2019 Spanish GP: The midfield battle

Mercedes continues to dominate at the top of the table, but as usual, the midfield battle continues to be very close. Who were the fastest teams at the Spanish GP 2019? Let’s take a look  at the numbers.

Fastest 20 laps

Daniel Ricciardo emerged as the driver with the fastest lap from a non top 3 team. The Aussie did a 1:20.615 at lap 56, a 0.111 seconds lap faster than his closest midfield follower, Daniil Kvyat.

Speaking of Toro Rosso, both Kvyat and Alex Albon appear multiple times in this graph. Daniil did 4 of the top 20 laps from midfield drivers, while Albon managed 3 of them.

As expected, Haas is well represented in one lap pace, doing 8 of the top 20 fastest laps, courtesy of 5 fast laps done by Kevin Magnussen and 3 done by Romain Grosjean.

The remaining driver on this list is Carlos Sainz, who managed to do 3 of the top 20 laps shown in this graph.

An interesting take from this plot is that 9 of the fastest laps were done with the medium compound. Surely there are race factors involved that this analysis is not showing, but it is a good indication that this year the medium and hard tires may be better options than during previous seasons.

Fastest drivers by average (mean) lap time

Key points about the following graph:

  1. The graph shows all lap times done by a driver during the entire race, minus laps where the safety car was deployed or laps where they went in or came out of the pits.
  2. The graphs are ordered by the mean, from lowest to highest.
  3. The horizontal line represents the mean.
  4. The box represent the interquartile range, from 25% to 75%.
  5. The top labels show the mean for each driver for the entire race.
  6. The border of the points shows the tire that was used for that particular lap.

For the first time this season, Haas showed the strongest race pace from the midfield. Unlike other races, where Grosjean and Magnussen qualified in the top 10 and started to lose places during the race, this time they were able to maintain a good position and managed to score strong points for the team. Grosjean had the strongest race pace of the midfield teams, a 1:23.059 seconds average time per lap, while KMag was just over a tenth behind on race pace with a 1:23.172. A very positive day for the American team.

Toro Rosso was another team who had a great race and must be feeling very positive about their one lap pace and race pace. While Alex Albon did not manage to score points for the Italian team, he had the 4th best race pace from this analysis and was very close to catching Romain Grosjean at the end of the race. Daniil Kvyat, on the other hand, managed to score 2 valuable points and had the second fastest race pace of the lot. His 1:23.153 average lap time was less than a tenth away from that shown by Romain.

Daniel Ricciardo did not have the best of the races, failing to score points for the French team, but still managed a respectable average lap time of 1:23.552, and as we just saw, posted the fastest lap of the midfield teams. His main problem during the race was his qualifying session. Starting from 13th in Spain, a track where overtaking is difficult, proved to be too much for Danny Ric this time.

Carlos Sainz was the only driver not to start in the top 10 that managed to score points in Catalunya. Sainz’s third stint with the soft tires was particularly impressive, doing an average lap time of 1:21.829, which was the second fastest 3rd stint from midfield drivers, only beaten by KMag with a 3rd stint average lap time of 1:21.598.

This was not the race for either Racing Point or Alfa Romeo. Both teams have looked strong so far in the season, but in Barcelona they had no chance of fighting for points. From Racing Point, Checo Perez had a decent race pace of 1:23.800, which at the end of the day was not good enough to challenge Haas or Toro Rosso. Kimi Raikkonen managed an average lap time of 1:23.927, while Antonio Giovinazzi was way off the pace with a mean time of 1:25.569, which was over 1.5 seconds slower than Kimi’s pace. Having said that, his strategy of going into the pits at lap 6 ended up being attrocious and prevented the Italian from doing anything in the race.

Williams, as usual, holds the bottom 2 positions of this analysis. George Russell managed to stay within 2 tenths of Giovinazzi, which may be a shine of light for the British team. He was, however, over 1.5 seconds away from Nico Hulkenberg, who was the only driver of the race to do a one stop strategy. Robert Kubica once again ranked as the slowest of the drivers, with an average lap time of 1:26.093. The average difference between both Williams drivers was of 391 hundreths of a second, which is absolutely enormous. Claire Williams said during the week that both cars are identical, so this time our data is actually relevant for the analysis.

As it was just mentioned, Nico Hulkenberg was the only driver of the race that executed a one stop strategy. His mean time of 1:24.172 was good if we consider that most drivers were not able to keep the tires going for more than 20 laps on average.

Finally we have Lance Stroll and Lando Norris. Both of them failed to finish the race after their accident on lap 45. Without all the information it is impossible for me to compare their numbers to the rest of the drivers of the grid.


Alfa Romeo, McLaren, Renault and Racing Point seem to be separated by minimal differences as well, and at the moment the race track seems to be making a big difference in their final grid positions.

Haas managed to break their streak of good quali sessions and bad races. They must keep up in order to fight for the F1.5 championship, especially since this year Toro Rosso seems to be also in the midfield fight.

At the moment, Giovinazzi and Kubica seem to be the 2 drivers that have struggled the most. Gio has failed to put pressure on the veteran Kimi Raikkonen, while Robert Kubica came back to F1 in a Cinderella story, but has been consistently the worst driver on the grid. According to the information provided by Williams, during this race both of their drivers had the same car, which makes Robert’s performance very worrying.

Thank you for reading, let me know what you think in the comments below.


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