Following nine months of hard racing, the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship came to an end when the chequered flag fell at Abu Dhabi in early December. In the first part of a column, F1Technical.net’s Balázs Szabó analyses the vital facts that the 2019 F1 season has produced since March.
The sun has set on another thrilling Formula One season at Abu Dhabi. Although the first races saw Mercedes destroying their main rivals, Ferrari and Red Bull managed to climb back by coming alive for the second half of the championship. Their late charge was, of course, not enough to mount any pressure on the field-leading, absolutely dominant team, but at least they could spice racing up thanks to their improving form.
Milestone - The 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship marked the 70th running of the championship. The season saw the running of the 1000th race of the sport, the Chinese Grand Prix.
Long season – Mirroring the 2016 and the 2018 season, this year’s championship was contested over 21 races, the currently maximum number of races. However, the 2020 season is expected to set a new record with the 22-race calendar thanks to the arrival of the Vietnam and the Dutch Grand Prix.
Setting new records – For the sixth consecutive year, the Mercedes AMG Petronas team have proved once again the outfit to beat, setting new records and getting close to some of their previous records in the turbulent 2019 season. Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas recorded 32 podium finishes in total, just one less than in 2016. The duo achieved a total of nine one-two finishes this year which is three less than in 2015. Of these one-two finishes, the longest winning streak streched over five races – they proved unbeatable between the season-opening Australian Grand Prix and the first European round, the Spanish Grand Prix. With the five consecutive one-two finishes, Mercedes matched the current record which Ferrari first achieved in 1952 and repeated in 2002.
Two teams – Only two teams managed to score points in every single race venue. Mercedes and Red Bull appeared with at least one of their cars in the top ten in every race while their fierce rival Ferrari failed to score in the Brazilian Grand Prix due to the collision between Leclerc and Vettel. It is also worth pointing out that Mercedes needed some help to achieve this run of success after its woeful German Grand Prix where both of their drivers finished outside the top ten, but a post-race time penalty for the two Alfa Romeo drivers prompted Hamilton to the ninth place.
Not a big deal – The 2019 season saw the (re)-introduction of the bonus point to the driver that sets the fastest lap in a race. The new rule made the past season the first time since 1959 that a bonus point gets awarded for setting the fastest race lap. The race winner set the fastest race lap in five races, providing him with the maxmimum available gain of 26 points.
The American force – The Haas-Ferrari squad was to only team next to the top three outfits to register a fastest race lap. On much fresher tyres than the top drivers, Kevin Magnussen set the fastest lap in the strategy-dominated Singapore Grand Prix. Despite to his effort, the Dane was not entitled to gain the bonus point for the fastest lap as he finished the race down in the 17th position.
Germany vs Russia – The closest fight in the Drivers’ Championship evolved between Daniil Kvyat and Nico Hülkenberg. The Russian and the German driver finished the season with an identical points tally, but Kvyat’s surprising third-place finish in the action-packed German Grand Prix lifted him above his rival.
The best rookie – Alexander Albon claimed the title of the best rookie in the 2019 championship. The Thai-British drivers scored a total of 92 points while the two other newcomers, Lando Norris recorded a point tally of 49 points and George Russell failed to score a single championship unit. Of course, this comparision does not reflect the true performance level of the three youngsters given the pace differences between their race cars.
Total dominance – For those wishing colourful championships such as the start of the 2012 season, last year’s campaign was disappointing. The winning circle revolved around three teams with Mercedes taking a total of 15 victories while Ferrari and Red Bull took three wins apiece.
British giants – Formula One’s two British giants, McLaren and Williams ended the season with very differing conclusion. The Woking-based outfit finally found the right path to climb its way back towards the sharp end of the field as they scored 145 points in total. That point tally that enabled them to grab the fourth place in the Constructors’ Standings was only 50 points less then they scored between 2015 and 2018. The last time when they ended the season with more points was 2014.
Finally – Despite winning seven race before the the 2019 Hungarian Grand Prix, Max Verstappen failed to secure a pole position on the top level of motorsport. However, the twisting and tight nature of the Hungaroring favoured Red Bull’s RB15 on short runs as well. The fast and talented Dutchman did not hesitate to capitalize on the speed of his racing car and took his maiden pole at the Hungarian Grand Prix, equalling the record with Sir Jackie Stewart for taking the most victories before a maiden pole.
A long hiatus – Just a week after Charles Leclerc clinched his first career victory at Spa, the Monegasque secured the pole position and win at Monza on home turf for his team. With his heroic performance to fend off the fastest Mercedes cars, the young talent also became the first Ferrari Monza winner since Fernando Alonso's victory in 2010.