It seems like Formula 1 hasn’t had a strong midfield in ages, a sentiment shared by many fans who in recent years have grown tired of watching Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull being the only outfits battling it out for a win or podium finish.
However, this year there is hope that the midfield will close the gap to the top three thanks mostly to 2019 aerodynamic rule changes, but also the (alleged) development of Renault’s power unit, used by the Renault works team and McLaren.
So how do things look so far? According to Lewis Hamilton, preseason testing has been quite revealing. The reigning champion said that while Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull will continue to be in contention, “other teams at the back have closed up, as far as I’m aware.”
“I don’t know which team is fourth, but they are a lot closer than they were in the past. Before there was like a second gap or something like that, I think it’s now within half a second or maybe less, which is awesome.”
The reason why half a second is “awesome” is because that’s where Red Bull were compared to Mercedes a few years back, yet the former still managed to battle for the podium on certain tracks. If Renault, McLaren or even Haas or Racing Point can get there, then fans will be in for a real treat.
“It’s going to be exciting,” Hamilton commented. “Maybe you’re going to see some races where Renault or Force India [Racing Point] will be a lot higher than they’ve been in the past.”
According to Autosport, the fastest lap time from an established midfield team was 0.6 seconds slower than Ferrari’s benchmark time during preseason testing.
Meanwhile, Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo expects to see a really close midfield battle: “So it could just be ‘who does a cleaner lap’ could make the difference of one or three positions. I am looking forward to see where everyone stands. It has been pretty close in testing.”
The 2019 Formula 1 season kicks off this weekend in Melbourne, Australia – and we sure hope Hamilton’s predictions turn out to be true so we can enjoy some fierce battles.