Home Opinion and Features Is Ferrari back in the driving seat?

Is Ferrari back in the driving seat?

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As the world excitedly awaits the first F1 race of the season, there is a tangible feeling in the air that 2019 could be the return of the glory times for Ferrari.

Ferrari's 2019 Formula One car. File picture: Albert Gea / Reuters.

One OF the oldest and fondest sayings in motor sport is: “There is no Formula One without Ferrari.”

The famous Ferrari red car is the ultimate glamour symbol of F1. Think of all the great drivers who have been behind the Ferrari steering wheel: Michael Schumacher, Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Juan Manuel Fangio.

Even the brilliant Lewis Hamilton, the ultimate glamour guy in a glamour sport, would probably not feel that his extraordinary career would be complete without having at least had the chance to join the team at one stage of his career.

And yet it’s been 12 long years since the Italian “prancing horse” was at the top of the pile – and that was when Kimi Raikkonen captured the title in 2007.

But as the world excitedly awaits the first F1 race of the season, Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix, there is a tangible feeling in the air that 2019 could be the return of the glory times for Ferrari.

It’s not just that it has the very capable Sebastian Vettel as its main driver. A significant factor is that reports have emerged that the red car was as much as half a second quicker than Mercedes (Hamilton’s team) in pre-season testing. Which prompted Hamilton to say: “This is going to be the toughest battle yet Ferrari’s pace is very good at the moment.”

Hamilton has won four of the last five championships, but it’s clear he is going to have his work cut out this year – which can only add a lovely helping of spice to the season.

Besides the battle between Mercedes and Ferrari, there are other intriguing plots to look forward to: Will the fiery Max Verstappen, already a five-year F1 veteran despite being just 21 years old, deliver a title for Red Bull? How will Australian Daniel Ricciardo fare at Renault? And what about George Russell, 21, and Lando Norris, 19, who will be making their Formula 1 debuts?

It all promises to be a year of thrills and spills, which stretches all the way to Abu Dhabi on December 1.

Gentlemen, start your engines.