The winners of this season’s FIA-sanctioned competitions were officially crowned on Saturday at the 2019 FIA Prize Giving ceremony at the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris.
The undoubted highlight of the evening was the presentation for Lewis Hamilton, who took the iconic trophy for his sixth Formula 1 world title. This puts him just one crown shy of Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world championships. The 2019 season was a display of supremacy by the British driver, who equalled his 2018 achievement of 11 grand prix victories. Furthermore, Hamilton accumulated a record tally of 413 points in a season, something that has never been achieved before.
The six-time champion said, “It’s been the best year I’ve ever had in my career. I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved as a team. To come into a sixth year, to have fought for a world title at the front and sustained the performance we have collectively I think has been amazing. And on the driver front, I’m definitely very happy with my performance this year. There’s been lots of great races, the last few years have been intense with Ferrari, but having another team up there in the loop has made it more challenging for all us.”
Hamilton’s contribution allowed the Mercedes team to secure its sixth consecutive manufacturers’ title, another feat that has never before been achieved.
The winners of the other categories, bar Formula 1, were awarded with stunning new-for-2019 trophies, designed by renowned American painter, sculptor and printmaker Frank Stella.
In rallying, Ott Tanak and his co-driver Martin Jarveoja have put Estonia on the map, ending French domination in the sport’s top category — the FIA World Rally Championship — that had lasted since 2003.
“When you’ve been targeting something like this for a long, long time, and then you actually achieve it, you feel a kind of relief,” Tanak said. “In the beginning, it was a dream, and for the last couple of years we’ve been close, but for different reasons, we’ve not managed to be the winners. Now that we’ve finally done it, it feels like I’ve lost a weight from my shoulders. It’s not been the easiest journey, I’ve been quite literally through the water and fire, but to achieve the title after all these battles, it tastes even better.” On the manufacturers’ side, Hyundai Motorsport finally clinched the crown, having finished second in the two previous seasons.
In what was the FIA World Endurance Championship’s first Super Season held across two calendar years, 2018-2019, Toyota won both the driver and team competitions. Endurance racing rookie Fernando Alonso teamed up with sports cars stalwarts Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima to win five out of eight races, including not one but two editions of the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“I remember every lap of this championship, which was strange as it lasted one year and a half!” said Alonso. “In 2018 I was combining two world championships — F1 and Endurance — which was very intense, but I loved the experience. Every world championship is unique, and it’s nice to sit here as world champion again. My first Prize Giving was in 1996 when I came with an FIA Karting world championship, and now 23 years later, I’m sitting here with the FIA World Endurance championship.
“It’s been a long career but, as long as you love what you do and you are performing at your best level, it doesn’t matter which category you are here for. The spirit and atmosphere you find in endurance racing is quite special — the friendship you have with your teammates in both cars — all this is unique and you can’t compare with the experiences I had before.”
The series’ LM GTE category also provided fans with a wealth of excitement during the Super Season, stemming from a healthy grid replete with dozens of entries. Winners of the LM GTE drivers’ championship were Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen of Porsche, who claimed their crown with victories at Le Mans and Fuji.
New team and driver entrants, and the increasingly competitive field, made for a far from an easy ride in the 2018/19 ABB FIA Formula E season. That didn’t stop Jean-Eric Vergne from taking three race victories, winning the championship and becoming the first back-to-back title-winner in the history of the championship. Together with teammate Andre Lotterer, Vergne helped the DS Techeetah outfit to clinch its first victory in the teams’ championship in a giant-killing fashion.
“I’m really pleased to have done it again,” said the Frenchman. “It wasn’t an easy season, but here we are — I would say, in a way this championship was harder than the first, because I think there were four races in a row where I didn’t score any points, with no one around me believing that I could do it, and I even lost belief in myself. But that’s really what I’ve learned from this season, is to never lose hope and to find the strength inside you to turn things around. Now that Formula E will become an FIA world championship from Season 7, I will have to come back to the prize giving then so I can be a world champion!”
In what has been the closest season in the World Rallycross Championship’s history, the drivers’ title fight came down to a gripping finale after which Sweden’s Timmy Hansen was crowned world champion.
“I had the perfect ending to an incredible season,” said Hansen. “The feeling of winning the title is actually quite different to what I’d dreamed of — I was extremely focused on my own job but looking at it now it was a crazy finale to the season and you couldn’t have written it better if it was a movie! I’m really proud of the top parts of my season, but I’m also really motivated to work on the parts where I can improve. I feel really blessed to have achieved this as a family — it’s as important as the title to me.”
The winning drivers, co-drivers and teams from the FIA Rally Championships were also awarded for their incredible achievements in some of the toughest and most varied conditions on tarmac, gravel or in the desert dunes across all the continents.
New to the family this year was the FIA Motorsport Games, an interdisciplinary event with a national focus in which drivers represent their countries, fighting for medals that contribute to overall medal standings determining the winning National Sporting Authority. On this occasion, it was Russia, with a gold medal in the Touring Car Cup won by Klim Gavrilov, two bronzes in the Karting Slalom Cup won by Olesya Vashchuk and Vladislav Bushuev, and the Drifting Cup won by Ilia Federov.
Individual medals were also awarded at the event, with Hiroshi Hamaguchi and Ukyo Sasahara winning in the GT Cup, Andrea Rosso winning the Formula 4 Cup, and Nina Pothof and Bastiaan van Loenen taking top honours in the Karting Slalom Cup. Dmitry Illyuk was awarded the Drifting Cup gold. Finally, Cody Nikola Latkovski won gold in the Digital Cup.
The FIA’s stars of the future were also honored in Paris, with champions from across the motorsport spectrum collecting their trophies.
Nyck de Vries was crowned FIA Formula 2 champion following a dominant campaign and takes his success into Formula E for the next racing season. In the new-look FIA Formula 3 Championship, Robert Shwartzman followed in the footsteps of his former and future teammate, Mick Schumacher, and emerged victorious. FIA Karting World Champions Marijn Kremers, Lorenzo Travisanutto, and Thomas Ten Brinke were also awarded their trophies.
A number of special FIA awards were also handed out. First, the FIA Special Award was given to Violetta Bulc for her commitment to her role of European Commissioner for Transport, and her ongoing work to improve road safety and mobility for all users.
The Rookie of the Year prize, voted for by members of the FIA Drivers’ Commission, was won by F1 driver Alex Albon, who started the season with Scuderia Toro Rosso before impressing on his promotion to Red Bull Racing. The British-born Thai finished eighth in the drivers’ standings in his debut season, following an impressive performance at almost every race.
The Personality of the Year award, voted for by permanently accredited media from the FIA’s major championship, was awarded posthumously to Niki Lauda, the three-time F1 world champion and executive director of the Mercedes F1 team.
The Action of the Year prize, voted for by fans of motorsport via the FIA’s online channels, was presented to F1 start Max Verstappen, who was honored for his spectacular battle with Charles Leclerc during the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. The pair raced wheel to wheel, with Leclerc edging Verstappen wide before the Dutch racer came back at him and overtook on the following corner.