The Austrian Grand Prix has come and gone, and with Silverstone coming up next, it’s time to see how each driver has performed so far this year.
LEWIS HAMILTON — MERCEDES (A+)
This season has been a shining example of why Hamilton is the best racing driver in the world. He’s been easily the best when the car is suited to the appropriate circuit, and he’s been better than his teammate in most situations outside of that. Early in the season, some were questioning his standing inside the team, but Hamilton’s silenced any doubters. He’s a very safe bet to be the 2019 Formula One Driver’s Champion.
MAX VERSTAPPEN — RED BULL (A+)
Verstappen has been nothing short of sensational this year. He’s improved so much from last year, in maturity and in driver skill. In the last race, he won (the first win of the season not from Mercedes), and lapped his teammate in the process. He couldn’t be doing any better, now the Red Bull car needs to catch up consistently.
LANDO NORRIS — MCLAREN (A-)
The exciting rookie has been fantastic so far for McLaren. His impressive qualifying lately, as well as his enthusiasm and honesty has been a breath of fresh air in a team that desperately needed it at the end of last year. It doesn’t hurt that McLaren has been much faster this year, as well.
HARD TO COMPLAIN
VALTTERI BOTTAS — MERCEDES (B)
This has been an important year for Bottas, and despite a strong start, he’s fallen back down to earth. He’s been good, but he’s clearly the slower of the two Mercedes drivers, and that may be an issue with Esteban Ocon waiting patiently for his chance in a Silver Arrow.
CHARLES LECLERC — FERRARI (B)
Despite some flashes of brilliance, Leclerc is still yet to grab his first F1 win. Between flawed strategy at Ferrari, occasional mistakes, and some races where he needs to find more speed, Leclerc has still been the second best Ferrari driver this season. Still though, he’s been solid when you consider all of the expectations that were placed on him, so that bumps his grade up.
CARLOS SAINZ JR. — MCLAREN (B)
Sainz has been solid, but not spectacular. After some bad luck early in the year, he’s fit in well to the 2019 grid, and he’s shown a lot of promise. McLaren is a young team, and Sainz has been good enough to keep himself as part of the future. He doesn’t need to change what he’s doing.
DANIIL KVYAT — TORO ROSSO (B)
He’s shown the speed he showed in his previous F1 stint, and he’s not making nearly as many mistakes. It’s been the best case scenario with Toro Rosso and Kvyat, and they must be thrilled that their gamble in bringing him back paid off.
ALEXANDER ALBON — TORO ROSSO (B)
Albon was a last-minute save from a Formula-E seat, and he’s shown some really nice speed, despite not being quite as consistent as his Toro Rosso teammate. It was a good idea to get him from a talented Formula 2 grid, and he’s fit in well.
GEORGE RUSSELL — WILLIAMS (B)
To call the 2019 Williams F1 car anything other than a complete disaster would be incorrect, so it’s a pure teammate battle in the back of the grid. It’s been clear that Russell’s been easily the better of the two Williams drivers, and for that, his grade should reflect that. It’s not his fault the car is so terrible.
THEY’VE BEEN FINE
KIMI RAIKKONEN — ALFA ROMEO (B-)
He’s been strong, when he can be. The Alfa Romeo car just hasn’t been as strong as the team clearly hoped, and Raikkonen’s been stuck out of the points far too often this year.
NICO HULKENBERG — RENAULT (C+)
He’s been fine, but Renault’s setup this year has looked really hit-or-miss, with too much emphasis on the latter. They’ve been slower than McLaren lately, and the development on the car has made it tough to properly assess what we’re seeing.
DANIEL RICCIARDO — RENAULT (C+)
There’s not a lot that can be said differently than with his teammate Hulkenberg. They both have 16 points, they’ve both been solid, and they’ve both been unspectacular. Unfortunately, unspectacular looks bad when Red Bull is back victorious with Honda power units.
SEBASTIAN VETTEL — FERRARI (C+)
Vettel has had a lot of bad luck this season, but he’s also made crucial mistakes. In the controversial Canadian Grand Prix, he made a mistake while trying to hold Lewis Hamilton back. The penalty that was given for it, no matter what the popular opinion on it was, was given as a direct result. Earlier in the season, Vettel spun when fighting Hamilton. He’s been alright this season, but he’s really struggled under pressure.
KEVIN MAGNUSSEN — HAAS (C+)
Magnussen’s rough Austrian race is anything but a highlight, but he’s been mostly consistent with what he’s done since the beginning of the 2018 season. His aggressive style has gotten him into trouble with drivers again, but that’s not really unexpected.
SERGIO PEREZ — RACING POINT (C+)
Perez hasn’t really been great, but he’s been consistent — and he’s constantly outqualifying teammate Lance Stroll. It’s hard to see him reaching a higher ceiling, but he’s probably going to continue down the same road he’s been down so far.
LANCE STROLL — RACING POINT ( C )
He’s been surprisingly strong during the races, but he’s taking himself out of the discussion instantly by his terrible qualifying record. He’s missed Q2 in thirteen straight races. It’s hard to compete when you’re constantly at the back to start the race, even if you’re excellent at keeping/gaining positions on lap one.
THINGS HAVE BEEN BETTER
ANTONIO GIOVINAZZI — ALFA ROMEO (C+)
It was good to see him score his first points over the last weekend, because he’s been better than his results would suggest this year. Again, the problem is that the car’s been significantly worse than we thought it would be.
PIERRE GASLY — RED BULL (D+)
The decision to promote Gasly to the main Red Bull team this early was met with skepticism by many, and it’s proving to have been a flawed decision. Gasly has a lot of potential — his season at Toro Rosso last year proved that — but he’s simply not ready for a teammate battle with Max Verstappen. It’s gotten to the point where a mid-season demotion might not be unrealistic anymore.
ROMAIN GROSJEAN — HAAS (D)
Grosjean struggled to start last season, and this year’s record has held pretty much the same tune. He’s made too many mistakes, makes a lot of noise on the radio, and generally seems to lack the confidence of the rest of the field. Other than Gasly, Grosjean seems like the most likely candidate for a mid-season swap, perhaps with Haas test driver Pietro Fittipaldi?
ROBERT KUBICA — WILLIAMS (D)
It’s really tough to watch a comeback story go so poorly, but this is Formula One, and from a purely on-track perspective, Kubica’s been just terrible this season. Too often, he’s been more than a second behind his teammate, and he’s made last season’s choice to bring in Sergey Sirotkin look really good. Now that they went with the other choice for 2019, and now that Sirotkin’s gone to both Renault and McLaren as their test driver, Kubica’s left with nowhere to hide in an F1 seat that should probably have someone else (the aforementioned Ocon, perhaps?) in it.