Rule changes and team updates for 2019
The Red Bull Air Race returns for its 12th World Championship season with several rule changes that will make even the most seasoned competitors rethink their strategies. Add talented new team members and the campaign will be electric from start to finish. Here is what you need to know...
The full 2018 Master Class line up returns to resume the battle. With Martin Sonka defending his 2018 title whilst 13 other pilots try to take it away, this is shaping up to be an incredibly tight season.
Among the rule changes for 2019 is a revision of the points scheme. For the first time since 2010, points will be awarded in Qualifying: three points for the fastest, two for second place, and one for third. In addition, pilots will continue to receive Race Day points according to their final placement, but the allotment has changed, and bonus points will be added for advancing through the rounds (five points for advancement to the Round of 8 and three points for advancing to the Final 4). Given that the 2018 World Champion has been decided by five points or less in the past two seasons, these extra scoring opportunities could be crucial, and the new scheme is sure to shake up strategies.
Another key rule change for the Master Class involves the Over G penalty. Last season, going over 10G for 0.6 seconds resulted in a two-second penalty for Master Class pilots, while reaching 12G was an automatic DNF for the run. In 2019, a one-second Over G penalty will be incurred if a pilot reaches 11G, while reaching 12G will again result in an automatic DNF.
While the pilots remain the same, there are notable changes within the teams. For example, Peter Conway, who helped take Yoshihide Muroya to the 2017 World Championship, becomes the new technician for Kirby Chambliss. Meanwhile, Juan Velarde has signed Manuela Rodríguez Marote as coach and psychologist and Nicolas Ivanoff has recruited tactician Marius Heise, who worked for the late 2008 World Champion Hannes Arch. Another previous member of Arch's team, Werner Wolfrum, joins Pete McLeod as tactician. And Mark Travner, who contributed to the campaign of now-retired Peter Podlunšek, will be the tactician for Petr Kopfstein, whose team is seeing a reorganisation in the responsibilities of several continuing members.
Coming soon: exciting updates on the 2019 season for the Challenger Class.