What is new in the 2019 Formula One Championship?

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While the field is busy with preparing itself for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, we take a look at the sporting and technical changes which await teams, drivers and fans in the 2019 Championship season.

The 2019 season will the 70th running of the Formula One World Championship. Lewis Hamilton is the defending World Drivers' Champion, after winning his fifth championship title at the 2018 Mexican Grand Prix. Mercedes are the defending World Constructors' Champions, after winning their fifth consecutive championship at the 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix.

The reborn marque

The former Sauber team was renamed Alfa Romeo Racing after the Italian carmaker extended its sponsorship agreement with the Sauber Group which began at the start of 2018. It means that the Sauber name, which first appeared in the sport in 1993, will disappear, but it will still be used in the sport’s two support categories, Formula 2 and Formula 3

New engine supplier for Red Bull

The team, which won four championship titles on the trot, ditched its long-time engine partner Reanult, switching to Honda power units for the new season. Red Bull’s sister team Toro Rosso will continue its collaboration with the Japanese manufacturer after their successful first season. Neither team will be recognized as Honda’s official factory team tough.

Driver changes

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo will move to Renault for the new season. The Australian’s place will be taken over by Pierry Gasly, who was promoted from Scuderia Toro Rosso.

The 2019 season will see Faneza-based outfit opting for an entirely new driver line-up. Daniil Kvyat will return to the team which he last raced in 2017 for. Former Formula 2 driver Alexander Albon will replace Brendon Hartley.

Following Fernando Alonso’ retire from the sport and Stoffel Vandoorne’s departure, McLaren will begin the new season with a new driver paring. Former Toro Rosso and Renault driver Carlos Sainz and F2 driver Lando Norris will form McLaren’s new line-up.

The former Sauber team will also begin its new adventure with a new line-up. The Alfa Romeo Racing outfit will be represented by Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi on the grid.

Williams enters the 2019 season with a new driver pairing, as well. Reigning F2 champion George Russell and former F1 star, one-time GP winner Robert Kubica try to bring the Grove-based team to the path of success.

After Force India was taken over from Lawrence Stroll, it was decided that Esteban Ocon had to leave the team to give place for Lance Stroll. Sergio Perez stay at the Racing Point squad.

New tyre regulation and range

There will be only three colours at each 2019 race: white for the hardest compound of the weekend, yellow for the medium one, and red for the softest compound. In total though, there will be five compounds available for the year. They are numbered from 1 to 5, going from hardest to softest.

A thinner tread was used at selected races last year, which featured new asphalt, designed to prevent overheating. A similar tread reduction has been adopted for all the 2019 tyres.

A new move for 2019 is to reduce the maximum temperature of the tyre blankets at the rear to 80 degrees centigrade, while the front tyre blanket temperature remains at the current 100 degrees centigrade. This helps front tyre warm-up, and also reduces the risk of graining.

There’s a brand new intermediate tyre this year, designed to cover a wider range of conditions than its predecessor. This gives a more effective crossover point with both the slick and the full wet tyres, as well as improved performance. The full wet tyre is also entirely new, with greater resistance to aquaplaning and better driveability in heavy rain.

One point for the fastest race lap

As Formula 1 nears its 1000th World Championship race, this decision marks a return to the past where between 1950 and 1959, the driver who established the best time in the race received a point.

Starting from the Australian Grand Prix, one point will be awarded to the driver who achieves the fastest lap of the race; said driver must be classified within the top 10. No point will be awarded if the fastest lap is achieved by a driver who is classified outside the final top 10 positions. The point will contribute to both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships.

Aerodynamic

Front wings

Front wings have been increased in width from the current 1.8 metres to 2 metres. The endplates have been simplified, and much smaller than previously. The wing itself has also been moved forward by 2.5cm.

Brake ducts

In the past seasons, brake ducts have been used for achieving aerodynamic effects. For 2019, they have been greatly simplified to be less aerodynamically powerful.

Barge boards

These have been moved forward and lowered. The aim was to decrease the wake produced by these elements.

Rear wing

It is substantially taller and wider, has a 25 per cent more powerful DRS flap, is more dished in profile and the endplates have been simplified with the various slots and overlaps banished.

Grid penalties

For 2018, a new rule was introduced: drivers who faced more than a 15-place drop, were simply put to the back of the grid. That was because the governing body wanted to avoid confusion in cases of high grid drop penalties. Last year, if more than one driver received this drop to the back of the grid, the order was defined by who left the pits first in the first practice session. From 2019 onwards, this order will be determined by the qualifying results of drivers, forcing every driver to take part in qualifying to fight for higher grid positions.

Overtaking after safety car

In the past, drivers were allowed to overtake at the so called first safety car line once the Safety Car dived into the pits. According to a new rule, overtaking will only be allowed once drivers have passed the start-finish line.

A new minimum weight for drivers

From the 2019 season onwards, driver’s weight has to be at least at 80kg, including their seat and equipment. In case of being under this limit, teams have to use ballast that will sit under the driver’s seat. In a consequence, the overall car/driver weight will rise a further 6kg to 740kg.

Higher safety standard

After previously tried out by a few drivers, the wearing of biometric gloves have been formally made mandatory by the new sporting rules. Another change affects the crash helmets which will feature a smaller visor opening to allow for greater ballistics protections.

Self-inspection

On Thursdays, teams have had to bring their cars to the FIA garage to let the governing body check the legality of their machines. That will change for 2019, with the FIA leaving the teams to scrutineer their cars themselves.

Every outfit has to submit a declaration no longer than 18 hours before the start of the first free practice session to state that their cars fully comply with the regulations. The FIA still has the right to inspect cars at any point over F1 weekends and the governing body will scrutineer cars during the post-sessions checks.

Maximum fuel load

From 2017, teams have had to cover the race distance with a maximum fuel quantity of 105kg. On some tracks, drivers have had to save fuel what often ruined the spectacle of racing. To stop that, the limit has been raised to 110kg. However, as drivers managed to complete races on most of the race circuits with less fuel than the previous limit, it is expected that the new limit will only have an effect on a few places, for example in Montreal.

Tricky oil bruning

Following allegations about tricky oil burning, the governing body was fighting to stop teams from doing this. For 2019, some further restrictions have also been put in place. According to a new rule, teams must keep their auxiliary oil tanks empty throughout qualifying. This will prevent any efforts by teams to burn extra oil for a 'party mode' boost during the crucial battle for the top grid slots.

Pitlane starts

Drivers starting from the pitlane will have the opportunity to run at the back of the field on the formation lap to get a feel of track conditions. Previously, these drivers had to wait at the end of the pitlane while the field completed its formation lap.

Checkered light instead of flag

To react on the checkered flag bungle at the end of the Canadian Grand Prix when model Winnie Harlow waved the flag a lap early, FIA decided to introduce a checkered light which will bring races officially to an end. The traditional checkered flag will stay, however, but it will have only a symbolic meaning.