we were going to try to follow the sport. I've always been a big fan of Drew and Dan and always thought it might be fun to listen to even when I didn't care about the sport, and the addition of Rob to the cast makes it even more of a no brainer. So I listened to the last few episodes on their feed to get caught up, and added it to my main list going forward.

I also subscribed to the official F1 channel on YouTube, and we watched bits and pieces of their lead-in coverage to get additional context for where things were and how they were shaping up for the weekend. We also casually watched bits and pieces of the practice and qualifying sessions live/via VOD on ESPN's app when we had a chance Thursday and Friday, and then used the YouTube recaps to catch what we missed. Then, since this week's race aired at 10 PM PST last night, we made an evening of watching the race live, and we both very much enjoyed it.

I'll probably end up following things a bit more closely throughout the year (I have a lot more time in my daily schedule for things like podcasts and miscellaneous video clips), but we're both pretty excited to keep following things as they progress, at least for now. Still could end up tuning back out and catching the summary with the next year's Netflix documentary, but we're now both even more impressed with what that series did. Aside from just being a really well produced standalone work, it's remarkable how good a job it did at providing the onramp needed to have a good solid understanding of the various stories happening at all levels in the world of the sport, and set us up to watch the race and be excited to see how things turned out not just at the front of the pack but all throughout the race.

As for the race itself:

- Yeah, it was hard seeing just how bad off Williams was. It was particularly brutal seeing just how fast Ricciardo was right back on top of them after pitting to repair his damaged front wing. They just don't have a car to work with, and it's hard to see them getting one, particularly given how strong and even the rest of the midfield looks.

- Ricciardo's wound looked mostly self inflicted, but even if he hadn't knocked himself out so early, I can't imagine he'd be happy with a lot of things. Red Bull looks like they might have the car he had been waiting for to finally be a serious contender for the championship, and while it's clear he understood Renault would NOT provide that this year, his hopes of seeing them become competitive with the top three after a year or two of development must already be taking a beating.

- My read from the race and post-race interviews was similar regarding Hamilton. The car didn't quite seem to be singing for him on race day the way it was for Bottas (and as it did for both during qualifying), and once he pitted early to counter Vettel's almost incomprehensible early move (did that make sense to people more familiar to the sport?) it was clear he wasn't catching up and switched to team mode and countering Verstappen (and potentially the Ferraris if either of them managed to get things running better). That said, it also seemed like he genuinely wouldn't have had the tires to really give chase even if he wanted to. He knows he'll have plenty opportunities to gain points on Bottas later.

- Oh, poor Grosjean. My wife and I both really took a liking to him (and a slightly more conditional liking to the rest of the Haas team) throughout that documentary, and we were gutted from the moment we saw that slow pit maneuver. They really look like they've got a strong car this year, but the rough edges on their performance team wide still seem like they will be their biggest challenge. I suppose at the very least Grosjean was blameless in this week's troubles though, eh?

Grosjean has been my personal favorite for a while, mostly because he seems like a nice guy, and can't seem to catch a break. And I felt that way before last year, and then seeing him in the doc was crushing.

I don't think Ricciardo's kicking himself for the move yet. Red Bull's car has been competitive for a while, so seeing Verstappen challenging the Mercs wasn't totally out of character. As usual, it's the long game that'll see how things actually are. Mercedes has a habit of showing early potential weakness, but then making continual improvements throughout the season that the rest of the teams can't keep up with. Plus, the big question mark around the Honda engines Red Bull switched to has been reliability. Considering reliability was Red Bull's big problem last year, history could wind up repeating itself.

I read an article this week that Williams is saying they recently discovered a "fundamental flaw" with their overall design, but that it'd take months to fix. The last few years, Williams hasn't been particularly good, but they at least haven't been this bad (though they were sure trending down last year). I'd really like to see them make a comeback.

Man.... Grosjean just got boned this weekend. The exact same problem as the first race last year. Luckily for Haas it wasn't both teammates! Magnussen put up a good race and ended up in 6th, which really isn't too bad for them.

As usual we see the Mercedes on top. However it's only the first race and the Silver Arrows have ebbs and flows. Not to mention they seem to traditionally have some trouble mid season. Not that their trouble is horrible, just that they have some reliability issues. Will be interesting to see if that persists this season.

Ferrari, while best of the rest, had a disappointing showing. For whatever reason Vettel's car was not doing so hot. If it hadn't been for team orders Leclerc would have passed his teammate. We shall see if they improve over the coming races.

Looking forward to the rest of the season! Super happy it has begun!

Wow that was fascinating. I spent the last 15 laps hoping Botas didn't screw it up. I have been a big fan of his since Williams. Hulkenberg got to show how good he is, everyone says he is good but Ricardo is a great benchmark.

Has anyone explained why Gasly was so far down the order? Where there differences between the Red Bull cars?