Drivers to watch in 2019: The Rookies

In 2019 we have four rookies; Antonio Giovinazzi, George Russell, Lando Norris and Alexander Albon, all of which have had impressive junior careers and have a big year ahead of them in 2019.

Antonio Giovinazzi:

@Alfa Romeo.jpg

Copyright: Alfa Romeo Racing

Although Australia will be Giovinazzi’s 3rd race in Formula One, 2019 will be his first full season in F1. Antonio impresses in his debut in 2017 standing in for an injured Pascal Wehrlein although his second and to date last Grand Prix in China was marred by identical crashes in qualifying and the race.

Antonio had an impressive GP2 campaign in his 1 and only season, after a slow start where he scored 0 points in the first 4 races he started his championship charge in Azerbaijan where he took victory in the feature and sprint races. He became a podium regular and finished second to teammate Gasly in the championship.

Until now Antonio has been Ferrari’s simulator driver and has been instrumental in helping the Italian giants find performance between a Friday and Saturday and developed a great reputation for this. Alongside this Antonio has been the reserve driver for Sauber participating in practice sessions, gaining valuable on track experience and time with his new employers for the 2019 season.

The newly rebranded Alfa Romeo Racing is the where Antonio will make his full season debut, he partners the 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen as the team aims to fight at the top of the midfield.

Both he and Raikkonen both have good reputations for car development and feedback which makes them a dream team for a team looking to climb the ladder. Antonio is fast, young and intelligent and with the backing of Ferrari he is set up for a good 2019.

George Russell:

@Williams Russell

Copyright: Williams Racing

George Russell begins his F1 career on the back of winning the GP3 title in 2017 and the Formula 2 title last season but will have difficulty containing his winning streak in 2019.

The Mercedes junior joins Williams Racing on a multi-year deal having impressed winning the Formula 2 championship in dominant fashion. Williams have struggled recently, finishing last in the constructor’s championship and will need a revolution if it wants to start fighting for podiums once again.

George has had limited track time in a Formula One car, participating in two practice sessions with Force India in 2017 and in the Abu Dhabi test last season with Williams. This shouldn’t be an issue with 8 days of testing in Barcelona later this month and the nature of how well George has adapted to cars throughout his career.

2019 marks the beginning of George’s career, there is no urgency for results but expect George to show his class in a similar fashion that Charles Leclerc did with Sauber last year.

Lando Norris:

@McLaren Norris.jpg

Copyright: McLaren F1 Team

Since 2014 McLaren have promoted 3 of their juniors into the team with Lando Norris’ predecessors Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne finding it difficult with the F1 giants.

Lando had a difficult 2018 despite finishing second in Formula 2, a win in the season opener in Bahrain would be his only victory that season and by his own admission it was his worst season of his career.

McLaren is in a phase of rebuilding, they are no longer the powerhouse they once were, the last time McLaren won a race Vettel was a 3 time champion and Hamilton had just the 1 title.

Unlike his predecessors Lando will be given time to develop after learning from their failings with Magnussen and Vandoorne. Zak Brown has said that they wont put pressure on Norris to bring McLaren back to the front.

“it’s first and foremost the responsibility of McLaren to get us back to our winning ways.”

“We’ve seen him in our race car a good amount now and what we need to do is nurture him, manage expectations internally and externally, and give him the equipment to show his talent.”

Lando is an exceptional talent and despite last season being “his worst of his career” he still finished second in the F2 championship which shows how talented he is and why he is one to watch this year.

Alexander Albon:

@RedBull Albon.jpg

Copyright: Red Bull

The Thai-British driver Alexander Albon joins Toro Rosso for 2019 after an unexpected turn of events. The former Red Bull junior was dropped when Alex was still in karts but has been given a second-chance after a strong Formula 2 campaign.

Alex finished 3rd in the F2 title behind Norris and Russell in what was a strong second F2 campaign. Despite being initially on a race by race contract with DAMS, Albon coped under pressure and took a hat-trick of pole positions in the first part of the season.

Alex also challenged Charles Leclerc in GP3 in 2016 which of whom regards Alex very highly while George Russell says he is very underrated:

“Apart from his campaign in GP3 he’s had a very tough junior career to be honest, and I think he’s one of, if not the, most underrated driver in junior formulas.”

The Red Bull driver programme is not the friendliest but Alex Albon has had a tough junior career and will be used to the constant pressure to perform every race.

The 4 rookies entering F1 this season are some of the strongest we’ve seen for a while and will all be making headlines in 2019.

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One thought on “Drivers to watch in 2019: The Rookies

  1. Pingback: F1 2019 Season Preview: Toro Rosso – DRIVENBYSPORT.COM

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