Driver reviews: Racing Point, Haas, Williams

Jamie Woodhouse
Racing Point Haas Williams

Racing Point Haas Williams

In the first of three parts, PlanetF1 delves into the performances of every driver, starting with the bottom three teams in the standings; Racing Point, Haas, and Williams.

SportPesa Racing Point

Sergio Perez
Qualifying battle v team-mate: 12-0
Average gap in qualifying: -0.31s
Race battle v team-mate: 8-4
Best finish: P6 (Azerbaijan)
Percentage of team’s Championship points: 42% (13 points)

Otmar Szafnauer 'hopes' SportPesa Racing Point hold onto Sergio Perez

Perez has certainly had the better of the qualifying battle this season, the only other driver alongside George Russell to do the clean sweep over his team-mate.

He also leads the race battle going into the summer break, but it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Perez who hopes to finalise a new deal with SportPesa Racing Point soon.

His best performance of the season came in Azerbaijan with P6, a track he likes very much, but there have also been lows such as his unforced error that saw him spin out of a wet German GP when serious points were on offer, as team-mate Lance Stroll went on to prove.

A part of Force India/Racing Point since 2014, Perez is often considered one of the best talents outside of the top three teams, but in the first half of 2019 he has struggled at times in an RP19 still feeling the effects of a cash-starved Force India.

However, the upgrades are now flying through and the team hope to push up through the midfield in the second half of the season – Perez will be crucial to achieving this.

Lance Stroll
Qualifying battle v team-mate: 0-12
Average gap in qualifying: +0.31s
Race battle v team-mate: 4-8
Best finish: P4 (Germany)
Percentage of team’s Championship points: 58% (18 points)

Lance Stroll raises £11,000 for Breast Cancer Care with P4 in Hockenheim.
Lance Stroll raises £11,000 for Breast Cancer Care with P4 in Hockenheim.

Ever since joining Formula 1 in 2017 with Williams, Stroll has struggled to shake off the tag of daddy’s boy, and he did little to help himself by joining SportPesa Racing Point for 2019 after a consortium headed by his dad bought the team.

Say what you will, but Stroll is still only 20 years old. He has notched up 53 starts in Formula 1 at an age where many drivers are not yet close to making their debut, and he has shown progress in the first half of this season.

Sure the qualifying battle paints an ugly picture on first viewing, but an average gap of 0.31s is not too shabby and come race day he has secured 58% of the team’s points.

He also recorded SportPesa Racing Point’s highest finish in Formula 1 with P4 in Germany – in contrast Perez couldn’t handle the conditions despite his huge experience advantage.

Stroll went straight from Formula 3 to Formula 1, missing out several stages of his development which he is still undergoing in Formula 1, but heading into the summer break we think he deserves his place on the grid.


Romain Grosjean:
Qualifying battle v team-mate: 5-7
Average gap in qualifying: +0.127s
Race battle v team-mate: 4-7 (double retirement at British GP)
Best finish: P7 (Germany)
Percentage of team’s Championship points: 31% (8 points)

Romain Grosjean

Romain Grosjean, like last year, hasn’t had a first half of the season to remember, but neither have Haas in general.

The VF-19 has been described by team principal Guenther Steiner as the “strangest” car he has ever worked with, citing its ability to perform over one lap but totally nosedive in race trim.

Grosjean hasn’t exactly helped matters with several silly errors and constant clashes with team-mate Kevin Magnussen.

The pair collided in Spain, Britain and Germany despite fierce orders not to do so from Steiner, while Grosjean made Haas look that bit more of a laughing stock by spinning and crashing in the pitlane during FP1 ahead of the British Grand Prix.

Haas have sent Grosjean back to his Australia-spec VF-19 which has been performing better than Magnussen in the upgraded spec, showing Haas that somewhere, somehow since then what they have done isn’t working.

If Grosjean survives the summer break as Haas suggest he will, then helping the team move forward without hitting his team-mate will be a good start.

Kevin Magnussen:
Qualifying battle v team-mate: 7-5
Average gap in qualifying: -0.127s
Race battle v team-mate: 7-4 (double retirement at British GP)
Best finish: P6 (Australia)
Percentage of team’s Championship points: 69% (18 points)

Contrasting fortunes for Haas duo

Magnussen opened up his 2019 campaign in Australia with P6, but since laying down that marker, he has struggled to reach it himself.

The Danish driver must accept as much blame as Grosjean for their countless clashes that have derailed Haas in their pursuit of answers to the VF-19’s behaviour.

At times Magnussen like Grosjean has faced the criticism aimed at him with somewhat of a blase attitude – a way to stop it from getting to him or simply a lack of caring?

It’s a shame because Magnussen has scored 69% of Haas’ points in the first half of 2019, but because of the negatives, the second half of 2019 is a very important period for Magnussen’s future in Formula 1, never mind Haas.


George Russell:
Qualifying battle v team-mate: 12-0
Average gap in qualifying: -0.48s
Race battle v team-mate: 10-2
Best finish: P11 (Germany)
Percentage of team’s Championship points: 0% (0 points)

George Russell was fighting the midfield in Hungary but described it as "back to reality" for Williams.
George Russell says it would take something "drastic" for him to leave Williams anytime soon.

Russell has without doubt been the standout performer for Williams this season, and the stats back this up.

It would be understandable if the Mercedes junior found it hard to motivate himself considering where Williams have been for most of the season, yet going into the summer break he has already wrapped up the qualifying battle over team-mate Robert Kubica while also claiming bragging rights in all the races but France and Germany.

While Kubica may have earned the sole point for Williams so far this season in a chaotic German GP, Russell arguably went one better in showing that they can compete with the midfield teams for the first time in Hungary – Kubica couldn’t get close.

Russell’s name is rightly floating around the conversation at Mercedes for potential Valtteri Bottas replacements, and it’s easy to see why.

The question is would he have a Lewis Hamilton McLaren 2007 style debut campaign, or would he be more like a Pierre Gasly?

Robert Kubica:
Qualifying battle v team-mate: 0-12
Average gap in qualifying: +0.48s
Race battle v team-mate: 2-10
Best finish: P10 (Germany)
Percentage of team’s Championship points: 100% (1 point)

Robert Kubica's DOTD was down to a 'technical glitch'

Perhaps Kubica has been second best at Williams in the first half of 2019, but the experienced Pole did indeed claim the team’s only point which certainly counts for something.

But, when it comes down to the bigger picture Kubica has just been too slow since returning to the sport this season.

It was a fantastic Cinderella story – Kubica overcomes his life-threatening rally injuries to finally return to Formula 1 after a nine-year absence, before claiming his first point in eight years, eight months and 14 days, a new record between points finishes.

But, the clock may be about to strike midnight with the arrival of the summer break – Nicholas Latifi is ready and waiting if so.

Follow us on Twitter @Planet_F1 and like our Facebook page.