Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Circuit of the Americas, 2019

2019 United States Grand Prix Star Performers

2019 United States Grand Prix

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Valtteri Bottas, Daniel Ricciardo and Pierre Gasly were RaceFans’ Star Performers of the United States Grand Prix – here’s why.


Valtteri Bottas

His championship hopes may have ended, but Bottas went down fighting. He took pole position and won convincingly, passing team mate Lewis Hamilton on the way. Qualifying was a close fight: he secured pole position by a mere hundredth over Sebastian Vettel.

Bottas dominated the opening stint of the race and held a nearly four second advantage over Verstappen prior to the first round of stops. His relatively early pit stop set him up for a two-stop strategy which meant he had to overtake Hamilton for the lead on track which he easily executed on the second attempt after being forced wide on the first attempt.

From there he cruised to the chequered flag for his second win in three races. Two more performances like this before the season is over will give his team mate sleepless nights about next year.

Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, Circuit of the Americas, 2019
Ricciardo narrowly beat Norris
A fine drive and some canny PR from Daniel Ricciardo, who first talked up the McLarens, then beat them. He out-qualified his team mate to make it into Q3 and started ninth. After picking up two positions by the end of lap one he battled Lando Norris for the majority of the first stint for top spot in the midfield. Ricciardo made a one-stop strategy work, and narrowly held off Norris by less than four tenths thanks to the yellow flags in sector two at the end.

Pierre Gasly

Pierre Gasly’s return to Toro Rosso continues to go well. He qualified in the top 10 again and was running ninth until his tangle with Sergio Perez on lap 52. The pair made contact at turn 13 which damaged the Toro Rosso’s front right suspension and forced him to retire on the next lap.

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Lance Stroll

Sergio Perez, Lance Stroll, Racing Point, Circuit of the Americas, 2019
Perez beat Stroll from the pits
Stroll started ahead of his team mate, since Perez was forced to start from the pit lane, but went off at turn two on the first lap. From there his two-stop strategy took him out of contention and Perez finished comfortably ahead of him. “I’ve had better days,” says Stroll afterwards; not too many of them this year.

Romain Grosjean

Grosjean was thrilled by the balance of his Haas in first practice, less so with his repaired machine after bouncing off the turn five wall in second practice. His weekend never recovered from there. Having qualified behind Magnussen he ran behind him in the race.

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And the rest

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit of the Americas, 2019
Hamilton had other things to celebrate
Hamilton came out on the rough end of a close qualifying session with his lowest starting positions of the year: fifth. However he got by both Ferraris at the start and spent his first stint chasing Max Verstappen before the Red Bull driver’s early stop. Hamilton made his tyres last long enough to try the one stop strategy, but couldn’t protect his lead from Bottas, and was fortunate the yellow flags in sector two for Magnussen prevented Verstappen from trying a move to reclaim second.

Ferrari couldn’t tell where their car’s pace had gone but were adamant it was nothing to do with the recent ruling on engines. Both drivers struggled to find any pace during the race with Vettel losing four positions on the opening lap and eventually retiring from the race with a dramatic suspension failure. Leclerc endured an uneventful race since he lacked the pace to challenge those ahead of them, but was too quick for the midfield drivers.

Albon tangled with Sainz at the start and was forced to pit on lap one. Despite being unable to run his hard tyres, one of which had developed a crack during practice, he recovered to fifth by the end of the race.

Sainz was the better of the McLaren drivers on Saturday after Norris used an extra tyre in Q1 which forced him to use an old tyre in Q3. However Norris made up three positions on lap one, including Sainz who was unable to get in front of the rookie for the remainder of the race. Norris battled Ricciardo for the remainder of the race but was unable to pass thanks to the yellow flags in sector two at the end of the race.

Hulkenberg was unable to challenge Ricciardo throughout the weekend, but he still managed to score a couple points on a two-stop strategy.

Perez not only missed the weighbridge in qualifying, he failed to heed his quick-thinking race engineer’s reminder not to pull into his pit box having done so, which ended any chance of him avoiding a penalty. He made amends on Saturday, using a one-stop strategy to cut through the field and bring home a point despite contact with Kvyat in the final laps.

The Toro Rosso driver had been eliminated in Q2, but challenged Perez for points at the end of the race. On the final lap he tried to pass the Racing Point for tenth, but he hit the Racing Point car and was handed a five-second penalty.

Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo, Circuit of the Americas, 2019
Raikkonen had a forgettable weekend
Antonio Giovinazzi got the better of Raikkonen in qualifying but both Alfa Romeo drivers were eliminated in Q1. Raikkonen gained five spots on the opening lap and was running in and out of the points during the race. He was unable to keep up this pace at the end of the race and finished 12th, which became 11th after Kvyat’s penalty, not that Raikkonen was at all satisfied with another point-less finish.

Magnussen made a strong start in the race but couldn’t keep up with the drivers in and around the top ten and he slowly dropped towards the back of the pack. He warned his team about a developing brake problem which put him out of the race a few laps before the end.

George Russell was the quicker of the Williams drivers while Robert Kubica suffered a hydraulic leak that forced him to retire.

Over to you

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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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25 comments on “2019 United States Grand Prix Star Performers”

  1. ‘Two more performances like this before the season is over will give his team mate sleepless nights about next year.’

    No it won’t

    1. I’m afraid you are right there Bren. The way Hamilton is going recently he is most likely going to be inspired to improve himself once again by that.

  2. Albon! If Verstappen did what he did on Sunday, it would be front page: unbelievable come back! incredible drive! breath taking this! amazing that! stupendous…. out of this world…., Yet Albon did it, not once but three times , again brings in the points and no mention of him???? Keith???

    1. Albon is mentioned; even has his own paragraph ;)
      Indeed a very strong race, but also a sizable gap to his teammate during the Saturday part of the weekend :P

    2. Actually Verstappen did exactly that the race before, in Mexico: he tangled with another car at the start, pitted early with damage and then came through the pack to finish last of the top cars, just like Albon. And it also got somewhat unnoticed because the speed difference between RedBull and midfield is so big that it doesn’t require a front page article.

    3. Yes, if you read f1 fanatics regularly you’d know he hardly ever gives star performer to drivers in the top cars coming back from the bottom of the grid cause it’s expected from them, exceptions are for example austin 2018 where verstappen not only got in front of the midfield starting last but also beat some of the other top cars and ended 2nd.

  3. Norris should have been in star as he did overtake decent number of cars from start of race. The best ones was the overtake on Vettel.

    1. I would argue Norris was just as good as ricciardo in austin. one of his better drives in an already pretty good debut season.

  4. Two more performances like this before the season is over will give his team mate sleepless nights about next year

    Haha, the only thing that will give Lewis sleepless nights in the last 2 race weekends is celebrating his 6th title.

    Bottas has shown too many times he just doesn’t have the consistency to perform at that level over a full season.

  5. I am not a fan of a particular driver, admire Hamilton but Ricciardo is great. (in my opinion). I so hope he gets a Mercedes or Ferrari drive and see him become WDC.

    1. @dutchtreat

      I so hope he gets a Mercedes or Ferrari drive and see him become WDC.

      As a big fan of Danny Ric, that would be awesome indeed but seems like a long shot and depends when Lewis or Seb decide to retire (don’t think Ferrari will give him the boot). Lewis is nowhere near retiring, he’s the best he’s ever been and still enjoying F1, plus there are records for the taking. Seb, on the other hand…

  6. Destian Light
    6th November 2019, 15:43

    Bottas overtook Hamilton twice in the race.

  7. Albon should have been a star performer.

    1. Anyone noticed he’s been 0.5-1 sec slower than his team mate in near each session and race?
      He ‘shines’ cause the F1.5 is around 1.5-2 sec slower than the three top teams…. Albon is in absolute no mans land

      1. Agreed @matn.

        The difference between F1 and F1.5 really disguises under performance among the top 6 drivers. Albon has yet to out-qualify or out-race Verstappen (or any of the top 6 drivers) on merit.

        Ricciardo drove a great race yet still finished 85 seconds (think about that gap for a moment !) behind Max Verstappen. For Albon to drive through the midfield and plonk himself in that gap is no great accomplishment in my view.

        1. Indeed, too much difference between top and midfield.

          1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
            7th November 2019, 12:52

            And I think I would say that the Red Bull was the best car this weekend too. It was only because of a small error in qualifying that Verstappen didn’t get pole. Albon wasn’t at all impressive in qualifying. Verstappen had some damage near the end of the race which effected his pace and yet he still wasn’t that much slower than the leaders. So I think this makes Albon’s come abck in what could easily have been the best car not special at all if I’m honest. Star performers is based on the weekend, and Red Bull has the pace to be 1 – 2 in qualifying I’d say.

        2. @aussierod, we did have a tie in Japan between Verstappen and Albon, with Verstappen only being classified ahead because he set his lap time first.

          To some extent, it has to be said that Albon does have the disadvantage that he is coming into the team during the long haul events near the end of the calendar – which does mean that quite a few of the circuits which he’s driving at right now are circuits which he’s never been to before.

          I’d agree, though, that most of the drives from the back are really more of a reflection of the difference in car performance between the top three teams and the rest of the pack than anything else. It’s why, a lot of the time, I’ve found quite a few of those drives through the field by a driver from those top three teams to be somewhat underwhelming – the pace difference is such that they should be finishing there anyway.

  8. Stars: BOT, RIC, and PER.
    Strugglers: HAM, LEC, and STR.
    Difficult to choose clearly which one: VER, ALB, HUL, SAI, RAI, GAS, and NOR.

    1. As someone who really can’t stand mercedes, I don’t believe hamilton can be called a struggler here, he managed his tyres to make a 1-stop strategy work, true he would’ve likely been 3rd without yellow flags.

  9. Gasly was having a great race, but he was the one clipping Perez, luckily he didn’t punctured him doing so

    Perez went from the pitlane to the points despite being torpedoed by Kvyat (he wasn’t him that made contact with Kvyat as is said in the article), should be a star performer without a doubt

    1. It’s a whole of weekend rating, and Keith points out pretty clearly the mistakes Perez made that kept him in the ‘and the rest’ category – though he’s gracious enough to not point out the fact that he was out-qualified by everyone except Kubica. That includes, crucially, his team-mate, probably the worst qualifier in F1 today.

      1. Didn’t even made an attempt to properly qualify because there is no need for it

        Perez did actually notice that he was called for weght check, he stopped in the pitlane and his engineer told him to come in and he would be pushed back. The team forgot however to comunicate with the mechanics not to do the pit stop practice

        Keith might have explained it, but he explained it wrong. A bit like your qualifying argument

    2. In addition, recovering from the pitlane when 100% of the reason you started there was your fault is not something to be quite as happy about.

  10. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    7th November 2019, 16:00

    Yet again, I do think drivers like Grosjean get assessed way to much based on an incident in practice. And maybe his reputation plays a factor into this too. Plenty of other drivers had a similar incident to him, just happened to just about avoid the wall. Hass again were very poor this weekend and Magnussen did the better 2 stop strategy. Grosjean somehow managed to pull off the one stop which IMO in that car should actually be considered pretty good given how appalling this car can be with long stints. When magnussen did his 2nd stop, (before his issues were there) he had to pass Grosjean on track and was not that far ahead despite the better strategy. Magnussen did better including qualifying and taking advantage of his strategy, but Grosjean shouldn’t be considered a struggler because of his team mate doing slightly better and himself crashing in practice.

    Taking their strategy into consideration, I could barely say Magnussen did better on race day. He was only one position and a few seconds ahead before his problem was there. Another unfair assessment with not much detail with good reasons to consider Grosjean a struggler. This has happened too much this year IMO.

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