F1 2019 Midseason Report Cards – Part 1

Ahead of F1’s return from the summer break, Matt Tuson and James Casey have been reviewing each team’s performance so far this season and handing out their half-term grades for every driver, car and team.

In this first part they will be covering the bottom five teams in the constructors’ championship.

ROKiT Williams Racing – 10th – 1pt

  • Robert Kubica – 19th – 1pt
  • George Russell – 20th – 0pts

Having signed F2 champion George Russell and returning fan favourite Robert Kubica, the former giants had high hopes for this season. However, Williams have had a miserable season so far. They arrived late to pre-season testing and since then have been playing catch up with a car way off the pace. Russell has commonly had the upper hand over Kubica, but the Pole has the team’s solitary point scored in the chaotic German Grand Prix.

Matt Tuson: Well what can you say, it has been a miserable season for the once great team. It’s a real shame as George Russell, in his rookie season after convincingly winning F2, and Robert Kubica, in his miraculous comeback year, have been unable to properly show what they are capable of. This is particularly the case with the former, who has shown flashes of speed, particularly in his incredible qualifying performance in Hungary. The issue clearly lies with the car and its downforce, and there are many stats that make for grim reading, such as that they are more off the pace than Caterham and Marussia were. However, they have avoided nul points, a fate that looked inevitable from the start of the year, after Kubica was able to score a point in the crazy German Grand Prix and upgrades seem to be having a positive effect. In the circumstances, the drivers aren’t that easy to judge this year.
Grades – KUB: D, RUS: A, Car: U, Team: C (borderline)

James Casey: 2018 was a low point for Williams and I really didn’t expect things to get even worse this season. Unfortunately, it very quickly became clear that the car was nowhere near competitive and the season was ruined before it even begun. Thankfully, the team have not given up and some big improvements were made ahead of Hungary, which is hopefully a sign of a much stronger second half. Pit stops have remained at a high standard (despite them not having much consequence) and the car’s reliability has been bullet proof. I hope the car upgrades continue to improve the pace and the team can get closer to the points on merit for the rest of the season. Russell has done brilliantly in his rookie season and taken the role of team leader, having comfortably outperformed Kubica.
Grades – KUB: D, RUS: A, Car: U, Team: B

Rich Energy Haas F1 Team – 9th – 26pts

  • Kevin Magnussen – 13th – 18pts
  • Romain Grosjean – 17th – 8pts

After a solid 2018 season, almost beating Renault to fourth, this season has been a step backwards for the American team. They have struggled in the races, despite having a regular presence in Q3, and along with on-track incidents between the drivers and unusual issues with their title sponsor, it has been a rough first half for the team.

MT: It has been a real mess for them, their qualifying pace seems as strong as it was last year and in Australia it looked like they were going to have a similar season. Since then, the race pace has been poor and they have struggled to pick up points due to their troubles getting the new 2019 Pirelli tyres in the right working window. This has been an issue they can’t seem to get on top of, despite trying many things such as reverting to the Australia aero package. They have had many other issues as well, including on-track collisions between the two drivers in Spain, Germany and of course Britain, where both drivers’ races were effectively ended through colliding on Lap 1.
Grades – MAG: C (borderline), GRO: D (borderline), Car: D, Team: D

JC: Haas are in a right pickle at the moment and it’s costing them dearly. They’ve gone in the wrong direction with their development, can’t work out the tyres and the team/drivers have made mistakes in the races. Excluding the crazy German Grand Prix, the team hasn’t scored points since Monaco. The qualifying performances show the car still has raw pace, so there is an opportunity to turn the season around. The drivers have been quite evenly matched in terms of speed, although Magnussen has held a slight advantage and also made less mistakes than Grosjean.
Grades – MAG: B-, GRO: C-, Car: D, Team: D

SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team – 8th – 31pts

  • Lance Stroll – 12th – 18pts
  • Sergio Perez – 16th – 13 pts

Despite being regular Q1 eliminees, the Racing Point drivers have fared much better in the races and scored a handful of points, peaking with a solid fourth place for Lance Stroll in Germany. With more upgrades and tracks they typically are strong at coming, they could be a team to watch.

MT: This year they were always going to be behind due to events of the summer break in 2018, which has meant their car this year, particularly at the start, was essentially a B-spec of their 2018 car. With them there seems to be a clear pattern. Qualifying is a real struggle for them, they regularly struggle to make it past Q1 and have rarely made it into Q3. However, the races have been a different story as both drivers have pulled off some great drives to get into the points and score solid points, helped by some great strategy decisions. Lance Stroll in particular has been very underrated and has pulled off some impressive drives despite poor qualifying. With major upgrades coming along with tracks they often excel at, the second half of the season could end up being a major improvement for them as they strive to return to their place at the top of the midfield and beyond.
Grades – STR: B, PER: C, Car: C (borderline) Team: A

JC: Given the team’s success as Force India in recent years, this season has been a little disappointing given the cash injection they have received. Obviously the money came too late last year to really benefit the development of the new car. The team have quietly gone about their business and performed reasonably well in races, but are often too far back on the grid. Perez has been off the radar this season, but looking at his results he’s been very close to the top ten many times since his impressive sixth in Baku. Stroll has done a solid job overall and put in an admirable performance in Germany.
Grades – STR: B, PER: C, Car: C-, Team: B

Alfa Romeo Racing – 7th – 32pts

  • Kimi Raikkonen – 8th – 31pts
  • Antonio Giovinazzi – 18th – 1pt

Having dropped the Sauber name from the team over the winter, Alfa Romeo currently hold seventh in the championship. Kimi Raikkonen, who seems to be enjoying his new environment, has been a regular points finisher, while rookie Antonio Giovinazzi has just the solitary point to his name. The team will likely be ruing the German Grand Prix, where they lost ten points due to penalties for both cars as a result of an infringement at the race start.

MT: I feel like Alfa Romeo haven’t lived up to what was expected of them pre-season. Their pace in testing indicated they could easily be top of the midfield. In fact, the season McLaren are having is what I expected of them, but like their engine supplier’s works team, their testing pace hasn’t translated to the races. Kimi Raikkonen was always going to consistently score points and is clearly a vital asset to them this year. Antonio Giovinazzi hasn’t been bad, but may need to up his game if he is to keep his drive, as there are other drivers waiting in the wings.
Grades – RAI: A, GIO: C, Car: C, Team: C

JC: Alfa Romeo have taken another step forward this season following their encouraging 2018 season. They haven’t been ‘best of the rest’ at any race, but have always been there or thereabouts with Raikkonen. Had it not been for their double penalty in Germany, the team would be right in the battle for fifth in the constructors’ championship. Kimi has done a brilliant job, showing his world champion quality is still there at 39 years old. Giovinazzi hasn’t been very comparable so far this season, really struggling for pace in the early rounds. However, he’s been doing much better of late (especially in qualifying) and should have a much better second half of the season. Grades – RAI: A, GIO: D, Car: B, Team: B

Renault F1 Team – 6th – 39pts

  • Daniel Ricciardo – 11th – 22pts
  • Nico Hulkenberg – 14th – 17pts

After a strong 2018 and signing Daniel Ricciardo, big things were expected of Renault this year. They showed pace in preseason, but aside from races such as Canada where they were at the top of the midfield, they have failed to live up to that as they have struggled with a lack of pace and fairly poor reliability.

MT: Renault were expected to make progress this year as they try to make their way towards the front of the grid, however this year has been a step backwards for them. They have clearly fallen back in the pecking order from last year, when they were the clear top of the midfield. This is disappointing for Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg. The former was hoping for a new challenge that would enable him to compete without paying second fiddle, whilst the latter was hoping to be able to finally challenge for his first podium. He had an opportunity for that in Germany but cruelly missed out after falling victim to the slippery drag strip.
Grades – RIC: B, HUL: B, Car: C, Team: B

JC: Aside from a few strong rounds, Renault have been extremely disappointing this season given the resources they have. The car has been big step back comparatively to last season and they have slipped behind Honda in engine development. Reliability has still been problematic and this has also cost them. Given where they were last year and the investment in this project, this first half of the season has simply not been good enough for the team. The drivers have done a pretty good job, but haven’t done anything spectacular. It’s nice to see Hulkenberg performing close to Riccardo’s level and proving his credentials. It’s a shame he could be forced out the door by Esteban Ocon. Grades – RIC: B, HUL: B, Car: C, Team: D

Make sure to keep a look out for part two, where Matt and James will be grading the top teams.

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