Who scored the top marks on this season’s final weekend?
And which drivers have the best average for the whole season?
Read on and find out below.
Qualified 1st, Finished 1st
The perfect end to a perfect season for 2019’s champion. In fact, make that a Grand Slam finish after Lewis Hamilton qualified on pole, won the race by leading every lap and secured the fastest lap. The Mercedes W10 was at its best on the Yas Marina layout and Hamilton delivered from Saturday, while teammate Valtteri Bottas was left to focus on a very different weekend knowing he would start at the rear of the field.
The fact Hamilton grabbed that fastest lap – a 47th in F1, incidentally, which takes him up to second in the outright list – on 27-lap-old tyres underlined his dominance of the season finale and, in championship terms at least, the 2019 season.
Rating out of 10: 9.5
Qualified 3rd (Started 2nd), Finished 2nd
Like last year, Max Verstappen concludes his season with one victory, one second place and one third in the campaign’s closing three rounds. A rematch of his gripping duel with Hamilton from Interlagos may not have materialised around the Yas Marina but Verstappen and Red Bull ultimately won out in the battle for second against Charles Leclerc.
After falling behind the Ferrari on lap one, the Dutchman’s later decisive overtake just as Leclerc was lapping George Russell was one of the race’s best moments. With three more wins under his belt, Verstappen goes into the winter hoping that when F1 competitive action reconvenes in three months’ time, Red Bull and Honda have a car for a first title assault.
Rating out of 10: 9
Qualified 4th (started 3rd), Finished 3rd
Not a final weekend in which Ferrari’s qualifying or race pace especially caught the eye, but Charles Leclerc was again their faster driver and third place confirmed he beat Sebastian Vettel in their first year as Ferrari teammates. Leclerc was a tenth quicker in qualifying, despite missing out on a final Q3 lap, and then two places and 20 seconds ahead in the race on the same two-stop strategy.
“His performance level was an accurate reflection of our car’s potential in this race and it was therefore satisfying to see him on the podium,” said his team boss Mattia Binotto. “He drove a strong race to round off a great season.” Hard to disagree.
Rating out 10: 8
Qualified 2nd (started 20th), Finished 4th
Very nearly a memorable back-of-the-grid to the podium for Valtteri Bottas at the end of what has statistically been his best-ever season. Armed with a fresh engine, he was strong on the time sheet throughout the final weekend even if, ultimately, Hamilton found some extra pace in Q3.
From 20th place, Bottas made swift headway despite the race’s early DRS malfunction and passed half the field inside the opening 10 laps. Had the race been a lap or two longer, it is likely third would have been his instead of Leclerc’s.
Rating out of 10: 8
Qualified 5th (Started 4th), Finished 5th
A weekend and result that arguably sums up Sebastian Vettel’s season. “I think as a team we must perform stronger, I think as an individual I must do better, I can do better. It wasn’t a great year from my side,” admitted a wistful Vettel to Sky F1 after the race.
Hopes of an attacking first stint on the soft tyres here – he was the only one of the top six not on mediums – were hindered by the lack of DRS, with Vettel’s switch to a two-stop strategy with 17 laps to go dropping him out of what was fourth into sixth, although he did pass Alex Albon to reclaim one of those positions late on.
Rating out of 10: 7
Qualified 6th (Started 5th), Finished 6th
Alex Albon’s wait for a first career podium will continue into his second season, but Abu Dhabi concluded what in truth has been an extraordinary first season at the top level with what was the most minimal of F1 preparation. The humble and likeable 23-year-old has consistently admitted he has areas to work on over the winter to get even better next year, with the fast and relentless Verstappen proving the ultimate yardstick in the sister car. Albon was no match for the Dutchman here, with his battle with Vettel instead his weekend highlight.
Rating out of 10: 6
Qualified 11th (Started 10th), Finished 7th
A little-known fact: Sergio Perez scored the most points outside of the top three teams after the summer break. The 39-point haul from Spa – one more than McLaren’s Carlos Sainz – was completed with a stirring drive to seventh in Abu Dhabi in the kind of race that has become Perez’s trademark. Although he started 10th, Perez had just missed out on Q3 so had a free tyre choice for the race’s first stint. That made his long-short strategy expected, yet the Mexican expertly executed it, with his fresh rubber and clinical overtakes over the final 17 laps seeing him go from 13th to seventh. A job well done.
Rating out of 10: 8
Qualified 7th (Started 6th), Finished 8th
Disappointment against Perez on the final lap of his rookie season to lose a head-of-midfield position he had effectively led all race, but eighth rounded off a first year in which Lando Norris has conclusively justified his place on the F1 grid. He clinched the qualifying head-to-head against teammate Sainz on Saturday and finished as McLaren’s lead car on Sunday, despite being one of several Q3 runners to find themselves vulnerable to the pack by starting on the soft tyres.
Rating out of 10: 8
Qualified 14th (Started 13th), Finished 9th
Overshadowed by the form of Pierre Gasly recently, but this was a strong finish to his comeback season for Daniil Kvyat. Like Perez, he inadvertently benefited from not qualifying higher up the field with his first stint on the hard tyres running even longer, to lap 40. He overtook both Renaults in the closing laps and was pleased to snare two final 2019 points. “That first stint was probably the best stint of my life, I pushed like there was no tomorrow!” said a delighted Kvyat.
Rating out of 10: 7.5
Qualified 9th (Started 8th), Finished 10th
With the final lap of his best season in F1 so far, Carlos Sainz beat two drivers who have each spent half-seasons in a Red Bull to sixth place in the Drivers’ Championship. A late switch to a two-stopper meant he had his work cut out to get back into the points, but a fantastic move on Nico Hulkenberg on 2019’s final tour proved decisive.
Rating out of 10: 7
Outside the points
Daniel Ricciardo, Renault – 6
Nico Hulkenberg, Renault – 6
Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo – 6
Kevin Magnussen, Haas – 6.5
Romain Grosjean, Haas – 6
Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo – 6
George Russell, Williams – 7
Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso – 6.5
Robert Kubica, Williams – 6
Did Not Finish
Lance Stroll, Racing Point – 6
2019’S OVERALL DRIVER RATINGS
Scored out of 10 for their performances over a Grand Prix weekend, with discrepancies in their machinery taken into account, the class of F1 2019 have all had high and low moments through the season.
But Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have consistently proved the season’s highest scorers in this feature and can barely be separated in their season average, with the 2019 champion narrowly ahead of his Red Bull rival after Abu Dhabi.
Carlos Sainz takes the third-best average for McLaren, with Valtteri Bottas fourth and Charles Leclerc fifth.
Average driver ratings for 2019 – Top 10
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes – 8.57
2. Max Verstappen, Red Bull – 8.55
3. Carlos Sainz, McLaren – 7.97
4. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes – 7.70
5. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari – 7.67
6. Sergio Perez, Racing Point – 7.47
7. Lando Norris, McLaren – 7.45
8. Alexander Albon, Red Bull – 7.42
9. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari – 7.30
10. Daniel Ricciardo, Renault – 7.17
This article was originally published by Sky Sports and reproduced with permission.