2018 Season Review – Part Six – Hamilton keeps momentum going as Mercedes close in on constructors

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Hamilton kept the momentum going at Interlagos to taking pole by nine-hundredths of a second over Vettel it wasn’t an easy session for both drivers. They both had been forced to take avoiding action after coming across slow cars on timed laps.

Their teammates were a tenth off, with Valtteri Bottas a tenth of Hamilton in third and Kimi Raikkonen fourth. The two Finns separated by one hundredth off a second. Ferrari appeared to have the edge over the Mercedes going into Q3, but that before intermittent rain allowed Mercedes to take a slight edge.

Hamilton carried that momentum into the race running second behind Verstappen. The five-time champion had been in the lead until he made an early stop, however for the second time this year Mercedes had concerns about reliability.

Verstappen meanwhile was in the lead of the race, he had a gap and control of the race as Hamilton managed his problems. However, when running up against the lapped Force India of Ocon, they collided. The stewards deemed it as a racing incident.

But the drama wasn’t over, as after the race there was an altercation between the two. The Dutchman repeatedly shoved and pushed the Frenchman, being summoned to the stewards and being found guilty of unsporting behaviour.

Raikkonen finished third after Ferrari proved unable to challenge the top two, despite the team starting the race on the more durable tyres. Raikkonen had been under pressure from Bottas before the Finn’s were spilt by Ricciardo. But fifth for Bottas and victory for Hamilton was enough for Mercedes to seal the constructors.

It was another brilliant race for Ferrari bound Leclerc, the Monacan once again dominated the race for seventh. He comfortably lead the Haas’s of Grosjean and Magnussen.

Championship Standings

Drivers – 1) Hamilton 383, 2) Vettel 302, 3) Raikkonen 251:
Constructors – 1) Mercedes 620, 2) Ferrari 553, 3) Red Bull 392

Abu Dhabi

Hamilton again took pole in Abu Dhabi beating Bottas by a tenth. Mercedes like at Interlagos were very strong in the middle sector, Ferrari, however, remained close, Vettel went third fastest. However, the German admitted that an error may have cost him second.

Raikkonen retained fourth in his final outing for Ferrari, the Finn came under pressure from the Red Bull of Ricciardo. The Australian was three hundredths off the Finn, as they enter their final races for Red Bull and Ferrari, respectively.

Hamilton repeated what he managed to do at Monza, he pulled away at the front of the field followed by Bottas. The Finn was unable to challenge his teammate from the midway point in the race as he began to struggle with tyre life.

The race started dramatically, as Hulkenberg flipped his Renault over after contact with Grosjean. The Renault went side by side with the Haas, the two banged wheels causing him to flip over.

Ricciardo went long into the race, while others stopped he stayed out inheriting the lead of the race until lap thirty-four. He rejoined fourth behind his teammate, he was unable to pass Verstappen. The Dutchman went chasing after Vettel, however, an engine failure for Gasly prevented him from getting past the Ferrari, as he opened up the gap.

Raikkonen’s final race for Ferrari saw the Finn retire from the race with a failure. The Finn retired early on with a mechanical shutdown pulling off to the side of the start-finish straight. While Alonso’s final race saw him battle with Magnussen, he ran wide a turn six / seven chicane, and gained an advantage, and was awarded a five-second penalty.

Alonso finished the race eleventh fastest ahead of the Toro Rosso of Brendon Hartley.

Leclerc finished his final race for Sauber seventh, the best result of his first season. The Monacan held off the pressure placed on him from the Force India of Sergio Perez.

Hamilton took the win from Vettel, but the moment of celebration was yet to come, as they were joined by Alonso after the race for doughnuts.

Championship Standings

Drivers – 1) Hamilton 408, 2) Vettel 320, 3) Raikkonen 251;
Constructors – 1) Mercedes 655, 2) Ferrari 571, 3) Red Bull 419

Conclusion

Looking back on 2018, it was again Hamilton’s year he did not have the fastest car but he delivered the results even when he was not performing or made a mistake. He capitalised as well on Vettel’s mistakes and his mistakes cost us a greater fight until the end of the season.

There were surprises, that double DNF for Mercedes and that win for Verstappen in Austria. Mercedes were weaker and beatable, but Ferrari’s championship just fell apart from Singapore onwards. Raikkonen’s win in Austin had to be a highlight, the rise of Leclerc too.

While we called it all season ‘Hamilton v Vettel – the fight for five’, we had so many subplots and very close racing and races where we weren’t saying this is Mercedes to lose.

Let’s hope Ferrari can give a stronger car next year, how does Vettel get on with Leclerc? Can Hamilton chase Schumacher’s seven? To be continued…

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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