BEGINNING with the practice sessions on Friday (March 15), through Saturday’s qualifying runs, until Sunday’s race, the flurry of activities lined up mark the start of the 2019 Formula 1 season. And, as it had been mostly the case since 1996, Melbourne is kick-starting the frenetic proceedings by way of the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix.
The 2019 season promises to shake things up, especially regarding on-track action. The sport’s governing body, FIA, and the F1 administration have introduced new rules (announced early last year) meant to allow for closer racing. These include separately considering the weight of the driver from that of the car (good news for taller drivers who, as a consequence, are heavier); increasing the amount of fuel that can be used in a race; drivers’ use of biometric gloves, which can send data on their condition (helpful in a crash); and reducing aerodynamic turbulence coming from the cars’ front and rear wings (which, in theory, should let cars follow one another more closely, if not altogether pass).
Also seen to make F1 racing more unpredictable this year is the movement of drivers across the teams. Only two of them — Mercedes-AMG Petronas and Rich Energy Haas — are keeping the lineup they had in 2018.
“There’s definitely a lot to look forward to this season, and I think there will be a good fight for the championship. I hope it goes deep into the year — I really believe it will,” says former F1 driver, and now Rolex Testimonee Mark Webber.
This year, a season consisting of 21 GPs, is Rolex’s seventh-straight as F1’s global partner and official timepiece. It is also a year filled with milestones for the sport.
For starters, F1, which ran its first race world championship race in May 1950 at the Silverstone track in England, is set to hold its 1,000th grand prix on April 12-14 at the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai. On May 23-26, the top-tier motor sport series will celebrate the 90th year since its inaugural Monaco Grand Prix.
Former F1 world driver’s champion and also Rolex Testimonee — as well as Monaco resident — Nico Rosberg says of the sport’s past: “I’m very proud of the great heritage of Formula 1 and the small part I have played in its history. I look forward to being involved in these landmark occasions, to reflect and reminisce on the sport’s tremendous legacy and its exceptional achievements.”
At the Italian Grand Prix in Monza (scheduled on September 6-8), three-time F1 world champion Jackie Stewart, a Rolex Testimonee for more than half a century, on the Saturday will celebrate 50 years to the day he clinched his first world championship — in 1969, also in Monza. He says regarding the milestone; “I’ve always felt emotion is dangerous for a racing driver, but I hope there is a little flush of it when I get to Monza this year. I’m incredibly proud, and fortunate, to have seen the sport grow in prestige as well as from a safety perspective. It’s a wonderful story. To honor the anniversary at one of the greatest racetracks in the world, where I won my first championship, is truly special and I look forward to a weekend full of celebrations.”
Certainly, Rolex is expected to take part in the festivities — it has, after all, been supporting Sir Jackie since 1968.