Sunday , 15 December 2019
Renault Sport F1 Team

F1 2019 mid-season report part I – the lower teams

12 races into what is shaping up to be a thrilling battle among the lower teams in Formula 1 in 2019 and some will be massively disappointed with how things have panned out so far. Some team-mate battles have turned out to be more intriguing than initially thought, while others have been totally one-sided. Focus on the teams at the top will be for another day, but here are all the facts and opinion on the lower six teams in the standings.

Renault

Renault team-mate comparison after 12 races

3 Daniel Ricciardo – 11th
Best qualifying: 4th (x1)
Best race: 6th (x1)
Average rating: 7.0 – 8th

It took Daniel Ricciardo some time to get to grips with a Renault that is obviously inferior to the Red Bull cars he was given over the past few seasons. Once he finally got going, he has extracted some brilliant performances from the car on a few occasions. The expectation that Renault would have the clear fourth-fastest car has not come to fruition but Ricciardo has placed it soundly in the top 10 regularly on a Saturday. Just four points finishes are what he can boast, but two of those have been ‘Class B’ victories. That’s as many as anybody else who isn’t driving a McLaren.

27 Nico Hulkenberg – 14th
Best qualifying: 7th (x1)
Best race: 7th (x2)
Average rating: 6.5 – 14th

This is the first season where Nico Hulkenberg has been paired up with one of F1’s established elite, and that the statistics go against him is largely to be expected. Hulkenberg is a driver under pressure, and it has at times showed this year – not least with chucking away another opportunity at a podium finish in tricky conditions, this time in Germany. He has been shaded by his more illustrious team-mate in qualifying but has regularly given him work to do in the races. Not Hulkenberg at his best, but the quality of the field makes his rating look a lot worse than it is.

Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo team-mate comparison after 12 races

7 Kimi Raikkonen – 8th
Best qualifying: 5th (x1)
Best race: 7th (x2)
Average rating: 7.6 – 4th

Away from the ultra-political spotlight of Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen seems to be absolutely thriving in the twilight of his career. He has lurked throughout the season, not always doing something totally spectacular, but has amassed vast quantities of points wherever possible. Raikkonen wanted to join Alfa Romeo for ‘racing’, and that is exactly what he is getting in the midfield. This is not the 2007 champion at the absolute best of his ability, but he is certainly getting pretty much everything out of the Alfa Romeo. He has clearly become a valuable asset to the team. Intriguingly, he hasn’t taken a single ‘Class B’ victory this season but is second in that group of drivers.

99 Antonio Giovinazzi – 18th
Best qualifying: 8th (x2)
Best race: 10th (x1)
Average rating: 5.4 – 18th

Two years effectively on the sidelines has shown for Antonio Giovinazzi, as it took a very long time for him to string a weekend together. He also looked rusty in race situations. When he was impressive early in the year, it coincided with a time when Alfa Romeo slumped a little bit, but it all came together in Austria where he scored his first point. He has rarely troubled his drastically more successful and experienced team-mate, but he has had plenty of races where he has done a good job to keep up with him. The scorecard doesn’t read too nicely, but the performances and effort Giovinazzi has put in should be enough for him to secure a second full season with the team – even more likely if he starts sticking some serious numbers on the board to match the performances.

Racing Point

Racing Point team-mate comparison after 12 races

11 Sergio Perez – 16th
Best qualifying: 5th (x1)
Best race: 6th (x1)
Average rating: 6.6 – 12th

This has been far from vintage Sergio Perez, but he has still largely got what he can out of what is clearly an underdeveloped car largely down to the hangover from last year. But he has properly thrashed his team-mate in qualifying, was brilliant at Baku and that he is behind his team-mate in the standings is not due to him performing worse throughout the season. There has, however, been a few clumsy if uncharacteristic mistakes early in grand prix when serious points have been on the table. The usually clinical Perez has not always been there to pounce so far this year.

18 Lance Stroll – 12th
Best qualifying: 15th (x1)
Best race: 4th (x1)
Average rating: 5.7 – 17th

Stroll’s position in the drivers’ championship is skewed predominantly due to the excellent call to switch him to slicks before anybody else in Germany. His qualifying has been abysmal, and he almost certain to fall in Q1. There have been some stellar drives – Canada where he finished in the points with an inferior engine being one example. And traditionally he has been electric at the start of races – a trait he carried over from Williams to Racing Point. However, he would have much less work to do if he qualified better.

Haas

Haas team-mate comparison after 12 races

8 Romain Grosjean – 17th
Best qualifying: 6th (x2)
Best race: 7th (x1)
Average rating: 6.4 – 15th

While normally the peakier of the two Haas drivers, Grosjean’s placing in the championship table is largely down more to misfortune than anything else. It has, however, not been a particularly strong season from his end and he has played a part in the team not scoring as many points as it should have done. After reverting back to the Australia spec car – a race he deserved much more than he got – his performances started to improve once again. He is a man under pressure in the second half of the season.

20 Kevin Magnussen – 13th
Best qualifying: 5th (x1)
Best race: 6th (x1)
Average rating: 5.8 – 16th

There have been times this season where Kevin Magnussen has been absolutely fantastic – namely qualifying fifth in Austria. But there have also been times where he has gone totally over the limit with what is acceptable on track – and has had too many collisions with his team-mate which can be predominantly down to his own doing. He may have more points and has two ‘Class B’ victories to his name, but he has not been the better-performing Haas driver this season.

Williams

Williams team-mate comparison after 12 races

63 George Russell – 20th
Best qualifying: 16th (x1)
Best race: 11th (x1)
Average rating: 7.2 – 6th

That the reigning Formula 2 champion has been equipped with the worst car on the grid and still manages to occasionally find himself jostling with midfield runners is an absolute testament to the potential superstar Williams has taken onboard for 2019 in George Russell. He has dragged almost everything out of a car he seems absolutely determined to hurl up the grid be it through driving or through work back at the factory. On race-day, he has made the odd rookie mistake, but that’s to be expected in a lot of ways. Had his call in Germany been granted, he would have several points on the board, instead of zero. His Hungary performance – nearly squeezing into Q2 and finishing ahead of an Alfa Romeo and a Racing Point in a straight fight – was simply superb.

88 Robert Kubica – 19th
Best qualifying: 18th (x1)
Best race: 10th (x1)
Average rating: 4.9 – 19th

The incredible human story that is Robert Kubica returning to F1 has not resulted in the success he or his legions of fans would have hoped for – a fortuitous point in Germany aside. On his return to the series, he has been almost comprehensively outperformed by his rookie team-mate Russell. He did, however, pounce and came out on top when Russell has made costly mistakes in races. However, he has been absolutely crushed in qualifying and much more often than not is slower on a Sunday. Showcasing his talent in the Williams was never going to be an easy task, but he would have hoped to have been able to get on top of his team-mate more regularly.

About Craig Woollard

Motorsport historian and journalist Craig Woollard has had an unusual path to a career in motorsport. After graduating from the University of Essex with a degree in mathematics in 2013, he changed his career path immediately after discovering a talent for writing. After occasional freelance work in 2015 and 2016, he joined the Autosport Academy for 2017. In the same year, he became an archive digitiser at Motorsport Images - which is his full-time job to this date.

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