F1 2019: A Year to Remember


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Michael Hernandez, Staff Writer

The Formula 1 (F1) 2019 season has been a year to remember for several reasons. This was the first year with the new aerodynamic regulations, which promotes more overtaking since it is now easier for cars to follow cars in front. There were various ideas that were talked about during last year’s winter break. Red Bull Racing terminated their engine deal with Renault and switched to Honda-powered engines. Daniel Ricciardo changed teams from Red Bull to Renault. As a result of that move, Pierre Gasly was given the seat at Red Bull. Kimi Raikkonen, who was a Ferrari driver, moved over to Alfa Romeo, while Charles Leclerc moved from Alfa to Ferrari.

During pre season testing, Ferrari dominated, giving us hope that it could finally dethrone the reigning champion Mercedes and their driver Lewis Hamilton. However, when the first race was underway, Mercedes dominated. Hamilton’s teammate Valteri Bottas won the first race in Australia and from then on, Mercedes dominated, winning the first eight races in a row and Hamilton winning six of them.  Out of those eight races, two of them were nearly won by Ferrari drivers Leclerc and his teammate Sebastian Vettel. Leclerc lost the lead in the Bahrain Grand Prix due to an engine problem, and Vettel was awarded a post race penalty that lost him the win in Canada. Then in the ninth race in Austria, Red Bull finally broke the streak of Mercedes dominance with Max Verstappen winning the race. Verstappen also won the German Grand Prix which was arguably one of the best races in recent memory. It even included a surprise podium by Danial Kvyat from Toro Rosso. After the Hungarian Grand Prix, Hamilton won seven out of the 11 races leading up until the summer break.

During the summer break, Red Bull announced that Gasly would be replaced by Alex Albon from the Toro Rosso team, effective immediately.

When F1 came back from the summer break, Ferrari started to show the pace they had during pre season testing with Leclerc getting his first win in Belgium and winning in the next race in Italy. Then, Vettel won the following race in Singapore. When it came to Russia, Mercedes struck back by taking the win. In Brazil, Verstappen won in another dramatic race. The season ended in Abu Dhabi on Sunday with Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton winning and Red Bull driver Max Verstappen and Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc rounding out the podium.

This season was also great due to the midfield battles. The McLaren team and its drivers Carlos Sainz and rookie Lando Norris finished the year off fourth in the team standings with Sainz finishing sixth in the driver standings which is impressive since the top six places are always occupied by the top three teams and their drivers. But since Gasly was swapped with Albon, this helped Sainz get that sixth place, while Gasly and Albon finished seventh and eighth respectively. Renault, who was fourth last year, dropped down to fifth with disappointing results on multiple race tracks. The most surprising was the Haas team that was in a close battle for fifth last year. This year their car was not good, often horrible on their tires. They finished ninth this year only beating Williams, which has been in a decline since 2014. They only got one point this year, and it occurred during the German Grand Prix.

This year was dominated by Mercedes, with them winning 15 out of the 21 race season and Hamilton winning 11 of them, giving him his sixth drivers title. This is his third in a row and fifth in six years. This was also Mercedes sixth constructor title in a row, continuing their dominance since 2014. Although this was not a great year in terms of a championship battle, it still gave us a lot to love. It showed the partnership of Honda engines with Red Bull, a combination that at the start of the year, everyone thought it would fail. It showed us the talent of Leclerc, with him winning two races in a row and getting seven pole positions this year which was the most out of anyone this year. And in 2020 with the rules being unchanged, we potentially could have a three-way battle for the Constructors’ Trophy with Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. There could also be a six-way battle for the Drivers’ Championship with Hamilton, Bottas, Leclerc, Vettel, Verstappen and Albon. For now, all we can do is wait for pre-season testing to occur in February of 2020 and then for the season-opener for the 70th year of F1 racing in Melbourne, Australia.