Sergio Perez, Racing Point, Yas Marina, 2019

2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Star Performers

2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Sergio Perez, Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris were RaceFans’ Star Performers of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend. Here’s why.

Stars

Sergio Perez

Perez qualified 11th – promoted to 10th Valtteri Bottas’s penalty, which allowed him to start the race on new tyres. Running the mediums compound at the start helped him run longer than those ahead of him who had to start on softs.

He picked them off one by one, but it took him a few laps to find a way past Norris. On the final lap he performed a superbly-judged move on the outside of turn 11, made the move stick and finished best of the rest.

Lewis Hamilton

It was hard to benchmark Hamilton against anyone as the Mercedes was so fast and his team mate’s weekend was compromise. But even without Bottas’ penalty Hamilton claimed his first pole position in five months and was simply dominant in the race. He was never headed and ended his sixth title-winning season with his first ‘grand slam’ of the season.

Lando Norris

Lando Norris, McLaren, Yas Marina, 2019
Norris nearly clung on for seventh
Norris qualified ‘best of the rest’ by two hundredths of a second. He kept Carlos Sainz Jnr behind brilliantly on lap one and throughout his first stint he held off his team mate. His first stint could have been slightly longer, which left him with 46 laps to do on hards at the end of the race.

Norris distinguished himself with a determined defence in the face of huge pressure from Perez, who had much fresher rubber, over the final laps. Half a lap from home the Racing Point driver found a way around the outside of him. Perez praised Norris’s clean racecraft, but as usual the McLaren driver was tough on himself for not having been more forceful when the Racing Point man got by.

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Strugglers

Lance Stroll

[icon2019autocoursempu]With the Alfa Romeos well off the pace, Stroll grabbed a rare chance to make it out of Q1. However Perez still comfortably outqualified him.

Stroll has made some good first laps this year, but this wasn’t one of them. His contact with Gasly was avoidable, and not only compromised both their races, but tipped the Toro Rosso driver into Perez who luckily emerged unscathed. Stroll picked up damage which forced him to pit early, which eventually forced him onto a two-stop strategy.

Late on his pace on the soft tyres dropped off significantly and Stroll reported a brake problem, heading for the pits soon afterwards.

And the rest

Max Verstappen was unable to hold off Leclerc during lap one and fell to third, but by running late into his first stint he was able to easily pass the Ferrari driver later in the race. Albon didn’t have his team mate’s in qualifying but at least managed to make it through to Q3 on medium tyres. A failed attempt to take advantage of Vettel’s slow stop by ending his first stint early backfired, boxed him in behind the Ferrari and left him struggling towards the end of his second stint as he finished last of the frontrunners.

Leclerc was the quicker of the Ferrari drivers throughout the weekend thanks, in part, to his fresher engine. Vettel ended up in the barriers in practice one but was able to escape any gearbox damage. However, he was unable to challenge Leclerc in the race after a slow stop when Ferrari double-stacked their drivers.

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Renault showed strong pace as Ricciardo managed to split the McLarens in qualifying. Both drivers missed out on points, finding themselves at a strategic disadvantage after starting the race on used tyres and not finding their usual strong race pace. A last-lap change of positions meant Hulkenberg failed to finish ahead of his team mate in his final race in F1 for the foreseeable future.

Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, Yas Marina, 2019
Hulkenberg lost 10th on what could be his final lap in F1
Daniil Kvyat used his free tyre choice for the start of the race to good effect, grabbing a couple points. His team mate’s race was ruined by Stroll: Gasly lost his front wing in the contact, lost a lap getting it sorted out and with no Safety Cars was never going to make it back into the race.

Sainz was quicker than Norris in Q1 and Q2, but a messy out-lap in Q3 allowed Norris to start ahead. After asking the team to have Norris let him by in the race, Sainz switched to a two-stop strategy to avoid falling down the order on worn tyres. Needing to out-score Gasly to take sixth in the championship, a superbly-judged overtake on Hulkenberg on the final lap got the job done in fine style.

The Alfa Romeo drivers endured one of their worst weekends of the year following the high of Brazil. Both went out in Q2, the car 1.8s slower than it had been the year before. The pair simply lacked the pace to challenge for points, despite splitting their strategy. Giovinazzi started ahead of Raikkonen on softs, but Raikkonen’s medium tyres proved the better way to go.

Haas and Williams both lacked pace, as they have all season, and were firmly at the back of the field. Grosjean’s lack of pace was compounded by the fact that his only new floor was ruined in practice two in a collision with Bottas. Kubica passed Russell who was battling sickness all weekend on the opening lap, but Russell later repassed him and finished ahead.

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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21 comments on “2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Star Performers”

  1. Stars: HAM, PER, and KVY.
    Strugglers: Ferrari, ALB, and STR.

  2. Stroll is a bum and shouldn’t be anywhere near F1. Absolute disgrace that he’s filling a seat when there are many more deserving drivers who should be there.
    But hey, since when was F1 a meritocracy…

    1. Only drivers who win the title in a feeder series deserve a seat in F1 :P

      1. Get rid of Perez ! :D

        1. And Verstappen.

          1. @coldfly Lol. Verstappen was good enough to promote before doing F2, but Perez tried 4 times (twice in each GP2 series) and never managed to win a title.

            Stroll at least won a European F3 title (well ahead of Russell).

    2. Don’t hate the driver – he’s not breaking any rules. Hate the system that encourages this situation to exist in the first place.

      1. @allstargp
        Well said.
        We don’t have to like stroll, but at least be fair… we would all take that seat in a second if we could… And we would probably have worse results too! Don’t hate the player… hate the game!

    3. My issue with Stroll isn’t that he’s rich, there have been plenty of monied drivers in the past and he won’t be the last. My issue isn’t even that he isn’t really quick enough for F1. My issue is that he makes being an F1 driver look like the most awful chore…his face is always tripping him.

      For goodness sake man, you are 21 years old, have 3 full seasons of F1 experience behind you and are likely to have a guaranteed seat for as long as you want it, if that isn’t something to look happy about I don’t know what is. If he doesn’t fancy it I’d happily do the job for him.

  3. I don’t know if Pérez (or Norris, for that matter) had it in mind, but his overtake is a carbon copy of the one Vettel pulled on Button in 2012. Great weekend and great racing by both.

  4. The two Renaults and two McLarens were all stars in my book. What a fantastic, race-long battle they staged. Shame it didn’t get the coverage it should have.

    They also had the ‘disadvantage’ of making Q3, meaning they had to run the first stint on softs whilst those directly behind benefitted from the optimal med-hard one stop strategy. Perez and Kvyat drove solid races but clearly benefitted from this.

  5. I agree with the star performers list and also think Stroll as a struggler, but would certainly add 1 more to each. But saying Perez still comfortably out qualified Stroll is not correct. The gap was 0.048. That is not a lot is it?

    The other thing that surprises me is Bottas’s recovery drive not being mentioned anywhere in the article. It should be noted that having no DRS when he needed to be doing most of his overtakes as a difficult track like this won’t have helped, but he still beat a Red Bull and nearly both Ferraris. Without the DRS issue, he will have been past the others far quicker as well as Leclerc and this will have given him a better chance to get fastest lap by the end too. Even when things related to Leclercs drive are mentioned, it seems to be kept hidden that Bottas was putting him under pressure at the end despite coming from the back. It seems as if it is something that josh doesn’t want to be mentioned.
    There was also no safety car or other stuff going on to get him up here. He had to work for it and deal with the DRS problem. This wouldn’t have been as impressive at tracks that are easier to overtake on, but here I am surprised that his drive doesn’t even seem to be mentioned.

    Everyone will have different opinions on drivers (yes, I am one who does rate Bottas), but I feel that Josh seems rather against him. Last weekend for example at a track where Mercedes did not look that strong, it seemed to be that it was Bottas doing a bad job more than Hamilton just being excellent (which he was until the accident). Bottas initially did struggle, but we couldn’t tell if him struggling to get by Leclerc could be to do with the fact his engine was about to give way. It wasn’t even a full weekend as he had to retire and we don’t know if he could have recovered. To me it just seemed like it was based on the position he was in before he retired. There was yet a lot to happen in that race and he likely could have even been up on the podium as a result of what hamilton did.

    If you compare another driver this weekend as an example. Look at Albon. He finished over 50 seconds behind Verstappen (who wasn’t noted for having a particular stand out drive). Bottas started last, had no DRS to begin with (i know this was the same for all drivers, but out of the top drivers, it effected Bottas more). Factor all this in and look how far he finished behind his dominant team mate. 44 seconds. I am in no way trying to imply Bottas was better than Hamilton, but really think he was a star performer this race and really, how was albon not a struggler here? The gap between him and Verstappen was bigger than this even though Verstappen had an issue and bottas started last!

    This is what I mean about being rather against, or the opposite on certain drivers which to me makes it a rather unfair rating of their weekend.

    1. @thegianthogweed I too rate Bottas, so it doesn’t surprise me that he didn’t get a mention. As a general rule, he seems not to and that doesn’t jkust apply here. Even if he won a race backwards and on fire while being chased by all of the Avengers and a heard of rutting Rhino’s, he won’t get any attention.

      1. I don’t like criticizing the effort that is gone into the article, but it does seem like there is almost some kind of attempt to hide what bottas has done. As any driver that was beaten by him doesn’t get him mentioned. His negative (which was just practice) seems to be what gets mentioned. His penalty also is noted several times, but the progress from it simply isn’t.

        1. @geemac

          This video also showed that he gained 16 positions in 18 laps. About 5 of them will have pitted, i can see that. Given he had no DRS at a track like where is is so hard to overtake, even with the advantage of his Mercedes, he did really well.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0tW3wY758Q

          I think the only DRS assisted overtakes were on Hulkenberg and Albon.

          1. Thanks for the video link, @thegianthogweed.
            Not having DRS didn’t really seem to hurt a lot, those overtakes were about right in skill/excitement (overtaking Albon later with DRS seemed way too simple). I think they could have run Adabubi without DRS entirely.

            I am not that impressed with Bottas in the video. The best overtake was probably by Grosjean on him on the outside :)

          2. I think he will have got the job done significantly faster with DRS though, and will have got Leclerc. He managed on the other drivers, but when he overtook them, he only had a slight speed advantage when going by. When he got to Hulkenberg, it was clearly far more difficult. He was stuck behind him for nearly 5 laps. DRS enabled and he got by right away. It made such a difference as soon as it was on and that is what made me think it will have saved him a lot of time and he will have also got Leclerc and pulled away from him too.

            With the quicker cars, it was far harder and I don’t think he or any other drivers will have had any chance here to get by the red Bulls or Ferraris without DRS. This track really isn’t easy to overtake on normally, previous years have showed this.

  6. Stars: Bottas, Ham, Norris, Hulkenberg
    Strugglers: Stroll, Alfa, Haas, Ferrari

  7. Stars: Mercedes, Perez, Kvyat, McLaren
    Strugglers: Ferrari, Williams, Renault, Vettel, Stroll, Albon, Alfa, Haas
    Solid: Ham, Bot, Ver, Lec, Red Bull

  8. Leclerc was the quicker of the Ferrari drivers throughout the weekend thanks, in part, to his fresher engine.

    How much benefit would a driver get from having a fresh engine? Bottas had a brand spanking new engine, but he was slower than Hamilton still in Q3. While Hamilton must have been using a very old engine (on it’s 7th race I guess).

    I get that Bottas would have had a setup fully geared towards having the best race pace (and therefore would be lacking some on Q3 pace), but still. Hamilton also had great race pace and even the fastest lap, so it’s not like Hamilton compromised that much towards a setup for his Q3 lap.

    On German TV the comentator (Christian Danner) said it wouldn’t matter for top speed so much, but it would matter for how many times the performance modes could be used. So Bottas would have a lot more “overtake button” at his disposal than Hamilton did. Which would have helped him work his way through the field probably.

    Still I wonder how much it differs in laptime, since I do remember drivers stating that a new engine did give them a performance boost in Q3 also.

    1. Yea i don’t think i believe that a new engine gives drivers much of an advantage. If it was that big then I would have thought that it would be big enough to actually result in slower teams suddenly being much closer to others just because of a fresh engine. I don’t think Verstappen was able to nearly close up to Albon in italy because of his engine, I think it was much more to do with his drive. I think the difference a new engine makes is surely tiny, otherwise I think teams would start changing it earlier on and having to have a penalty for a single race if engine age makes such a difference.

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