Mid-season team review
The 2019 Formula 1 season is now at the halfway stage. In this article we review the winners and losers of the season so far.
Once again, Mercedes are dominating the season and look set to take a sixth straight constructors’ title.
The team have won 10 of the 12 races so far and apart from a blip at Germany where the team momentarily fell apart in a rain-hit race at Hockenheim, they have looked almost unbeatable.
It would take a monumental break down for Mercedes not to win both titles in 2019 and now their biggest headache is deciding whether or not Esteban Ocon will replace Valterri Bottas for 2020.
It all looked promising in testing but as soon as they arrived in Australia it was clear Ferrari were not fast enough.
The Maranello team have had a torrid time recently, with a number of reliability issues hitting the team in addition to a few driver mistakes.
They have had the added issue of upgrades not working as well as expected and as a result, Ferrari find themselves in a battle to retain second against Red Bull.
Red Bull have improved massively in recent races to take the fight to Ferrari and Max Verstappen has shown once again that he is a champion in waiting.
Verstappen’s consistency have propelled the team forwards in 2019 and have given Honda their first wins of the hybrid era.
After looking like Red Bull may be confined to third for yet another year, the last few weeks have seen them fighting for wins once again.
McLaren have made a huge step forward this year and while their car is definitely much better than its predecessor, their drivers have also done a sterling job with both Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz regularly bringing home points and maximising results when they are on offer.
Life at Woking appears to be much calmer and a lot happier this year and it is showing both on and off the track.
They are now the fourth fastest team, a clear step ahead of rivals Renault, and Sainz still has a chance to beat Pierre Gasly in the driver’s standings.
Daniil Kvyat’s second place is the clear stand out moment for the Italian team with the Russian taking their second podium since Sebastian Vettel’s win at the 2008 Italian Grand Prix.
Whilst that result may flatter them slightly in the constructors’ championship, they have stepped up a gear this year and Kvyat and teammate Albon have consistently performed.
It is no fluke that they have scored points in all but three Grand Prix and they will want to continue that going in to the second half of the season.
It is not the year Renault were hoping for. They expected to be fourth fastest car and had targeted closing the gap on Red Bull, but in recent races they seem to have fallen even further behind compared to the start of the year.
A potential top three spot was available for Hulkenberg in Germany but he crashed out, once again failing to put an end to his record of being the driver with the most race starts without a podium.
If Renault are to remain committed to F1 in the long term, they need to make improvements quickly, otherwise the money spent on Daniel Ricciardo will look like a waste of time.
Alfa Romeo have had a solid season and whilst Antonio Giovinazzi has struggled for points, Kimi Raikkonen has stepped up to the plate and looks an inspired signing.
The achilles heel for Alfa Romeo has been consistency and they have gone from race to race swinging between the back and the front of the midfield.
They sit in a tight battle with both Renault and Racing Point but if they can start getting more points finishes, they could take the fight to Renault for sixth in the Constructor’s championship.
It has been a difficult season so far for Racing Point with a car that has not performed as expected but Lance Stroll once again stood out in changeable conditions in Germany to finish fourth and score some decent points for his father’s team.
The car has been difficult to drive and that has shone through with Sergio Perez uncharacteristically unable to bring the car home as a regular points finisher.
The team don’t appear to be fast enough in qualifying, regularly finding themselves in a battle to get out of Q1, and they will need to get on top of this for the second half of the season if they are to remain in the battle for sixth with Renault and Alfa Romeo.
Haas must be on of the most frustrated teams in the paddock with a car that looks blindingly fast in qualifying but horrendously slow in the race.
The team admits that they are completely confused by their performances and they don’t fully understand why their car is so slow in the races.
It also doesn’t help that their drivers keep crashing into each other and this will need to be ironed out quickly if they are to salvage anything from their season.
Williams always knew they were going to be at the back of the field when they turned up late to pre-season testing.
Their fall to the bottom the standings is not nice to see for such an iconic team but there were signs of recovery in Hungary with the Williams closer to its rivals than it has been before.
Unfortunately, Robert Kubica’s return has not been fairytale story he was hoping for but he does have one point to his name following the penalties issued to Alfa Romeo in Germany.
George Russell is the silver lining for the team, with the young Briton having put in some incredible performances for a car that is so far behind. His stand-out moment has to be qualifying for Q2 at Hungary last time out.
While they are slowly catching the rest of the field, they still need to put in a lot of work if they are to start beating anybody else.