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Formula 1: 2019 season in review

Just days away from the new year of 2020, let’s take one final look at everything the 2019 Formula 1 season had to offer.

It has been close to a month since the 2019 Formula 1 season came to an end on Sunday, December 1, but with just days remaining before the calendar flips to 2020, let’s take one final look at what this past season had to offer.

The 2019 season consisted of 21 races, which tied the all-time record that was set in the 2016 season and then first matched in the 2018 season, and it resulted in Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton winning yet another championship. Once again, he locked up the world title with three races remaining on the calendar.

The 34-year-old Briton has now won three consecutive championships, all in decisive fashion, and he has won five of the six titles that have been decided since the V6 turbo hybrid era began back in 2014, only slightly failing to win the 2016 title in a five-point defeat to teammate Nico Rosberg.

As a result, Hamilton is now a six-time champion, bringing him to within one title of Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of seven, a record that he is favored to match in 2020.

With another 11-win season in 2019, the third of his career and the second in a row, and a sixth straight season with at least nine victories, Hamilton is also poised to break Schumacher’s all-time wins record next year. Hamilton has now taken the checkered flag on 84 occasions, while Schumacher managed to do so 91 times over the course of his legendary career.

Aside of Hamilton, four other drivers won at least one race in the 2019 season, with three of them winning multiple races. While Hamilton tied his career-high single-season win total, the three drivers who won multiple races all set new career-highs in wins.

 Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas won four races after entering the season with three career wins, all in the 2017 season, while Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen won three races after entering the season with five career wins and a career-high of two in a single season.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc entered the season with a career-high finish of sixth place, as he spent his rookie season in 2018 driving for Sauber before receiving a promotion to Ferrari to replace 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen ahead of the 2019 campaign. He won two races to become the first first-time winner since Verstappen in 2016, beating teammate Sebastian Vettel, who won just one.

Mercedes dominated the constructor standings, finishing well clear of Ferrari and Red Bull Racing with 15 victories compared to their three apiece. Their constructor title was their sixth in a row and made them the second team in Formula 1 history to win six in a row; Ferrari won six in a row from 1999 to 2004.

McLaren and McLaren’s Carlos Sainz Jr. won the unofficial “best of the rest” constructor and driver titles, respectively, and Sainz did it with a sixth place finish in the standings, not a seventh.

This is because of what happened with Red Bull Racing’s second seat throughout the season. Looking at entry totals, this seat would have finished sixth in the driver standings. However, after 12 races, Red Bull Racing promoted rookie Alexander Albon from sister team Toro Rosso to replace the struggling Pierre Gasly.

Sainz, Gasly and Albon all ended up finishing within just four points of one another (96-95-92). The second Red Bull Racing seat accounted for 139 of the 187 points scored by Gasly and Albon.

Ironically, it was Gasly who ended up finishing in the best position that a “best of the rest” driver has finished since Raikkonen won the 2013 season opener driving for Lotus, and he did so after being demoted back to Toro Rosso with a second place finish in the Brazilian Grand Prix.

In total, “best of the rest” drivers secured three podium finishes in 2019, up from just one in 2018. Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat finished in third place in the German Grand Prix while Sainz drove from last (20th) to third in the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Albon did finish as the highest rookie in the driver standings in eighth place. McLaren’s Lando Norris, Alfa Romeo Racing’s Antonio Giovinazzi and Williams’ George Russell finished in 11th, 17th and 20th, respectively, although Russell had a dominant season over teammate Robert Kubica that is not at all reflected by his position as the sport’s only scoreless driver.

The 2020 Formula 1 season is scheduled to get underway on Sunday, March 15 with the Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit in Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia. What does the 2020 season, which is slated to feature a record 22 races, have in store?

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Hungarian GP: Late charge sees Hamilton beat Verstappen

A late-charging Lewis Hamilton has won the Hungarian Grand Prix, as he overtook Max Verstappen for the lead of the race with four laps left to run.

Verstappen was out in front for most of the race, having kept his lead off the line and into Turn 1. Hamilton kept the pressure on the Dutchman, but couldn’t pass him in the early stages of the race.

Verstappen was the first of the two to pit, while Hamilton stayed out for another handful of laps, rejoining the circuit a number of seconds behind the Red Bull driver.

However Hamilton soon closed up on Verstappen, but once again couldn’t pass him, despite a close wheel-to-wheel battle through the first sector.

Mercedes opted to pit Hamilton for a second time for the medium tyre, which saw him close up in the final 20 laps to eventually overtake Verstappen for the lead with four laps left to run in the race.

Verstappen then pitted late on after he had lost the lead for a fresh set of soft tyres to secure the fastest lap of the race.

Hamilton and Verstappen were seemingly in a race of their own, as Sebastian Vettel, who secured the final spot on the podium by making a late overtake on teammate Charles Leclerc, was a minute behind.

Valtteri Bottas was put out of contention for the win after he made contact with Leclerc in the opening phase of the race, forcing him into an early pit stop for a new front wing.

The Finn battled back through the field to secure an eighth-place finish, but loses out in the championship battle, with Verstappen now right on his tail for the second spot.

Carlos Sainz produced another strong drive for McLaren, as he crossed the line in fifth place to secure another eight points for the Woking squad.

Pierre Gasly, who started the race from sixth place, dropped back a number of positions at the start, managed to recover to cross the line in that position – albeit a lap down on Hamilton and Verstappen.

Kimi Raikkonen finished inside the top ten once more for Alfa Romeo, ahead of his compatriot Bottas.

Lando Norris, who was running behind his teammate Sainz early on in the race, had a slow pit stop which saw him drop down the order and eventually cross the line in ninth.

Alexander Albon picked up the final point for Toro Rosso, after being involved in a close tussle with teammate Danil Kvyat on lap 14 of the race – a battle which Kvyat came out on top in.

However, the Russian driver would eventually end up in 15th place, one week on from his podium finish at the German Grand Prix.

Hamilton now holds a 62 point lead in the championship over Bottas, who himself is only seven points in front of Verstappen for second in the championship.

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Young gun Verstappen lays to rest the old pole question

The precocious Red Bull driver is still only 21 and yet the breakthrough at the Hungaroring, in front of a crowd of raucous and orange shirted fans on a cloudy afternoon, felt long overdue.

As Verstappen’s race engineer told him over the radio: “Better late than never”.

Verstappen is the man of the moment, the sport’s on-form driver with two wins in the last three races and 20 successive top five finishes, so it seemed like a distinct anomaly that he had never started on pole.

He has seven wins already and team boss Christian Horner regularly refers to him as a wise head on young shoulders, praising his maturity.

It was not ever thus, with Verstappen a young man in a hurry from the moment he became the youngest to take part in an official practice session — with Toro Rosso three days after his 17th birthday in 2014.

The youngest F1 race driver, also at 17, Verstappen became the youngest winner at 18 but the opportunity to become the youngest pole sitter slipped through his fingers.

Sebastian Vettel, who also started out at Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso and is now at Ferrari and a four-times champion, did that at 21 years and 73 days.

Verstappen, the 100th driver to take a Formula One championship pole position, sometimes got it wrong and sometimes Red Bull were hampered by reliability problems with former partner Renault’s engines.

“For me it never really mattered,” Verstappen, who turns 22 next month, said of the lack of poles. “I knew it was a matter of time. You need a bit of luck sometimes as well.

“Of course, I made mistakes myself to miss a pole position shot. And today we got it, so very happy with that.”

Saturday’s pole was also a first for engine partner Honda since Jenson Button put their factory team on the top slot of the grid in Australia in 2006.

A week ago at Hockenheim, the Japanese manufacturer celebrated the first time since 1988 that two of their teams were on the podium.

Verstappen’s victory in Austria in June was the first for a Honda-powered car since Button in Hungary in 2006.

While Horner hailed Verstappen, saying he was “on fire this afternoon”, he was also careful to praise the manufacturer’s contribution.

“It’s fantastic for him to get his first pole,” said the boss. “It’s all credit to Honda, and we couldn’t have done it without them.”

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge)

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Demare opens Giro account after Ackermann crash

Arnaud Demare sprinted to his first career victory at the Giro d’Italia after a dramatic crash involving Pascal Ackermann at the finish of stage 10.

Ackermann, holder of the points jersey, was left battered and bruised after he was involved in a significant accident involving multiple riders at the front of the peloton inside the final kilometre, with the German unable to contest the sprint.

As the finish unfolded from there, Demare surged through on the left to beat Elia Viviani, Rudiger Selig and Caleb Ewan for his first win in this year’s race.

Ackermann slowly made his way to the finish line with a group of team-mates as Demare celebrated.

The flat 145-kilometre stage from Ravenna to Modena, which came after a rest day, was the penultimate chance for sprinters prior to the mountain stages.

Groupama – FDJ’s Demare, 27, also has two Tour de France stage victories to his name, making this his third Grand Tour triumph. He has closed the gap to Ackermann in the points standings to just one.

A frustrated Viviani had to settle for second place for the third time in the race.

After the breakaway of Luca Covili and Sho Hatsuyama was caught with 30km to go, shortly after a crash for Enrico Battaglin, the peloton was largely in control aside from a solo attack from Fran Ventoso with 2.5km, which the sprinting teams were able to haul in.

There was no change at the top of the GC standings, with Valerio Conti retaining a lead of one minute and 50 seconds from Primoz Roglic.

DEMARE DELIGHTED TO MAKE BREAKTHROUGH

He had to wait until the 10th stage to taste victory, but it was worth it for Demare.

“We came to the Giro for this,” he said after the win. “I really wanted a stage win and I got it. I avoided the crash because we, as a team, were very well positioned. I’m super happy.”

Conti, meanwhile, was relieved to stay out of the way amid the chaotic crash as he retained the pink jersey.

“I hope nothing bad happened to my team mate Simone Consonni in the crash,” he said. “I have been well protected by my team the whole day. I thank them for giving me one more day in the Maglia Rosa.”

 

STAGE RESULT

1. Arnaud Demare (Groupama – FDJ) – 3:36:07
2. Elia Viviani (Deceuninck – Quick Step) + same time
3. Rudiger Selig (Bora – Hansgrohe) + ”
4. Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) + ”
5. Giacomo Nizzolo (Team Dimension Data) + ”

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS  

General Classification  

1. Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates) 39:44:39
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) + 1:50
3. Nans Peters (AG2R La Mondiale) + 2:21

Points Classification  

1. Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) 155
2. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 154
3. Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) 109

King of the Mountains   

1. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) 32
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 22
3. Fausto Masnada (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) 18

NEXT UP

Wednesday’s stage 11 from Carpi to Novi Ligure is another flat day. The 221km course will likely be the sprinters’ last opportunity for a stage win until the final week of the race, and some of the quicks will be expected to drop out after the finish.

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A world champion with Ferrari and McLaren – Lauda´s Formula One career in numbers

Three-time world champion Niki Lauda died at the age of 70 on Tuesday, leading to numerous figures in Formula One and beyond paying tribute to the Austrian.

Lauda won world titles in 1975, 1977 and 1984 – the latter two successes coming after he returned to the sport following a near-fatal crash at the 1976 German Grand Prix.

Fellow former world champions Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg, Oscar-winning director Ron Howard and compatriot Arnold Schwarzenegger all spoke of Lauda as an inspiration in posts on social media.

We take a look at the Opta numbers following Lauda’s passing.

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171 – Lauda took part in 171 F1 races, winning 25 of those, finishing on the podium on 54 occasions and starting on pole 24 times.

14 – He won at 14 different Grands Prix, claiming three victories apiece in the Netherlands, Great Britain and South Africa.

5 – Just five drivers have claimed more world titles than Lauda did: Michael Schumacher, Juan Manuel Fangio, Lewis Hamilton, Alain Prost and Sebastian Vettel.

11 – There were 11 years and three months between Lauda’s first and last F1 race victories. Only four drivers – Kimi Raikkonen, Schumacher, Prost and Hamilton – had longer such gaps between triumphs.

0.5 – The narrowest ever margin in the final drivers’ standings occurred in 1984 when Lauda pipped Prost by half a point.

1 – Having won the championship with both Ferrari and McLaren, Lauda remains the only man to have achieved the feat with those two teams.

7 – The seven-year gap between Lauda’s titles in 1977 and 1984 remains the longest period between championships in the sport’s history.

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Inspirational athlete and entrepreneur Lauda leaves lasting legacy

Niki Lauda was hailed for his “unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur” after the Formula One legend died at the age of 70.

Lauda’s family announced on Tuesday that the three-time F1 world champion had passed away nine months after undergoing a lung transplant.

Possessing endless amounts of courage is a necessity in motorsport and they did not come any braver than Lauda.

The Austrian great produced one of the most astonishing comebacks in sporting history after he was seriously injured in a fiery crash at the Nurburgring in 1976.

Lauda was rescued from his Ferrari, which was engulfed in flames  after ploughing into a wall at high speed.

Left with severe burns and scorched lungs after inhaling toxic fumes, Lauda’s life hung in the balance as a priest delivered the last rites.

“But I did not want to die. I wanted to go on living.” Lauda recalled

Just six weeks after that horrific smash, he was back in the cockpit at Monza and finished a remarkable fourth, with his unhealed wounds covered by a balaclava that was soaked in blood.

Lauda regained his title the following year and again in 1984, before going on to become a successful aviation entrepreneur – also taking a hands-on approach as a licensed commercial pilot.

He took up management roles in F1 – with Ferrari, Jaguar and most recently with Mercedes – and continued to have a big influence in the sport over four decades after suffering life-changing injuries.

Known for his forthright opinions and a relentless desire to succeed with huge passion and determination, Lauda made a big impact in F1 and beyond long after his driving career came to an end.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said: “We haven’t just lost a hero who staged the most remarkable comeback ever seen, but also a man who brought precious clarity and candour to modern Formula One. He will be greatly missed as our voice of common sense.

“Our Mercedes team has also lost a guiding light. As a team-mate over the past six-and-a-half years, Niki was always brutally honest – and utterly loyal. It was a privilege to count him among our team and moving to witness just how much it meant to him to be part of the team’s success.

“Whenever he walked the floor in Brackley and Brixworth, or delivered one of his famous motivational speeches, he brought an energy that nobody else could replicate.

“Niki, you are quite simple irreplaceable, there will never be another like you.” 

Tributes continue to pour in for Lauda, who has left a lasting legacy in his sport.

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Rosberg ´strongly inspired´ by Lauda

Nico Rosberg expressed his gratitude for the influence Niki Lauda had on his career after the three-time Formula One champion died at the age of 70.

Lauda’s family on Tuesday announced that the Austrian great had passed away nine months after he underwent a lung transplant.

Rosberg quit after winning his maiden F1 title in 2016, having benefited from Mercedes non-executive chairman Lauda’s expertise and advice.

The German driver paid tribute to the inspirational Lauda – who made an astonishing comeback in 1976 only six weeks after suffering serious injuries in a crash at Nurburgring – on social media.

“Dear Niki. Thank you for everything that you did for me.” he posted on Twitter and Instagram.

“I learned so much from you. Your passion, your fighting spirit, to never give up, your belief that you always meet twice in life, and even your patience with us youngsters.

“Myself and all of your 100 million fans around the world, whom you also so strongly inspired to never give up in the hardest of times, are thinking of you and your family and wish that you rest in peace.”

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Wolff: Mercedes has lost a guiding light in legendary Lauda

Toto Wolff says Mercedes has lost a “guiding light” and “one of the greatest legends” in Formula One after Niki Lauda died at the age of 70.

Three-time F1 champion Lauda’s family announced on Tuesday that he had passed away, having undergone a lung transplant last August.

Mercedes non-executive chairman Lauda staged one of the most astonishing comebacks in sporting history when he resumed his racing career just six weeks after being seriously injured in a crash in Germany in 1976, going on to win the second of his world championships the following season.

The Austrian continued to have a big influence in the sport in management roles after ending his driving career in 1985 and Mercedes team principal Wolff paid a glowing tribute to his former colleague.

“First of all, on behalf of the team and all at Mercedes, I wish to send our deepest condolences to Birgit, Niki’s children, his family and close friends.” Wolff said in a statement released by Mercedes.

“Niki will always remain one of the greatest legends of our sport – he combined heroism, humanity and honesty inside and outside the cockpit.

“His passing leaves a void in Formula One. We haven’t just lost a hero who staged the most remarkable comeback ever seen, but also a man who brought precious clarity and candour to modern Formula One. He will be greatly missed as our voice of common sense.

“Our Mercedes team has also lost a guiding light. As a team-mate over the past six and a half years, Niki was always brutally honest – and utterly loyal.

“It was a privilege to count him among our team and moving to witness just how much it meant to him to be part of the team’s success. Whenever he walked the floor in Brackley and Brixworth, or delivered one of his famous motivational speeches, he brought an energy that nobody else could replicate.

“Niki, you are quite simple irreplaceable, there will never be another like you. It was our honour to call you our chairman – and my privilege to call you my friend.”

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Three-time F1 champion Niki Lauda dies aged 70

Former Formula One driver and three-time world champion Niki Lauda has died at the age of 70.

F1 legend Lauda – who won world titles in 1975, 1977 and 1984 – died “peacefully” on Monday, his family confirmed.

Considered to be one of the greatest F1 drivers in history, Lauda won two championships with Ferrari and one during his time at McLaren.

“With deep sadness, we announce that our beloved Niki has peacefully passed away with his family on Monday,” his family said in a statement.

“His unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur are and will remain unforgettable, his tireless zest for action, his straightforwardness and his courage remain.

“A role model and a benchmark for all of us, he was a loving and caring husband, father and grandfather away from the public, and he will be missed.”

Lauda survived a near-fatal crash during the 1976 German Grand Prix at Nurburgring, where his Ferrari burst into flames.

The Austrian was left with serve burns to his face, body and lungs, however, he returned to win the title the following year.

Lauda also worked in senior management roles within F1, including as non-executive chairman of Mercedes since 2012 and he played a key role in signing Lewis Hamilton.

“All at McLaren are deeply saddened to learn that our friend, colleague and 1984 Formula 1 World Champion, Niki Lauda, has passed away. Niki will forever be in our hearts and enshrined in our history,” McLaren said via Twitter.

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Niki Lauda: Hill mourns ´remarkable´ three-time F1 champion

Niki Lauda was a remarkable individual who had a positive impact on all who knew him, says Damon Hill.

Three-time Formula One world champion Lauda died “peacefully” on Monday at the age of 70, his family confirmed.

Lauda survived a near-fatal crash during the 1976 German Grand Prix at Nurburgring but, despite suffering severe burns and being administered the last rites, he returned to the sport six weeks later and won the title the following year.

He also worked in various management roles within the F1, including as non-executive chairman of Mercedes since 2012, and Hill paid tribute to a sporting great.

“Everyone who was in Formula One knew Niki’s personality as one of the most potent individuals in the sport,” 1996 world champion Hill told Sky Sports.

“He was highly intellectual, stoic, someone who didn’t have any time for any of the BS in the business at all. He was eminently quotable all the time.

“It’s very sad to hear that we’ve lost Niki but so many people have been affected positively by having known him.

“There are so many stories about Niki Lauda. He was involved in the drivers’ strike in South Africa.

“He was one of the few men who could sit down with Bernie Ecclestone and Enzo Ferrari and they knew that he meant business.

“He was a remarkable individual in every way.”

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Hill said Lauda’s career was marked by the respect other drivers in the paddock had for him.

“I certainly was one person who looked at Niki and thought I’ll never would be half the man he was.

“His career was stylised and characterised by his intelligent approach. When he came up against Alain Prost he knew he couldn’t beat him on speed, so he beat him on tactics.

“He wasn’t Machiavellian at all. He was thoughtful, he was intelligent, he was pragmatic and he just got the job done.”