Yas Marina is territory of Mercedes, this was the statement of the last race of 2019. Hamilton fought hard for redemption after the first seasonal mistake of the brazilian GP (ruining Albon’s first podium): he was back in the HAMMER TIME version. Max Verstappen confirmed his global growth: racing with in mind the points of the championship, reducing the moment of Mad Max. Ferrari rejected again: the results bring us back to the 2015 with only 3 seasonal wins.
Before the race analysis: what did we see on Saturday’s qualifying?
In the final Quali of the season we can capture the strenghts and the weakenesses of the top 3 single-seat. Ferrari very fast on straights where shows an advantage of 5-6 km/h and and an acceleration curve which rise faster than the one of the rivals over the 250 km/h. The more efficient italian power unit assured 0.2-0.3 sec in the first two sectors to Leclerc against Hamilton and Verstappen. The Pracing Horse struggled a lot in the final sector: more than 0.5 sec lost from the Scuderia there. That part of the circuit resembles the last one of Catalunya, in which the number 5 and 16 collected an important gap towards competitors.
RedBull confirmed a global improvements in all areas and the car is together with Mercedes the reference for tyre management. On the whole, still +0.200 slower than the Silver Arrows.
Mercedes took virtually the entire first row (Bottas was penalized for power unit substitution). Toto and Co. contain the damage in the first two sectors where low drag configuration and engine efficiency govern the performance while making complete magic in sector 3. Over +0.5 sec given to Ferrari and +0.150 to Red Bull in a 90° turns sequence. For sure, it’s not only aerodynamics (scaling with the square of speed) because in slow turning the mechanical configuration has its weight.
The Mistake of the out-lap calcultation.
Leclerc was not put into the condition to do his last lap of Q3. On the strategy side, the information was given to the driver only at turn five (“We have 5 sec margin”) and then Leclerc had to ask himself how much time still he had at the end of the lap (answer: “zero margin”). For sure there was a lack of communication. Moreover, we have to add that the cohabitation with Vettel has been difficult after what happened in Monza qualifying. On his side, Vettel said it was not fair to overcome Albon and probably took a little revenge on his teammate.
Listening carefully to the declarations of the Pracing Horse seemed has it was an unavoidable fact; if it really was they had better close Leclerc’s the garage earlier. Ferrari starting from his team principal requires more competitive and ruthless (sportily) approach.
The race was not difficult to decipher than the other experienced in the circuit of Carlos Pace. Hamilton put things clear from the beginning: his win was never in doubt. Verstappen imposed a very consistent pace eased by the peculiar strategy of Ferrari. The standing says that the third place is taken by the Dutch, highlighting the problems of the italian team which do not come only from the technical side. Mercedes’ supremacy emerged also in Bottas performance: from last to 4th stuck to the rear of Leclerc.
DRS-orphans for the first laps.
Due to a technical issue the DRS system was not available for the first laps. We saw the difficulties of Bottas who drives a spaceship struggling in the overtakes. That problem was not conceivable for car whose setup and development (also for strategy) is based upon the possibility of using the drag reduction system: it had an impact for those drivers whose strategy was to pit early and had a softer compound for the first stint (like Vettel). Given the above, the grade mark for FIA is 3/10.
From different tyres to the simultaneous pit-stop: Ferrari strategy under the magnifying lens .
Vettel and Leclerc started with different compound. Binotto said that the decision to pit early Charles was taken to protect from the undercut of Verstappen. The choice obliged Leclerc to opt for a 2 pit strategy since the hard compound didn’t work as seen during the free practises. The soft compound was not exploited from Sebastian also due to the DRS problem and Ferrari with a single move obtained two drawbacks: both driver to follow the rivals and no strategic possibility to cover other hypotetical race events (i.e. safety cars).
Here, we give the grade to Ferrari. Binotto told the media he gave a 8/10 to the team. We think it’s not fair. A team with the prestige of Ferrari cannot do begginer mistakes: lap-out time calculation, controversy strategy and pitstop issues. Since we’ve talked a lot also in the previous |After the race|, no more words are needed. GRADE: 4/10. Still an important gap on race pace and tyre management required to be filled up. A fine of € 50000 was given at the end of the race to Ferrari due to fuel level check on Leclerc car.
The GRADES of the GP.
Bottas: Good 2nd driver, no mistakes but not at the level of a champion as we’ve seen in these years. The fact that he finishes ahead of Vettel started in the second row demonstrate that Mercedes is the favourite also for 2020. GRADE: 8/10.
Hamilton: Pole Position gained with a engine older than the one of is teammate. No one could match is pace during the race which is always under his control. His mind flows beyond the present asking through team radio for strategical traps hidden in the safety car. Fastest lap in the last of the race when tyres are finished. Simply a 6-times world champion. GRADE: 10/10.
Vettel: Another time he is outqualified by his teammate. The car doesn’t have the velocity. However, at the end he manages to overcome Albon after the strategy put him behind. GRADES 6.5/10.
Leclerc: With only one attempt he obtains the third position. Great start where he overcomes Verstappen but the strategy forced him to follow. GRADE: 7.5/10.
Sainz: A pit-stop in the final part of the race forces him to a great recover. But the tenth position guarantees the 6th position in the driver’s championship. GRADE: 8.5/10.
Albon: He has not the speed of Verstappen who makes the great difference. GRADE: 5.5/10.
Verstappen: Consistent, no mistakes, no crash and 3rd position in the driver championship. GRADE: 8.5/10.
What’s your opinion? Let’s write us in the comments!