2019 Brazilian Grand Prix – The Rookie Report

by Ed Spencer

The 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix was a slower burner of a race but after a safety car period due to Valtteri Bottas’s engine failure, the race really spiced up to produce an incredible final eleven laps of racing.

As for the rookies, Alexander Albon was a lap away from a maiden podium finish only to be robbed by some careless driving from Lewis Hamilton, whilst Antonio Giovinazzi and Lando Norris scored points with George Russell missing out once again.


Alexander Albon | Red Bull Racing

Qualified: Fifth | Finished: Fourteenth


Photo Credit: Red Bull Content Pool/Getty Images)

So close yet so far for Albon who drove beautifully at Interlagos only to be punted out by Lewis Hamilton with just a lap left and with it a podium place.

It hadn’t been a clean weekend for Albon who caused his Red Bull mechanics plenty of headaches after Albon slid on the damp track and into the barrier at Juncao in free practice 1 wrecking the right front suspension, worse still, Albon had topped the timesheets when he crashed.

Qualifying saw Albon secure his fourth consecutive top-six start as Albon qualified sixth which was later promoted to fifth courtesy of Charles Leclerc’s ten-place grid penalty.

At the start, Albon was under immediate attack from Pierre Gasly who got a better jump but the Thai driver had the edge coming through the opening corners.

For the bulk of the race, Albon hovered between third and fifth place, until the safety car was brought out to retrieve Bottas’s Mercedes.

When the safety car came in Albon got a blinding restart to pass Sebastian Vettel for third place into the Senna S and despite Vettel’s best efforts, Albon hung on to run a distant third.

That became second when Mercedes unexpectedly boxed Hamilton on lap 68 for fresh rubber dropping him to fourth and only giving the Thai driver the worry of nailing the restart.

But Albon lost ground due to teammate Max Verstappen‘s weaving at the restart which put him under threat from the now surging Hamilton.

With just a lap to go to the checkered flag, Hamilton missed his breaking point and slammed into Albon causing the Thai driver to spin where he would rejoin in fifteenth which would become fourteenth after Nico Hülkenberg was handed a five-second time penalty for overtaking under safety car conditions.


Lando Norris | McLaren Racing

Qualified Tenth | Finished: Eighth


Photo Credit: McLaren Media Centre

Whilst his teammate Carlos Sainz Jr dominated the headlines by securing McLaren’s first podium finish, Norris had an average weekend as he secured his tenth points finish of the season.

Norris struggled for pace around the Interlagos circuit with the Brit narrowly missing out on the top ten shoot out by just under four-tenths, with the Brit only getting promoted to the top ten courtesy of Charles Leclerc’s ten-place grid penalty.

At the start, Norris got alongside Kevin Magnussen coming on to the Reta Oposta, but he was unable to get the Haas courtesy of the Dane’s stout defending.

Norris then lost positions on lap 1 to fellow rookie Giovinazzi and the hard-charging Leclerc who overtook him for twelfth into Juncao.

The Brit then had a close shave with Daniel Ricciardo as the Australian tried to go past on the outside at Reta Oposta almost being squeezed off the track as Norris shut the door politely but firmly.

After Ricciardo had clashed with Magnussen which saw the Dane fall down the pack and the Australian receive a penalty and a front wing for his troubles, Norris stayed consistently in the top 10 for the large part of the race where he briefly led teammate Sainz after the pitstops.

Norris then picked up two more places before the end of the race after the two Ferraris had crashed and after Albon was spun round, to finish a solid if unspectacular eighth place overall.


Antonio Giovianzzi | Alfa Romeo Racing

Qualified: Twelfth | Finished: Fifth


Photo Credit: Alfa Romeo Media

For Giovinazzi, Brazil was the race where it finally came together after a difficult rookie season, with the Italian driving smartly to get his first top-five finish in Formula 1.

Alfa Romeo’s pace at Sao Paulo was at it’s quickest since Monza, but unfortunately for Giovinazzi, it wasn’t enough to get into the top 10 shootouts as the Italian could only manage thirteenth in qualifying, although that become twelfth after Leclerc had his penalty applied.

Come race day Giovinazzi made a lightening getaway to jump Norris into tenth place by lap 1 however the Italian fell back to eleventh shortly afterwards courtesy of Leclerc’s Ferrari.

The Italian stayed out of the points until the safety car restart where the Italian passed Romain Grosjean for a ninth-place where in the final five laps the Italian picked up three positions on the road through cars ahead dropping out, and with Hamilton receiving a penalty for his antics with Albon on lap 70, Giovinazzi landed a fifth-place finish his best to date in Formula 1.


George Russell | ROKiT Williams Racing

Qualified: Eighteenth | Finished: Twelfth

Photo Credit: Williams Media

Russell will be glad that there is only one more race left of driving the dreadful FW42, as he misses out on points again with a solid twelfth place finish.

Qualifying saw Russell beat Robert Kubica once again to keep up a perfect record of beating his teammate in qualifying intact.

Sunday would see Russell start eighteenth courtesy of Sainz’s non-participation in qualifying, but Sunday would see things return to as usual where he and teammate and Kubica thought for scraps at the back of the pack.

Russell did get help progressing through the pack due to cars ahead of him dropping out and the safety car being ordered to bunch up the order, but it was not enough for him to secure points as he finished thirteenth on the road before being bumped to twelfth overall courtesy of Hülkenberg’s penalty.

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