The 2019 Formula 1 season starts with the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park, Melbourne this weekend (March 15-17 2019). The Red Bull Racing team starts a brand new partnership with Honda as engine supplier.
Red Bull ended the 12-year partnership with Renault as engine suppliers in 2018. The team won four constructors’ and drivers’ titles (2010-2013) during that time.
The Milton-Keynes based team has secured 12 wins in the hybrid-engine era that began in 2014. The team has felt that their chassis is second to none, but they have been held back by the Renault engines in their quest to win titles.
Red Bull Racing Honda has works team status with Honda. Honda since their return to Formula 1 in 2015 with McLaren has not won any races.
The three-year partnership with McLaren was a troubled one and ended in a bitter parting of ways in 2017. Honda then became the engine supplier for Toro Rosso in 2018. The Japanese manufacturer will continue to supply the Red Bull junior team.
Max Verstappen after an error-filled start to the 2018 season turned things around and put in a mature drive. Verstappen will hope to make a clean start to the new season and continue with the strong form he showed at the end of last season.
Pierre Gasly will make his debut as a Red Bull driver in 2019. Gasly has one full season in Formula 1 with Toro Rosso. The Frenchman will be competing against Verstappen, one of the top drivers on the grid.
The Verstappen vs Gasly team battle will be riveting if Gasly can compete on equal terms with Verstappen.
#33 Max Verstappen
81 GP Starts | 5 Wins | 22 Podiums | 670 Points | 4 Fastest Laps
Max Verstappen was fast-tracked into Formula 1 after he finished third in the FIA European Formula 3 championship in 2014. The Red Bull management identified him as an exceptional talent and brought him into the sport as a 17-year old teenager.
The Toro Rosso Years
In 2015, Verstappen started his first season in Formula 1 with Toro Rosso with Carlos Sainz as his team-mate. Sainz was also making his debut that season. Sparks flew on and off the track as the teammates set about establishing themselves in Formula 1.
Verstappen beat Sainz as he easily outscored him (49 points to 18 points) that season. Verstappen secured twelfth position compared to Sainz’s fifteenth position in the drivers’ championship.
In 2016, after four races Verstappen earned a promotion to the senior Red Bull team to replace the under-performing Daniil Kvyat. Verstappen joined Daniel Ricciardo as his team-mate at Red Bull.
The Red Bull Years
Verstappen partnered Ricciardo over the next three seasons. The Dutchman was beaten by Ricciardo in the first two seasons. Finally, Verstappen got the better of Ricciardo in 2018.
In 2016, Verstappen was beaten by Ricciardo as he was outqualified (6-11), out-raced (7-10) and outscored by him (191 points to 220 points) in the 17 races at Red Bull that season.
In 2017, Ricciardo again beat Verstappen as he outscored him 200 points to 168 points. Verstappen finished in sixth position compared to Ricciardo’s fifth position in the drivers’ championship.
In 2018, Verstappen started the season with a series of errors in the first six races. In contrast, Ricciardo won two of the first six races. But Verstappen turned things around in spectacular fashion and secured eleven podiums which included two wins during the rest of the season.
Verstappen beat Ricciardo by 249 points to 170 points and finished in fourth position compared to Ricciardo’s sixth position in the drivers’ championship.
Verstappen outqualified (14-7) and out-raced (14-5) Ricciardo. The two team-mates crashed into each other at the Azerbaijan GP. After a hotly contested season, Ricciardo has departed to Renault for the 2019 season.
#10 Pierre Gasly
26 GP Starts | 29 Points
Pierre Gasly was part of the Red Bull Junior Programme and won the GP2 championship in 2016. Gasly was the test driver for Red Bull that season.
In 2017, he competed in the Japanese Super Formula Series and secured second position. Gasly also made his Formula 1 debut that season at the Malaysian Grand Prix for Toro Rosso. The Frenchman replaced Daniil Kvyat and went on to drive in five races that season.
In 2018, Gasly’s first full season in Formula 1, Brendon Hartley was his team-mate. Gasly easily outqualified (15-6), out-raced (12-8) and outscored Hartley (29 points to 4 points). The Frenchman finished in fifteenth position compared to Hartley’s nineteenth position in the drivers’ championship.
Gasly has been promoted to the senior Red Bull team to replace Daniel Ricciardo in 2019.
Verstappen vs Gasly in 2019
Verstappen has established himself as one of the top drivers on the grid. If he can stay away from errors and keep it clean in his on-track duels, Verstappen will be a contender for the drivers’ championship this season.
The Honda engine has improved in performance and reliability in 2018. If the Japanese manufacturer delivers a competitive engine which is very close in performance to the class-leading Ferrari and Mercedes engines, Red Bull will compete for both titles in the new season.
Verstappen will lead the charge. It will be up to the relatively inexperienced Gasly to compete with Verstappen. It is going to be a very tough task for Gasly.
If Gasly can stay on equal terms with the very talented Verstappen, he will establish himself as a top driver in the sport. Red Bull’s performance and the Verstappen vs Gasly battle will be watched with much interest in the new season.