Major consequences of huge F1 change
Formula 1 is back with new cars, new looks and plenty of promise ahead of the start of winter testing from this Wednesday.
Here's what we've learnt after a week in which teams showed off their new hardware for season 2020.
FERRARI TAKING 'RISKS' WITH NEW 2020 CAR
Although Ferrari's livery may be similar to last year's, the team insist the new car is "completely different" as they bid to solve the issues with downforce which plagued their last title challenge.
The SF1000 - launched in extravagant style in a lavish theatre event - has been described as "very extreme" with its packaging to create a sleeker, tighter look.
"It is the base of last year's car but we tried to find as much performance as we could," team boss Mattia Binotto told Sky Sports F1. "There are a few areas where we have been brave - hopefully brave enough."
Ferrari accepted towards the end of last season that they would likely have to abandon many of their concepts from last year, which resulted in a car that was quicker than any other on the straights, but struggled through the corners.
They say their new contender presents new risks, but hopefully more rewards.
"The general car concept is different to last year, we are looking for more downforce and more drag," added Binotto. "There are some risks because I don't think we know exactly the output, but we made our choice and let's see on the track."
VETTEL RECEIVES STRONG SUPPORT
After a winter break which included a new long-term contract for Charles Leclerc and continued links surrounding Lewis Hamilton and the other Ferrari seat, it was little surprise that talk of Sebastian Vettel's future was hot topic at the Scuderia's launch.
Vettel's contract expires at the end of this season, which he comes into off the back of a disappointing 2019 littered with errors.
Ferrari, however, could not have been much more emphatic with their support of the four-time world champion.
"He is certainly our first option, and our preference," said Binotto, who insisted the Scuderia are "not considering" a move for the similarly out-of-contract Hamilton.
From Vettel's side, it seems the motivation is still there to succeed in red.
"I would like to (stay)," he told Sky F1. "The intentions are clear and I'm sure we'll sort it out."
'GREATEST CHANGE THAT HAS EVER OCCURRED IN FORMULA 1'
It's a truism that F1 teams are always thinking several steps - and sometimes years - ahead when it comes to the development of their cars. Yet the forward-thinking approach is never going to be the more crucial than the coming season.
The big regulation change afoot for 2021 isn't just another F1 rules tweak, it's a fundamental reworking of the way the sport goes racing.
In 2021 the sport will enforce radical aerodynamic changes aimed at making it easier for cars to overtake, a cost cap of $AUD255 million for teams, a reduction in grands prix weekends from four to three days and limits on the number of car upgrades teams can introduce.
"It's an epoch-making challenge," said Ferrari's Binotto. "It's the greatest change that has ever occurred in Formula 1."
So no wonder then that his Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff described 2020 as a "two-year championship", with teams having to make tough calls on how manage and prioritise the current season with the next in terms of car development as the year progresses.
"It is not only about 2020 under the current regulations," Wolff said. "There's such a massive regulatory change for 2021, that balancing your allocation of resources will be crucial in terms of how much of your resources you're switching into the 2021 car.
"Obviously, the learning and development slope is much steeper at the beginning.
"So if you get it wrong and you're months behind, you might be half a second behind.
"And this is a challenge which we have embraced in the past through two regulatory changes, and we love that one."
Making a fast start to 2020 will therefore be crucial to allow as early a shift as possible.
MERCEDES AND RED BULL UP AND RUNNING
Same track, different days, but two early sure signs that Mercedes and Red Bull mean business for F1 2020 by each running their new cars for the first time at Silverstone.
Certainly if this is to be the year that Red Bull return to title contention alongside serial champions Mercedes and never-to-be-discounted Ferrari, then that early momentum has to be maintained all the way through to Melbourne in one month's time.
MCLAREN ARE ON THE RIGHT PATH
McLaren are facing the tricky scenario of trying to improve on a position it is almost impossible to improve upon in modern-day F1 after finishing behind only the "big three" of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull last year.
But while the team are "optimistic, but realistic" about their chances for the season, they are still confident they can make progress in 2020 - whether that's just by topping the midfield in an aggressive-looking MCL35 with several new features.
"It feels a lot better than this time last year," said McLaren's CEO Zak Brown, with team principal Andreas Seidl and technical director James Key now fully integrated into the team.
"The gap to third is still very big in Formula 1 terms, so I think we have to be realistic, and we hope to close that gap.
"The first thing we need to do is not go backwards, and that in itself isn't easy as we've got great competition in the midfield. Very, very pleased - but still a long way to go."
McLaren were one of the feel-good stories of 2019, helped by new drivers Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris - who will both look to kick on in their second seasons with the team.
"I like what I'm seeing, I like the project, I like the car," Sainz said. "When we revealed it today I like how tidy it looks and hopefully it's a faster car than last year, and hopefully it is a car that is closer to the top teams."
NO CAR LAUNCH, NO LIVERY LAUNCH, AT RENAULT SEASON LAUNCH
Renault raised a few eyebrows when their F1 2020 season launch did not feature an, erm, launch - as did team boss Cyril Abiteboul when he said their current car was actually "in bits" and that other teams had been presenting "fake cars".
"I think people deserve reality, and they don't deserve fake information - or fake cars," he told Sky F1 after Renault only teased a few renders of the new-for-2020 car from selective angles.
He later added "no one is capable" of unveiling a current car and there was "little point" in Renault presenting anything.
Renault, meanwhile, clarified that the "real" car was in fact built and have hinted at a special testing livery once they finally reveal their challenger in Barcelona. They have certainly built up the anticipation for it!
ALFA MARK VALENTINE'S DAY IN STYLE … AGAIN
Alfa Romeo may not officially be revealing their car until the first morning of pre-season testing, but they still went a step further than many other teams on launch week by hitting the track - while also revealing a notably different livery.
The design, debuted at Fiorano with Kimi Raikkonen in the car, featured a full snakeskin camouflage on the C39, as well as a nod to Valentine's Day (for the second year in a row) with the Alfa Romeo logo represented in the shape of a heart.
On a week when livery changes were difficult to spot, this was a much appreciated one-off colour scheme. The team say "the secrets of its bodywork" will be revealed next week.
AND ALPHATAURI ARRIVE IN STYLE
They certainly made those following their unique launch event wait for the first look at their new image, but AlphaTauri have certainly arrived in F1 now with what will probably prove the most striking livery on the 2020 grid. How to make an entrance.
This article originally appeared on Sky Sports and was reproduced with permission