Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2019

2019 Brazilian Grand Prix Star Performers

2019 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz Jnr and Pierre Gasly were RaceFans’ Star Performers of the Brazilian Grand Prix. Here’s why.


Max Verstappen

Verstappen beat Sebastian Vettel to pole position by a mere tenth of second and held his lead at the start of the race, but couldn’t break away from Lewis Hamilton, who moved up to second. Despite a world record-setting pit stop, Verstappen lost the lead when Hamilton pitted before him, thanks to a near-miss with Robert Kubica in the pit lane.

But within a lap the determined Verstappen has caught and passed Hamilton on the inside at turn one to retake the net lead race. His strong pace in the second stint meant he was safe from Mercedes’ second attempt to undercut him.

That might have been it, but then came the Safety Cars. The Red Bull pit wall boldly called Verstappen in after the first one, surrendering his lead, though again he immediately used the fresh rubber to his advantage and retook the lead from Hamilton, this time around the outside through turn one. With his track position advantage restored, Verstappen redeemed his loss in Brazil last year with his third win of the season.

Carlos Sainz

Carlos Sainz Jnr, McLaren, Interlagos, 2019
Sainz’s ascent through the field was extraordinary
An engine problem in qualifying meant Sainz had to start from the back of the grid. McLaren took advantage of that, fitting a fresh engine. On lap one, he made up two positions and sliced his way through the field, all the way up to seventh before switching from soft to medium tyres. He managed to make that set of medium tyres last 42 laps, and held off Kimi Raikkonen brilliantly on both restarts to cross the line in fourth. Hamilton penalty meant Sainz subsequently inherited the first podium of his career.

Pierre Gasly

Gasly qualified ‘best of the rest’ by a hundredth of a second over Romain Grosjean, and comfortably led the midfield during the opening phase of the race. His strong pace meant he was never troubled by midfield drivers behind, but he also couldn’t close the gap to the front-runners until the first Safety Car period brought the whole field together.

After Bottas and the two Ferraris retired he was running third, but it only took one corner for Hamilton to blow by in a far superior car. One lap later, Albon and Hamilton collided and Gasly leaped into second place. He was able to hold off Hamilton up the hill and keep half a car length ahead as they crossed the finish line.

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Daniil Kvyat

Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, Interlagos, 2019
Kvyat lagged behind Gasly
While his team mate qualified best of the rest in Q3, Kvyat couldn’t even make it out of Q1 and started 16th. He lapped nearly a second slower for the majority of the race and despite the carnage and opportunities presented thanks to the two Safety Cars, couldn’t find his way into the top 10 until Albon was knocked into a spin and fell down the order.

Valterri Bottas

The Circuit of the Americas winner had a very low-key weekend in Brazil. After being out-qualified by his team mate, Bottas was unable to get within striking distance of Vettel while Hamilton battled Verstappen for the win. He attempt a one-stop strategy, but Mercedes abandoned that early in his second stint due to the threat of Albon.

Bottas was trying vainly to pass Leclerc after his second stop when an engine problem brought an early end to a lacklustre race.

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And the rest

Hamilton made a fantastic start and temporarily jumped ahead of Verstappen, but was defenceless when the Red Bull driver repassed him for the lead as his battery had already been drained by a hard out-lap. Mercedes left him out during the first Safety Car period on old tyres to take the lead, but again it was immediately lost to the fresh-tyred Verstappen. A final gamble on an extra pit stop during the final Safety Car backfired: he tagged Albon while trying to pass and received a five-second penalty, dropping him to seventh. It also robbed Albon of his first podium finish.

Sebastian Vettel, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Interlagos, 2019
Recriminations flew at Ferrari
Leclerc quickly made his way through the field after receiving a 10-place grid penalty for an engine change, while Vettel lost out to Hamilton from the first row. The first Safety Car brought the Ferrari drivers together, and the ensuing battle led to an avoidable collision which put both drivers out of the race.

Raikkonen was the quicker of the Alfa Romeo drivers all weekend, though Giovinazzi ran him close, and once the dust had settled they emerged in a surprising fourth and fifth, by far the team’s best result of the year.

Daniel Ricciardo bounced back to seventh after a clumsy collision with Kevin Magnussen for which he received a five-second penalty. Both Haas drivers found pace in qualifying and advanced to Q3, but in the race they lacked pace and couldn’t hold on to a position in the points.

Lando Norris was another driver who regretted switching to hard tyres. He let his team mate go by and plugged away to take eighth place. Perez outclassed Stroll all weekend as usual, and lucked into ninth thanks to the retirements at the front of the field, complaining about poor straight-line speed in his Racing Point.

Russell lost out to Kubica at the start but bounced back to finish 12th. Kubica’s penalty for an unsafe release into Verstappen meant he finished last. Meanwhile, Hulkenberg was unable to capitalise on the two Safety Car periods since he overtook Magnussen before the Safety Car line and received a five-second penalty.

Over to you

Vote for the driver who impressed you most last weekend and find out whether other RaceFans share your view here:

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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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60 comments on “2019 Brazilian Grand Prix Star Performers”

  1. VER is the best driver since Senna.
    Check youtube for the local fans’ reaction when he overtook HAM both times. They know.
    Don’t shoot the messenger. They are not my videos.

    1. VER best since Senna? Not a chance. Hamilton and Schumacher are the only two that could claim that, both having the ability to help develop a multiple-championship-winning car.

      I think it will be Leclerc that takes the challenge to Hamilton next year, not Verstappen or Vettel.

      1. Don’t bother responding to him. He’s a regular Hamilton Troll on Racefans. Hes the main driver of the Hamilton hate train.

        1. @lums

          More personal attacks.
          Lewis is a nice guy. It’s his daily obsessive fans that are a problem. That and the slight chip on his shoulder he has.

        2. @lums

          ‘Trolling’ by telling you LH obsessives the truth?

          Lewis has been outshone by Leclerc and Bottas in qualifying and only won 30% of races for the 2nd half of the season

          Don’t shoot the messenger. These facts are no reason to hate him btw

          1. And yet Lewis won the title with two races to spare.,

      2. @gardenfella
        “Both having the ability to “
        Elaborate please.
        Some interesting pointers; Schumacher was totally inept at developing a car according to anyone who worked with him.
        Hamilton stepped in a title contending McLaren and left them with a crap car, and basically the same happened to Merc the moment Nico the Clown left (according to everyone who says the Ferrari, and now the Red Bull to, had the better car in 2017 & 2018.
        And what about. Prost, Stewart, Hakkinen, Lauda, Clark….they contributed nothing to the cars?

        1. where to start? this…this is just pure nonsense.

        2. You don’t win multiple world championships with a team unless you can develop a car

      3. @gardenfella72

        Alonso is overall.
        He was immense in an under powered Renault in 2008 and stopped Hamilton winning from 2010-2013.
        The complete package of a driver you’ll ever see.
        Schumacher cracked under pressure too much’ . A flawed and troubled genius. Not to mention out drive by Alonso in 06 and 06

      4. @gardenfella72

        Leclerc easily outshone Lewis in qualifying this season. It’s a shame he couldn’t take advantage of LH only winning 30% of his races in the 2nd half of the season. I cant see it happening at Ferrari unless they bring Brawn back once he’s finished with the 2021 rule changes

        1. How many points do you get for qualifying? What position is Leclerc in the standings?

    2. Semi hot take: the Red Bull car has always flattered their average drivers. One just needs to look to them after leaving the coop like Ricciardo or Vettel to realize they aren’t exactly delivering Earth-shattering performances.

      1. @postreader

        “Semi hot take: the Red Bull car has always flattered their average drivers. ”
        Opposed to the Mercedes car, flattering both mr. Average Rosberg and mr. Below Average Bottas, and, to a lesser extent, mr. Slightly Above Average Hamilton?
        Man, you gotta be pretty braindead starting that discussion and not expecting a proper rebuttal hahaha!
        (How often did average Webber finished 2nd in the WDC, driving such a flattering car?)

        1. Bottas is nowhere near as good as Rosberg was.

          I think we should view Nico’s 3 years with Schumi differently. He beat a past-his-prime Michael 3 years in a row and then he was reasonably close to an in-his-prime Lewis. Not too shabby I’d say.

          1. @jeffreyj

            Rosberg out raced Lewis 2-1 in 2013 then beat him to the championship in 2016. Many victories and poles against Lewis suggest Rosberg would have been 6 times world champion had he been able to choose his own team mate.

    3. @bigjoe I’m not saying he isn’t, but he still have to deliver something more than a couple of poles and a few victories. I’m sure he’s able to win the WDC given the right circumstances and seeing him driving is almost always a pleasure.

      But still, you’re comparing someone who’s best result is third in WDC to a multiple times WC, completely ignoring some of the most successful drivers of all times. I say curb your enthusiasm…

      Moreover, I have my doubts Max can be universally loved and respected like Ayrton was. The fans were crazy just because everyone is tired seeing Mercedes and Hamilton win and because the move was pretty cool. It could have been anyone else there and we would have the same reaction.

      1. @m-bagattini – please, this is the Internet. We have no place for well-reasoned and balanced comments ;)

        1. @phylyp damn I always forget that part… let me fix it.

          VeRstaAPPen I$ THE GOAT!!1

      2. I have my doubts Max can be universally loved and respected

        On this point, I think Max can achieve that to a good extent. He comes across quite forthright, blunt, even, and that is a quality that will win him some admirers, not to mention his driving skills which will win him a different legion of fans. I’ve enjoyed seeing his improving maturity over the last season and this, and if that growth curve is something he can sustain, he will turn out to be entertaining.

        I agree with the rest of your comment :)

        1. And maybe it’s better not to be ‘universally loved and respected’; for Senna it only happened after his fatal accident.
          @phylyp, @m-bagattini

          1. @coldfly

            In the English speaking west maybe. but there was a time you couldn’t go to a popular holiday resort without seeing a Senna T-shirt or cap.
            He became more appreciated as Schumacher collected trophies in an era bereft of talent.

        2. @phylyp

          The Dutch are very direct, or maybe blunt as you have observed . It’s a shame Hamilton fans have decided to use this to claim he is ‘ immature’ and has issues’

        3. Only Hamilton fans and Leclerc fans don’t like Verstappen for very obvious reasons

      3. Nico Hulkenberg will be universally loved and respected for not intervering with the championship-fight and for being so well-reasoned and balanced and mature. He avoided the podium with great skill and can be praised for not putting himself in harms way. Being cheered and applauded by a couple of thousand lunatics and drowned in champagne by your opponents is not a pleasant experience and the danger is that the whole happening will play tricks with your brain. Some F1 drivers really think that they are the best and that they are super- humans, knowing all about everything. Nico Hulkenberg knows that there is more to life so he kept the celebrations to a minimum and restricted to a humble Le Mans podium, sharing the victory with at least 2 other drivers.

    4. He isnt and you could argue no one is better than Senna. Lets see ho Max goes in a championship winning car first. Baby steps mate

  2. Seems a fair summary regarding Stars/Strugglers.

    Furthermore, the show itself was a Star. Brazil always offers us great racing, but even better now that the 3 top teams are at such a similar level overall.

    1. +1 @coldfly

      F1 should be in the Star section.

      Some cracking races this season also

    2. @coldfly – good points, and I wholly agree. Since F1 has a habit of shooting itself in the foot, let’s now ditch São Paulo and go to Rio ;)

  3. would put Stroll as a struggler too, but in general I agree

    1. I never know if you are being sarcastic sometimes. If you really mean this then i totally disagree. He jumped Perez at the start, stayed ahead the whole time other than when pit stops changed things. Was 2 positions ahead when the safety car came out and then only lost them at the restart then had a suspension failure.

      Racing point were poor this weekend, but he clearly outperformed Perez without Perez even making a mistake. The only time he has done so this year.

    2. Stroll had a great first part of the race and retired outside of his own fault.

      He is struggling on Saturday’s though and would be a deserved Struggler after Kubica if we only look at that.

      1. @thegianthogweed @coldfly take that back, and a completly different feeling from watching the race, checked it again, you guys are right

        1. No problem :)

        2. @johnmilk
          It also has to be said that on the planet F1 Forum, there is a team mate wars vote for every race weekend. Well over 20 went for Perez vs 4 for Stroll. I think many were just influenced by the end result due to Stroll falling behind perez then having a DNF. And the fact Stroll normally is very poor. It isn’t just you that at first maybe didn’t see just how good his race was. Qualifying was to be fair only 2 tenths off Perez, but in the race, he actually looked to have very strong pace.

          1. @thegianthogweed that was most definitly the case, actually I’ve been following Stroll more closely this season, and he actually has good pace on sunday, but evertyhing gets compromised on saturday

            this time I didn’t pay attentio at all ahah

      2. Stroll didnt retire due to his fault, he had a suspension failure and not sure how he picked it up apparently he hit debris originating from Vettel’s car. Just like Bottas he had pretty boring sunday followed by a Dnf.

  4. I’d put Vettel in the struggler column as well. He was losing places early on, was passed by Leclerc who started 12 places behind him and in a desperate move to stay ahead caused a collision with his teammate.

    1. I suspect that might have been an intentional editorial decision, as we’ve discussed enough about Vettel in dedicated articles. Bear in mind that his abysmal Sunday overshadows his decent Saturday where he gave Max a good fight. I’d agree that the result at the chequered flag is what matters, but this rating seems to value both days of the weekend, so he also gets a bit of a pass for that.

      I – for one – am happy to see this weekend’s spotlight shone on other drivers in this article (a majority from the midfield) instead of this one also devolving into a discussion about Ferrari & their drivers.

    2. He was losing places early on

      majestic plural?
      and overlooking the fact that he lead the race at some point ‘early on’ (and again a bit ‘later on’)!

    3. he was passed by Leclerc because the field was bunched up, with no SC the Ferraris would never be in close proximity, plus Leclerc had fresher tyres

      you can argue he was a struggler, but defintly not because of those arguments

      1. @johnmilk

        Wait a minute John. We were told right here that SV was a ‘has been’. ‘Has issues’ ‘cracked under pressure’ etc etc
        All I saw was a quick driver on Saturday, who again in qualifying hardly blinked and refused to give an inch against his team mate in a 50/50 situation.
        Still a racer afaic

  5. I can’t understand why Bottas has been judged so harshly here. Hamilton was very good pace wise this race. Looked much better than I thought the car was capable of. Both him and Bottas were complaining of issues in the first stint. But Hamilton just dealt with them much better.

    I’d say the Mercedes was the worst of the top 3 cars. Hamilton made the most of Vettel’s not so great start. But really, when Vettel was then doing a decent job, would you really expect it would be that easy for a Mercedes to keep up and overtake given that Vettel even beat Hamilton in qualifying? There speed on the straights was mighty. Bottas admittedly was struggling in the first stint, but i am also pretty sure his plan was to go long so he likely won’t have been giving it everything. Then i find the decision for him to do 11 laps on hards then mercedes pitting him at the worst time possible for him to come out right behind Leclerc really didn’t help. Perhaps he should have got by leclerc sooner, but we don’t know if this issue was related or not. He always was really close at the start of the straight, but he couldn’t really help that Leclerc just had so much speed advantage.

    He was poor in the first stint, but given nobody beat his fastest lap, i don’t think his overall pace and race weekend was exactly poor if this was the case surely…. In the end he will have actually got a better result than Hamilton because of Hamilton’s mistake if he didn’t have his problem. Not that in any way does that mean he still didn’t have an unimpressive weekend. So I’d say Bottas was just nothing special, but really not that bad. But the strategy really was questionable. Hamilton’s pace difference just made Bottas look bad again to me.

    Bottas does seem to get his slightly worse performances noted as a struggling performance more than other drivers. Leclerc doesn’t seem to get these ever. I think being a lap down in Japan (even his team mate nearly beign a full lap ahead), crashing out in germany and retiring in Monaco were all significantly worse than this weekend from Bottas. Certain drivers just seem to get their drivers harshly judged. It really doesn’t help that Bottas has the best driver on the grid as a team mate.

    All the star performers are correct, But I would add Grosjean to that. He qualified 8th and maintained around that position. Was as high as 6th at one point before he pitted then was back at 7th at the unfortunate time of the safety car when he got left out. He then had an MGU-K failure which made him loose around 10 places and I feel it is that that has possibly stopped his great performance from beign recognised.

    1. Yes, Grosjean’s excellent race got a bit overshadowed with all the madness around

  6. On the raceday, Gasly just kept his head cool and held the station. On last lap keeping Lewis behind to the line was quite a task.

  7. Outqualified team mate, made it to Q3, .5 seconds off a podium in a Sauber and Kimi isn’t a Star? I mean… These lists have been wrong 20/20 times this season so far but this is really ridicilous.

    1. And also it’s Valtteri. Not Valterri. A very common mistake, no idea why people can’t type his name right. It’s not the most difficult first name in the world.

      1. People say Valterri so they spell it Valterri how can you be clueless about that?

        1. @rethla I’ve heard “Valteri” a lot but never Valterri so please explain yourself.

          Oh but nevermind. I’ve seen you before. You’re the one who has zero clue of this sport. Even if your depended on it you’d still be wrong. You just have zero knowledge of this sport. I really shouldn’t bother.

          Kimi >>> Hamilton >>>>>>>>>>> Alonso/Leclerc/Bottas >>> Ricciardo

          1. @huhhii Yeh thats right i dont like Kimi, sore thumb?

          2. @rethla Not really. That’s your business.

  8. Stars: VER, GAS, and SAI.
    Strugglers: BOT, HAM, VET, LEC, and KVY.

    1. Not that I think Bottas or Hamilton were strugglers, but I do think this is a more balanced view, as at a critical stage, Hamilton made a costly mistake that would have got him a worse result than Bottas. Bottas obviously was slower, but overall, i wouldn’t rate their performance as that different simple because of the mistake hamilton made at the end.

    2. Much as I often dislike the guy, HAM wasn’t a struggler this race. He wasn’t on the same level as Max obviously, but he certainly drove competently.

      1. or…well beaten twice in a row by faster drivers on the day

  9. What a race and what overtakes from Sainz, if the overtake on Perez was done by MV the people would become crazy.
    The defense after the safety on KR was superb. Sainz is the driver of year and Ferrari should consider a team Leclerc -Sainz!!
    He has been leading McLaren in style.

  10. I thought Albon had a decent race also.

  11. As I wrote after the race, I have dogged VER most of the season. He was clearly the best driver in Mexico. He kept his cool when challenged by HAM and during the pit lane incident. Great race!

    I think LEC doesn’t deserve the be labeled a struggler for the weekend. He qualified 4th and started 14th. He came through the field and then got into the scrap with VET. As much as we’ve all had some laughs about the scrap, the reality is that it was just a slight bump in the worst possible location, somehow destroying both cars. Definitely more bad luck, than bad driving.

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