Jolyon Palmer column: Max Verstappen edges it over Lewis Hamilton


Venerable F1 driver Jolyon Palmer, who left Renault at some level of the 2017 season, is phase of the BBC team and affords perception and prognosis from the level of detect of the opponents.

The Formula 1 season ended in Abu Dhabi on Sunday with a podium that summed up the season completely – the three famed drivers of the yr like been all on it.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton obtained the bustle, from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. For me – and I suspect many others – they like been the becoming three drivers in 2019. Appropriate not quite in that reveal.

Here’s my review of the F1 grid in 2019.

The 5 most attention-grabbing drivers of the yr

1. Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen obtained three grands prix in 2019 and scored parts within the first 12 races of the season

Relating to selecting the ideal driver of the season, Hamilton and Verstappen like been almost inseparable. Hamilton obtained the championship, nonetheless if I needed to recall factual with out a doubt one of them, I’d order Verstappen factual edged it.

His relentless tempo and constantly excessive stage triggered team-mate Pierre Gasly to be demoted from Red Bull to Toro Rosso within the summertime shatter. And now the stress is mounting on Alex Albon, Gasly’s replacement, as Red Bull desperately look for any individual who can characteristic somewhere reach Verstappen’s stage.

In the first phase of the season, Verstappen’s victory in Austria, accomplished while lapping his team-mate despite being on the motivate of him on the first lap, underlined his dominance over Gasly, who has excelled against each his other F1 team-mates, Brendon Hartley remaining yr and Daniil Kvyat this.

Three bustle wins, extraordinarily few mistakes and being a constant thorn within the perimeters of Ferrari and Mercedes reveals how appropriate Verstappen has been.

This was underlined by the reality that he carried out the season conveniently third, before each Ferraris, despite being in a slower car in phrases of absolute tempo and being wiped out by every of the Italian team’s drivers at some level.

Essentially the most attention-grabbing mountainous procedure back for Verstappen are that a first pole put of dwelling in Hungary ought to serene like been followed up with one other in Mexico to boot to Brazil, like been it not for some foolhardy using to not motivate off past a yellow flag.

That price Verstappen one other choose. Doubtlessly he could like exercised extra caution in Belgium Flip One as effectively, nonetheless rather then that Verstappen’s season was flawless.

2. Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton obtained 11 of the 21 races in 2019, equalling his totals in 2014 and 2018

Equally as impressive as Verstappen, this was an nearly ideal season for Hamilton, within the course of which he was strongly in opponents for victory at merely about each bustle.

When Hamilton leads out of Flip One, the bustle is wearisome. This was demonstrated once extra in Abu Dhabi, even though team-mate Valtteri Bottas couldn’t reveal him from the motivate of the grid. When he doesn’t, he’s constantly a part within the fight for victory anyway.

Hamilton has had with out a doubt one of his most attention-grabbing seasons and it has long gone underneath the radar, since the title has been effectively wrapped up since June.

However a success 11 from 21 races proves his dominance, in particular due to the the chance he’s had since the summer season shatter from Ferrari and Red Bull.

In the cease, I in actuality like marked Hamilton down on the motivate of Verstappen most productive because he went off target while leading in Germany and hit Albon within the chaotic final couple of laps in Brazil.

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Essentially, there was nothing to purchase from the two. Confidently next yr we can look them in a accurate title fight. That is a mouthwatering prospect.

3. Charles Leclerc

Charles Leclerc carried out 24 parts before team-mate Sebastian Vettel within the drivers’ championship

Ferrari like had quite lots of stick this yr – and quite rightly. They like been disappointing in every dwelling.

Abu Dhabi was a accurate microcosm of their season. As Hamilton and Mercedes waltzed to a straightforward choose, Verstappen confirmed up each Ferraris.

Each drivers hit the wall on Friday. Leclerc passed over a final qualifying lap due to the a pointless strategic timing ‘******’. The team like been investigated for a gas irregularity sooner than the bustle even started, and by some means realized guilty. And so that they had a seven-2d pit dwell with Sebastian Vettel as effectively for appropriate measure.

Leclerc can customarily rep lumped into Ferrari’s woeful season; he has in spite of all the pieces made a excellent few mistakes, equivalent to crashing in Baku qualifying, within the bustle in Germany or hitting Verstappen on the first lap in Japan.

However that is most productive his 2d season in F1, and essentially he has been a revelation. Taking the pole put of dwelling trophy for his seven poles reveals how hasty he has been – and he added two excellent victories as effectively.

Leclerc has brought a colossal selection of query marks upon the style forward for Vettel, due to the how worthy he’s ended up shading his team-mate because the season has long gone on, blended with Vettel’s dangle mistakes.

The truth is, Leclerc has overwhelmed Vettel on each measure – he outscored him within the championship, took extra wins, extra poles and conveniently obtained their qualifying head-to-head. And that was despite Ferrari starting the yr favouring Vettel, and imposing team orders – on the complete within the German’s favour – loads of times.

Races equivalent to Bahrain and Belgium reward how appropriate Leclerc could per chance merely additionally be. Confidently, with one other yr’s trip and a 2d season with Ferrari, he can minimize the mistakes and become a season-long chance. Whether Ferrari must always purchase up their phase of the good buy is a definite matter.

4. Carlos Sainz

Carlos Sainz got right here sixth within the drivers’ standings, a level before Pierre Gasly

Sainz is one other man who has had a great yr, and factual managed to capture sixth within the championship with a excellent remaining-lap cross on Nico Hulkenberg in Abu Dhabi. With each Gasly and Albon, his rivals for that put of dwelling, spending half of a yr within the very much faster Red Bull, that is severely impressive.

Sainz hasn’t been the quickest this season. He’s in actuality been out-qualified by rookie team-mate Lando Norris 11-10 within the pinnacle-to-head – even though the Spaniard is in actuality ahead when taking into chronicle most productive sessions within the course of which a excellent comparability could per chance merely additionally be made. However he’s been relentlessly stable within the races and by some means that is what counts.

Sainz’s first laps like constantly been stable, and his bustle-craft has been phenomenal as effectively. He has made quite lots of immense overtakes within the yr, and barely had contact with other drivers, in spite of many times being within the thick of the midfield chaos.

A critical podium in Brazil was thoroughly deserved. It is factual a shame he didn’t in actuality rep to stand up there because the stewards dithered when handing Hamilton a penalty.

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McLaren like had a excellent season, with huge development from remaining yr. However they like quite lots of work to purchase out if they and Sainz can rep any better next yr.

Consolidating fourth within the constructors’ championship and getting closer to the mountainous three is many times the goal in 2020.

5. Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez obtained 52 parts this yr, bigger than double team-mate Lance Stroll’s complete

This was a in actuality sophisticated name between Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo, nonetheless within the cease I’ve given Perez the nod since the Racing Level was not as appropriate a car because the Renault and the Mexican all nonetheless matched the Australian’s parts complete.

It is been an underneath-the-radar nonetheless extraordinarily stable season once extra for Perez. Five top-seven finishes within the past 9 races leapt him as much as tenth within the championship, before Norris and nearly catching Ricciardo, despite having a slower car all over the season.

There like been a pair of mistakes alongside the style, in particular in a barren patch within the midst of the season equivalent to at Germany and Silverstone, the put Perez went a elephantine eight races in a row with out scoring.

However both side of that bustle he didn’t ranking in most productive two other races and with out a doubt punched bigger than his car, with four most attention-grabbing-of-the-relaxation finishes, thanks to some fat bustle performances.

The relaxation of the grid

This season has been a accurate descend from grace for Ricciardo, since a success races with Red Bull remaining yr. The swap to Renault hasn’t been anyplace reach a success. The truth is, the team like dropped backwards by 31 parts and a put of dwelling within the constructors’ championship even even though they splashed out on the mountainous-money signing of the Australian.

However Ricciardo just is just not in insist of any of that. As a driver he has in actuality been very stable this yr, outshining Nico Hulkenberg 14-7 in qualifying and 54-37 within the parts.

All people who has raced alongside Hulkenberg charges him extremely – at the side of myself – so Ricciardo beating him in that plan, in his first season with the team, is an outstanding launch up, in my belief on the least.

The Pierre Gasly that drove the Toro Rosso within the 2d half of of the season was very appropriate. Each hasty and constant, he scored a gleaming 2d put of dwelling in Brazil in what was my favorite 2d of the season.

Sadly, the Gasly that started the yr within the Red Bull by no blueprint obtained going. This was the closing Jekyll-and-Hyde season, with a pair of of the becoming and a pair of of the worst. Very mysterious.

George Russell, Albon and Norris like had stable rookie seasons. For Russell, he’s had no opponents and a terrible car, which has made gauging his performance sophisticated. However for what or not it is worth beating team-mate Robert Kubica 21-0 in qualifying was appropriate. He had flashes of tempo and barely save a foot scandalous.

Albon’s Toro Rosso half of-season was encouraging. His Red Bull 2d half of started in an encouraging style, and fell a miniature bit flat towards the cease of the season. He could per chance carry out with kicking on a little bit of next yr, nonetheless confidently a elephantine chilly weather of team integration can wait on.

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Norris’ season started very effectively. He was quite constantly before Sainz in qualifying within the first half of of the yr and was held motivate by agonize within the races.

Because the yr went on, Sainz an increasing number of established himself over Norris because the lead McLaren driver, nonetheless parts in six of the past eight races reward that Norris serene did a stable job. He’s my rookie of the yr.

At the different cease of the spectrum, Kimi Raikkonen had a extraordinarily appropriate first half of of the season within the Alfa Romeo, sooner than slipping motivate, at the side of his team, within the 2d half of.

A series of foolish errors kicked off the 2d half of of the season, nonetheless on all of the Raikkonen has serene confirmed he has what it takes at 40, as he confirmed Antonio Giovinazzi the style, beating him in all nonetheless three races.

It was a worldly yr for Haas, and in say Romain Grosjean, who was on the complete out-performed by team-mate Kevin Magnussen.

A range of incidents and a excellent amount of radio whining didn’t wait on the Frenchman’s cause, nonetheless the team fell a long way from appropriate midfielders to ninth within the constructors’ this yr, and for the most phase had no clue why that came about.

They desperately must always realize the tyres extra, as this has been their Achilles’ heel since day one. One day they could merely additionally be fat rapidly, fancy in Barcelona when they like been most attention-grabbing of the relaxation. The following they are fully nowhere.

In some blueprint, Kubica had the worst season of all. It was a outstanding achievement for the Pole to rep motivate onto the grid after his rally accident in 2011, and the terrible injuries he suffered. However that’s the put it ends, sadly.

I was a Kubica fan in his BMW days and when he was at Renault in 2010, and I am hoping of us will capture into chronicle him as that driver, in preference to the tail-cease Charlie who limped round in a extraordinarily wretched Williams car this yr.

Either his lawful arm and hand – which like most productive partial circulation, and which seem like roughly a passenger within the automobile – like been retaining him motivate, or so worthy time away merely left him rusty. Or even each.

Either blueprint, his performances this yr like been not a accurate representation of a driver who’s supremely naturally gifted.

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