In Brief

F1: Red Bull upgrade, Mercedes ready to fight, Hamilton 'the greatest', McLaren look to the future

Title contenders Red Bull have fast-tracked changes to their car ahead of the Australian Grand Prix

Red Bull already upgrading

Red Bull have been tipped to challenge Mercedes and Ferrari this season, and after performing well in testing the team has already upgraded its car ahead of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix this weekend.

The outfit, now powered by Honda, has “fast-tracked an upgrade originally planned for the Chinese Grand Prix”, reports Motorsport.com.

Red Bull’s motorsport advisor Helmut Marko said that chief engineer Adrian Newey had bought forward the upgrade, originally scheduled for the third race of the year.

It adds to the sense of optimism ahead of the season and Marko is predicting at least five wins in 2019.

“I see us behind Ferrari over the race distance, but ahead of Mercedes," he said.

"The RB15 is certainly the best and most expensive car in the history of Red Bull Racing. There have been many negative voices saying that Honda can't do it. But we've never had such faultless test days.

"If we have more horsepower, it's only logical that we have to look forward this year. Last year we had four victories. Five victories are realistic. I hope there will be even more."

Mercedes watch Ferrari aerodynamics

Mercedes are also expecting to adapt their car, but not until the opening races of the season have been completed.

Team principal Toto Wolff admitted that Ferrari were out in front ahead of the Australian Grand Prix and hinted that other teams could learn from the Italian team’s aerodynamic success.

Ferrari “appear to have aced the front wing design for the new 2019 regulations”, reports Grandpx.News.

And Wolff said: “If another concept turns out to be the better one, it may be that at the fifth grand prix in Barcelona, or shortly thereafter, everyone will be changing their aerodynamic designs.”

Wolff ready to fight

Mercedes chief Wolff is predicting a “proper fight” for the title this season, with the Flying Arrows outclassed by Ferrari in testing. But he insists he and the team are up for it.

“Last year, we had to give it absolutely everything to come out on top,” he said. “From what we have learned so far, this year will be even tougher.

“It will push us to our limits - and that's an exciting prospect for every single one of us. Judging from the performance in Barcelona, it looks like we will have a proper fight on our hands in Melbourne.”

Hamilton 'can become the greatest'

One member of the Mercedes team who will not need any encouragement this season is star driver and world champion Lewis Hamilton, says Wolff.

“There are athletes who, after many successes, are no longer able to motivate themselves because they have made good money and are recognised. But it’s different for Lewis.

“He manages to reinvent and reinvigorate himself over and over again. It’s a remarkable ability that he has.

“He can become the greatest racing driver of all time and he knows it.”

McLaren eye long-term results

After a miserable 2018 McLaren have gone back to the drawing board and will this season enter uncharted territory as they seek to re-establish themselves as an F1 powerhouse – but it could take time says Planet F1.

It is the first time for 12 years that the team has two new drivers on the roster, and the first time ever that neither driver has a podium finish to their name.

However, Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris need to be given time to find their feet. “This is why 2019 runs much deeper than the results McLaren achieve. 6th, 7th, 8th, does it really matter?

“What matters is creating and developing a new culture that will allow the drivers to maximise results and succeed in the future.

“With such a close midfield, it’s tough to guess where McLaren will be when it’s all said and done but the moves made over the last twelve months indicate a bigger plan is in play here.

“McLaren won’t want to be at the foot of the midfield but their ambition is not to be at the top of it.

“McLaren want to get back to the glorious days of their past and a long-term solution is the only way they are going to get it.”

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