Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Albert Park, 2019

2019 Australian Grand Prix Star Performers

2019 Australian Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen, Lance Stroll and Valtteri Bottas were RaceFans’ stars of the Australian Grand Prix. Here’s why.

Stars

Max Verstappen

A great Q3 lap allowed Verstappen to split the Ferraris and start alongside Vettel on the second row. He couldn’t get by the Ferrari into turn one, but stayed glued to his gearbox for the rest of the first stint.

Red Bull let Verstappen run long after Vettel pitted and he emerged from his eventual stop three seconds behind the Ferrari. Thanks to fresher tyres Verstappen was able to sweep around the outside into turn three and take the final podium place.

He even got within range of Hamilton’s Mercedes at one stage, though never looked likely to make a pass. Even so it was a very encouraging first race for Red Bull-Honda.

Lance Stroll

Lance Stroll, Racing Point, Albert Park, 2019
Stroll’s seven-place climb was the best of any driver
Stroll’s Racing Point debut began with disappointment when he was held up by Grosjean in Q1 and missed the watched his team mate advance to Q3. Stroll started 16th and he quickly began working on his recovery as he gained three places on the opening lap.

He started on the medium tyre which allowed him to run until lap 27 when he stopped for softs. He was running sixth when he stopped and emerged from pit lane in 10th. On fresher and softer rubber he was able to gain one more place before the chequered flag, finishing ninth.

Valtteri Bottas

Bottas was mistake-free when it mattered and was on provisional pole until Lewis Hamilton nabbed it from him in the dying moments of qualifying.

A superb start proved the making of his race. Bottas edged Hamilton aside before they reached turn one. He had already opened a nearly two second gap by the time DRS was enabled.

For the rest of the first stint his lead continued to grow. He stayed out until lap 23, which was longer than every other front runner except Max Verstappen. Bottas came out 11 seconds ahead of Hamilton and extended his gap even more on fresher mediums.

In the final laps of the race Bottas found some clean air between the backmarkers and claimed the point for fastest lap from Verstappen on his way to the top step of the podium and a perfect 26-point haul.

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Strugglers

Robert Kubica

Robert Kubica, Williams, Albert Park, 2019
Hopefully the rest of Kubica’s comeback goes better than this
Heading into the weekend Williams knew their drivers would be at the back of the grid, but Kubica found himself even further behind his team mate. He hit the wall in practice and again in qualifying, which explained the 1.7-second gap between him and Russell.

His predicament only worsened in the race. Kubica hit Gasly and damaged his front wing at turn one and was forced to stop on the first lap. Wrestling with other damage, he pitted twice more before the end of the race and finished three laps down.

Pierre Gasly

Pierre Gasly’s first run in qualifying wasn’t as quick as team mate Verstappen’s but his team thought it was good enough. However the rapid track evolution at the end of Q1 was unexpected and Gasly was eliminated while he sat in the garage.

In the race, he opted for a long first stint on mediums and then came in for softs. This jumped him ahead of Daniil Kvyat, who had just skidded off, but Gasly was unable to defend his position on cold tyres into turn three. For the rest of the race Gasly tried to find a way through to break into the points, but Kyvat defended superbly.

Daniel Ricciardo

Ricciardo was keen to impress but he was in for a rough weekend that began when he was out-qualified by Hulkenberg by eight thousandths of a second.

Ricciardo’s race was effectively over before he even reached turn one in an accident which saw his front wing ripped off when he put one wheel off track. There was significant damage to the left side of the car and Renault opted to retire the car on lap 28.

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And the rest

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2019
Hamilton went from pole to second for the fourth year running
Hamilton appeared ready to continue his dominance in 2019 after topping every practice session and taking pole position. His start in the race wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good enough to maintain the lead and he never had another opportunity to win the race.

He struggled with balance throughout the race thanks to damage on the left-rear side of the floor which was his reasoning for his lack of pace.

Ferrari struggled with pace throughout the weekend. Sebastian Vettel was just able to hold off Verstappen in the first stint but on slightly fresher tyres the Red Bull driver sailed past as Vettel struggled with degradation. Eventually he was caught by new team mate Charles Leclerc who was ordered to stay behind in order to secure the four-five finish for the Scuderia.

Haas were clearly best of the rest, qualifying sixth and seventh on Saturday. Magnussen got by Grosjean into turn one and spent the rest of the race alone between the rest of the midfield and the front runners.

Grosjean’s race didn’t go as smoothly thanks to a problem with the front left in the pits, sending him down the pecking order. He retired 14 laps after the stop with an issue with his front left suspension.

Lando Norris, McLaren, Albert Park, 2019
Norris was the star of qualifying
Lando Norris proved that McLaren was capable of making Q3 with a stellar starting position of eighth, but Sainz was eliminated in Q1. Sainz then had a problem with the MGU-K which forced him to retire on lap 11. Norris suffered from a poor start and got caught in traffic following his pit stop which left him incapable of returning to the top ten.

Kimi Raikkonen was the quicker Alfa Romeo driver all weekend, qualifying ninth and finishing eighth in a fairly uneventful weekend. Giovinazzi went out in Q2 and tried an alternate strategy in the race that saw him form a train in the midfield.

Sergio Perez impressed in qualifying, relative to his team mate, but his race was sub-par and he finished 13th after struggling with traffic.

Kvyat was busy all race which saw him, take a trip through the gravel and then hold off Gasly in the Red Bull on his way to his first point of the season. Alexander Albon out qualified his team mate after a scruffy day of practice but finished well outside the points in 14th

In an ill-handling car, George Russell stayed out of trouble but never had anyone to race apart from his team mate, who he beat comfortably.

2019 Australian Grand Prix: Every driver’s race reviewed

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    Author information

    Josh Holland
    USA-based Josh joined the RaceFans team in 2018. Josh helps produce our Formula 1 race weekend coverage, assists with our social media activities and...

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    28 comments on “2019 Australian Grand Prix Star Performers”

    1. Among other mistakes, STR pitted for hard, not soft. And RICs right was damaged, not left.

    2. “He retired 14 laps after the stop with an issue with his front left suspension.”

      For the above statement regarding Grosjean, I thought it was confirmed it was the wheel nut giving up after it was installed forcefully during his Pit stop?

      1. yes, Grosjean was confirmed to have damaged wheel nut of front left and he retired on lap 35 or 36 not 14. It was ricciardo or sainz that retired so early in race.

        1. @Chaitanya Sainz. Ricciardo and Grosjean both retired around halfway through the race.

        2. 14 laps after his stop not 14 laps into the race

    3. A great Q3 lap allowed Verstappen to split the Ferraris – How great was that lap though? In the race at least, the RB was the faster car by a margin from the get go. Why couldn’t that be the case for quali? May be VETs lap was the outstanding one, and even LECs.
      Gasly’s first run in qualifying wasn’t as quick as team mate Verstappen’s – Indeed, it was quicker. Furthermore, no mentioning of GASs tech problem which prevented him doing a second FL like VER immediately after one cool down lap.
      (..) but on slightly fresher tyres the Red Bull driver sailed past as Vettel struggled with degradation.” – I wouldn’t say 11L fresher is just slightly, especially when there’s no mentioning of ‘slightly’ when talking about bot-ham, which was only 8L different.
      Kvyat was busy all race which saw him, take a trip through the gravel – Why no mentioning of VER’s escapade through the gravel?

      Kubica hit Gasly and damaged his front wing at turn one – I’d say KUB was hit, or at least not given enough room by GAS.
      In an ill-handling car RUS stayed out of trouble – Why no emphasis on an ill-handling car for KUB? KUBs race was compromised from the get go, and only used as a test run.

      Magnussen spent the race alone between the rest of the midfield and the front runners. – I’d say he was part of the midfield himself. Being only 2 or 3s in front of HUL who was defending against RAI isn’t really a void.

      Also, the difference between the RPs was caused by strategy, not by possible pace, and no mentioning of SAIs and KVYs quali issues.

      1. So to sum it up…you about disagree with all was said.

        i thnk Bottas perfectly showed why Ferrari and Mercedes are dominant in quali…Bottas used his party-mode and was one full second faster than Verstappen fastest lap until then. Ferrari and Mercedes can run their engines on much higher setting over one or two laps than Renault and Honda can.

        1. If so, RB, VER and dutch media are all lying again. They’ve said on multiple occasions, often when they were REN-bashing, that they now have a q-mode too.

        2. @krxx
          Mark Hughes: Max Verstappen was spectacular in qualifying.
          Martin Brundle: Max Verstappen pulled out an amazing qualifying lap.
          Toto Wolff: Max squeezed everything out of the car there was in qualifying.
          Keith Collantine: A great Q3 lap allowed Verstappen to split the Ferrari’s.
          Krxx: Hmm, I don’t know about that lap…
          Oh right, global conspiracy isn’t it!
          Lol, you’re very funny

          1. First of all, no need to bring any conspiracies in. Where did you see me allude to such things?

            Secondly, you quote people who are making money out of F1. Ofcourse they’re not gonna use words with negative connotations that often. It’s easier to sell the thought that the guy in the highest placed RB in P4 did a “spectacular” job than do an actual analysis. But to do this, you at least need a benchmark, which was absent.

            You’ve put words into KC’s mouth btw. And misquoted Wolff, who was just being on auto pilot after the so manyth question, and nice when asked about how RB looked with the new engine. Pointing towards high speeds but neglecting the fact that they were carrying less wing. In other words, just having his familiar nice words for his competitors, while in the meantime blasting them away.
            If you’d take all of their words at face value, you’d get quite some contradictions. Ferrari half a second quicker you say?

            Also, I forgot about that in the previous comment: How did BOTs FLAP show, perfectly even, that FER is dominant in quali?

            1. Sorry, what were we thinking. You know best

            2. No benchmark time so it’s impossible to judge a lap?
              Maybe those “people who make money out of F1” had some bright idea to have a look at the video recording of Verstappen’s lap to see what it looked like?

    4. Stars: VB, MV, KM, LS, and DK.
      Strugglers: LH, Ferrari, Renault, PG, AG, and of course, Williams.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        21st March 2019, 18:13

        i mean, i first thought Hamilton was struggling this race, but I do accp that problem will have been what made him look a bit worse. But I couldn’t concider him a struggler because qualifying was really good. And he still did get 2nd.

        But I do think that he as’t at his best this race anyway. His start wasn’t good and i guess if you have a really high standard for him, then it is fair. But if we judge everyone the same, I don’t think he should be concidered as a struggler really this weekend.

        1. Hamilton had a lousy start, a compromised car, and still was able to dictate his pace over 43 laps and keep Verstappen at bay– partly because it’s a pain to overtake in Albert Park, and partly because he held enough performance in reserve to pull away from Verstappen as needed.

          Not his best weekend, but I’d say a second place finish was better than expected, given the circumstances.

        2. Coming 2nd with the clear best car is nothing to be proud of, it’s the absolute min he could do.

      1. Nice reading👍🏻

    5. Not much mention of Hulkenberg, but he did fairly well. Out-qualified his teammate, gained 3 places on the first lap and 1 more by race end for P7. Essentially, mid-pack P2.

      1. Raikonen as well. Both had a better weekend than Stroll. And if we go by the weekend and not just the race, both faired better than Bottas too.

        1. Don’t think so, bottas got very close to hamilton in qualifying too, that’s great.

    6. Williams are in for a torrid year… slow car, lack of parts, one armed driver and a rookie. No light at the end of the tunnel for them at the moment.

    7. You should do this yourself Keith

      1. Couldn’t agree more. Not only are the “stars” consistently coloured by a bromance, but the factual issues really should at least be checked and edited before publishing. This column is a regular “struggler” on RaceFans.

    8. Disagree with Stroll’s inclusion in the stars bracket. Lost in qualy and got lucky with the Giovinazzi train in the race. How is he in front of Raikkonen and Hulkenberg who both had perfect weekends(Hulk only failed to get to Q3 because of car problem, nevertheless he outqualified DR despite DR having one more run), I can’t fathom

      1. Indeed, I forgot about HULs electrical problem in quali. Also, Kimi had a minor thing in the race and GIO had even a pretty big problem caused by debris.

      2. Stroll and Kvyatt passed Perez, Norris and Albon only because of Giovinazzi’s train. If Giovinazzi had driven a normal race, Stroll and Kvyatt would probably have finished 13th and 14th (Gasly would have gotten through as well), behind their team mates, and they would have gotten low scores. But because of simple luck that they had nothing to do with, they get high scores. It’s simply lazy analysis.

    9. STR pitted for hard, not soft. And RICs right was damaged, not left.

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