FB's Big, Fat Review of 2019

FB

Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
Looking back at 2019 my ageing brain told me that it was pretty much a replay of 2018. But then I asked for some help from Wikipedia and the way the season went couldn't have been more different. I can only put the confusion down to the fact that, yet again, Lewis Hamilton walked to the drivers championship and for Mercedes it was even easier. It may also have been that 2019 seemed to be a extension of the second half of 2018, where Lewis wiped the floor with every other car/driver combination.

So what did 2019 promise but fail to deliver? Pre-season testing suggested Ferrari would be quick. But we have been here before, on a number of occasions, and the Scuderia have failed to deliver. 2019 proved to be no exception in this regard. What Ferrari did manage was to cock up their race strategy more often than Donald Trump sent out tweets claiming "fake news" (I exaggerate for comedic effect, but you know what I mean) and they gave us a potential champion of the future his first pole and race win, although they did manage to drag out the wait for a le Clerc win until Spa. I recall in my write up for the Australian GP I suggested that the last time Sebastian Vettel was paired with a young charger it didn't end well and a former member of this Forum took offence. I like to think I have been proven right as events unfolded through the season as Vettel become more desperate and unhinged as le Clerc went faster and faster. Ultimately the youngster from Monaco finished ahead of his far more experienced teammate in the Championship and would have been even further down the road had Ferrari not invoked VIFTY on a number of occasions.

Another failure in 2019 was Bottas 2.0. In fact what we got was Valtteri Windows 95, even though the Finn had spent the winter forcing pubes out of the bottom half of his face in an attempt the "look hard". It did, at least, make his head look not quite so massive so there was some benefit for the viewing public. One thing 2019 should make us all do is revisit our opinion of Nico Rosberg. Although Bottas was clearly never much more than a very proficient No. 2 I thought he would be closer to Lewis in a Merc than he has been so Britney taking the title ahead of Lewis in 2016 must say something about the Finnish/German's ability.

Failure No. 3 has to be the sadness of watching Williams throughout the season and Robert Kubica in particular. Even equipped with a championship winning engine the team from Grove produced a dog of a car which would have embarrassed the design team at HRT. Williams looked around for a scape goat and the spot light stopped on Paddy Lowe, who "decided to pursue his career elsewhere", having been put on gardening leave two weeks before the first race of the season. You would have thought he would have been given the chance to **** it down, having ****ed it up so royally.

The comeback of Bobby K should have been something for F1 to celebrate but it turned out the only positive he bought was a big bag of zlottys to help keep Williams afloat. The FW42 was at least a second off the pace, at it's best, whilst poor Robert was half a second further back. The most bizzare thing was that he scored the only point Williams managed through the season with 10th at the rain affected German GP. George Russell did, at least, maintain a positive reputation despite the car handicap. Should he ever win the world champioship no one will be able to claim he didn't have to serve time in a lesser team. They don't come much "lesser" than Williams in 2019.

On to failure No. 4, Pierre Gasly. Having been promoted to the main team for 2019, after Daniel Ricciardo jumped ship to Renault, poor Pierre was "soundly thrashed" by Max Verstappen resulting in him being demoted back to Toro Rosso. In reality his results weren't that bad although when Alex Albon took over the second seat it was clear that Gasly wasn't performing at the level the car was capable of. In the end Gasly finished ahead of Albon in the Championship, mainly due to the madness of Brazil where Lewis decided that Albon didn't deserve a podium so drove in to him towards the end of the race.

The last of the failures, as I move on to be more positive, Haas and Alfa Romeo. Kimi Raikkonen rocked up at the Ferrari B team, presumably to improve their social media standing, and they had some long haired yobbo in the second car who had previously tried and failed in F1 but was given a second try anyway. At least he wasn't Marcus Ericsson, although that's not much a positive. Haas, meanwhile, kept the faith with Roman Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen although why no one was quite sure. They both duly performed in an underwhelming manner throughout the season and were rewarded with new contracts for 2020. If anyone has any idea why these two kept their seats in 2019 and will continue on in 2020 please let me know as I haven't a clue.

I've kept you waiting long enough, here's my first positive of 2019. Drum roll please..... SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team. What? Have you gone soft in the head FB? Well, although a rich man buying an F1 team for his son to drive in might not be that positive it did prevent the team from folding entirely. Especially after the previous owners were invited to answer questions by the authorities. In the end Lance Stroll drove around with everyone else and Daddy told him he'd done a great job. I suspect he has been given a contract for 2020. Checo Perez, with a new sunglasses contract, managed a respectable 10th in the drivers Championship. I wonder how the car would perform if a more than adequate driver were shoved in to the cockpit.

Positive's 2 & 3. Having finally managed to get the F1 albatross Fernando Alonso to bugger off McLaren started on the way back with two new drivers and a half decent car/engine combo. Sainz and Norris developed a wonderful bromance through the season and also put in some stonking performances, culminating in a podium for Sainz in Brazil even though he didn't get to stand on the third step as he was promoted after the race had ended. The other positive in this section is the opportunity for gethinceri to rekindle his love affair with Danni Kvyat. Daniil didn't do a bad job on his return to F1 but you have to wonder what is wrong with the Helmut Marko driver conveyor belt when Red Bull have to bring back the "torpedo" to fill one of their vacant seats.

Positive number 4, the end of the road for Nico Hulkenburg. Now don't get me wrong, I'm sure he's a nice bloke and loves his mum, but for me at least Nico has been on borrowed time in an F1 car for a number of seasons and having him make way for Ocon can only be to the benefit of the sport. As I'm looking at Renault, well done Danny Ric for taking a risk and moving from Red Bull. Being subordinate to Max Verstappen was never going to be a good career choice and at some point Renault will come good, or bugger off (again).

Positive 5, Max Verstappen coming of age and the return of Honda to winning ways. Although Max did blot his copy book in Mexico by being a gob shite generally he had an amazing season and even managed to win a pole position, equally Jackie Stewart's record of wins without a pole. The Honda Red Bull partnership was certainly more positive than their wilderness years at McLaren and three wins in a Merc dominated season bodes well for the coming seasons.

My sixth and final positive is the astonishing performance of Lewis Hamilton. Despite not being the pole king in 2019 Hamilton's race craft was sublime and his sixth World Championship was more than deserved. He is, without doubt, the greatest driver of his generation and I suspect will surpass the records set by Michael Schumacher before he hangs up his racing gloves.

A few final thoughts. Back in the days of Bernie Ecclestone we all thought that new owners of the sport would bring some positives, how wrong we were. There is a new logo and theme music (yawn), and some fancy new graphics showing the pitch and yaw (or some other pointless bollocks) of the car on screen. We are promised more races in more bizzare places, all of which (of course) will have to set race times to suit a European TV audience. Ross Brawn being involved with the technical side of the sport would, surely, bring closer racing but it hasn't and I have no confidence that the major changes proposed for 2021 will result in anything other than the top three teams still being top.

F1 will always throw up the odd boring race, unfortunately we are now seeing more boring than exciting races in a season and simply giving us more races isn't going to make this better. Since the turn of the century we have had the Schumacher era, then the Vettel era and now the Hamilton era. In between there has been the odd interloper but generally F1 has been extremely predictable, meanwhile other race series have developed and, to my eye at least, become more interesting than F1. Back in August I went to the WEC race at Silverstone, which was on at the same time a the Hungarian GP. I recorded the race but I don't believe I ever watched it, not even on fast forward.

Bring on 2020, if only so that we can get it out of the way and see what the new design rules bring us in 2021. Meanwhile I will keep an eye on the Formula E and WEC calendars and make sure that I'm able to watch these, even if it means missing an F1 race.
 
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