Haas 

What’s new: A first major title sponsorship deal with British energy drinks firm Rich Energy has provided Haas with a welcome boost heading into 2019, as well as a fresh black-and-gold livery. 

How testing went: Haas enjoyed a relatively strong pre-season and once again looks in good shape with its Ferrari-powered VF19 challenger. It did not set any headline-grabbing times throughout the fortnight of running but its car appears to be performing well and expectations remain positive heading into 2019. One area of concern will be regarding reliability, as the American squad’s running was truncated by a number of niggling issues that left it seventh in the combined mileage charts.  

2019 objective: Continuing its progress and once again taking the fight to Renault in the battle to be the best of the midfield pack. Beating the manufacturer squad will not be easy, particularly with the addition of Daniel Ricciardo, so consolidating fifth place in the championship can be viewed as a successful year. If Romain Grosjean can avoid a similar barren run to the one he endured in 2018, and providing Kevin Magnussen carries over his strong form, Haas should be better positioned to make improvements and cut out the mistakes that cost it valuable points last year. 

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Racing Point 

What’s new: New name, new funding from additional sponsors and a revised driver line-up consisting of team regular Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll

How testing went: Testing did not quite go as well as the team would have hoped, with Racing Point managing just 58 laps more than the troubled Williams squad that skipped the opening two days of pre-season. Perez and Stroll completed just 625 laps between them and did not show any real glimpses of one-lap potential. Both drivers know, however, that the RP19 will be heavily updated in Melbourne and continue an aggressive development path during the early rounds of 2019 as the team starts to feel the benefits of fresh investment. 

2019 objective: Having recovered to seventh last season after forfeiting its previous points tally following its re-entry into the championship at the Belgian Grand Prix, Racing Point will be targeting a return to the higher realms of the midfield pack this time around. Added investment will no doubt help its cause but the midfield fight once again promises to be another hotly-contested battle with rivals Renault, Haas, and Alfa Romeo all looking particularly strong during testing. Following two years of relatively uncompetitive machinery at Williams, newcomer Stroll will be required to step up to the same, consistent levels that Perez has turned in over a number of years if the team is to achieve that goal. 

Alfa Romeo Racing 

What’s new: A new name and totally changed driver line-up as Kimi Raikkonen returns to spearhead Alfa Romeo’s new era alongside Antonio Giovinazzi

How testing went: A strong showing from Alfa Romeo with its eye-catching 2019 car design. Apart from Raikkonen setting the pace on the third morning of running in Barcelona, the former Sauber squad largely spent its time time in the mid-pack of the timesheets. Its C38 looks very stable - particularly under breaking - is once again powered by Ferrari, and racked up a solid winter programme of 922 laps, putting the team smack bang in the middle of the mileage charts in fifth. 

2019 objective: Following years of struggles, the revitalised Swiss squad bounced back in determined fashion in 2018, with star driver and new Ferrari recruit Charles Leclerc leading its charge to eighth in the championship. Making the most of its strengthened ties with Ferrari and rebrand as Alfa Romeo, the team looks in an even better position to improve in 2019. Raikkonen’s experience and performances will be a key factor in the team continuing its upward trend, with Giovinazzi planning on following the Finn’s lead in his first full-season of grand prix racing. Regular points finishes and a spot in mid-table should be a realistic aim that would represent continued progress for the team. 

Toro Rosso

What’s new: An all-new driver line up with the returning Daniil Kvyat partnering rookie Alexander Albon, while Jody Egginton has been promoted to technical chief in place of McLaren-bound James Key.

How testing went: Pre-season testing made for very encouraging reading for Toro Rosso. The team encountered no major reliability issues and was able to rack up the fourth most laps of any teams, ending up just 65 shy of breaking the 1000 barrier. All four Honda drivers (including Red Bull pair Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly) talked up the encouraging signs coming from the Japanese manufacturer over the winter, and glimpses of the ST14’s one-lap potential were highlighted by Alexander Albon setting the fourth-fastest lap of the entire pre-season. 

2019 objective: While its first season working with Honda was seen as something of a bedding-in and learning year, Toro Rosso will be keen to start making some serious progress up the pecking order after finishing ninth in 2018. The returning Daniil Kvyat has been backed to rediscover his best form and the Russian will be tasked with spearheading Toro Rosso’s assault in 2019 given the inexperience of newcomer Albon, who had not even turned a wheel in F1 machinery prior to the team’s shakedown. It will be fascinating to see how both drivers shape up against one another as the season progresses. 

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