F1 2019’s rookie class has just four members, but it’s an impressive group featuring the top-3 from last year’s Formula 2 field.
The champion George Russell at Williams, the runner-up Lando Norris at McLaren, and third, Alexander Albon, at Red Bull B-team Toro Rosso.
Ferrari protégé Antonio Giovinazzi rounds out the troop at Alfa Romeo Racing, the first Italian to race full-time in F1, since Jarno Trulli and Tonio Liuzzi in 2011. But he’s arguably got the toughest challenge in teammate, 2007 F1 World Champion Kimi Räikkönen.
After six rounds, Räikkönen holds the advantage in qualifying 5-1, and 6-0 in races. He has also scored all the points, 13-0; Giovinazzi’s target, evening the score in the remaining events.
Albon joined Toro Rosso as the season’s least experienced rookie, with no seat time prior to pre-season testing.
SOUNDBITE (English) ALEXANDER ALBON,
F1 DRIVER, TORO ROSSO:
“You walk through the doors, and all the [employee] eyes are looking at you. ‘Oh, you’re the racing driver! Oh, you’re the guy that's going to make this thing go around the lap.’”
Albon’s benchmark… quick but erratic Red Bull journeyman Daniil Kvyat.
After six rounds, Albon is a standout after an impressive drive in China, where he went from 20th to 10th. But Kvyat holds the stats, across quali, the races, 3-1 when they could be compared, and two more points.
At McLaren, Norris made an immediate impact. Outqualfying teammate Carlos Sainz in Australia. But the Spaniard has had his fair share of bad quali luck with yellow flags in Melbourne, and also in Azerbaijan.
After six rounds, Norris and Sainz are tied 3-3 in qualifying and 3-1 in the races in the Spaniard’s favour when they could be compared. And he’s got six more points in the bag, after finishing sixth in Monaco.
Russell, a dominant force in F2, came into the sport on a wave of positive energy, and has kept his head in difficult waters at Williams showing his talent and charisma without even scoring a point.
After six rounds, Russell has beaten the comeback king Robert Kubica in both qualifying and races 6-0. His best result, is 15th, taken in Australia, Bahrain and Azerbaijan. Kubica’s best, 16th, in Bahrain and Baku.
… making Russell F1’s best performing rookie across the first six rounds, but anything can happen as we approach mid-season.