F1 2019 Season Report - Part III
Racing Point and Alfa Romeo fall short of expectations whilst Haas and Williams trundle around at the back of the pack.
In this final part of my 2019 season review, I look at the teams who didn't quite cut the mustard this year. There's a lot of potential within these teams but we will have to wait until 2020 to find out if any of them can change their fortunes around.
If you missed Part II of my review, you can find it here.
McLaren began to rise back up through the ranks, Toro Rosso had their most successful year since 2008 and Renault fell short of expectations.
Racing Point were never going to achieve feats of wonder in 2019. Coming off the back of a stressful 2018 to say the least, the team were basically stuck with a model of the 2018 car for the 2019 season. So even when this was upgraded at various points throughout the year, there was ever only going to be so much the team could do with it. That being said, the team have, as a result, been able to put some of their focus into the 2020 car early, thus hopefully ensuring the team have a better time of it next year. With all this taken into consideration, the team haven’t done that badly, obtaining seventy three points by the end of the season and taking seventh place in the Constructor’s Championship. But it is obvious that one of their drivers is significantly better than the other and that if Racing Point were owned by someone else and/or wanted to get good results in the future, Stroll Jr. wouldn’t be in the team next season.
The Mexican driver had a tough season but there were a few standout moments that he should leave the 2019 season happy with. He came home in sixth place twice in Azerbaijan and Belgium along with a number of other seventh place finishes which enabled him to round out the top ten of the driver’s standings with fifty two points. Furthermore, he only had two DNFs this season and eleven point scoring finishes. Going into 2020, Perez will be hoping that the team can deliver him a car to match his abilities – if they don’t, he may begin to question why he signed a fresh three year contract with the team.
The Draco Malfoy of Formula 1, his results for the year show that money can’t buy you talent. There was a thirty one points difference in Perez’s favour in the inter-team battle between the two and with this being Stroll’s third season in the sport, you’d expect him to have gotten better by now. Sure, he got fourth place in Germany but given the nature of that race, it hardly speaks much in his favour. Aside from Germany, his highest finishing position was ninth – he finished outside of the points in fifteen of the twenty one races. If Stroll Sr. and partners want to improve the team and make sure that their money is being well spent, then he should relegate his son into a test driver position at the very least and let someone who deserves to be in F1 because of their skills get behind the wheel instead. If the team have a good car next year, there will be no excuse for Lance not to do well and with any luck, he’ll be aware of this before the start of the season.
In pre-season testing, it was thought that Alfa Romeo would be the dark horse of the season as they had a different setup with the front wing that none of the other teams had thought of. But sadly this didn’t have the effects the team – and the fans – wanted. The car performed radically differently from track to track meaning that by the end of the season, the team were only able to get fifty seven points to their name. The team managed to secure fourth and fifth place finishes in Brazil but were then down at the back of the grid about two seconds off the pace next time out in Abu Dhabi leaving both the engineers and drivers scratching their heads. Next year, everything is pretty much staying the same regarding personnel within the team so hopefully they can make some significant progress and battle hard with the other midfield teams for some high scoring top ten places come race day.
The oldest driver on the grid and almost the most experienced when it comes to the number of Grand Prix he’s started, Kimi has had an average year overall. With a best place finish in fourth, the Iceman finished regularly in the top ten when he could and always managed to get the maximum out of the car both in qualifying and in the race itself. A man of few words, he’ll of course be looking to improve next year – he has the capabilities after all – but if things don’t go quite so well, he’ll take it on the chin, shrug and move on to the next race. When it comes to Kimi, we all know what to expect from him, so it feels like the less is said about him, the better. We all already know.
The semi rookie driver made his return to F1 in 2019 and didn’t do too badly. Granted he only got fourteen points to his name from four points scoring finishes but in comparison to Kimi with his wealth of experience, Giovinazzi shouldn’t be too unhappy with his performance. He did enough to keep his seat in the team for 2020 and that will have to be where he applies the lessons learnt from this year if he hopes to keep his career alive beyond next season.
Haas had a year they’ll want to forget as quickly as possible. It was pretty much a train wreck from start to finish for the American outfit with the team’s best result coming from Magnusson finishing in sixth place at the opening race of the 2019 season in Australia. The car they developed for the year was shoddy and didn’t make much – if any – positive progress as the season went on. They’ll want to work hard over the winter break if they want to avoid a repeat of that going into the 2020 season. Retaining both of their drivers has been a controversial move with fans – but the consistency argument has its merits, even if that means allowing Grosjean to drive for the team for yet another year.
The no nonsense hard racer kept his head down and got on with the job as best he could throughout the season, even if there wasn’t an awful lot he could do at times. Like Perez, Magnusson is a driver that can deliver when given the chance but sadly he has the same problem as Perez in that the car he’s been driving all season isn’t great to say the least. If that problem can be rectified for 2020, Magnusson should be able to demonstrate to Haas – and other teams – what he’s capable of.
The man, the myth, the legend. Once teammate to the infamous Pastor Maldonado, Grosjean has, somehow, managed to keep his place in F1. Seriously, how has he still got a seat for 2020 when Hulkenberg doesn’t? He had seven DNFs to his name this season and when he wasn’t busy doing that, he managed to accumulate a whopping eight championship points. Sure, the car was terrible, but Magnusson still managed to get over double the amount of points that he did with the same machinery. When you put his performance - or lack thereof - with how he’s been acting this year, (e.g. blasting the team and basically giving up on the open radio during the Belgian Grand Prix when team owner Gene Haas was at the race,) you feel a bit like a Ferrari strategist – and can’t help wondering how he’s still driving for them in 2020. If the Frenchman doesn’t pull his socks up soon, Steiner will have no choice to kick him out of the team. Either that or removing Grosjean from the team should somehow be worked into the new F1 regulations for 2021.
Williams had a rather forgettable year too. There’s not too much to say about them really. They spent the 2019 season at the back of the grid and only managed to get one championship point to their name thanks to Kubica’s tenth place finish at the German Grand Prix (which was itself, only due the Alfa’s being demoted.) The only way for them to go now is up in 2020 and as a team that has a great place in F1 history, everyone else on the grid as well as the fans are really hoping that they can pull an outstanding 180 out of the hat and get back nearer the top of the pack where they belong.
He had the toughest year for a rookie driver this year but showed great resolve throughout. It can’t have been easy for him to have to deal with that for the entire season, but his endurance shows that he will be very strong mentally moving forwards – always a good thing for an F1 driver to have. He also managed to beat his teammate 21-0 in qualifying all year round which isn’t nothing either. A champion of the future perhaps, here’s hoping 2020 is better for the now seasoned driver.
The comeback we all wanted just not in the way we wanted. It was remarkable that Kubica even managed to get back into F1 following his rallying injury so he should be commended for that first and foremost. For a driver that Hamilton saw as one of the best when he was originally in F1, it was a shame that Kubica couldn’t manage much of anything with the car he had this season. But at the end of the day, he leaves F1 with an extra championship point to his name and can serve as inspiration for other injured drivers in motor racing and elsewhere.
Can any of these teams improve in 2020? I sure hope so. But what do you think? Should Stroll be replaced at Racing Point? Did Haas make the right call by retaining Grosjean? Can Williams make the most epic comeback of all? Let me know in the comments below.