2019 Formula One Season Review

Lewis Hamilton sealed his sixth Formula One title after a dramatic US Grand Prix weekend. (Image credit: Steve Etherington)

After 21 rounds across four different continents and 1262 laps, Formula One wrapped up the 2019 season last weekend in Abu Dhabi but its time to now reflect on a memorable season in our season review. 

Mercedes once again begun the seasons as favourites but Ferrari and Red Bull were hot on their heels throughout the campaign, whilst five teams battled it out in a hotly contested race for fourth. 

This season’s rookies meanwhile shone in their own different ways, so let crack on with our team by team review and there is just one place to start. 

 

Mercedes

Driver Lewis Hamilton Valtteri Bottas
Quali H2H 14 7
Pole Positions 5 5
Race H2H 15 6
Points 413 326
Championship Position 1st 2nd

Dominant is the only word to describe Hamilton because he simply outclassed the field as Mercedes ran away with their sixth consecutive driver/team double. 

That was never in doubt after five one-two finishes from the first five races, whilst just two non podium finishes from the European and Canadian stretch effectively sealed Hamilton his sixth title. 

What makes Hamilton’s performance even more unbelievable is that he scored 17 podiums, which is the fourth season in the las five seasons that he has achieved this, highlighting his incredible consistency even against a tough second-half challenge from Ferrari and Red Bull. 

Bottas
Valtteri Bottas had a tough season although this was only one of two race retirements, after an error in the closing stages of July’s German GP (Image credit: FOM)

Bottas meanwhile had personal issues to deal with mid-season so it is hard to criticise him given the circumstances, although a mistake in Germany then hydraulics issue in Brazil cost him a possible season full of point scoring finishes.

I therefore feel that if those mistakes hadn’t happened, Mercedes would of gone an entire season without a single non points finish which hadn’t been achieved this century if not never before in F1 history. 

There is therefore little to fault with the Silver Arrows because even when they struggled at various tracks, they found a way to scrape together the best results possible strategically which is what champions do.

Grade = A 

 

Ferrari

Driver Charles Leclerc Sebastian Vettel
Quali H2H 12 9
Pole Positions 7 2
Race H2H 9 12
Points 264 240
Championship Position 4th 5th

2019 has been a year of progress for Ferrari because they have been an excellent match for Mercedes in straight-line speed and power, despite deficiencies still presenting itself in other areas.

Their inter-team fight however has been one of the biggest stories of this season because Leclerc more than matched Vettel on one lap pace, which was evident by the Monegasque taking the most pole positions this season.

Vettel however had the edge in race pace due to his experience, although he really should of won it 11-10 if the team had allowed Leclerc past in Australia, when he had the better race pace than Vettel despite closing in during the closing stages. 

Mistakes however cost both drivers a shot at the title because Leclerc’s youth showed on a couple of occasions, particularly in Azerbaijan when he threw away a dominant weekend with a silly Q2 crash because he really should of won that race. 

Vettel meanwhile seemed rattled at times by Leclerc’s talent because he made silly basic errors when battling other drivers, with spins in Bahrain and Italy whilst he made a idiotic lunge down the inside of Max Verstappen into Vale at Silverstone which cost him points. 

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His biggest error however came in Canada with a dangerous re-entry which cost him the win, and his reaction afterwards demonstrated why he is one of the most difficult F1 drivers to like this decade, because he doesn’t seem to take responsibility for his own errors as seen on various occasions over the years. 

The pit wall themselves however aren’t immune with reliability issues costing Leclerc the win in Bahrain and Vettel a Q3 run in Austria, whilst a strategic Qualifying error in Monaco embarrassingly ruled Leclerc out of contention for the win at his home race.

I therefore am thinking that like last year, this is a season that got away from Ferrari through their own mistakes but the progress in terms of performance suggests unfulfilled potential.

The key step next season for Ferrari is to just cut out their silly errors and don’t get complacent based on pre-season form of other teams, because if they do that then we will have a proper two team title fight for the first time since 2012. 

Grade = B

 

Red Bull

2019 has been a season of two halves for Red Bull which makes direct comparison between Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly then Alex Albon difficult, so we have split their comparisons into two stages, starting with Verstappen vs Gasly.

Driver Max Verstappen Pierre Gasly
Quali H2H 11 1
Pole Positions 1 0
Race H2H 11 1
Points 181 61
Best Finish 1st (x2) 4th

There is little to say about the first half of this season because Verstappen absolutely blitzed Gasly, and would of done a complete race whitewash if it wasn’t for a stupid collision caused by Vettel at Silverstone although he mounted a great recovery to fifth. 

Verstappen also showed incredible consistency with top five finishes from his 12 races alongside Gasly, who was just a massive disappointment as he often battled McLaren’s Carlos Sainz who really should of been given the seat.

Red Bull therefore made the right call to demote Gasly because Albon has done a fantastic job in his place since returning from the summer break.

Driver Max Verstappen Alex Albon
Quali H2H 8 1
Pole Positions 2 0
Race H2H 5 4
Points 97 76
Overall Championship Position 3rd 8th

Verstappen once again was dominant after a swap of teammates, although we must give Albon respect because he was near enough a match for Verstappen on race pace, even if his qualifying pace is poor in comparison. 

Red Bull therefore have a fantastic pair of overtakers on their hands and with half a season under his belt with the team, I am expecting Albon to be much closer next season and battling for podiums if not wins. 

We must also remember that this is Red Bull’s first season under Honda power so to have Verstappen finish third is a remarkable achievement, whilst Albon benefitted from the step up because he was doing a solid job at Toro Rosso under the same power but was able to show his full potential in a stronger car. 

I therefore would rate Red Bull’s season as impressive although there are room for improvements, which will surely come next season.

Grade = B

 

McLaren

Driver Carlos Sainz Lando Norris
Quali H2H 10 11
Race H2H 12 8
Points 96 49
Championship Position 6th 11th

What a resurgence from McLaren because a double driver change could of easily backfired but Norris and Sainz complimented each other on and off track. 

This pairing in fact have been so competitive that I am not surprised that their qualifying battle wasn’t settled until Q3 in Abu Dhabi, which suggests that next season will be even more exciting because Norris will have a season worth of experience under his belt. 

Sainz however had the edge in race pace which wasn’t too surprising to me, given his experience but their best highlight has to be fending off Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel early on in France. 

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That moment highlighted their progress because in recent seasons, it would of been unbelievable to see two McLaren cars holding up a Ferrari at any circuit never mind a circuit with numerous straights. 

I therefore can’t find many weaknesses other than reliability because four of their seven retirements were power unit related, although two of their officially classified finishes outside of the points also were due to power unit based issues. 

This season therefore has been one of maturity, growth and I am excited to see what this team can do next season, especially ahead of a switchback to Mercedes power in 2021. 

Grade = B

 

Renault

Driver Daniel Ricciardo Nico Hulkenberg
Quali H2H* 13 7
Race H2H** 11 9
Points 54 37
Championship Position 9th 14th

*Ricciardo was disqualified from Singapore GP Qualifying.

**Both drivers were disqualified from Japanese GP

It’s hard to sum up Renault’s season because on one hand, they have been so inconsistent yet on the other hand, reliability has often been their Achilles heel at various times throughout the campaign. 

There is however one positive in that they were competitive at the medium-low downforce races like Canada and Mexico, otherwise they would of probably finished sixth instead if it wasn’t for that 22 point haul from Monza eventually proving the difference. 

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Hulkenberg meanwhile struggled to match Ricciardo throughout the season, only managing to edge him in the races that he managed to finished ahead, by virtue of mistakes from Ricciardo alone. 

I am therefore excited to see whether Esteban Ocon can match Ricciardo next season and take his chances, in a way that Hulkenberg failed to do in Germany when he crashed out from a podium placing. 

Renault overall in my opinion have been average this year but need to iron out errors and follow the rules more, if are to continue to improve and challenge further up the grid next season.

Grade = D

 

Toro Rosso

Like Red Bull, this was a season was two halves for Toro Rosso so we will start with the first half of this season featuring Daniil Kvyat and Alex Albon.

Driver Daniil Kvyat Alex Albon
Quali H2H 7 5
Race H2H 7 5
Points 26 16
Best Finish 3rd 6th

Looking at the stats, it might be easy to say that Kvyat should of been promoted to Red Bull again but looking at the bigger picture, Albon was the more impressive because he wasn’t even meant to be racing in F1 this season. 

That makes his achievement against Kvyat even more impressive, even if it was the Russian who naturally had the edge although Albon stole the headlines with a storming drive from the pits to tenth in China after a FP3 crash kept him out of qualifying. 

For me, that performance was outstanding for a rookie in a midfield car and it wasn’t even a wet race, which showed Albon’s potential and he replicated that drive in his first race for Red Bull as he went from 17th on the grid to fifth with a tactical drive. 

That Toro Rosso car however is a mighty beast in the wet so it’s a shame that we didn’t see more wet races this season, because Albon was a stand-out performer in the German GP even if he did end up tangling with Gasly whilst Kvyat picked up a brilliant podium. 

I therefore am disappointed that Kvyat tailed off after the summer break because Gasly returned and just simply dominated the team. 

Driver Daniil Kvyat Pierre Gasly
Quali H2H 2 7
Race H2H 3 6
Points 11 34
Overall Championship Position 13th 7th

Gasly in fact showed remarkable spirit to bounce back how he did from his demotion by Red Bull, because most other drivers wouldn’t of fought back how he did and particularly in Belgium. 

He then was the more consistent out of both drivers although both drivers seemed to struggle around Sochi, although bad luck in Abu Dhabi ultimately prevented him from taking sixth which would of been a fantastic result given his mid-season team swap. 

Brazil however has to be Toro Rosso’s highlight of the season because Gasly was on form all weekend, ultimately benefitting from late race mayhem amongst the frontrunners to take second and the team’s first dry race F1 podium. 

There however is still room for improvement for both drivers so hopefully 2020 will be another strong year, even if it doesn’t bring podiums. 

Grade = C

 

Racing Point

Driver Sergio Perez Lance Stroll
Quali H2H 18 3
Race H2H 16 5
Points 52 21
Championship Position 10th 15th

Racing Point have had to work for their seventh placed finish because they started the season well with 17 points in the opening four rounds, before losing their way with just 16 points gathered in the following eight rounds. 

Perez however demonstrated why he is one of the best midfield talents around in bouncing back from a eight race pointless run mid season, because he only suffered one non-finish in the last nine races after the summer break.

Stroll meanwhile has once again been woeful and he doesn’t have the excuse of driving a Williams car this year to use, which is evident in his poor head to head records against Perez. 

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Seventh however is a solid result for a team who have completed their first full season under a new name, although there is still progress to be made if they’re to match the dizzy heights of recent seasons under the Force India brand. 

Stroll in particular needs to improve next season because I think that there are better drivers who could do a stronger job than he can, so next season needs to go in just one direction – upwards. 

Grade = C

 

Alfa Romeo

Driver Kimi Raikkonen Antonio Giovinazzi
Quali H2H 12 9
Race H2H 17 4
Points 43 14
Championship Position 12th 17th

Alfa Romeo should be happy with their progress this season because Raikkonen was instrumental throughout the first half of this season, amassing 31 of their 32 points across the opening 12 rounds.

He sadly tailed off after the summer break apart from an excellent fourth-placed finish in Brazil, which shows that perhaps his issues were car specific rather than driver related. 

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Giovinazzi meanwhile was just dire throughout the campaign, taking just four points if we ignore that crazy Brazilian GP result,  which is alarming for a potential future Ferrari driver. 

I would therefore say that the team needs to raise their game in terms of consistency across the season, whilst Giovinazzi needs a mega season because there might be an opening at Ferrari in 2021. 

Raikkonen’s first half form however saved them from a total disaster of a season, which makes their result decent.

Grade = C

 

Haas

Driver Romain Grosjean Kevin Magnussen
Quali H2H 8 13
Race H2H 10 11
Points 8 20
Championship Position 18th 16th

Tyre wear and setup issues seem to be the story of Haas’ season because they struggled all season for points, even reverting to previous specs on a few occasions in order to understand their issues. 

Neither drivers in fact were impressive so fair play to Magnussen, who seemed to extract more pace than Grosjean managed over the course of the entire season. 

Both drivers however need to stop tripping over each other because they were lucky not to blow points in Germany, like they had done at Silverstone, otherwise there will need to be a driver change for 2021. 

I therefore have little else to say other than this has been a huge disappointment but at least the team threw everything they could into understanding the car’s issues, which will be key to next year’s car design. 

Grade = D

 

Williams

Driver George Russell Robert Kubica
Quali H2H 21 0
Race H2H 17 4
Points 0 1
Championship Position 20th 19th

This has been a horrific season for Williams because they have lacked behind at the back throughout every race. 

Russell however has been their brightest spark with a strong set of consistent performances, of which he can learn from heading into next season and particularly in the wet. 

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Kubica’s point only came about from the post race disqualification of both Alfa Romeos in Germany, although Russell could of easily gotten that point if he hadn’t finished behind the Pole. 

In fact, their qualifying and race head-to-head results speaks volumes about how badly Williams have performed, but we must give Russell respect because he is a rookie who has exceeded all expectations. 

I however can only grade Williams a F because their overall performance has been atrocious to say the least. 

Grade = F

 

If missed any of the 21 rounds this season, get up to date with our race reviews below along with our half-term report.

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