F1 2019: Hamilton takes Mexican GP win but title rolls on

Mercedes Lewis Hamilton takes another step to winning the 2019 Drivers World Championship by winning the Mexican GP ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes Valterri Bottas.

27/10/19

Starting Grid

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

Race

Today is Lewis Hamilton’s first opportunity to clinch the 2019 Drivers World Championship and needs to out-score Mercedes team-mate Valterri Bottas by 14 points to claim a 6th drivers title. The big controversy of yesterday’s qualifying session was Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who qualified on Pole Position, but was stripped of the position after it was found that he did not slow under yellow flags following a heavy crash for Bottas in Q3. This led to a 3 place grid drop and promoted the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc to Pole with team-mate Sebastian Vettel behind and Hamilton to 3rd with the Dutchman relegated to 4th.

Both Ferraris fairly matched each other off the start, Lewis Hamilton’s getaway from 3rd was searing. As he swept left, though, his progress was arrested by a rather cheeky squeeze from Sebastian Vettel.

As Charles Leclerc led Sebastian Vettel into Turn 1, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton went through the corner behind side-by-side. As they both struggled for grip, their cars swinging wildly, they made light contact, both running off the track and allowing Alexander Albon and Carlos Sainz to sweep past into 3rd and 4th. Hamilton re-joins in 5th with Verstappen down in 8th.

The Virtual Safety Car is brought out with Charles Leclerc leading ahead of Sebastian Vettel, Alexander Albon, Carlos Sainz Jr, Lewis Hamilton, Lando Norris, Valterri Bottas and Max Verstappen. On lap 3, the VSC ends with Leclerc leading with a 1.5 second lead.

By lap 4, Lewis Hamilton overtakes Carlos Sainz Jr for 4th before turn 1 as Valterri Bottas tries to overtake Lando Norris at the same corner but is too far back. A lovely move by Verstappen to get past Bottas into turn 13 but the Finn gets back ahead on lap 5 on the run down to turn 1. Verstappen’s day goes from bad to worse as a right-rear puncture drops him down the field. His day will now be a recovery drive and will love a safety car.

Valterri Bottas finally gets past Lando Norris for 6th and will now set his sights on Carlos Sainz Jr ahead. Onto lap 8, Bottas blasts past Sainz for 5th way before turn 1. Local hero, Sergio Perez, has made his way up to 9th after starting in 11th while Daniel Ricciardo is up to 10th and will be one to watch as he is on the Hard compound tyre. A great move by Perez to overtake Daniil Kvyat for 8th into turn 1 gets the crowd to their feet.

Pitting from 7th, Lando Norris, suffers another botched pit-stop as the left-front tyre wasn’t secured properly. The Brit pulls in and his McLaren mechanics push the car back to the pit-box to secure the tyre. He rejoins a lap down in last.

Lap 15, Alexander Albon pits from 3rd and this means that the Red Bull driver is probably on a two-stop strategy. Lap 16, Charles Leclerc pits from 1st and rejoins in 4th as Albon overtakes Sainz who pits. Sebastian Vettel elects to stay out along with Lewis Hamilton and Valterri Bottas in 2nd and 3rd. If Vettel, Hamilton and Bottas can keep their tyres in check, they might pull-off a one-stop while Leclerc and Albon are likely on a two-stop.

Lap 24, Lewis Hamilton pits from 2nd. He rejoins in 4th ahead of Alexander Albon and on the Hard tyre. Will Ferrari pit Sebastian Vettel? The German stays out in the lead as Valterri Bottas stays out in 2nd as well. Max Verstappen continues his fight-back and overtakes Pierre Gasly for 12th into turn 1.

With 34 laps completed, Sebastian Vettel, Valterri Bottas, Daniel Ricciardo and Lance Stroll are yet to pit. Lewis Hamilton in 4th meanwhile, is complaining about his hard tyres and his chances of winning this race. Vettel navigates his way through traffic but his lead over Bottas has halved. Lap 36, Bottas pits. The Finn rejoins on the Hard tyre in 5th. Ferrari are going to react. They tell Vettel to push and box. The German stops on lap 37. Vettel rejoins in 4th ahead of Bottas and on the Hard tyre.

Charles Leclerc leads ahead of Lewis Hamilton, Alexander Albon, Sebastian Vettel and Valterri Bottas. Now, Leclerc, Hamilton and probably Albon will have to pit again. Daniel Ricciardo in 6th is yet to pit and will be targeting a top 8 finish. After a second pit-stop, Carlos Sainz Jr is down in 14th on the Medium tyre.

Lap 44, a slow stop for Charles Leclerc costs the Ferrari driver an extra few seconds and he rejoins in 5th. Lap 45, Alexander Albon now pits, goes onto the Hard tyre and rejoins in 5th. Lewis Hamilton now leads but Sebastian Vettel is just 3.5 seconds behind the Brit. Valterri Bottas is a further 2 seconds behind Vettel in 3rd.

Lap 51, after a mega stint on the Hard tyre, Daniel Ricciardo pits from 6th. He rejoins in 8th and on fresher tyres, he could aim for a 6th place finish. McLaren decide to retire Lando Norris from the race and he becomes the first retirement from the race. Lap 52, this is getting tasty. Lewis Hamilton still leads but Sebastian Vettel and Valterri Bottas are very close together.

Lap 56, Valterri Bottas is now less than a second behind Sebastian Vettel with Lewis Hamilton still leading by 2.6 seconds. Meanwhile, Charles Leclerc is going to make this a four-way fight as the Ferrari driver is closing the top three down at quite a rate of knots. This will also help Alexander Albon in 5th who is only 10 seconds behind.

Lap 59, the drop-off on Lewis Hamilton’s tyres hasn’t happened and with 11 laps left, anyone of the top four can win this race. Lap 60, Alfa Romeo decide to retire Kimi Raikkonen from the race. Meanwhile, Daniel Ricciardo is now all over Sergio Perez for 7th place.

Lap 68, Lewis Hamilton is keeping the chasing pack behind him and the predicted the tyre drop-off for the Brit hasn’t happened. Onto the final lap, Hamilton leads by 1.7 seconds ahead of Sebastian Vettel. Amazingly, Hamilton crosses the line to win the Mexican GP however, the championship rolls over to the American GP next weekend.

A very opportunistic move from Daniil Kvyat on Nico Hulkenberg has left the German in the wall after the Russian tipped the Renault driver into the barrier. The Stewards award Kvyat with a 10 second time penalty dropping him to 11th.

Race Result

  1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 71 Laps
  2. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, +1.766s
  3. Valterri Bottas, Mercedes, +3.553s
  4. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, +6.368s
  5. Alexander Albon, Red Bull Racing Honda, +21.399s
  6. Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing Honda, +68.807s
  7. Sergio Perez, Racing Point BWT Mercedes, +73.819s
  8. Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, +74.924s
  9. Pierre Gasly, Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda, + 1 Lap
  10. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, + 1 Lap
  11. Daniil Kvyat, Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda, + 1 Lap
  12. Lance Stroll, Racing Point BWT Mercedes, + 1 Lap
  13. Carlos Sainz Jr, McLaren Renault, + 1 Lap
  14. Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari, + 1 Lap
  15. Kevin Magnussen, Haas Ferrari, + 2 Laps
  16. George Russell, Williams Mercedes, + 2 Laps
  17. Romain Grosjean, Haas Ferrari, + 2 Laps
  18. Robert Kubica, Williams Mercedes, + 2 Laps
  • Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari, DNF
  • Lando Norris, McLaren Renault, DNF

F1 2019: Renault cut from Japanese GP result after Racing Point protest

Renault F1 Team’s hopes for challenging McLaren F1 for 4th in the Constructors Championship have been dealt with a a hefty blow as the French team has had both it’s cars disqualified from the Japanese GP following a protest from Racing Point.

23/10/19

Following a protest after the Japanese GP from Racing Point, the FIA, the governing body of Formula One, have decided to disqualify both Renault drivers of Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg from the result.

The team have been found guilty of using an illegal driver aid in it’s cars which refers to the brake balance. This is not illegal but has breached current technical regulations.

After a poor qualifying result which left both drivers starting way down the field, Hulkenberg in 15th and Ricciardo in 16th, the pair, especially Ricciardo, drove well to finish in 6th and 10th.

Combined, these nine points were crucial as rivals McLaren, picked-up 10 points with Carlos Sainz Jr finishing the race a season-equalling 5th.

This disqualification now means that Racing Point’s Lance Stroll and Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat have been promoted into the point-paying positions in 9th and 10th. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc now claims 6th while Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly moves into 7th and Racing Point’s Sergio Perez goes up a place to 8th.

Renault will now “consider its next course of action” after being cut from the result.

F1 2019: The Title Permutations in Mexico – Hamilton vs Bottas

The Japanese GP was an important and crucial race for Valterri Bottas. Not only did he win his first race since Round 4 in Azerbaijan but he outscored Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to reduce the points deficit in the championship with only four races to go.

21/10/19

Heading into the Japanese GP, Lewis Hamilton led the championship, after his win in Russia, by 73 points over team-mate Valterri Bottas. Coming into last weekend’s race, there were still five driver mathematically in with a chance of taking the championship. These drivers included: Hamilton, Bottas, Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel.

However, now its just Hamilton and Bottas who are left in the race to become champion in 2019 because Leclerc and Verstappen failed to finish in front of Hamilton. Vettel did finish in front of the Brit in 2nd but he needed to pick-up more points to stay within a chance.

So, due to Bottas winning the Japanese GP, Hamilton’s gap at the top of the standings has been reduced to 64 points.

Mexican Showdown?

For Hamilton, the simple way to beat Bottas and take a 6th Drivers Championship would be to outscore the Finn by 14 points.

Considering that a race win and the bonus point for the fastest lap award is only 26 points, Bottas’s chances aren’t great but to keep his hopes alive, he needs to finish ahead of Hamilton. If not, a podium finish or fourth place and the fastest lap will see the championship roll over to the United States GP.

Having clinched the past two championships at Mexico, Hamilton has not finished on the podium since winning in 2016.

The hunt for the championship maybe be complicated by the expected pace of both Ferrari and Red Bull.

In particular, Red Bull and Verstappen have been strong and have taken the last two victories in 2017 and 2018. Ferrari should also have a strong package as their straight-line speed should give them an added tenth or two on the long straights. The Scuderia have yet to take a win round the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez circuit since F1’s return in 2015.

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