Formula One 2018: Four Season-Defining Moments
October 18, 2018
This weekend, Formula 1 heads to Texas in the United States and the much-loved Circuit of the Americas, for what could be the final tussle in one of the most exciting seasons in recent memory. Lewis Hamilton is a man on the verge of history, with as little as an eight-point gain for the British driver over his long-term rival Sebastian Vettel enough to see him reach that historic milestone of five career world championships ahead of the German.
It has been this titanic tussle between two of the figureheads of modern racing, driving for two of the biggest manufacturers, that has breathed new life into a championship that had threatened to become predictable. Yes, it appears that at the end of the marathon Mercedes have managed to pull away, but they were certainly made to work harder than in previous years.
While Vettel and Ferrari have made the race for the top exciting, F1 fans will know that every year delivers incredible excitement one way or another, and this year has not been any different. Join us as we count down our favourite moments from Formula One’s 2018 season, so far!
Australia Setting the Tone
The eagerly anticipated first race of the season in Melbourne all the way back in March was played out against a backdrop of newfound anticipation, after initial reports that Formula 1 cars would be faster in 2018. In terms of the competition, the rumours were that Ferrari finally had developed the tools capable of challenging Hamilton and Mercedes’ stronghold over the championship. This was the year that F1 would return to being the ultra-competitive sport many had fallen in love with.
So imagine everyone’s surprise when Hamilton won pole position in qualifying by over half a second, and over Ferrari’s Raikkonen, not championship hopeful Vettel?
However, that was just the precursor to a season that would become as memorable for its mishaps as its successes. An error in Mercedes’ judgement surrounding tires and the safety car – incidents that would become something of a regular occurrence throughout the season – led to Vettel usurping Hamilton into claiming the first race of the season. Ferrari had laid down a marker – despite their dominance in previous years, Mercedes were not going to be allowed to make mistakes this time.
Hamilton Arrives in Azerbaijan
It was verging on crisis point by the time race four had arrived. Still without a win this season, Hamilton could have been a long way behind Vettel if it wasn’t for a mistake by the Ferrari driver in China. However, in a role reversal from race one, a driving error from Vettel compounded by the chaos in Baku following a huge collision between the two Red Bull cars meant that Hamilton was, in the end, gifted the jump start he and Mercedes desperately needed.
Riccardo’s Monte Carlo Masterclass
However, this Formula 1 season hasn’t just been about the two title challengers. One of the sport’s most-loved drivers, Daniel Riccardo of Red Bull, delivered a hugely memorable weekend in the illustrious Monaco Grand Prix. After winning pole position against the backdrop of the ever-tightening title race between Vettel and Hamilton, it seemed like Riccardo would get the Monaco victory he had publicly been craving for until he suffered a loss of power only one-third of the way through a race he was comfortably leading.
However, aided by his years of experience with one of the biggest manufacturers and the notoriously tight Monaco track, he managed to produce one of the drives of the season, nursing the injured car around 50 laps to a memorable victory.
Hamilton’s Singapore Stroll
The exciting title race continued to attract the attention of the general public, however slowly the dial was beginning to move back to its familiar position in the Mercedes corner. Yet, it was the Singapore Grand Prix in September that signalled for many the end of the title challenge for Ferrari.
A mixture of fantastic control by Hamilton to earn pole and calamitous tactics by Ferrari that dropped Vettel to third at the finish line meant that the gap in the Driver’s Championship extended to 40 points, and it was a deficit that Ferrari – barring a miraculous recovery – have been unable to recover.
If this season has proved anything, it’s that the margins at the top of Formula 1 are getting ever smaller. Recent changes to tire hubs, improvements in exhaust heat wrap and a constant need to test and push the regulations has seen the sport become more competitive than ever, and especially when compared to recent years. However, it appears that Hamilton will be claiming his fifth world title, an incredible achievement for the Brit against stiff competition!