Five most meaningful passes of 2019

From Lando Norris announcing his arrival by showing up Pierre Gasly to Charles Leclerc ignoring team orders to overtake his team leader, PlanetF1 looks at the five most meaningful overtakes of 2019.

5: Lando Norris around the outside of Pierre Gasly – Bahrain

There’s a new kid in town and what better way for him to show he deserves his place in F1 than by showing up his Red Bull counterpart.

Lando Norris stepped up from F2 to F1 this season, signing with McLaren, while Pierre Gasly made the move from Toro Rosso to Red Bull (but now back to STR).

One of them is much happier than the other.

Having failed to turn his P8 on the Melbourne grid into points, Norris was determined to score at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

He qualified P10 and raced his way to sixth place with an incredible around-the-outside pass on Gasly.

At a stage of the season when Mercedes were laying down 1-2s, F1’s midfield delivered the excitement.

4: Valtteri Bottas won’t yield to Lewis Hamilton – Baku

Valtteri Bottas started on pole position with Lewis Hamilton P2. The Brit made an incredible start and strongly challenged for the lead.

The two ran side-by-side through Turn 1 forcing Bottas oh so very, very close to the Armco barrier on the exit.

They continued to run wheel-to-wheel with Bottas nipping ahead at Turn 2.

Hamilton slotted into line behind his team-mate on the run down to Turn 3 and that was it, game over, with Bottas racing to the win, his second of this season.

The Finn left Baku a point ahead of Hamilton with many hoping that it meant F1 was at least in for a title battle, even if it was between two team-mates. Alas that was where it ended.

3 The German Grand Prix – start to finish

If Formula 1 wanted to put out an advert based on rivalry, it would be Verstappen v Hamilton at the Hungarian GP. If they wanted an ad on F1’s bright future, that would be Verstappen v Leclerc in Austria or Britain.

But if they wanted to highlight Formula 1 and the show that it can be, well that would be the German Grand Prix, a race won by Verstappen.

The race took place in three conditions – wet, damp and 98% dry – resulting in five drivers crashing out and many more spins and slides, 70-plus pit stops, and a whole bunch of overtakes.

In fact Sebastian Vettel did six alone on the first lap…

And on the final lap he added a further three to his tally, overtaking Carlos Sainz, Lance Stroll, and Daniil Kvyat to finish second. He started P20.

2: Charles Leclerc ignores Ferrari to pass Sebastian Vettel – Bahrain

Bahrain should have been Charles Leclerc’s first grand prix win but that’s another tale (coming later this week in ‘Ferrari’s 2019 rap sheet’), but it was at least a sign that this youngster was willing to fight – even against his own team-mate.

Arriving at Ferrari at the start of the year the Scuderia’s bosses made it crystal clear that Sebastian Vettel was the “priority” driver and Leclerc was there to pick up the pieces.

Ferrari used team orders in Vettel’s favour in Australia, ordering Leclerc not to attack. “Back off to have some margin” was how it was put with the Monégasque driver leaving his team-mate alone.

Two weeks later in Bahrain, team orders were again in play with Leclerc once again told not to attack his team-mate.

This time he ignored the pit wall.

That set Leclerc up for the victory, or at least it would have if his SF90 hadn’t lost a cylinder.

1: Max Verstappen bangs wheels with Charles Leclerc – Austria

Arriving at the Red Bull Ring, 2019 had been all about Mercedes and their run of race wins – seven on the trot.

However, a heatwave in Austria meant Mercedes with the compact bodywork and cooling were off the pace with Ferrari and Red Bull gifted a golden opportunity to take a first win.

Leclerc qualified on pole position and led from the start only for Verstappen to fight back in the closing laps.

With 10 to go he was 3.8s behind but five laps later was right on Leclerc’s rear wing. Verstappen attacked, Leclerc defended. Verstappen attacked again, Leclerc defended…

Verstappen learned a lesson and on the penultimate lap attacked for a third time at Turn 3, this time pushing Leclerc wide as the two banged wheels.

He took the lead, and the win; Leclerc had to settle for second.

Leclerc, though, also learned lessons from the Austrian GP battle and put those to good use a week later as he raced elbows out against Verstappen.

This time the Dutchman needed Red Bull’s help in the pits to get the jump on the Ferrari man.

Til the next battle then…

Michelle Foster

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McLaren impressed by Sainz & Norris’ chemistry

Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris’ camaraderie have been key to McLaren’s success this season, according to team principal Andreas Seidl.

After another disappointing campaign saw the team finish a distant sixth in the Constructors’ Championship last year, McLaren made sweeping changes with Sainz coming in to replace Fernando Alonso and Norris taking over from Stoffel Vandoorne.

And the duo have certainly delivered as they have picked up 82 points between them to put the Woking squad fourth in the standings with nine races still to go.

Seidl believes that his drivers have found the right balance in terms of being competitive and pushing each other.

“Our drivers get on well and they have fun, both of which are important,” he told the McLaren F1 website.

“They understand that it’s not about the competition between them at the moment. It’s about making sure they push each other in order to lift their overall game, and at the same time help us to improve as a team.

He added: “They’ve integrated excellently within the team. They’ve proven to be very approachable and open-minded.

“That’s also why we confirmed them so early for 2020. It was important to have clarity inside the team, which allows us to focus on our core job, which is to become an even better team and deliver a quicker race car.”

Sainz has scored the bulk of the points with his tally of 58 including back-to-back fifth places in the final two races before the summer break. It puts him eighth in the Drivers’ Championship.

“Carlos’s technical ability has been impressive from the start,” Seidl said. “He has very clear feedback and he provides excellent direction in terms of development.

“Combine that with his qualifying pace, his ability as a racer and his positivity, and you have a driver who’s a great asset to the team.

“I should add that he also did a very good job over the winter working on the correlation between the simulator and the racetrack.”

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Norris surprised by his and McLaren’s development

Lando Norris has said he’s been surprised by how quickly both he and McLaren have developed this season.

The team have firmly established themselves as the best of the rest, sitting comfortably in P4 in the Constructors’ standings.

“I don’t think we thought we would be as… I don’t think we are still completely the fourth-fastest car, but I think the team are doing a very good job,” said Norris to Motorsportweek.com.

“The pit stops, the starts, all areas that we weren’t so good in last year, they’ve improved a lot for this year, and we’re generally better than a lot of the teams.

“That side has been much stronger, and that has helped us be as good as we are in terms of the Constructors’ and so on, it’s got us a lot of points, so a big thanks to all of the guys for working on those areas. It’s been a big help.”

Despite trailing team-mate Sainz in the standings, Norris has impressed in his rookie season nonetheless, leading the Spaniard in qualifying head to head and finishing as high as P6.

“From my side, I didn’t think I’d be as confident as I am now in this part of the season already, or halfway through”, Norris added.

“From how nervous I was at the beginning of the season in Australia, I’m a lot more confident, a lot more knowledgeable I think, with what I need to do and not do and so on with what I need to do and not do and so on. We’re getting there.”

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