Carlos Sainz Jnr, McLaren, Paul Ricard, 2019

2019 French Grand Prix Star Performers

2019 French Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jnr were RaceFans’ Star Perfomers of the French Grand Prix. Here’s why.


Lando Norris

Both McLaren drivers had excellent though not quite flawless weekends. Norris was brilliant in qualifying, though a slight slip at the final corner probably cost him fourth place to Max Verstappen.

In the race he was a touch conservative going into turn one and fell behind his team mate. He would have finished there had it not been for a hydraulic problem, which he coped with as best he could before Daniel Ricciardo pounced on him, sparking a chain reaction which ultimately left him ninth.

Carlos Sainz Jnr

Sainz wasn’t quite as quick as his team mate in qualifying, though in his defence he’d spent Friday trying some unusual set-up configurations on his McLaren. On race day he was superb, passing Norris at the start (and briefly hassling Verstappen), before delivering a fine sixth.

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Paul Ricard, 2019
Hamilton was untouchable
Valtteri Bottas looked the quicker of the two Mercedes drivers for much of practice. But when it mattered, Hamilton delivered, banging in a pair of excellent laps in Q2 for pole position.

In the race he converted that advantage stylishly, drawing away from Bottas early on and managing a mild spot of blistering after his pit stop. By the end of the race he was 18 seconds to the good over the driver in the same car.

Charles Leclerc

After Canada, Charles Leclerc arrived in France saying he needed to tidy up his game in qualifying. He did exactly that, securing the best spot available for Ferrari behind the much quicker Mercedes.

In the race he couldn’t do a great deal to stop the Mercedes getting away (though he might have got off the line a tad better). However he judged his second stint superbly, taking care of his tyres, edging towards Bottas and exploiting the brief Virtual Safety Car period perfectly to take an optimistic look at second place on the last lap.

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Pierre Gasly

Pierre Gasly, Red Bull, Paul Ricard, 2019
Gasly slipped out of the points
Pierre Gasly’s progress at Red Bull first stalled and now seems to have reversed. Or at least, on weekends when the car is not handling well, Gasly appears to suffer much more than his team mate.

Once more he couldn’t reach Q3 on the harder tyres, leaving him at a strategic disadvantage. He actually coped well on his softs at the start and made it a reasonable distance on them. But his pace went south after he pitted, and only Ricciardo’s penalties ensured he scored a point at home.

Sebastian Vettel

Was Sebastian Vettel too distracted by the events of the previous weekend, and Ferrari’s ill-judged attempt to have them reviewed? He came up short when it mattered most in Paul Ricard, most notable in Q3. One error would have been unfortunate, but two ensured he qualified well below where the SF90 should have.

The race went better, but just as he was closing on Verstappen a costly lock-up sent him into the pits early and scuppered his strategy. He at least salvaged the bonus point for fastest lap.

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And the rest

Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo, Paul Ricard, 2019
Giovinazzi paid a price for reaching Q3
Bottas lost much of his ground to Hamilton in the latter stages of the race as he began to suffered with tyre blistering plus a minor engine misfire. Verstappen did well to split both Ferraris on his way to fourth.

Kimi Raikkonen put Alfa Romeo back in the points, though he was out-qualified by Antonio Giovinazzi, whose rewards was having to start on the unfavoured soft tyres. He slumped to 16th.

A pair of ill-judged moves on the last lap dropped Daniel Ricciardo from seventh to 11th. Team mate Nico Hulkenberg, who unlike Ricciardo did not have the latest Renault engine, was one of those who profited, having spent the race stuck behind Raikkonen.

It was a similar situation at Toro Rosso where Daniil Kvyat had the newer engine and finished ahead, though he had to start at the back and pass Alexander Albon to do it. They finished behind the Racing Point pair: Sergio Perez spoiled his race by overtaking two cars off the track at the start, earning a penalty, while Lance Stroll was again compromised by a poor qualifying effort.

The Haas duo struggled again. Romain Grosjean parked his car to save engine mileage while running ahead of Kevin Magnussen. The latter finished with only the Williams pair behind him, though they had an exciting scrap. Robert Kubica finished ahead for the first time this year, though only after Russell had to make an extra pit stop after damaging his front wing while tackling his team mate.

Over to you

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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30 comments on “2019 French Grand Prix Star Performers”

  1. Lando had a great qualiflier but a really bad race day, i don’t think he was a star preformer, maybe if he kept those places in the end yes but now no.

    1. You do know he lost hydraulic pressure in the car resulting in imbalanced steering, not being able to use the DRS and a myriad of other issues right? That he held off until the final lap is impressive in itself.

    2. He did well to keep the car going at all! He had reduced power steering, issues with gear changes and no DRS! He only lost places because of avoiding Ricciardo as he came back on track… Lando had a mighty drive which has done his reputation a massive amount of good! He really looks like a complete driver.

      1. Norris seems like a ricciardo-type driver. shows great pace, races well and is a good guy to have on the team – but ultimately is not the quickest guy in the paddock. my feeling is that all being equal, sainz would have the edge (paul ricard qualifying notwithstanding).

        1. Norris did catch up to Sainz in the race before his issues.

  2. Can’t really fault any of those really. Vettel’s mistake is a bit exaggerated compared to what happened, still he would have been a struggler

    The two McLarens were good, but for the entire weekend probably not stellar, however with Hamilton being the only one to stand out from the crowd it would be difficult to put one there and not the other. McLaren now that they noticed they have two drivers are managing to scrap decent performances (still too far away from where they should be), and curiously now it’s the car that is becoming good, not the drivers putting it where it shouldn’t be, I wonder why?

    I would say that maybe Gio should be a struggler too, that second stint was nothing special

  3. I’m glad Sainz is listed as a star performer. He was in command the whole race, and had a lot of pace towards the end as well…setting the 6th fastest lap on lap 52, on old hards. I feel like his performance was somewhat unfairly overshadowed by Norris’ efforts and all the praise he received after the race.

  4. Am I the only one who misses the old format for this where driver of the week votes and comments were cited?

    1. Probably

  5. Stars: Hamilton, Leclerc, and Mclaren.
    Strugglers: Bottas, Vettel, Renault, Gasly, Haas, and RP (both again), Giovinazzi.

  6. to me Raikkonen was the true star… Giovinazzi only outqualified him because he used the softs, he would have also finished ahead of hulkenberg if not for ricciardo’s shenanigans in the end.

    The mclaren drivers have truly been very good this season, they also make a great combo too.

  7. Why isn’t Verstappen a star? Could he have done any better? The car wasn’t fast enough to beat a Ferrari on merit.

    1. @slotopen
      Naah, outqualifying your teammate by almost a second, finishing the race more than a minute ahead and keeping a ferrari behind you pales in comparison to what Lewis, Charles, Carlos and Lando did, right?
      It’s a joke.

      1. Oconomo, I think that it is more because people have taken the attitude that Gasly is underperforming well below where he should be with the car that he has at his disposal. To put it bluntly, Gasly should not have been that slow in that race, his lap times shouldn’t have been that inconsistent and he should not have been behind the midfield teams in the first place.

        Given it also came off another very poor run of form in Canada for Gasly, to many it says more about how Gasly is delivering far below expectations and therefore they think it is less impressive for Verstappen to be beating somebody who is seen as a weak team mate.

        1. Is that the same Gasly that last season was going to ‘show Verstappen is nothing special’ and ‘make Verstappen look mediocre’ etcetera?

          1. Is that the same Gasly that last season was going to ‘show Verstappen is nothing special’ and ‘make Verstappen look mediocre’ etcetera?

            lmao who on earth said that?

        2. @Anon
          This isn’t driver of the day, the internet vote. (Atleast that’s not my impression.) Regardless of Gasly, Max squeezes everything out of that Red Bull which makes you a star performer by default. And the “it”s only Gasly” may as easily be “it’s only Bottas”.

        3. I fail see how Leclerc has done any better than Verstappen, both got the maximum out of their cars, did a flawless weekend and both not competitve to push more forward…. but hey I understand Leclerc is new to the team and we want him to be a star performer, so we make him a star performer!

  8. I think – beyond the Mercedes pair – Lewis was stellar – Max was the BEST in following up with the machinery he’s got. He’s grown up so fast in the last year. His merit is obvious – he’s much faster (then his ‘team mate’), doesn’t make stupid mistakes anymore and beat Ferrari on his OWN merit. Not enough ? Charles also (as I said earlier) defied the Ferrari pit instructions – getting him VERY close to second place. They won’t like it at Maranello with their strict almost medieval rules. But you can’t hold back real talent forever (being it the ‘new’ Max or Charles)

    1. beyond the Mercedes pair

      Let’s face it: Formula 1.5 in 2019 includes Ferrari and Red Bull too.

      1. @spoutnik don’t forget Bottas

      2. MB (@muralibhats)
        25th June 2019, 21:37

        So ferrari has made good of the threat to leave formula 1!

  9. Jonathan Edwards
    26th June 2019, 0:52

    Keith does a phenomenal job, and has built this into a primary option for F1 news, especially with poaching Dieter from Autosport. That said, authoring an article such as this, automatically opens up the conclusions to scrutiny. I’m speculating, but I imagine that Keith doesn’t yet have the inside info that other journalists have. As such, he probably wasn’t privy to the knowledge that Vettel couldn’t run in the high engine modes in Q3, or, indeed, through the race. As his performance was slated primarily for his deficiencies in qualifying, however, it’s only right to point out that the conclusions aren’t always fully supported by the evidence.

    As is the case with the Verstappen/Vettel penalty situation, which Keith argues are equivalent enough for the former to serve as precedent for the latter, nuance matters.

    1. Can you give a link to back this up? I haven’t seen this mentioned anywhere. If so, why single out this site for not reporting an issue not reported by anyone else? Vettel’s performance was ‘slated’ by the official F1 site, the BBC and numerous other sites and commentators. So who exactly are these other journalists? Or is this information new? If so, again why single out this site?

      1. Jonathan Edwards
        26th June 2019, 19:19

        I think it’s unfair to Keith to post links to articles on other sites. Which is perhaps silly, as he post links to other sites himself. Check the race report by Mark Hughes.

        The only reason I chose to comment on it is because I strongly disagreed with the Vettel incident in Canada, which Keith wrote about extensively. I disagreed with the assessment that the Verstappen incident was identical, as it was most certainly not, and I felt compelled to make one final post to voice my thoughts on it. Nuance matters, especially when establishing precedent, or judging a drivers performance. Any decent lawyer could rip to shreds the argument that the Verstappen/Vettel incidents were similar enough to warrant establishing precedent. Likewise, if an author is going to comment on the relative performance of two drivers, and do so with the knowledge that multitudes of fans are going to view said comments as definitive analysis, the analysis should be free of any gaping holes.

        Vettel has, along with Hulkenberg, been given short thrift on this website in recent years. It is my opinion that certain drivers are starting to be written about, and analyzed on this site, in a subjective fashion. I suppose it’s impossible to remove all bias, but my observation has been that certain drivers have been judged more harshly than others in many of the articles Keith posts. I did not observe this several years ago. Likewise, my opinions matter little, as this is Keith’s site, ergo, he can certainly write opinion pieces. And he should be commended on the hard work he’s put into this over the years. But he should not be immune from scrutiny.

        1. I read the Mark Hughes report (thanks) but the observation still stands that Vettel’s engine mode (and upshift paddle) issues weren’t reported much if at all elsewhere, so I don’t see the justification for determining this is evidence of site bias – virtually all media outlets identified Vettel’s performance as poor and offered no mitigating factors. As for the Canada incident, I’ve no wish to discuss it further, so I’d only say the analysis here by KC was in line with the stewarding decision and the official FIA appeal decision, which hardly makes it an outlier. As for Vettel’s performance in general this year, let’s see what happens. It seems to be incontestable that his errors damaged his own and Ferrari’s title bids the last two years, so detecting the same pattern emerging this year is hardly overwhelming evidence of an anti-Vettel agenda.

          1. Jonathan Edwards
            26th June 2019, 22:21

            I agree on a number of points. Namely, we’ve beaten the dead horse that is the Canada incident long enough. Vettel has also certainly been responsible for his share of blunders over the last two years. I’d also add that I’m not an ardent Vettel supporter. I like him as a driver, and I actually think he’s quite humorous, but he’s never been the number one driver I support. I favored Webber over him, for example, and rooted against him throughout the Red Bull years. And again, he’s screwed up a lot over the past two seasons. That is incontestable, though I’d add the caveat that he’s also been driving the slower car. He is probably more apt to screw up, as he’s trying to extract the last tenth out of the package, whereas Hamilton can drive more within the capabilities of the car. I just think it’s become fashionable on this site, and others, to blast Vettel recently. Kimi was never on his pace at Ferrari, and he’s had a small edge over Leclerc at most of the races thus far, so I’m having trouble understanding why people are acting like he’s washed up.

  10. Add Max to the star performers, he did more with less than Charles.

  11. I fail see how Leclerc has done any better than Verstappen, both got the maximum out of their cars, did a flawless weekend and both not competitve to push more forward…. but hey I understand Leclerc is new to the team and we want him to be a star performer, so we make him a star performer!

Comments are closed.