F1 2019: Brilliant Bottas wins as Mercedes take 6th title early

Mercedes Valterri Bottas puts in a storming drive to win from 3rd on the grid to keep his championship hopes alive as the Finn finished ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton. The double podium finish for Mercedes allowed them to outscore Ferrari to claim the Constructors Championship early.

13/10/19

Vettel takes Pole as Typhoon Hagibis disrupts running

Due to the expected impact of Typhoon Hagibis, Formula One and circuit officials made the decision to cancel all track running on Saturday and move Qualifying to Sunday morning.

Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari made the most of the disrupted running to take his second Pole Position of the season ahead of team-mate Charles Leclerc. Valterri Bottas out-qualified Lewis Hamilton to take 3rd as the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon took 5th and 6th. Renault had a nightmare qualifying with Daniel Ricciardo getting knocked out in Q1 and Nico Hulkenberg getting knocked out in Q2. The session was disrupted twice by two red flags for crashes for Williams Robert Kubica and Haas’s Kevin Magnussen.

Race

The lights went out and it was a very poor start by both Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc and that allows Valterri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton to swamp them just metres from their starting positions. Bottas swoops past and takes the lead before the first corner as a fast start from Max Verstappen sees the Dutchman go round the outside of Leclerc. However with a touch of understeer, Leclerc and Verstappen make contact with the Red Bull driver being punted into a spin and coming to a halt on the grass. Carlos Sainz Jr battles with Hamilton but the Brit stays ahead as Bottas streaks away.

A replay shows that Vettel moved before the lights went out. Will this count as a false start? Leclerc has front wing damage as Verstappen is able to join the race, albeit in last. Alexander Albon has fallen behind the two McLaren’s to 7th as fast starts from Nico Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez and Kevin Magnussen has seen them move up to 10th, 11th and 13th.

Leclerc carriers on and decides not to pit. The broken piece of his front wing breaks off and there’s carbon on the track. The Stewards decide that there is no investigation necessary between Leclerc and Verstappen as Hamilton complains about how dangerous Leclerc’s decision not to pit was. Leclerc pits at the end of lap 3. He gets a new front wing and rejoins in last on the Medium tyre.

Lando Norris and Albon collide as the Red Bull driver came from a long way back to try and overtake the McLaren driver into turn 16. Contact was made with Norris pitting and rejoining in last.

After his pit-stop, Leclerc was now trying to fight his way back up the field and overtook a struggling Verstappen for 16th. Overtake after overtake followed from Leclerc with a notable overtake on Daniil Kvyat at Spoon for 15th a highlight. Another one followed on Kimi Raikkonen for 14th at 130R meanwhile Bottas’s lead was nearing five seconds.

Red Bull decided to retire Verstappen come lap 15. The Dutchman now looks forward to the Mexican GP where in the past, he and Red Bull have been very successful. The Mercedes duo were on split strategies. Hamilton was on a one-stop while Bottas and Vettel were on a two-stop. Vettel was the first to blink on lap 17 with Bottas on lap 18 and Hamilton on lap 22.

Hamilton’s baffled by the strategy as Mercedes explain the tyre degradation is much higher than expected. Leclerc pitted for a second time on lap 26 and should be able to make it to the end. Running long into the race seems to have helped Daniel Ricciardo. He’s rejoined in 11th and looks to be fired up in the hunt for points.

Vettel pits for a second and final time on lap 32. He goes onto the Medium tyre and rejoins in 3rd – he’ll have Hamilton chasing him down come the end of the race. Bottas’s final pit-stop on lap 37 allows Hamilton into the lead but will the Brit’s tyre last the remaining distance?

Hamilton’s going to hang this out – he’ll be third regardless but Bottas isn’t going quick enough to catch his team-mate at an alarming rate. Leclerc’s fightback is coming on strongly as he hunts down Sainz for 5th. Pierre Gasly’s having a strong race in 7th ahead of Stroll, Hulkenberg and Ricciardo.

He gives up. Hamilton pits from the lead with 10 laps to go and rejoins just five seconds behind Vettel’s 2nd place. Fastest lap after fastest lap, the gap is coming down quickly as Hamilton sets the timing screens alight. Bottas may be out of range but 2nd place is up for grabs. Ricciardo overtakes team-mate Hulkenberg and then Stroll for 8th and now Gasly’s 7th place looks to be under threat.

Leclerc pits for a final time in an attempt to set the fastest lap and get the bonus point. Even with the fresher tyres and the aid of DRS, Hamilton cannot get close enough to overtake Vettel. The straight-line speed of the Ferrari keeping the Mercedes at bay.

Bottas leads onto the final lap as Perez crashes at turn 2. The Mexican was running in 9th and the replay shows it was an incident with Gasly – mimicking incident to that of the first lap between Leclerc and Verstappen.

Anyway, Bottas crosses the line to take a well-deserved victory and his first since Baku. Vettel hangs onto 2nd and with Hamilton in 3rd, Mercedes can breath a sight of relief as they can celebrate another world championship as they outscored Ferrari. Albon takes 4th ahead of Sainz and Leclerc. Gasly comes home in 8th behind Ricciardo but Perez is still classified in 9th ahead of Hulkenberg.

Race Result

  1. Valterri Bottas, Mercedes, 52 Laps
  2. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, +13.343s
  3. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, +13.858s
  4. Alexander Albon, Red Bull Racing Honda, +59.537s
  5. Carlos Sainz Jr, McLaren Renault, +69.101s
  6. Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, + 1 Lap
  7. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, + 1 Lap
  8. Pierre Gasly, Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda, + 1 Lap
  9. Sergio Perez, Racing Point BWT Mercedes, + 1 Lap
  10. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, + 1 Lap
  11. Lance Stroll, Racing Point BWT Mercedes, + 1 Lap
  12. Daniil Kvyat, Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda, + 1 Lap
  13. Lando Norris, McLaren Renault, + 1 Lap
  14. Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari, + 1 Lap
  15. Romain Grosjean, Haas Ferrari, + 1 Lap
  16. Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari, + 1 Lap
  17. Kevin Magnussen, Haas Ferrari, + 1 Lap
  18. George Russell, Williams Mercedes, + 2 Laps
  19. Robert Kubica, Williams Mercedes, + 2 Laps
  • Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing Honda, DNF

 

 

F1 2019: Hamilton wins Russian GP as tensions rise within Ferrari

Mercedes Lewis Hamilton returns to the top step of the podium with victory round the Sochi Autodrom after taking advantage of a VSC period. However, the race was being led by the squabbling Ferrari duo of Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc before a MGU-K failure on Vettel’s car prevented the Scuderia from taking a fourth straight win.

29/09/19

Lewis Hamilton’s winning strategy was actually determined on Saturday morning when he and his Mercedes crew decided that the Brit and his team-mate Valterri Bottas, would start on the Medium tyre rather than the favoured Soft tyre. In Q2, both Hamilton and Bottas qualified on the Medium whereas the Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel qualified on the Soft tyre.

Eventual pole-sitter, Leclerc, would later rue starting on pole, his fourth in a row, as he knew that before the race that the advantage of the slipstream would allow his rivals to challenge him for the lead. A cracking start by Vettel saw the rejuvenated German driver blast past Hamilton and then past team-mate Leclerc for the lead into turn 1. Hamilton came under attack from McLaren’s Carlos Sainz but the championship leader managed to fend the Spaniard off.

The Ferrari’s, trading fastest lap times, weren’t pulling away as quick from Hamilton behind. But then on lap 6, Leclerc was told by his race engineer that Vettel would let him past for the lead. It seems like this had been orchestrated before the start of the race to ensure that Ferrari would have a comfortable 1-2.

However, Vettel argued that they should continue on as the gap to Hamilton and the others behind wasn’t safe enough to maintain the 1-2 in the reverse order. On lap 7, Bottas eventually made his was past Sainz for 4th but the Mercedes driver was now nearly 10 seconds behind the race-leading Ferrari’s. As the laps went by, the move did not happen and Leclerc started to fall back as Vettel set the timing screens alight with fastest lap after fastest lap.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen qualified in 5th but started the race in 10th due to an engine penalty dropping the Dutchman five places. He was making his way through the field and got past Sainz for 5th while team-mate Alexander Albon, was doing the same and was making his way up from the back of the field.

At the end of lap 22, Ferrari decided to pull the trigger and pit Leclerc. He went onto the Medium tyre and re-joined in 4th. On fresher tyres, Leclerc was putting in great sectors as Vettel complained that his rear tyres were going off. So at the end of lap 27, Vettel pitted. He went onto the Medium tyre and rejoined…

Behind Leclerc who was told to push. The undercut had worked for Leclerc but Ferrari’s day was able to go downhill. Exiting the pits and on his ‘out-lap’, Vettel slowed and eventually came to a halt as he was told to “stop the car”.

“Are you serious” was the reply from the Singapore GP winner as he jumped out of his car due to a MGU-K failure. It was his first retirement of the season and the four time world champion said what near enough every F1 fan wants to hear “bring back the f***ing V12s!”

Vettel’s unsafe Ferrari allowed the stewards to deploy the Virtual Safety Car. Mercedes took full advantage and pitted both Hamilton and Bottas with Hamilton rejoining in the lead. Hamilton and Bottas were now on the Softs and would be much quicker than Leclerc on his Medium tyres who was now slap right bang in the middle of the Silver Arrows pair. The race got going again only for a mechanical issue to send Williams George Russell into the wall and into retirement and bring out the full Safety Car.

Ferrari took the decision to pit Leclerc and put him on equal footing with Hamilton and Bottas by swapping the Medium tyres for the Soft instead. Leclerc fell to 3rd behind Bottas and now if he wanted to win, had to overtake the Finn before having a chance to battle Hamilton.

Bottas defended well and kept Leclerc behind for the reminder of the race as Hamilton pulled out a three and a half second gap to win for the first time since Hungary. Bottas and Leclerc followed home in 2nd and 3rd while Verstappen, who couldn’t do much better than he had done, finished in 4th.

Albon finished in 5th ahead of Sainz who drove well to score points for the first time since Hungary. Sergio Perez claimed a well-deserved 7th ahead of the other McLaren of Lando Norris, Haas’s Kevin Magnussen and Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg.

Lance Stroll headed home the finishers that finished outside the points in 11th with Toro Rosso and home-favourite, Daniil Kvyat in 12th. After jumping the start of the race, Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen recovered to 13th after a drive-through penalty with Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly in 14th.

Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi limped home in 15th after early contact at the start of the race with Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo and Haas’s Romain Grosjean saw the Italian suffer damage and content with that for the rest of the race.

In racing, “three into one never goes”. This is what happened on the opening lap of the race when Grosjean, Giovinazzi and Ricciardo went for the same bit of track at the same time. Grosjean ended up in the barriers while Ricciardo suffered floor damage and a rear puncture and would retire later on.

Russian GP Result

1.Hamilton (Mercedes)  2.Bottas (Mercedes)  3.Leclerc (Ferrari)  4.Verstappen (Red Bull)  5.Albon (Red Bull)  6.Sainz (McLaren)  7.Perez (Racing Point)  8.Norris (McLaren)  9.Magnussen (Haas)  10.Hulkenberg (Renault)

11.Stroll (Racing Point)  12.Kvyat (Toro Rosso)  13.Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)  14.Gasly (Toro Rosso)  15.Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo

Retirements: Kubica (Williams), Russell (Williams), Vettel (Ferrari), Ricciardo (Renault) & Grosjean (Haas)

Drivers Championship

1.Hamilton (Mercedes) 322pts   2.Bottas (Mercedes) 249pts  3.Leclerc (Ferrari) 215pts  4.Verstappen (Red Bull) 212pts  5.Vettel (Ferrari) 194pts

Teams Championship

1.Mercedes (Ham & Bot) 571pts  2.Ferrari (Lec & Vet) 409pts  3.Red Bull (Ver & Alb) 311pts  4.McLaren (Sai & Nor) 101pts  5.Renault (Ric & Hul) 68pts

Next stop on the F1 calendar: Japan!

F1 2019: Vettel ends winless drought to beat Leclerc to Singapore victory

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel is back in business after a few tough races, the German made the right strategy calls and kept calm under pressure to win for the first time this season. Following him home was Pole-sitter and team-mate, Charles Leclerc and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who rounded-out the podium.

22/09/19

Starting Grid

1.Leclerc  2.Hamilton  3.Vettel  4.Verstappen  5.Bottas  6.Albon  7.Sainz Jr  8.Hulkenberg  9.Norris  10.Giovinazzi  11.Gasly  12.Raikkonen  13.Magnussen  14.Kvyat  15.Perez  16.Stroll  17.Grosjean  18.Russell  19.Kubica  20.Ricciardo

Race

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel left the track on Saturday knowing that he had the pace and that Pole Position should have been his but a few mistakes on his final lap let team-mate Charles Leclerc steal pole. However, the 4 Time World Champion drove magnificently to win for the first time this season.

The top 6, consisting of Charles Leclerc, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen, Valterri Bottas and Alexander Albon held their grid positions as the lights went out. Leclerc was able to pull away as Vettel challenged Hamilton but the Brit defended well and stayed ahead. Behind, Carlos Sainz Jr and Nico Hulkenberg made contact meaning that Sainz had damage to his rear-right tyre which left the limping McLaren to trundle back to the pits.

By lap 10, nothing had changed. The top 6, with Leclerc still leading, were not sprinting away as they normally do and were protecting the tyre life of the Soft tyre. By managing the pace upfront, Leclerc was controlling the race and the strategies for all of the top 6. Kevin Magnussen and Pierre Gasly had made up a number of places and were now in 9th and 10th.

Daniel Ricciardo should have started inside the top 10 in 8th but by being disqualified for a breach of using too much power, the Aussie found himself at the back of the grid and a lot of work to do to get himself back into contention. He was taking no prisoners and was showing why he is considered to be one of the best overtakes on the grid after overtaking Daniil Kvyat for 12th.

The average pit-stop time for this track is around 27 seconds and with the top six not sprinting away, when they pitted, they would rejoin in around the bottom half of the mid-field and would have to overtake drivers on different strategies. Who would blink first?

With the knowledge of the tyre life and the performance of the under-cut, Vettel and Verstappen decided to pit on lap 20. They were running in 3rd and 4th and rejoined in 10th and 11th. On his out-lap, Vettel pushed hard and by the time that Leclerc pitted on lap 21, the German found himself ahead. Leclerc was not happy and told Ferrari about the strategy choice. What were Mercedes to do? They had kept Hamilton and Bottas out but by doing this they were potentially going to lose their original positions in 2nd and 5th.

And so they did. As Vettel lead the charge, Leclerc and Verstappen followed and it was until this point where Mercedes’s strategy was either going to make or break. The trio had come out behind the likes of Ricciardo, Lance Stroll, Gasly and Antonio Giovinazzi, who were on the Medium and Hard tyres and were not going to pit for a number of laps. Mercedes were now banking on that the trio, especially Vettel, were going to get bogged down and stuck behind these drivers so that a gap would build up and Hamilton would rejoin ahead.

As the laps went on, the gap between Hamilton to Vettel kept reducing until Mercedes gave up and pitted Hamilton and Bottas. A Safety Car would have played into their hands but it wasn’t to be for now. The race order had changed, Vettel was now effective race leader ahead of Leclerc, Verstappen, Hamilton, Bottas and Albon. For a brief number of laps, Giovinazzi, led the race until Vettel, caught and overtook the Italian on lap 31. Trying to overtake Giovinazzi, Ricciardo made a late move which resulted in contact and left the Renault driver right-rear puncture. The drivers who hadn’t pitted, Giovinazzi, Gasly and Stroll, made their stops and this left Vettel in the lead.

Williams’s run of getting both cars home in one piece this season came to an end after a battling Romain Grosjean tagged George Russell into the barrier hence the record of Safety Car appearances at the race continued. No further action by the stewards was required and the drivers kept behind the Safety Car. On lap 41, racing resumed with Vettel staying ahead.

Hulkenberg’s fight-back continued and made a very nice move on Stroll for 12th but the Canadian, who clipped the wall, trundled back to the pits with a puncture. There was more anguish for Racing Point as Sergio Perez pulled over and retired just a lap later – marking his second non-finish of the year.

After being told to stop the car on the track, another Safety Car was called to remove the stricken Racing Point from the track. Would any of the top drivers pit? They would all stay out and under the Safety Car, the car was removed and racing resumed on lap 48.

Ricciardo’s enduring day continued and dropped two places after trying to overtake Kvyat for 13th but instead dropped to 16th as Gasly made a fantastic overtake to go round the outside of Kevin Magnussen for 8th. Hulkenberg followed through into 9th as Magnussen’s pace started to drop-off.

Onto lap 50, a late move by Kvyat trying to nab 12th off of Raikkonen ended badly as the pair made contact at turn 1 – breaking Raikkonen’s left-front suspension and forcing the Finn into retirement. This was Raikkonen’s first DNF of the season and only leaves Robert Kubica, Hamilton and Vettel to have finished each race so far this year. Again, another Safety Car was deployed.

Despite everything going on behind him, Vettel, managed to stay calm under pressure to win for the first time this season and for the first time in 13 months – dating back to the Belgian GP last year. Leclerc followed home a frustrated 2nd while Verstappen rounded-out the podium.

Hamilton and Bottas finished in 4th and 5th and remarkably, this was the first time that a Mercedes driver had not been on the podium for only the 2nd time in last 27 races. Hamilton still keeps his lead at the top by beating Bottas but suspects Mercedes are going to find it “hard to beat” this motivated Ferrari for the rest of the season.

Albon drove a quiet race to 6th ahead of Norris, who thoroughly deserves his 7th place. The McLaren driver failed to score points in Belgium after stopping on the last lap and started towards the back in Italy and picked-up a point for his efforts. His 6 points helps McLaren stay ahead of Renault in the championship.

Gasly was one of the stars of the race and seems to be settled in his Toro Rosso. He pulled off some great moves and his strategy worked well for the Frenchman to finish in 8th and gain 4 points. Hulkenberg recovered to 9th with Giovinazzi, another star of the race, finishing in 10th and crucially has taken 3 points in the last 2 races for Alfa.

Outside the points, Grosjean headed home Sainz Jr, Stroll, Ricciardo, Kvyat, Kubica and a distant Magnussen, who made a late pit-stop and for his efforts, set the fastest lap for the second year running but does not receive the bonus point because he finish outside the top 10 – the first time that this has happened.

Race Result

  1. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 61 Laps
  2. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, +2.641s
  3. Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing Honda, +3.821s
  4. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, +4.608s
  5. Valterri Bottas, Mercedes, +6.119s
  6. Alexander Albon, Red Bull Racing Honda, +11.663s
  7. Lando Norris, McLaren Renault, +14.769s
  8. Pierre Gasly, Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda, +15.547s
  9. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, +16.718s
  10. Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari, +27.855s
  11. Romain Grosjean, Haas Ferrari, +35.436s
  12. Carlos Sainz Jr, McLaren Renault, +35.974s
  13. Lance Stroll, Racing Point BWT Mercedes, +36.419s
  14. Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, +37.660s
  15. Daniil Kvyat, Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda, +38.178s
  16. Robert Kubica, Williams Mercedes, +47.024s
  17. Kevin Magnussen, Haas Ferrari, +86.522s
  • Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari, DNF
  • Sergio Perez, Racing Point BWT Mercedes, DNF
  • George Russell, Williams Mercedes, DNF

F1 2019: Haas retain drivers as Kubica announces Williams exit

A few more pieces of the 2020 Driver and Team line-up have been confirmed with Romain Grosjean staying at Haas alongside Kevin Magnussen and that Robert Kubica will be parting ways with Williams come the end of the year.

20/09/19

Haas keep status-quo for 2020

The day started off with Haas announcing that they will keep an unchanged line-up of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean for next season. It had been touch ‘n’ go to whether Grosjean was going to stay or be replaced. The obvious candidate for his seat would have been Nico Hulkenberg who finds himself out of a drive after Renault announced that Esteban Ocon would be taking his seat.

“Experience, and the need for it, has been one of the cornerstones of Haas F1 Team, and with Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen racing for the team in 2020, we continue to have a driver line-up that offers us a solid platform to continue our growth.”

Team Principal Guenther Steiner

Kubica and Williams part company

Robert Kubica has announced that at the end of the year, he will leave Williams and try to seek a driver elsewhere on the grid but this is highly unlikely. Having spent 2018 as the team’s test and reserve driver, Kubica’s F1 return was made possible as the Grove team signed him to partner George Russell. Williams have endured a difficult campaign so far with the team struggling with poor performance although upgrades in the past few races have brought the team closer to the bottom-end of the mid-field. Kubica has been out-qualified by Russell at each of the 14 rounds so far this year but due to the disqualification of both Alfa Romeo drivers at the German GP, Kubica was promoted into the top 10 to score a single point.

Confirmed 2020 Driver and Team Line-ups

  • Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton & Valterri Bottas
  • Ferrari: Charles Leclerc & Sebastian Vettel
  • Red Bull Racing Honda: Max Verstappen & NA
  • McLaren Renault: Carlos Sainz Jr & Lando Norris
  • Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda: NA
  • Renault: Daniel Ricciardo & Esteban Ocon
  • Racing Point: Sergio Perez & Lance Stroll
  • Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari: Kimi Raikkonen & NA
  • Haas Ferrari: Kevin Magnussen & Romain Grosjean
  • Williams Mercedes: George Russell & NA

 

F1 2019 in the old points system – Part 2

With seven races to go, all is to play for up and down the field but Lewis Hamilton is a comfortable 22 points ahead of nearest championship rival Valterri Bottas while Mercedes are looking set for a sixth consecutive championship.

15/09/19

The points system Formula One currently uses has been used since 2010 allows for the top 10 finishers to claim points and as follows: 1st – 25pts, 2nd – 18pts, 3rd – 15pts, 4th – 12pts, 5th – 10pts, 6th – 8pts, 7th – 6pts, 8th – 4pts, 9th – 2pts and 10th – 1pt.

The points system used in Formula One between 2003 to 2009 was as follows: 1st – 10pts, 2nd – 8pts, 3rd – 6pts, 4th – 5pts, 5th – 4pts, 6th – 3pts, 7th – 2pts and 8th – 1pt.

Italian GP Result

  1. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, 10pts
  2. Valterri Bottas, Mercedes, 8pts
  3. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 6pts
  4. Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, 5pts
  5. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, 4pts
  6. Alexander Albon, Red Bull Racing Honda, 3pts
  7. Sergio Perez, Racing Point BWT Mercedes, 2pts
  8. Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing Honda, 1pt

Antonio Giovinazzi and Lando Norris who finished in 9th and 10th are not awarded points

Hamilton clear at the top

Mercedes Lewis Hamilton leads team-mate and championship rival Valterri Bottas by 22 points – over two races wins clear. Hamilton has really made progress since Hungary by collecting 24 points compared to Bottas’s 15 points scored. With seven races to go, a maximum of 70 points are up for grabs but it looks like that Hamilton is cruising to a sixth world championship.

Verstappen, Leclerc and Vettel vying for 3rd

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen currently holds 3rd place but just by one point ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc who is three points ahead of team-mate Sebastian Vettel. Leclerc’s wins in Belgium and in Italy has seen the Ferrari driver claim 20 points in the past two races while Vettel’s taken 5 points while Verstappen has only taken one point. Crucially, Verstappen is only 18 points behind Bottas in 2nd so everything can change in the top 5.

Mercedes pulls clear as Renault close on McLaren

Despite not scoring in Germany, Mercedes have scored all season in double figures and since Hungary, have taken 39 points. The five time world champions are set to clinch this year’s title and have a 62 points gap back to rival’s Ferrari in 2nd. Ferrari meanwhile have had a great couple of races and have pulled away from Red Bull with the gap being 41 points. Failing to score in Belgium and in Italy, McLaren are now only 6 points ahead of Renault who have taken 10 points to close the gap in the fight for 4th.

Drivers Championship

Italy Drivers

Constructors Championship

Italy Teams

 

F1 2019: Leclerc fends-off Mercedes attack to win passionate Italian GP

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc seals back-to-back victories after fending off the Mercedes duo of Valterri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton to win on Ferrari’s home soil as Renault secure their best result season since their F1 return with Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg in the top 5.

08/09/19

Starting Grid

1.Leclerc  2.Hamilton  3.Bottas  4.Vettel  5.Ricciardo  6.Hulkenberg  7.Sainz Jr  8.Albon  9.Stroll  10.Giovinazzi  11.Magnussen  12.Kvyat  13.Grosjean  14.Russell  15.Kubica  16.Norris  17.Gasly  18.Perez  19.Verstappen  Pit-lane: Raikkonen

Race

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc’s second back-to-back victory started on Saturday as the young Monegasque secured Pole Position for the 4th time this season after a one of the most extraordinary final qualifying sessions in the history of F1 took place.

Leclerc led from the start despite early pressure from Mercedes Lewis Hamilton on the run-down to turn 1. The other Mercedes of Valterri Bottas pressured the Brit and managed to nip ahead for a few metres before championship leader got a better exit out of turn 1. While the Ferrari of Leclerc was up-front, the other Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel found himself under pressure from Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg who managed to overtake the German for 4th out of turn 5.

Meanwhile at the back of the field, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen pitted for a new front wing as the Dutchman made contact with the rear of Racing Point’s Sergio Perez. Vettel began to make up some ground as he managed to re-overtake Hulkenberg for 4th as the other Red Bull of Alexander Albon, made a diving move on McLaren’s Carlos Sainz Jr into turn 4. However on the exit of the corner, poor traction meant that Sainz was able to get back alongside and was ahead going into the first Lesmo. Albon tried to fightback round the outside but a move at that corner, round the outside, is rare and unfortunately for Albon, banging wheels with the McLaren sent the former Toro Rosso driver on a trip through the gravel and down to 13th.

The Renault team were one of the surprises of qualifying by showing impressive pace and were now running in 5th and 6th with Hulkenberg ahead of Daniel Ricciardo. They switched places after Ricciardo overtook Hulkenberg down the main straight with the help of DRS.

After getting back past Hulkenberg, Vettel was now on the prowl and hunting down Bottas’s 3rd place. But the German, who hasn’t won this race as a Ferrari driver, wasn’t going to amend that stat today as he spun on the exit of turn 8. Trying to get back in the race, the four time world champion, unaware that Racing Point’s Lance Stroll was heading his way. Stroll hit Vettel’s front wing sending the Canadian into a spin and ending up on the kerb at turn 10. In his frustration, Stroll then came back onto the track with Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly having to take avoiding action across the gravel trap. Vettel pitted for repairs.

As if his day was going to get better, Vettel received the harshest penalty the race stewards can give out – a 10 second stop/go penalty. This would take Vettel out of contention of the win, a podium finish and even points. He was eventually lapped and finished 13th after making an additional pit-stop near the end of the race.

Up-front, Leclerc kept his Ferrari ahead but the gap back to Hamilton never exceeded 3 seconds and it was the Brit who blinked first. Mercedes pitted Hamilton a lap before Leclerc but the under-cut failed to work it’s magic as Leclerc came back out just in front. The major difference between the pair was the tyres their teams had put on. Mercedes fitted Hamilton with the Medium tyre while Ferrari, clearly, put the Hard tyre on Leclerc. After running race stints during practice, Ferrari knew that their car was quicker on the Hard tyre compared to the Medium and this along with the tyre life aided Leclerc’s fight.

Bottas decided to stick it out and ran for a few laps longer than the duelling pair but his over-cut wasn’t going to work. Onto lap 23, after overtaking Hulkenberg for 3rd and 4th, Leclerc and Hamilton made their way to turn 3 with Hamilton in the slipstream of the Ferrari. Hamilton pulled to the right and made it nearly all the way alongside coming into the braking zone. Leclerc moved over to take the racing line and that left little space for Hamilton. The Brit took to the escape road while Leclerc held the lead. Although a bit naughty, the stewards gave Leclerc the black and white flag.

After successfully defending his position against Albon earlier, Sainz had been running in 6th behind the Renault’s before his pit-stop. After retiring in Belgium, the Spaniard was looking good for some points in aid of minimising the points deficit to Renault. A botched pit-stop for Sainz saw front-right tyre being not secured properly and saw a consecutive retirement.

After a brief Virtual Safety Car, Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat was hoping to make up some places having not pitted and was going to use the VSC to his advantage. However, an oil leak left the Russian at the side of the track at turn 2 becoming the second retirement.

Hamilton’s faster Medium tyres had piled the pressure on Leclerc who was managing his more durable Hard tyres. Meanwhile Bottas, who was on fresher Medium tyres, was catching the pair at a steady rate. Leclerc locked-up his tyres into turn 1 and jumped across the kerbs at the chicane and staying ahead despite even more pressure from Hamilton.

Come lap 42, Hamilton’s Medium tyres were starting to wear out and a lock-up at turn 1, which sent him through the run-off, gifted Bottas 2nd place and a shot of victory. Hamilton pitted and with a fresh set of tyres, the Mercedes driver took the bonus point for fastest lap.

With three laps to go, Bottas was in striking range on the run-down to turn 1 but overshot his braking point meaning that the Finn went deep into the corner and lost time to Leclerc. This mistake gave Leclerc some breathing space until the end of the race.

As Leclerc rounded the Parabolica, Ferrari fans at the side of the track started to cheer and celebrate – their wait for a Ferrari victory on home soil was finally going to come true after the Scuderia’s last win came in 2010. The winless drought at Monza was over for Ferrari as Leclerc crossed the line to win!

Bottas and Hamilton rounded out the podium with the Renault’s of Ricciardo and Hulkenberg coming home in a deserving 4th and 5th – picking up 22 points. Albon recovered to 6th ahead Perez who managed to stay ahead of a relentless Verstappen in the final laps.

Home favourite, Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi put in a great performance to finish the race in 9th and pick-up two valuable points. The delighted Italian ran as high as 7th before being overtaken by the likes of Perez and Verstappen. McLaren’s Lando Norris, who started near the back of the field, picked up a deserving point in 10th.

Gasly finished outside the points in 11th ahead of a frustrated Stroll, who served a drive-through penalty for his near collision with Kvyat, with Vettel in 13th ahead of Williams George Russell, Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen who had a weekend to forget, Haas’s Romain Grosjean and the second Williams of Robert Kubica.

The third retiree of the race, Haas’s Kevin Magnussen retired not long before the end of the race with a hydraulic problem. Both Haas driver were left “baffled” by the lack of pace the team showed in Italy.

Race Result

  1. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, 53 Laps
  2. Valterri Bottas, Mercedes, +0.835s
  3. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, +35.199s
  4. Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, +45.515s
  5. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, +58.165s
  6. Alexander Albon, Red Bull Racing Honda, +59.315s
  7. Sergio Perez, Racing Point BWT Mercedes, +73.802s
  8. Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing Honda, +74.492s
  9. Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari, + 1 Lap
  10. Lando Norris, McLaren Renault, + 1 Lap
  11. Pierre Gasly, Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda, + 1 Lap
  12. Lance Stroll, Racing Point BWT Mercedes, + 1 Lap
  13. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, + 1 Lap
  14. George Russell, Williams Mercedes, + 1 Lap
  15. Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo Racing Honda, + 1 Lap
  16. Romain Grosjean, Haas Ferrari, + 1 Lap
  17. Robert Kubica, Williams Mercedes, + 2 Laps
  • Kevin Magnussen, Haas Ferrari, DNF
  • Daniil Kvyat, Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda, DNF
  • Carlos Sainz Jr, McLaren Renault, DNF

F1 2019: Perez signs new deal as 2020 potential seats start to close

Just a day later than the announcements at Mercedes and Renault, Racing Point decided to join in and announce that they will field an unchanged line-up next season with Canadian Lance Stroll continuing to partner Sergio Perez who signed a three year extension to his current contract.

04/09/19

Perez looking at long-term stay at Racing Point

Having join what was formerly known as Force India in 2014, Mexican Sergio Perez has been a key member of the team and has delivered strong results for the Silverstone based team. In the latter half of 2018 when Force India went into administration, “Checo”, played a major role in saving the team which has emerged with new members of staff and a bold plan for their future in F1.

Perez’s extension to his current contract will see the 29-year-old stay until the end of 2022 in the hope that the team, by then, will be challenging for podiums and victories on a regular occasion. Former Williams driver, Lance Stroll, will stay on for next season at least as it was pretty much decided when his father, Lawrence Stroll who leads the consortium that owns Racing Point, stated that his son “will likely have a seat at the team for as long as he is a Formula 1 driver.”

F1’s 2020 Driver jigsaw starting to come together

Racing Point along with Mercedes, Renault and McLaren are the only teams on the grid so far to confirm their driver line-ups for next season. It’s heavily expected, although not revealed yet, that Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel will stay at Ferrari. So, there are 6 remaining seats up for grabs at five different teams for 2020.

F1 2019: Bottas stays, Ocon returns and Spain secure for 2020

  • Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton & Valterri Bottas
  • Ferrari: Sebastian Vettel & Charles Leclerc
  • Red Bull Racing Honda: Max Verstappen & NA
  • McLaren Renault: Carlos Sainz Jr & Lando Norris
  • Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda: NA
  • Renault: Daniel Ricciardo & Esteban Ocon
  • Racing Point: Sergio Perez & Lance Stroll
  • Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari: Kimi Raikkonen & NA
  • Haas Ferrari: Kevin Magnussen & NA
  • Williams Mercedes: George Russell & NA

Current drivers without a seat

Former Williams, Sauber and Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg finds himself out of a seat for next season as it was revealed that his current seat at Renault would be taken by the returning Esteban Ocon. It’s been speculated that he has been in talks with management at Haas about partnering Kevin Magnussen for next season but their bitter on-track relationship could hamper the deal. Possible seats at Red Bull/Toro Rosso have been quietly talked about and still could happen or possibly a seat at Alfa Romeo.

F1 2019: Hulkenberg’s F1 future in doubt?

Haas driver Romain Grosjean could be facing his last season in the sport. After a difficult start to the season last year, Grosjean came back in the second half of the season a rejuvenated driver but along with incidents with Magnussen during races, unnecessary mistakes and a poor car has led Grosjean to be under fire and could be ejected from Haas come the end of the season. A possible transfer to Alfa Romeo could be on the cards and if it does happen, the 33-year-old could once again partner Raikkonen when they were team-mates for two seasons during 2012 and 2013 at Lotus.

Pierre Gasly, Alexander Albon and Daniil Kvyat are all linked with each other with one seat available at Red Bull and two seats at Toro Rosso. Gasly’s mid-season demotion has led to him returning to Toro Rosso and Albon taking his place at Red Bull. Whether this will stay will depend on Albon’s second half of the season at Red Bull on how well he performs. Red Bull will have quite a few choices to make come the end of the season.

Being the first Italian since 2011 to compete in an F1 race, Antonio Giovinazzi‘s first full season in the sport hasn’t gone as smooth as he has wanted. The mounting pressure on the young Italian wasn’t helped by a last-lap crash at the Belgian GP on Sunday where he was about to take his best finish of 8th. 10th in Austria remains his only top 10 finish and with Hulkenberg and former Sauber driver, Marcus Ericsson waiting in the wings, “Gio” will have to find some form soon if he’s to keep his seat for next season.

The amazing return of Robert Kubica hasn’t developed as much as people thought. Given his limitations, it’s expected that the 2008 Canadian GP winner would struggle initially. But up against British rookie, George Russell, Kubica has struggled to consistently match the 2018 F2 Champion at the struggling Williams team. He’s yet to out-qualify his team-mate but has the upper-hand when it comes to points scored where the Pole was promoted into the top 10 when both Alfa Romeo drivers were disqualified at the German GP. Test and Reserve driver and F2 contender, Nicholas Latifi, could pinch the Pole’s seat for next season.