Controversies in a F1 season are normal. Despite the 2019 season ending and teams are moving forward for their 2020 plans, let’s take a look back at the biggest controversies of the 2019 F1 season.
1. Renault F1 Brake Bias – Japanese Grand Prix
Renault had a decent haul of 9 points at the Japanese Grand Prix, with Daniel Ricciardo finishing 6th and Nico Hulkenberg finishing 10th. Drama continued after the race. Post race, Racing Point lodged a protest, claiming that Renault utilized a pre-set automated brake bias system. Renault protested the decision.
The investigation of the FIA led to a disqualification of the Renault’s results of the Japanese Grand Prix. It cost them 9 points. It also let Racing Point’s drivers move up the ranking and score 6 points that race.
Speaking after the race, Renault F1 released a statement:
“Considering the subjectivity of the qualification of a system as a driver aid and the variability of the associated penalties in recent cases, Renault F1 Team will consider its next course of action within the timeframe laid out by the FIA.”
2. Williams Retiring Robert Kubica – Russian Grand Prix
Highlighting the big financial constraints plaguing them, Williams made a highly controversial decision. With resources more than likely being dedicated to 2020, the team retired Robert Kubica’s car to conserve parts for the remainder of the season. This came a lap after George Russell crashed to a brake failure.
Dave Robson, Senior Race Engineer commented
“We opted to retire Robert soon afterwards in order to conserve parts ahead of the intense flyaway races which end the season. It’s a very disappointing way to end two weeks on the road.
3. Ferrari Team Radio bust up – Russian Grand Prix
Qualifying first at Sochi, is not the best position. The long run to turn 2 benefited Sebastian Vettel who started 3rd. Taking the slipstream of his team mate, Sebastian Vettel roared into the lead at Sochi.
It seems that there was an agreement that Ferrari would swap the cars later on in the race. Much to Charles’s surprise and frustration Sebastian replied: “Well, tell him to close up.” Under stably Charles was irate “You put me behind, I respected everything… We’ll speak later, but now it’s difficult to close the gap, obviously.”
In fairness, at the time Sebastian was the faster car at the time. However, Charles got the undercut and came out ahead of Sebastian Vettel after the German made his pitstop. There was no further battle, as Sebastian suffered a MGU-K failure.
All the German could say: “Are you serious? Bring back those f**king V12s.”
4. Red Bull mid-season driver change – Belgian Grand Prix
A move that was coming, but still took everyone by surprise given previous comments. Pierre Gasly, promoted to replace Renault bound Daniel Ricciardo, had an underwhelming start to his Red Bull tenure. Consistently off the pace of Max Verstappen, Red Bull were soon no longer fighting Ferrari for 2nd in the Constructors.
Prior to the Belgian Grand Prix, news came in that Alex Albon, a rookie in his debut season with Torro Rosso has been promoted. Gasly was demoted back to Torro Rosso. It’s not the first mid-season change made by the Austrian team.
The biggest slap in the face, was immediately after the German Grand Prix, Marko had said Gasly will see out 2019. His future was to be decided after the season ended. Christian Horner had said that there was no intent to replace Pierre, but he was ‘not in the mix’.
At least, he got a podium with Torro Rosso instead of Red Bull, showing he belongs on the grid.
5. Haas F1 and Rich Energy – All Season
A company that has a history for being outspoken. A short tempered Team boss. It’s not too surprising that Haas F1 and their title sponsor, Rich Energy came to social media blows this season. The controversy between the two dragged on all season.
Immediately after the British Grand Prix, Rich Energy announced a termination of the deal. Citing Haas F1’s poor performance. Haas F1 was shocked while shareholders of Rich Energy tried to counter the decision they deemed of a ‘rogue individual’.
Finally, after the Italian Grand Prix, the parties announced their separation from their partnership. The insults did not end there, as following the race, Rich Energy ridiculed the final position of Haas F1’s team.
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