F1 Season 2018 Review; Hamilton's Fifth, as New Youngsters Arrive
In a way, the 2018 formula one world championship was won again by Lewis Hamilton, but for the fifth time, clinching his title at the Mexican Grand Prix in October, just like he did it the year before with his fourth.
However, this season had the same markings of what happened in 2017, as Hamilton won another world title after trailing until the mid-part of the season. His rival, Sebastian Vettel, was trying desperately to win his fifth world title, tying the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio, and only being two away from his countryman’s Michael Schumacher’s record of seven.
However, as it was the previous season, Vettel lost the championship midway through the season, especially the spin in the wet at his home grand prix in Germany, at the legendary Hockenheim circuit, when his Ferrari spun and was stuck into the kitty litter at the Sachs curve. From that moment on, Hamilton got his momentum going, and won the last seven of ten races, with Vettel only achieving a win at Spa-Franchorchamps in Belgium.
The duo through, did not dominate the entire season, as Red Bull Racing, complaining heavily in their last season with engine suppliers Renault, won even with the low powered engine at China and Monaco with Daniel Ricciardo, and their sponsors home race in Austria and in Mexico with Max Verstappen. The only other winner was Vettel’s Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen, who perhaps in the best race of the season at Austin, Texas, took his first win in many years ahead of Verstappen and Hamilton.
While Hamilton kept breaking records, and will probably do more in the upcoming years, the Briton must remember that some driver might come along and challenge him in the future, which could make Hamilton suddenly find himself that another driver will have more talent than he. This happened to Schumacher, when he found a new star emerging with Fernando Alonso. This season might show in the next few years as many new faces emerge and some others will move on to another kind of racing, with the possibility that they never return to F1.
Alonso, like Felipe Massa, who left the sport the year before, and will race in formula e, will concentrate on the chance of completing a triple crown of motor racing by participating in the Indianapolis 500 next May, along with being in the seat in the world endurance championship with Toyota. Only Graham Hill has won the Monaco Grand Prix, the 24 Hours of LeMans, and the Indy 500 in his career. Alonso has done two. Alonso’s former teammate at McLaren, Stoffel Vandoorne leaves for formula e, while Marcus Ericsson, formally at Sauber, heads to North America at IndyCar. But one veteran heads back to the sport after many years of trying. Robert Kubica, at long last, will drive for Williams in 2019, which proves that determination can get you a drive. Others, like Sergey Sirotkin and Brendon Hartley, are without a drive at all.
However, new names have appeared in the sport, with youngsters coming in between 19 and 24 years of age. These youngsters could be the group that could take over the reins of dethroning Hamilton in the future. We all know about Verstappen, but there are Monaco’s Charles LeClerc, heading to Ferrari to drive with Vettel; Lando Norris, who will partner another youngster Carlos Sainz at McLaren; George Russell, the formula two champion who lines up at Williams with Kubica; and Alexander Albon, with Thai/ British roots, with a drive at Toro Rosso with another veteran returnee, Dani Kvyat. And don’t forget Raikkonen, who is still racing after winning his only world title 11 years before, returning to the first team of his career, Sauber.
So with this season over, it has been quite a while since so many new names are changing the sport as we see it. And will it be a stronger Mercedes engine, or can Ferrari finally catch up and Vettel get it right? Can the Red Bull Racing team have a better engine in Honda than they had with Renault? How about the French team themselves? Will their new engine be good enough to compete with the best? These are questions that will be answered in the next few months when the season returns.
But for now, take a break, we all need it.
A 16 year veteran of writing formula one racing weekend race reports, features and team launches, Mark has worked for such companies as all-sports, e-sports, The Munich Eye newspaper in Germany, racingnation.com and Autoweek. A former member for this site four years ago, Mark now is a contributor for R.I.S.