2018 Season Review – Part Two – Ferrari pull away slightly as Mercedes steal a march in the championship

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Spain

Mercedes were on it when F1 arrived back in Europe, as Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas locked out the front row. The first major upgrades for both Mercedes and Ferrari maintained the same level of performance for both teams.

Sebastian Vettel was unable to find enough in the session leaving him four-tenths of Hamilton. Fernando Alonso would his start last home race tenth, at the expense of his teammate Stoffel Vandoorne.

Hamilton went onto dominate the race, thanks to a safety car which allowed him to open up the gap over Vettel. The German jumped Bottas at the start however a safety car saw him lose five seconds to the Mercedes.

Another this time a virtual safety car, brought Verstappen back into the mix. The Dutchman’s season had got off to a bad start, again in Barcelona, his collision with Lance Stroll seem to seriously jeopardise his race from that point.

For the second time, this season and the pattern which would develop Ferrari were in the spotlight after taking Vettel on to a two-stop strategy. They had brought him in behind the VSC and the rest of the top six stayed out.

Vettel re-joined behind Verstappen and was unable to respond to the Red Bull leaving him fourth.

Championship Standings

Drivers – 1) Hamilton 95, 2) Vettel 78, 3) Bottas 58;
Constructors – 1) Mercedes 153, 2) Ferrari 126, 3) Red Bull 80

Monaco

Ricciardo continued his dominance in qualifying around the streets of Monte Carlo. Red Bull appeared to have the advantage over both Mercedes and Ferrari in practice, however, Verstappen was unable to take part in the session.

The Dutchman crashed out in third practice, causing huge damage to the rear end after crashing in FP3 into the wall at the Swimming Pool. Charles Leclerc would start his home race thirteenth showing strong pace in the Sauber.

Ricciardo continued to show that Red Bull had the pace and performance on low-speed circuits taking his first win in Monaco. The win was remarkable, the team had concerns about not finishing the race because of an ERS issue.

The ERS issue allowed Vettel to close up on Ricciardo, after dropping back along with Hamilton. But this was Monaco anything can happen, the drama came in the closing stages for Leclerc, the Sauber reported a breaking issue.

As he exited the tunnel the brakes let go, which caused him to skied the car down towards the harbour chicane and into the back of Brendon Hartley, and into retirement. The Monacan told BBC News “I had no brakes, it is just a shame because it happens at (my) home (race) but there were a lot of positives to take from this weekend and forget the negatives.”

Championship Standings

Drivers – 1) Hamilton 110, 2) Vettel 96, 3) Ricciardo 72;
Constructors – 1) Mercedes 178, 2) Ferrari 156, 3) Red Bull 107

Canada

Vettel took pole in Montreal after going nine hundreds of a second faster than Bottas. It was an extremely close session between Ferrari and Mercedes, with the upgraded Renault power unit Red Bull was not far off with less than half a second between them.

Hamilton, the record holder, struggled in qualifying a very messy session and a lockup in Q3 saw the Mercedes driver only manage fifth. Williams’s woes continued as local boy Lance Stroll failed to make it out of Q1 starting seventeenth.

It was a race which stands out as one of Vettel’s best of the season, the Ferrari drove superbly from the front controlling the race from the start after holding off Valtteri Bottas into the first corner before pulling away from the Finn.

Vettel pulled out a lead over Bottas, but that was aided by the Finn’s mistake trying to lap the Renault of Sainz. Ferrari by now was proving that the challenge was genuine and that Mercedes had to take them seriously this season.

Stroll’s home race was over before it had really begun, a stunt with Hartley took him out at the first corner. The Quebecer lost control of the rear of Williams thanks to oversteer, that squeezing Hartley, who was on his left, between the Williams and the tyre barrier, briefly launching the Toro Rosso into the air.

Ferrari hadn’t won in Montreal since 2004, the last time that happened with a German they went on to secure the drivers and constructors, so would this be Vettel’s year? The fight for five was on!

Championship Standings

Drivers – 1) Vettel 121, 2) Hamilton 120, 3) Bottas 86;
Constructors – 1) Mercedes 206, 2) Ferrari 189, 3) Red Bull 134

Jack

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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