2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – The Rookie Report

by Ed Spencer

The 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix bookended the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship in what was arguably one of the most unexciting races of the decade.

For the rookies, it was an uneventful end to the season as Alexander Albon finished sixth overall to become F1’s rookie of the year, whilst Lando Norris finished eighth, Antonio Giovinazzi sixteenth and George Russell seventeenth.


Alexander Albon | Red Bull Racing

Qualified: Sixth (Started Fifth) | Finished: Sixth

Photo Credit: Octane Photos

12 months ago Alexander Albon saw his Formula 2 World Championship dreams evaporate without leaving the grid after his DAMS’ machine failed to start, handing the title to George Russell.

One year on and Albon’s first F1 campaign sees him crowned rookie of the year and a secure seat (as secure as they can be at RBR) with Red Bull for the 2020 season.

The final weekend of the season saw Albon struggle to keep up with teammate Max Verstappen, who out-qualified the Thai driver for the seventh time in their nine-race weekend dual.

At the start of the race, Albon failed to make up ground and was dropped by the top four of Lewis Hamilton, Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc with the Thai-British driver losing fifth through the hard-charging Valtteri Bottas.

Albon failed to make ground after the pitstops and lost in a battle with Vettel for fifth with the German accusing Albon of a dangerous manoeuvre, judge for yourself below…

https://twitter.com/F1/status/1201555628239532032

Lando Norris | McLaren F1 Team

Qualified: Seventh (Started Sixth) | Finished: Eighth

Photo Credit: Octane Photos

For F1’s king of memes, Lando Norris had a solid if an unspectacular end to a good first rookie season as Carlos Sainz Jr. and himself push on to take McLaren back to the top of F1.

Norris got the better of his more experienced teammate in the qualifying battle between the two after qualifying seventh on the grid which was later moved up to sixth courtesy of Bottas’s penalty.

The race was a mixed bag for Norris as the McLaren lost ground to the top six, leaving the Brit and teammate Sainz in a race-long battle with the two Renault’s and the Racing Point of Sergio Perez.

In the end, Norris lost out to Perez on the final lap losing seventh at the end of the back straight to end the season in eighth spot ahead of teammate Sainz.

https://twitter.com/F1/status/1201435838845833216

Antonio Giovinazzi | Alfa Romeo Racing

Qualified: Seventeenth (Started Sixteenth) | Finished: Sixteenth

Photo Credit: Octane Photos

At times this season Antonio Giovinazzi looked destined for one full season in F1 before being given the chop for possibly Nico Hülkenberg.

But after rebounding in the second half of the season and keeping his drive for 2020, Giovinazzi had a tough final weekend in Abu Dhabi.

The Italian struggled for pace in qualifying as both Alfa Romeo’s were eliminated in Q1, with Giovinazzi beating team leader Kimi Räikkönen by +0.269 to outqualify him for the eighth time this season.

Raceday was eventful for Giovinazzi as the Italian clashed with Williams’ Robert Kubica which caused the Williams light damage, with Giovinazzi coming away without a penalty.

https://twitter.com/F1/status/1201634145513852928

Giovinazzi finished the season on a whimper with sixteenth in the race and seventeenth in the driver’s championship ahead of Romain Grosjean and both Williams’.


George Russell | Williams Racing

Qualified: Ninetieth (Started Eighteenth) | Finished: Seventeeth

Photo Credit: Octane Photos

The standings may say, that George Russell was beaten by his teammate Kubica to become the only driver not to score a point this season.

But Russell can be proud to have been the only driver this season to have out-qualified his teammate in every race weekend this season with the Brit beating Kubica 21-0 at the conclusion of qualifying at Abu Dhabi.

Raceday again was a struggle with Russell only picking up places due to faster cars suffering trouble or retiring from the race with the Brit finishing the final Grand Prix of his maiden campaign in seventeenth spot and a lap down.

Russell will be conducting testing for Mercedes this week as he prepares to welcome new teammate Nicholas Latifi to Williams for 2020

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