2019 Season Review – Part Two – Mercedes continue to step forward as Ferrari falter further

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Spain

Barcelona marked the start of the European season, the main question was could Ferrari start coming to fight Mercedes with their strong form in winter testing? Or would Mercedes stay ahead with their own upgrades? There were so many questions, so would qualifying provide answers.

Bottas again took pole ahead of Hamilton in an impressive gap of six tenths, as the champion struggled to beat his teammate following a number of errors which left the champion unable to improve on his final lap. The Mercedes was looking comfortable faster with Ferrari unable to mount a challenge.

Carlos Sainz would start his home race thirteenth, a mistake saw him go wide on his final lap after missing his braking point and running wide.

Hamilton got past Bottas on the long run to the first corner, before out braking him. But at Ferrari, there was another sign that things where not as they seemed, in testing the team had dominated in Barcelona. But the team used team orders, with Vettel and Leclerc twice told to trade position.

That allowed Verstappen up into third place, a collision between the McLaren of Lando Norris and Racing Point’s Lance Stroll triggered a safety car. That proved key to the unravelling of Ferrari’s race, Leclerc was placed onto hard tyres for the restart as Ferrari decided not to stop his teammate Vettel, that decision saw him drop from third to fifth.

Haas’s race saw the team score their first points of the season, thanks to a costly pit stop for the Toro Rosso’s which dropped Kvyat to tenth and Albon to eleventh.

Drivers – 1) Hamilton 112, 2) Bottas 105, 3) Verstappen 126
Constructors – 1) Mercedes 217, 2) Ferrari 121, 3) Red Bull 87

Monaco

Sadness returned to the paddock after the sport lost another one of its charismatic leaders Niki Lauda. The Austrian was world champions three times, and more recently served as non-executive chairman of Mercedes. He had survived a live changing accident at the 1976 German Grand Prix, but the injuries lead to a double lung transplant last year but he failed to

His team were on it again around the streets of Monte Carlo, it was a close battle between Hamilton and Bottas. The Finn pushed the car to the edge, but Hamilton went even further nearly hitting the wall at Rascasse, taking pole. Ferrari was again unable to mount a challenge Vettel clipped the wall trough Tabac while Leclerc was knocked out in Q1 after being called to the weighbridge and failing to do a second run.

Hamilton was locked in a battle with Verstappen throughout the race, the Dutchman tried to get close he took his chances at the Harbour Chicane making contact. It was another disappointing home race for Leclerc, the Ferrari driver spun causing a puncher which lead to his retirement.

Mercedes reacted bringing both drivers in, but Verstappen was wrongly released into the path of Bottas. They kissed and Bottas wheel rim caught the wall causing a slow puncture, but with the safety car still deployed he only dropped behind Vettel to fourth, and eventually, Verstappen was awarded a five-second penalty for the unsafe release.

But it was Hamilton who took his fifth win of the season, holding off Verstappen. The question was where was the Ferrari and what could do in the middle of the season, with the Montreal upgrade?

Drivers – 1) Hamilton 137, 2) Bottas 120, 3) Vettel 82
Constructors – 1) Mercedes 257, 2) Ferrari 139, 3) Red Bull 110

Canada

F1 headed to Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix, which saw Ferrari bring an engine upgrade, but was it enough to turn around there season. But the question was could they stop Mercedes from whitewashing the 2019 season?

Vettel took pole position for Ferrari, beating Hamilton by two-tenths of a second. Ferrari appeared as if the upgrade was bringing the team back into the title fight. But Leclerc was forced to slow on his final run and was under investigation for driving on the wrong side of the marker bollard at the Nine-Ten chicane earlier in qualifying.

Vettel may have taken victory on the road, a dominate one to take Ferrari’s first win of the season. An incident with Hamilton saw him awarded a five-second penalty. In the closing stages, while battling for the lead, he pushed Hamilton off the track, that meant all the Mercedes need to do was finish within five seconds.

Stroll was ninth at his home race,  despite his Racing Point being fitted with an older-spec engine after a fiery failure in final practice. Daniil Kvyat completed the point scorers for Toro Rosso.

Ferrari’s 2019 campaign was effectively over, just before the halfway stage as Mercedes surpassed the teams (as Brawn) 2009 record of seven wins from seven races

Drivers – 1) Hamilton 161, 2) Bottas 133, 3) Vettel 100
Constructors – 1) Mercedes 295, 2) Ferrari 172, 3) Red Bull 124

France

The fallout from Montreal continued until the sport returned to Europe, Ferrari decided to appeal the result of the race, citing ‘new evidence’. However, the case was rejected following Friday practice session, the evidence was based on analysis by Sky Sports. The FIA deemed a new element but “not significant and relevant,”

Mercedes were in a class of their own, as Hamilton was two and half tenths faster than teammate Bottas. Throughout the weekend the sliver arrows were six tenths ahead of Leclerc and Verstappen. An impressive session for McLaren with, Lando Norris just nine-thousandths of a second off Verstappen. Pierre Gasly started ninth and Romain Grosjean while knocked out in Q1 ahead of their home race.

Hamilton went on to dominate the race following a brilliant first corner before going on to build an eighteen second over his teammate Bottas. His ability to manage the tyres proved his advantage, he took victory in France. It was another race where Leclerc continued to rise, he put pressure from the Finn, to secure third.

McLaren looked on course to back up there strong qualifying with Sainz sixth and Norris seventh in the closing stages. However, the Bristolian was losing hydraulic pressure, a problem that affected his gearshifts and steering and prevented him from using the DRS overtaking aid.

He then ran wide, first losing a place to Ricciardo, then Raikkonen passed him, Norris tried to hang on and then on the final lap was passed by Nico Hulkenberg. He felt annoyed and was heard apologising to McLaren.

None of the French drivers had a good afternoon, Pierre Gasly struggling to keep his tyres alive finishing the race eleventh after starting on the soft tyres. Gasly struggling to keep the tyres alive in the opening stint and faded further after his pit-stop.

Romain Grosjean faired no better, the Haas driver the only retirement in the race

Drivers – 1) Hamilton 187, 2) Bottas 151, 3) Verstappen 111
Constructors – 1) Mercedes 338, 2) Ferrari 198, 3) Red Bull 137

Mercedes had continued to lead the way in 2019, as they won the first eight races of the season. The world champions wanted a challenge as the sport headed to the second half of the season, maybe there was some hope following the teams eight wins in eight races

Jack

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.