Daniil Kvyat (13th) vs Alexander Albon (8th)
Before Albon’s promotion to Red Bull Racing, this was shaping up to be an incredibly close fight. While Kvyat edged the Thai driver in terms of points and the qualifying battle, Albon was really gaining momentum before the summer break.
The best results for both drivers came at the German Grand Prix. Albon was comfortably the quick driver in the wet, but a great call from Kvyat’s side of the garage to switch to drives put him in podium contention and he finished an excellent P3. Albon ultimately had to settle for P6.
Kvyat outscored Albon by eleven points (six points-scoring finishes vs five) in their twelve races together, but it was a very close fight on Saturday’s and Sunday’s. The young Thai arguably did a better job considering he was a rookie; Red Bull deciding to choose him proved that.
Qualifying head-to-head: 6-5
Daniil Kvyat (13th) vs Pierre Gasly (7th)
Pierre Gasly was a man reborn following his demotion to Scuderia Toro Rosso. He firmly put Daniil Kvyat in the shade. The Frenchman outqualified the Russian on six occasions and outscored him by 32 points to 10.
Gasly’s greatest moment in F1 so far came in Brazil when he drove a magnificent race to finish in P2. Yes, he needed some luck to claim that maiden podium finish, but he was the star driver of the midfield that weekend. Strong drives at Singapore and Japan as well shows the Frenchman has still got plenty of speed and talent.
Kvyat was totally outclassed by Gasly and he’s going to have to improve a lot next year if he wants to remain in Formula 1 beyond 2020.
Qualifying head-to-head: 2-6
Sergio Perez (10th) vs Lance Stroll (15th)
After the financial difficulties of 2018, this was very much a transitional year for Racing Point. This didn’t stop Sergio Perez from impressing once again in the midfield, though.
The first half of the year was quite difficult for the team as they struggled to fight for good points on a consistent basis. Their high points came at Baku (P6 for Perez) and that crazy race at Hockenheim where Lance Stroll finished a brilliant 4th. Despite Perez completely dominating the qualifying battle, Stroll was five points ahead of the Mexican after Hungary.
However, that completely changed from Belgium onwards. Perez was the top scorer of drivers in cars outside the top three teams with 39, one more than Carlos Sainz. He scored points in eight of the nine races as he outscored Stroll by 36 points.
An epic move on Lando Norris on the final lap in Abu Dhabi allowed him to finish in the top 10 of the championship.
Perez trounced Stroll in qualifying throughout the year and comprehensively beat him in the Drivers’ Championship, too. While Stroll has possibly the safest seat in Formula 1, he’ll need to improve a lot next year to get near Checo. The Mexican is quite possibly the sport’s most underrated driver.
Qualifying head-to-head: 18-3
Kimi Raikkonen (12th) vs Antonio Giovinazzi (17th)
It was very much a season of two halves for Alfa Romeo and their drivers. Raikkonen was absolutely outstanding until the summer break and delivered some great drives. Antonio Giovinazzi got much stronger following the summer break. However, he couldn’t a lot of points as Alfa Romeo faded away from the front of the midfield as the season went on and struggled to get out of Q1 towards the end of 2019.
Giovinazzi did show flashes of pace in the first half of the year, but Raikkonen’s speed and consistency blew him away as the Finn scored 31 points (eight points-scoring finishes) to the single point of his team-mate when the summer break arrived.
The second half of the year saw the Italian driver become much stronger and outqualified Raikkonen at five of the nine events. He also scored points in three races (including P5 in Brazil) vs one for his World Champion team-mate. Giovinazzi also led laps in Singapore: he was the only driver outside the top three teams to do that.
Raikkonen edged this battle, but Giovinazzi proved he has good speed and deservedly retained his drive for next year. This has all the makings of a very close battle in 2020.
Qualifying head-to-head: 12-8
Kevin Magnussen (16th) vs Romain Grosjean (18th)
2019 was very much a year to forget for Haas and its drivers. After showing good speed in winter testing and at the Australian Grand Prix, things went downhill rapidly from there on in.
Magnussen finished a fantastic 6th in Melbourne to put Haas 4th in the standings after the season-opener. A bad stop and a loose wheel cost Grosjean points for the second year in a row at Albert Park. Haas’ only other good weekend in terms of race pace was at the Spanish Grand Prix when their drivers finished P7 and P10.
Whilst the car was difficult to drive in races and points scoring opportunities were extremely rare, the drivers didn’t endear themselves to the team by colliding on multiple occasions. Spain, Britain and Germany all saw contact between the pair, with a lap 1 incident at Silverstone ending their races in the early stages.
It’s difficult to rate them considering the issues that plagued them all year, but Magnussen did shade it when you look at the stats. However, both drivers can count themselves a bit fortunate to have retained their seats for 2020.
As well as delivering a better car, Haas need more consistency from Magnussen and Grosjean. They must cut out the incidents with each other and drivers from other teams. A big year awaits.
Qualifying head-to-head: 13-8
Robert Kubica (19th) vs George Russell (20th)
Robert Kubica may have scored Williams’ sole point of the season thanks to post-race penalties for the Alfas at the German Grand Prix, but George Russell totally dominated this head-to-head throughout 2019. With Williams miles off the pace, it meant they could only fight each other at nearly every Grand Prix.
From the get-go in Melbourne, the British rookie was on top in this battle and outqualified his Polish stablemate at every single race in 2019. Whilst Kubica’s comeback deserves praise and respect, he was regularly a long way off the pace of Russell in qualifying and races.
The average gap between them in qualifying was over 0.6s; that’s an eternity in Formula One. The starts were the one area where Kubica had a slight edge over Russell. Even then, he finished behind Russell at almost every race.
Unfortunately for the Brit, a mistake in the race at Hockenheim allowed Kubica to take the teams single point of 2019. Nonetheless, his speed, maturity and performances were massively impressive across the season.
He deserves a far better car from Williams next year. Latifi could be another team-mate who he’ll easily swat aside in 2020.
Qualifying head-to-head: 0-20