Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2019

Ranked: The F1 cars of 2019 from fastest to slowest

Lap time watch: 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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With the final qualifying session of the 2020 F1 season complete, the full picture of how competitive each team was this year can be assembled.

Despite a late surge from Ferrari after the summer break, which included a streak of six consecutive pole position, Mercedes on average had the fastest car over a single lap. But the gap was slender, on average, over the course of the year: Over a typical lap, the silver cars were just 0.16% quicker.

Red Bull grabbed a pair of pole positions over the course of the year as well, and would have had a third in Mexico had Max Verstappen not been penalised for a yellow flag infringement. Nonetheless, they were clearly the quickest car over a single lap that weekend.

The gap between the ‘big three’ teams and the rest of the field fell slightly this year. Last season, the next six teams were within 1.9-2.9% of the fastest lap on average. This year that range fell to 1.6-2.3%.

That leaves Williams, who were the slowest team over a single lap at almost every race this year. The only exception was the Hungarian Grand Prix, where George Russell managed to out-qualify the two Racing Points.

Lewis Hamilton narrowly beat the Yas Marina track record with his pole position lap. Hamilton’s 1’34.779 beat the previous record he set last year by just 15 thousandths of a second.

Those close midfield lap times have come about despite some significant performance swings. Alfa Romeo were a massive 1.8 seconds slower here compared to last year, and Haas were a second off their 2018 pace. Curiously, half the grid were quicker than they had been last year, and half were slower.

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2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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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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15 comments on “Ranked: The F1 cars of 2019 from fastest to slowest”

  1. Regarding the lap time improvement in 2019-chart: You can count the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez as well, as the improvement in absolute lap time was a thousand of a second or 0.001, the gap between this year’s fastest QLF-time, the original pole time, and the 2018 equivalent time.

  2. I’m not sure why, but Williams were, on average, slightly quicker (0.082 sec) at Yas Marina this year compared to last year.

    1. Law of averages says that, even if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll get it right at least once a year…
      It’s a huge shame and I hope this is as low as we ever see Williams (but I’m not holding my breath for next year).

  3. This season should be remembered for the most overblown hype of F1´s history – Ferrari´s pre-season testing and Mercedes´ sandbagging with bringing completely new car to the second part of the tests. Hope the journalist wise up and we won´t be hearing “seems like Ferrari is in the best shape” in Barcelona again.

    1. @pironitheprovocateur Clever subtle irony indeed.

    2. Nearly for a decade limping donkeys have been overhyped on test form only to fall facefirst in BS as season progresses.

  4. On a different note I would like to propose a new rule for 2020. Every year 10 drivers lose their seat. If you lose the head to head in quali you are benched for at least one year. This way it becomes more trilling to watch, since finally something is at stake. Now drivers are way too relaxed. Look at Grosjean and Stroll. They have no reason to be in a seat. You are also not just eligable to participatie in the Olympics all the time, so… For 2020 we will not see return Bottas, Vettel, Gasly, Hulk, Sainz, Kvyat, Giovinazzi, Kubica, Stroll and Grosjean. Makes sence with perhaps Sainz as being the exception (hè only lost out with one point, so maybe the minimum diff should be 2 points in the head to head)

    1. Mayrton, all I can say is that I hope that Liberty Media aren’t reading that, because that sounds like a terrible idea. If you had two closely matched drivers, but one of those drivers happened to, say, have two cases where he couldn’t qualify, such as due to mechanical issues during qualifying, would you bench them anyway?

      What is with the constant obsession to try and “spice things up” to such a ludicrous degree that, by hyping everything up, nothing is special any more because it’s all drowned in the same meaningless hype and pantomime performances?

      1. I actually like the idea of ‘benching’ poor performers.
        I’m sure Keith can find a way to have people who sub-par comments ‘sit out’ one season on this site.

    2. I’m guessing this is light-hearted but it would have seen Hamilton benched after winning 2014 WDC, and drivers like Alonso, Vettel, Verstappen, and Ricciardo benched at some point

  5. I wonder if Williams and RBR are positioned correctly here (not position, but gap to others). Both had 1 dominant qualifier, whereas the other teams always had 2.
    Maybe both cars are a bit ‘faster’ and the numbers would show it had their teammates qualified faster every 2nd race.
    Or maybe Verstappen and Russell are super qualifiers and their teammates were ‘normal’. In that case the car itself is not as fast as the numbers show (or more correctly the other cars are faster).

  6. Not too bad achievement of Max then, beating both Ferrari’s that are on average 0.3 second per lap quicker.

    1. Indeed, Max has quietly collected driver of the year. If he’d been in a Merc, Lewis would have been destroyed.

      1. The only thing that would have been destroyed was a lot of W10 front wings with the petulant prodigy behind the wheel, dream on.

    2. @jelle-van-der-meer, I would like to know more about how this assessment was made, as there is the question of how representative Red Bull’s performance was when Verstappen’s team mates were noticeably and consistently slower than he was by a fairly significant margin – Gasly having several terrible qualifying sessions, such as in France, whilst Albon, though less obviously catastrophic, has had a very consistent performance gap to Verstappen of about 0.4-0.5s.

      Furthermore, there is the inevitable question of whether using qualifying performance at the sole deciding metric of whether a car is truly faster is that reliable in reality. We saw several races where Ferrari might have been quick in qualifying, but where Red Bull had clearly superior race pace and pulled away with ease (Brazil comes to mind) – indeed, Red Bull frequently played up that strength during the season.

      Taking race pace into account would give a rather more realistic assessment of who was faster – but I suspect that would require a lot more effort than could be allocated for this particular article.

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