Birthday boy Nick van der Meulen brings us his F1 review USA 2019.
Valtteri Bottas did everything right at a bumpy circuit in Austin, Texas, taking pole position and dominating proceedings from the front, losing the lead to his teammate who was on a different tyre strategy, only to carve his way to the front again and hightail it to the chequered flag. It was too little, too late, though, as Lewis Hamilton needed just to finish eighth to win the 2019 world title – and he finished on the podium in style.
Click here to read about the Rodin FZED track car that promises F1 levels of performance.
The start of the Grand Prix set the stage for the race, as Bottas pulled away from the line beautifully, while Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari went backwards – being carved up by Max Verstappen (Red Bull-Honda), Hamilton and Charles LeClerc (Ferrari) in quick succession. The German immediately complained over the radio saying he had understeer issues.
There was a brief skirmish between Alexander Albon (Red Bull-Honda) and Carlos Sainz (McLaren-Renault), resulting in the young Thai driver limping to the pits and dropping him to the tail of the field. Again, a Red Bull had to work its way through the field. Albon did this to good effect to claim an eventual fifth-place finish and the Driver of the Day award. Again, this F1 fan feels one should look to a certain Finn driving a silver car as having performed better on the day, as the vast speed difference between the top three teams over the rest is considerable.
Red Bull Racing had a decent weekend and Max Verstappen showed pace throughout his 100th Grand Prix by applying pressure to Hamilton and shadowing him to the chequered flag for yet another podium finish. While his driving was supreme, his comments post-race with regard to a certain red team were not well received…
Ferrari suffered this weekend. They did not manage to get pole position for the first time since the summer break, although Vettel was on the front row. Leclerc suffered technical issues and had to sit out Free Practice 3 and the team put in a more detuned motor for qualifying. Vettel’s race ended soon after it started with an unusual suspension failure, while Leclerc finished a distant – and I mean distant – fourth. He claimed there was a strange feeling with the front tyres in the first stint, but the other two stints were normal. He was so far behind that the two Mercs and Verstappen could stop and come out ahead of him on lap 17). The team did not help proceedings with a botched second stop and he finished almost 50 seconds off the podium.
Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) drove a storming race to finish sixth (albeit 90 seconds off the winner!), ahead of Lando Norris (McLaren-Renault), Sainz, Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) and Sergio Perez (Racing Point-Mercedes). Daniil Kyvat (Toro Rosso –Honda) was penalized for the second race in succession after clashing with Perez in the closing stages of the race. His time penalty relegated him out of the points to 12th, while Perez claimed the final point on offer.
World champ crowned
Lewis Hamilton claimed his sixth world title this weekend after his sterling effort to finish second with a one-stop strategy. He is undoubtedly the best driver of his generation and it is not certain who will be able to stop him from equalling Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of seven titles next season. Bottas has certainly improved this season, but I don’t believe he is yet ready to take on his teammate.
Once Nico Rosberg finally got the better of Hamilton, he immediately retired, indicating the stress and effort required to get to Hamilton’s level. Vettel has been there in the past, but he has more immediate problems in terms of showing his young teammate who’s boss. It is touted that Verstappen can be the next champion, but Red Bull will have to work on their car – Max is already used to running at the top most weekends, so it might not be long…