Take technical failures out of the equation – as RaceFans has done for years when compiling these statistics – and the qualifying scoreline between Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz was dead even: 10-10.
Norris suffered three retirements this season, including an agonising end to his Belgian Grand Prix. He spent the day leading the midfield comfortably until, one lap from home, his engine failed and he left without any points. Sainz had two technical-related retirements as well, including one in the season’s opening race, dooming him to inevitable grid penalties from the off.
During the first half of the season the qualifying advantage leaned slightly towards Norris. Sainz hit back, out-qualifying his team mate six times in a row after the summer break, and the balance swung towards him. Curiously, when Norris did out-qualify his team mate, it was often by a significant margin, but factor out unrepresentative results and Sainz was very slightly quicker on average.
Norris progressed quickly over his rookie season, showing a clear rate of progress, especially on tracks which were new to him. He finished best of the rest at his second race in Bahrain – a track he clicked with in Formula 2 – and he went on to finish at the front of the midfield twice more over the course of the season.
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Sainz’s large lead in the points was mostly down to his ability to capitalise on opportunities to land big points finishes. Nowhere was this more true than in Brazil, where he scored his maiden F1 podium after starting dead last, Norris having voluntarily got out of his way mid-race. Sainz also added fifth place finishes at three races during the season – a height Norris never scaled.
Although both drivers were often in close proximity to each other on the track, their season passed without any collisions, except when Daniil Kvyat hit the pair of them on the first lap in China. Given their performances and their good working relationship it was an easy decision for McLaren to extend Norris’s contract alongside Sainz, who was hired last year on a multi-year deal.
Both drivers still have potential to improve still further. Whether their relationship can stay as friendly and productive while Norris’s growing experience makes him a more consistent threat to Sainz, and as McLaren make their intended step forward next year to start snapping at the heels of the ‘big three teams’, is the next question for this impressive pair.
Carlos Sainz Jnr vs Lando Norris: Key stats
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Carlos Sainz Jnr vs Lando Norris: Who finished ahead at each round
|Carlos Sainz Jnr||Q|
Carlos Sainz Jnr vs Lando Norris: Qualifying gap
Times based on the last qualifying round at each race weekend in which both drivers set a time. Negative indicates Carlos Sainz Jnr was faster, positive means Lando Norris was faster. Sainz’s unrepresentative Canadian GP lap discounted
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2019 F1 season review
- ‘I should have done a better job. There’s things that I know I can do better’
- ‘I am definitely not a rookie anymore – but I’m still getting better’
- ‘I didn’t believe in myself much. But after Australia and Bahrain and I gained a lot of confidence’
- ‘It was my best season for sure so far in terms of pure results and speed’
- ‘There’s been plenty of good performances – but there’s also other years I’ve performed at my best’
22 comments on “Team mate battles 2019: The final score – Sainz vs Norris”
7th December 2019, 11:25
This situation is what Ferrari dreamt of:
A more experienced driver that sometimes gets beat but always bring the most points home.
A fast rookie with a steep learning curve.
A pair that does not run into each other!
Of course it’s a little easier to be in that situation when you’re in the midfield, but if you remember Ocon/Perez and GRO/MAG from last year you see that McLaren is very lucky.
7th December 2019, 11:29
Good point and examples.
7th December 2019, 11:29
It’s amusing how just a year ago we were all abuzz about Freddogate, rumours of Whitmarsh being asked by staff to return, and other such negativity about McLaren. And this year, this driver pairing – combined with a much improved car – helped improve the team’s results and perception amongst fans.
There’s a lot of humour about the bromance between the driver pairing as well, but as the last paragraph rightly summarizes, it remains to be seen if that will last. One can only look back to Lewis and Nico’s childhood friendship being tested (and changed?) once they got their hands on race-winning machinery.
8th December 2019, 9:03
@phylyp The bromance between Sainz and Norris is one of the more surprising things to emerge in the 2019 season. You wouldnt necessarily think that Sainz would be super open to being mates with the rookie thats joined McLaren, just as he’s joining the team himself.
Sainz has definitely assumed the role of lead driver, but has done it in a much more effective way than Alonso. He seems to get the most out of the car all of the time, but doesn’t seem to think its necessary to play games with the other driver or need to have the team revolve around him. I think the banter between the 2 drivers is genuine, and with the lighter mood they’ve brought to the team, McLaren is set for an even better 2020.
8th December 2019, 9:20
@tomcat173 – very nice observation, and well said.
7th December 2019, 13:08
One can’t disregard that this was Norris’ rookie season, and as such, it was not a good comparison for Sainz.
Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
7th December 2019, 14:23
This is why i find it difficult to rate Sainz. I think the Mclaren is very often best of the race. And I feel lots of Sain’z races may actually not be that impressive. Maybe there is too bigger gap at times between the team above and below? At the same time, I have to rate him as best of the midfield drivers because he hasn’t really done anything wrong. But Norris matching him in qualifying is not good IMO. I think it is more likely to be Sainz being a bit weak here rather than Norris being outstanding. I think also that rather than Sainz being excellent on race day, that Norris is a little underwhelming and this makes Sainz look better than he is.
Like I said, I still think this is a strong season for Sainz, but Norris makes this so hard to confirm if it actually is that impressive.
7th December 2019, 18:47
Norris was far from a slouch on rceday. he was best of the midfield in only his 2nd race and he was on course for 5th in Spain
7th December 2019, 18:48
Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
7th December 2019, 19:15
Averaged out, he often did loose places though. That is my point. He was often overly cautious on the first lap and sometimes lost out because of this at other races. Admittedly, many of the points he has missed out on are down to bad luck.
He did well in Spa, but Sainz was not there to compare and Verstappen had retired. Albon started 17th and has a totally new car with no pre season testing or anything. Given that McLaren were best of the rest and because of Albon’s situation and starting position, 6th will have been the absolute minimum Norris should have archived. And beating Albon given he started some way behind and didn’t know the car also shouldn’t have been that difficult. I think this drive was solid, but not spectacular. He was unlucky to miss out on the results. But generally, he is worse than Sainz on race day and I think Sainz has looked better this year than he actually is just because of how good the car is.
That is my opinion anyway. I think they have both looked to perform well this year (especially Sainz), but I’m not sure how much of it is down to the car as I haven’t actually rate sainz highly at all myself in the past.
8th December 2019, 11:16
@thegianthogweed, I am not necessarily sure that it should have been easy to beat Albon, even if Albon was starting behind him, given the pace differential between the two of them when Albon was in clean air – which was between 1s and 1.5s a lap in the closing stages.
Now, some of that will be strategy related, but even though Albon will have been in a car he was still getting to grips with and starting near the back, he was also starting with a car with significantly more performance. We have seen a lot of races in recent years where a driver has started near the back but, such is the pace differential between the top three teams and the rest, they’ve comfortably clawed their way back up through the field, and sometimes not even taking that many laps to do so – they can literally just drive round the midfield teams whatever they tried to do, because they’ve got enough of a performance advantage that they can go offline and still be able to carry enough of an overspeed to make the move stick.
7th December 2019, 21:07
@thegianthogweed It’s my impression that Sainz has generally been good in qualifying at his previous teams with some outstanding performances, but when he is matched in this area by a rookie now, one begins to wonder.
I can’t help but think that had Alonso still been there if he would have similarly wiped the floor with either of them as he did Vandoorne.
9th December 2019, 11:45
Ben Row, I was waiting this type of comments from you regarding Sainz, during his time in F1 you have always come here with really not good comments. I am very sorry but this year has been outstanding, nearly double points than Dando with no mistakes, great starts and fantastic overtakes! He had also problems and bad luck in quarry and races.
Aus found Kubica with a puncture
Baku Yellow flags
Aust not fight due to an engine penalty
Spa Yellow flags(Hass)
Brasil engine failure no time!
The races I think you know!
Magnus Rubensson (@)
7th December 2019, 15:20
Norris was on course for a 5th place at Spa (missed out on 10 points there).
9th December 2019, 12:34
He was on for a strong performance in Canada as well .. P5 or P6 I think before he brakes melted. Overall, Norris was one of the unluckier drivers this year. I think could have been a whole lot closer to Sainz in the points if a few small things went his way.
7th December 2019, 15:25
Sainz was on course of 4 at Bahareim, 6 in Monza(wheel nut) and six or seven in Singapore ( Hulk)
7th December 2019, 18:48
Norris was far from a slouch on rceday. he was best of the midfield in only his 2nd race and he was on course for 5th in Spa
8th December 2019, 2:56
Don’t rate either of them, was very impressed with Lando but to blow a massive outqualifying advabtage away and draw is not good. I seen people like Hamilton go against a far better driver than Sainz as a rookie. I think people get amnesia talking about Sainz this guy is just not good he made Nico Hulkenberg look absoloute dominant.
Nico could not dominate his last few teammates but Sainz was easy work. So how can you be impressed with Norris and Sainz?. Like the @thegianthogweed said above you have to wonder just how quick the Mclaren was this season. So i hope i an wrong on Norris, i was so impressed with him early on i think it is clear George Russel is a level above just like F2. He also needs to stop with this mr nice boy and getting on with ya teammate.
Pironi the Provocateur (@pironitheprovocateur)
8th December 2019, 11:12
Luckily, it’s not upon you and Norris “doesn’t need to stop” with anything just because you wish to. You’ve got a clear example on the grid of not being nice and not getting on with your teammate and that team surely would love to switch with McLaren who’s got balanced, competitive driver pairing respecting each other.
And once again, not rating any of the McLaren’s drivers – not a big deal. You’ve probably missed Sainz’s drives in Austria and Brazil, not a great surprise given the total amateurism of the tv director this season. Sainz has also said that McLaren suits him way better than Renault. McLaren has found an ideal driver pairing given their current situation, both them and their drivers are on the rise and have a lot to prove, both are on their way to a winning path. No need for a recognition from gloryhunters.
9th December 2019, 10:41
“I seen people like Hamilton go against a far better driver than Sainz as a rookie.” – it’s not about what you’ve seen, it’s about how likely that is to happen again. Hamilton’s rookie season was at the very least one of the most impressive rookie seasons in history. It took Hamilton years to reach that level again.
“I think people get amnesia talking about Sainz this guy is just not good he made Nico Hulkenberg look absoloute dominant.” – if by “absolute dominant” you mean “not at all”. Sainz started obviously slower as a newcomer to the team, but they were practically equal by the end and it looked like things were turning in Sainz’ favor when he left Renault.
“So i hope i an wrong on Norris, i was so impressed with him early on i think it is clear George Russel is a level above just like F2” – Only inexperience prevented Norris from matching Sainz in his rookie season, he certainly had the speed. That would put him right behind the current F1 greats and already far ahead of Kvyat’s and Grosjean’s of the world, and he just got started.
Based purely on the amount of time Kubica was away from the sport and the fact his injury couldn’t have helped him, it’s impossible to rate Russell. He might have performed phenomenally or been among the worst out there.
9th December 2019, 0:28
Once Norris starts to grow a pair, i feel like he will overtake Sainz. I Think they’ll push each other pretty hard in the future which is great for Mclaren.
9th December 2019, 7:07
Position advantage relative to teammate in the laps they both drove, weighted towards last lap:
(last lap = 100%, first lap = 0%, middle lap = 50%)
Lower is better (0 = driver who spent most laps in the front of the race, 10000 = driver who spent most laps at the back of the race)
Both median and average difference between the two turns out to be negligible. Adjusted head to head result is 13-8 in Sainz’ favor.
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