Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Silverstone, 2019

Verstappen wins Action of the Year for Leclerc pass, top rookie honour for Albon

RaceFans Round-up

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In the round-up: The Red Bull drivers have won two of the major prizes at this year’s FIA Gala.

FIA Gala 2019

His team mate Max Verstappen won the FIA Action of the Year award for his overtaking move on Charles Leclerc on the outside of Club corner at the British Grand Prix.

Verstappen’s team mate Alexander Albon was named top rookie of 2019 following a season which saw him make his Formula 1 debut at Toro Rosso then gain a mid-season promotion to Red Bull. He was on course to finish second in the Brazilian Grand Prix, which would have been the best finish of his career, when he was knocked into a spin by Lewis Hamilton.

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Comment of the day

Has the time come for F1’s new generation to take the fight to its reigning champion?

Verstappen improved year-on-year from when he first joined Red Bull (relative to Ricciardo), and I expect the same from Leclerc. Now with a year at Ferrari under his belt and a confidence boost from beating Vettel, I can see him moving up a level in 2020.

And I really do hope so. It would be great if Leclerc and Verstappen could be the challengers to Hamilton, it would be akin to when Alonso and Raikkonen were the rising stars looking to dethrone Schumacher.

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  • 66 comments on “Verstappen wins Action of the Year for Leclerc pass, top rookie honour for Albon”

    1. So action of the year was for a pass made by a driver not on the track at all?

      Others got penalised for being outside track limits when passing.

      1. @dbradock +1

        Absolutely right. That off-track pass should have seen Verstappen give the place back to Leclerc. Verstappens pass on Leclerc at Austria was good, although DRS assisted. The Perez pass on Norris at Abu Dhabi was clean. Hamilton on Vettel in Bahrain (as Vettel lost control) was notable and was also done without DRS.

        1. Leclerc had a hand in why Max was off the track, and had been doing his fair share of weaving and bobbing in earlier laps. Fair game…is probably why they allowed it and why it has made it as Action of the Year. It’s not like Max all on his own decided to choose that as his line and his way past CL. There was a lot of great action between MV and CL in the laps leading up to that pass. Several slightly dodgy things between both drivers, as I just

          1. Oops…as I just watched on a 6 or 7 minute clip of their racing encounters that day. The type of close battles we hope to see in 2021 sans DRS. Would have been a shame to single out that particular off-track excursion after all that lead up to it, and take the fun out of the whole thing by penalizing Max, and rather, they have put him on a pedestal for it.

          2. Double standards, here we meet again: LEC was somehow at fault for pushing off-track VER although he didn’t gain anything, yet VER wasn’t at fault for anything in Austria, although he did gain something.

            1. @mg1982 Not saying CL was ‘at fault.’ Just saying that is what happened and it was great hard racing obviously, as it made AofY.

        2. @dbradock @theskeptic Not the only time either. Bafflingly the stewards didn’t so much as bat an eyelid when Max overtook Magnussen whilst completely off-track in Mexico.

          1. Max is a special one. His tracks are wider track than anyone elses.

          2. @ninjenius, in that case, the stewards subsequently admitted that they made the wrong decision and should have penalised Verstappen for that move, as it was illegal.

            However, they only did so after they’d declared the official results, so they could not take any action – or, as some might cynically suggest, only admitted to their mistake once they knew they wouldn’t have to take any action against him anyway.

            1. “they made the wrong decision and should have penalised Verstappen for that move, as it was illegal.”
              End of. Sloppy inconsistent stewarding , and not unusual.

        3. @theskeptic, I strongly suspect there’s no chance that they’d ever give the “Action of the Year” move to a midfield driver, no matter how good they were.

          For a start, it would entail revealing quite how incompetent their coverage of the midfield has been – it’s been a frequent complaint this season that the broadcasters have failed to show the battles in the midfield pack, even when some of them have been quite impressive and shown off the skills of both the attacking and defending drivers, because they’re more interested in showing the drivers at the front or showing random celebrities and hangers on in the pit lane.

          The pass that Perez made on Norris in Abu Dhabi, for example, was completely missed, as was Sainz’s pass on Hulkenberg – all ignored in favour of showing the big name drivers at the front. It’d be more than a bit embarrassing for the sport to have to admit that the best action this season was something that almost nobody got to see at the time.

          That, cynically, is why you know the award won’t go to a midfield driver – the marketing machines built up around the drivers in the top teams, both by the teams themselves and also by Liberty Media, means it will go to a driver from a top team. They’re shoved to the forefront of public consciousness, so will always win a popularity vote, and they are too commercially valuable for the teams and for Liberty Media for them to risk being upstaged by a midfield driver.

          1. Max already got the honour for his overtake on Nasr in his first year in F1. He was a midfield runner (STR) still at the time… the year before he got it for an overtake in F3… So your point misses traction.

            1. 2014 Netherlands Max Verstappen, Formula 3, Overtaking Antonio Giovinazzi in Imola.
              2015 Netherlands Max Verstappen, Formula 1, Overtaking Felipe Nasr at the Belgian Grand Prix.
              2016 Netherlands Max Verstappen, Formula 1,Overtaking Nico Rosberg at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
              2017 Finland Esapekka Lappi, World Rally Championship, Jump at the Rally de Portugal.
              2018 Finland Teemu Suninen, World Rally Championship, Save at Rally Finland.
              2019 Netherlands Max Verstappen, Formula 1, Overtaking Charles Leclerc at the British Grand Prix.

            2. Search, the list that Matn puts up does highlight how heavily driven it is by mass marketing machines, and in particular those with prominent backing from Red Bull (a company that specialises in and owes its success to mass marketing).

            3. Max already got the honour for his overtake on Nasr in his first year in F1

              Also an off track overtake.

        4. @theskeptic Hamilton’s pass on Vettel was DRS-aided…

          1. @mashiat @theskeptic Can’t remember if it was DRS assisted before the corner or not, but the fact was that Hamilton adjusted his speed into the corner from previous laps as he decided he’d rely on the head wind he’d noticed at that corner to help him outbrake Vettel. Trying to keep up is precisely why Vettel lost it. Nothing to do with DRS, everything to do with racing genius and skill.

      2. @dbradock – do you really want to ask that question? Really? :) Because the only thing it will achieve is make the FIA to give a convoluted explanation around track limits, lasting advantages, and all that stuff. A stringent rule about track limits is toothless when there is a subjective element of “lasting advantage”.

        I gotta try this sometime: “Yes, your Honour, I stole a million bucks. But I didn’t get any lasting advantage from it since I blew it all in a year. So, let me go, please?”

        I’d probably be hired by the FIA on the steps of the courthouse.

        1. @phylyp I’m not a fan of strictly held limits and can understand why they haven’t used them, as in, it isn’t a no-brainer, obviously, or they would have done it long ago. It’s simply the nature of the beast with what these guys are doing, no? We want them on the limits, sometimes exceeding them, don’t we? Flailing around these beasts to our delight. Are you sure you want cars already processional as it is, even more encumbered, drivers fearful of risking moves or of being forced off. Perhaps a driver forced off would be excused, but then define the umpteen ways a driver can be considered ‘forced off.’

          Unlike in a court of law, black and white, the reality is there needs to be shades of grey at many of the corners around the F1 tracks. And sometimes though, they do restrict the limits, as we all know. When it really warrants it. To me strict track limits would be the equivalent of Monaco walls. Do we want a season long circuit of Monaco(s)?

          But especially the type of wideness Max did for AotY should be fine as it fit in with the shucking and jiving that he and CL had been doing from the start, and it was not at a spot that anyone all weekend had been using to go wide for gain. Max would have preferred not to take that line, as he was one amongst the others who weren’t going wide there all weekend, unless by mistake. But he was racing with CL who moved him wide and off. Fair game and great action.

          1. @robbie – you make a good argument there.

            However, in my opinion the problem in Monaco isn’t the walls/barriers, it is the track width (exacerbated by the current long and wide cars). There aren’t many places to get two cars alongside for a decent length of time, which is what makes it processional.

            So, stricter enforcement of the track limits wouldn’t make a race processional, it’d just make drivers use the healthy width of tarmac they do have at their disposal at most of the other circuits, including the portions shown in the video above.

            Likewise, “cars already processional as it is, even more encumbered” – the cars today are processional due to other factors related to the technical regs, not the sporting regs. Failure to control, equalize and correct one area shouldn’t mean we throw our hands up in the other area.

            Perhaps a driver forced off would be excused, but then define the umpteen ways a driver can be considered ‘forced off.’

            Again, the rules can cover this, but are ambiguous. We have another rule that talks about “a significant part of the car being alongside another car”, without spelling out what is significant. There is the opportunity there to again make things clearer. For example, something along the lines of: “At the time the car cuts the white line, if its front axle is at any point ahead of the other car’s rear axle, with a lateral separation of less than 50 cm between the two cars, the car ahead will be deemed to have left inadequate room for the following car”. (This is just a hypothetical rule composed in a minute to illustrate my point, not as an actual proposal).

            In this instance, I get the feeling you think I hold Max to blame. I don’t. To me, Max broke the track limit because he was crowded off by Charles. And the stewards should take that into account while handing out the penalty: “Car no 33 exceeded track limits, mitigating circumstance is car 33’s line was closed off by car 16, car 16 gets a 5s penalty”.

            F1 seems willing to try out and experiment different ideas to see what sticks. I wish they would do the same for strictly-enforced track limits. We can sit in our armchairs and speculate till kingdom come, but it’d take rubber on tarmac to see the actual result – maybe it will be a spectacular success, maybe it will be an abject failure.

            1. @phylyp Good point about track widths and walls. I think for much of the time they do keep well within the track limits. We are really just talking about a relatively small number of corners where they feel the need to monitor the drivers and even fewer where they feel the need to clamp down on them. I wouldn’t lose sleep if they clamped down further, because I feel if they did it would only still need to be at select spots. But I sure would hate to see good hard racing ruined by a laser eye delineator.

              Wrt being ‘forced off’ what I was going to expand on but didn’t was how we have seen incidents where drivers have accused other drivers of forcing them off when indeed there was no part of their car beside the leading car whatsoever. It seems that at times even just having some momentum only to find the car in front defending for such momentum, can constitute the trailing driver being ‘forced off’ without ever actually having even the tip of his front wing beside the leading car. I’ve never bought into that myself, but can sure see drivers trying it on if they were to be penalized for going off-track. So that is why I think there would still be much debate and controversy over what constitutes being forced off or not and therefore what might be penalty worthy or not.

      3. Verstappen is on the outside of the corner, actually making more meters than LeClerc. So its not “leaving the track and gaining an advantage” but rather the opposite, making it a brilliant move.

        1. @petterson You DO realize that going wider allows you to go faster, right? Because you don’t have to corner so tightly. That is why people brake into the Monaco Hairpin while they don’t break into the Curva Grande.

      4. Totally agree.
        What a disgrace.

      5. The ‘action’ was actually the entire battle, which is fair enough I think. The first 20 or so laps of that race were outstanding

    2. There was a time when fan made video compilations would overlay an annoying soundtrack over the actual racing, because it’s creator thought it “sounded cool”, and it reflected his/her tastes in music.

      And now we have the FIA doing the same. Crofty is the loudest thing one can hear in an F1 broadcast, but in these video even he’s out-decibelled by the soundtrack.

      1. croft out-decidelled. Surely that’s a good thing, isn’t it?

        1. @riptide – In principle, yes, but not at the expenses of my ears :)

      2. @phylyp Took me by surprise as well, just does not sound right at all.

    3. From the linked Renault article:

      Renault F1 Team have announced a major restructuring plan of their UK technical departments. Nick Chester will leave Renault F1 Team and has begun a period of garden leave.

      The only way this could be any blunter is if it read: “We fired him”.

      But hey, Renault’s works team got comprehensively beaten by a customer team, again. A customer team with a Renault reject and a rookie. That ought to sting, and cause a few heads to roll.

      Congratulations to Cyril on still keeping his job. :)

      1. Cyril needs to go. He’s had 3 years and the team appear to be going backwards. Time is up. He is too full of himself to see his short comings. He just doesn’t come across as a person who has a grasp of his immediate reality.

        1. @phylyp @jaymenon10 Agreed! Abiteboul seems to think he’s at the level of Toto, Horner and even Vasseur. And that’s just a matter of time until he results come. Someone at Renault must share that opinion.

          1. Listen to Diary of a F1 boss on Mixed Apex. In the last one or the one before, Matthew Carter says Renault seems to have their spending priorities in the wrong place. They want to be as big and spend as big as the top three without any plan on increasing performance.

    4. Come on guys… seriously.. that overtake? Among all the hundreds in the year?

      1. For me it was a lot of action between MV and CL in the laps leading up to the one voted on, that made this pass particularly exciting.

        1. @robbie I remember the action leading up to it and it was great. Why then did the FIA choose to publish this part – if they’d chosen the previous 30 seconds it probably would have been better.

          This has always been one of my complaints that people have to somehow equate action with overtakes. Sometimes the best action results in a failure to overtake but the powers that be apparently don’t consider that “action”.

          For mine the entire season featured far better racing than we’ve seen for quite some time right through the field, much of it unfortunately either not shown or ignored completely by the TV directors, and I’m looking forward to next year as I suspect it will be even better.

          1. Sometimes the best action results in a failure to overtake but the powers that be apparently don’t consider that “action”.

            @dbradock – absolutely. For example, the Mercs chasing Leclerc at Monza was epic, even though nothing happened.

            I think the FIA made a 30-second long clip so they could play it (I’m guessing) at the gala before giving the award – similar to how they play a short clip of a movie/TV show at an awards ceremony.

            I do agree that they should have made a lengthier ‘extended cut’ for publication on YouTube that sets the context for the overtake, as @robbie alludes to.

            1. more loud music, no thanks!

          2. @dbradock I think you are reading too much into the length of the clip, which is meant to show AN action of the year. To say the powers that be don’t consider failures to overtake as action is folly, as the 2021 regs are meant to do just that…invite more close battles, and not quantities of passes. They want to ideally be rid of drs and bring back the art of defending. They can’t show all the battles at once, and often use replays to fill us in when they had to miss one action over another, and I predict in 2021 that task is going to be even more difficult.

    5. Hefty high speed action. Hope 2020 will bring more of this.

    6. Verstappen is no doubt a very good racer. But let’s be honest, the best move was force India’s stroke of genius to put stroll on the slicks in Germany

    7. So an off-track move got the ‘pass of the year’ honor, LOL. Checo’s move for P7 in the last race would’ve been a more worthy choice.

      1. @jerejj It truly baffles me that people think that was a good overtake. Perez is stuck forever behind Norris and only when Norris’ tyres are completely gone does Perez finally barge past. Norris did practically the whole race on a single stint!

        1. @f1osaurus You’ve got a point there.

    8. Lol yet another off-track overtake as “action of the year”.

      1. @f1osaurus
        Yeah, what are they thinking, right?
        It’s not like overtaking while being pushed of track is harder than a on track overtake……
        Oh, and no one even remotely gets a flashback to one of the most iconic battles F1 audiences have ever watched, with Arnoux and Villeneuve leaving the track in turns while overtaking each other, lol.
        Oh wait, I’m talking to the clown who believes drivers are responsible for the design of the car!

        Love those salty tears, dude.

        1. “Funny”, in this particular case it wasn’t, cause the off-track patch has the same surface as the track, plus he took a wider line, which guaranteed a higher speed. I know you might say that it still was a significant disadvantage because it was dirtier and had no rubber (=less grip), but reality is it barely has any negative impact. It’s possible to overtake even by going on the grass, it happened at Monza.

        2. Oconomo Your overly defensive post shows that indeed tehre is somethign to defend. I proves you know this is wrong.

          But sure, look back at all the actual icononic battles that happened off track. NONE of those were off track were they?

          Oh wait, I’m talking to the clown who believes drivers are responsible for the design of the car!

          Are you talking about yourself?

          Love the troll feed dude. Thanks for biting and giving more points to rub it in.

        3. @Oconomo No one is saying the battle wasn’t epic. It was one of the defining moments of the season. But rules are rules, you either enforce them or change them if they are stupid. If you award an overtake that is clearly outside the rules, not only you are admitting that the rule is stupid, you’re also admitting that you’re not doing something to change it. This is a stunt only the FIA is capable of.

          Following your logic if someone makes and overtake by taking the pitlane at 300 should be rewarded, because not killing anyone while doing so it’s difficult.

    9. Calderon never got to grips with F2 unfortunately. She’s been dead last most of the time in a car that was capable of a better position. So, no more women in F2, hopefully next time sooner than later, perhaps a W series champion would enter F2 with more success?

    10. The Verstappen Leclerc battle shows that F1’s cars, rules and regulations aren’t the problem. It’s the tracks. Certain tracks work. Silverstone, Sepang, Shanghai. Too many of the rest are off camber nightmares. No amount of changing the cars is gonna make a difference. Design better tracks.

      1. Zandvoort wil be fun of those drivers…. going wide is end of their race.

    11. best action was Girolami on the ring

    12. And now award LEC for best defending.

      1. Well at least for the most aggressive defending, like on Ham at Silverstone/

        1. Monza perhaps?

          1. you are was Monza.

    13. Did they award FIA/Liberty with “Best Stupidity” award?

      No? What an oversight!

      1. @dallein “Best consistency” maybe? Or, to wrap it all, “Hypocritical federation of the year”?

    14. @mrboerns I DO realize that this is true for tight corners. Which this part is not.

    15. I think whats going on here is a commercial reality. The powers that be understand the level of popularity Verstappen has and have just gone with the flow.

      1. This is the world upside down… look at Matn’s list above. The first two times Max got the award, he was still to make a name for himself among general crowds. And how many people actually watch rally sports? I reckon that doesn’t come close to F1.

        And even it were to be true… you can hardly blame them. He’s a rough-cut diamond racer and a show maker. Tens of thousands of people flock to circuits across the globe just to see him. Did you see the orange filled grandstands in Abu Dhabi alone? That’s a hell of a long way from Amsterdam. But fans apparently cough it up with ease.

      2. There were more overtakes from Max which would be better. Like Max overtaking Lewis in Brasil or the Battle Le clerc and Max in Austria (the first one)

    16. Can’t wrap my head around how stupid it is to award an irregular overtake. Think about it, we had amazing moves (also from Max, so if they wanted to award him they had plenty of choice), some of which weren’t even showed live (Sainz for sixt in WDC anyone) and which one they choose? One outside the limits of the f. track.

      This shows that this kind of behavior not only is allowed to certain drivers but also rewarded. Next year, same move from, say, Ocon, called by the stewards and penalized.. “but Sir, last year you awarded an overtake like this!” “…and who are you again?”

      I’m surprised they didn’t give an award to Vettel for “Best reaction time at a start”.

      1. That latter award should go to Bottas then for his Suzuka start! 😬

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