Charles Leclerc, Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 2018

Which F1 drivers will beat their team mates in 2018?

2018 F1 season preview

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Many top teams have vacant seats for 2019 which means there are opportunities to be had for any drivers looking to stake their claim for next season.

And the best way to make a case for a promotion is to blow the doors off the guy in the other garage. Who will do that this year? And how will the fights turn out among the top teams? Cast your votes and have your say below.

Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton vs Valtteri Bottas

Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, 2018

This is a make-or-break season for Valtteri Bottas. A strong start to his first season at Mercedes meant he was quickly signed up for a second year. But he slumped in the second half of the season and F1’s top team can choose from several great talents on the market for 2019.

Bottas demonstrated last year there were occasions where he could take Hamilton on in a straight fight and beat him. But in 2018 he needs to show those aren’t simply restricted to occasions when Hamilton isn’t completely on top of the car. It isn’t going to be easy, but Bottas has measured at least as well compared to Hamilton as Nico Rosberg did, and he managed to bag himself a championship. Bottas has to believe the same is possible.

Which Mercedes driver will finish ahead in the championship?

  • Valtteri Bottas (9%)
  • Lewis Hamilton (91%)

Total Voters: 415

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In their first year together as team mate Hamilton beat Bottas on every count including, most conclusively, the qualifying score line. But this was a much closer fight at the half-way point in the season.

Ferrari: Sebastian Vettel vs Kimi Raikkonen

Ferrari SF17h, 2018

Kimi Raikkonen hasn’t beaten a team mate since he was partnered with Romain Grosjean at Lotus five years ago. And even then Grosjean increasingly had the upper hand over the second half of the season.

There were few signs last year that Raikkonen had it in him to consistently rival Sebastian Vettel for victories. It might have worked out differently in Monaco and Hungary, but Vettel’s title chances clearly took priority. Raikkonen earned another one-year extension on his Ferrari contract last season and will have to put up a reasonable showing against Vettel if he wants to stay in F1 for 2019.

Which Ferrari driver will finish ahead in the championship?

  • Kimi Raikkonen (5%)
  • Sebastian Vettel (95%)

Total Voters: 418

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Vettel had Raikkonen comfortably handed in their first year as team mates but in 2016 Raikkonen, surprisingly, won the qualifying battle. It was back to business as usual for Vettel last year, thumping Raikkonen 15-4 on Saturdays and 14-2 on Sundays.

Red Bull: Daniel Ricciardo vs Max Verstappen

Hamilton weighed in one this one recently, declaring that Max Verstappen would have out-scored Daniel Ricciardo last year had it not been for his car’s unreliability. In point of fact, Ricciardo suffered more race-ending technical failures than Verstappen. However Verstappen’s retirements often came with rotten timing, such as in Baku where he should have won (and Ricciardo did instead).

Verstappen joined Ricciardo at Red Bull early in 2016 and while the more experienced driver had the upper hand to begin with, by the end of the season Verstappen was arguably showing greater promise. Ricciardo is no walkover, however. Christian Horner’s recent description of the pair being Red Bull’s most amicable driver pairing could be tested to the limit over the coming months.

Which Red Bull driver will finish ahead in the championship?

  • Max Verstappen (58%)
  • Daniel Ricciardo (42%)

Total Voters: 421

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The world champion’s assessment of how the Red Bull drivers squared up against each other last year is pretty sound: Ricciardo scored the most points but Verstappen was ahead on every other count.

Force India: Sergio Perez vs Esteban Ocon

Esteban Ocon, Sergio Perez, Force India, 2018

This was anything but amicable last year: At one point Esteban Ocon accused Sergio Perez of trying to kill him, then had to have extra security at the Mexican Grand Prix following death threats from Perez fans. Force India is likely to face much tougher competition in the midfield this year, so any repeat of the kind of incidents which cost them so dearly in Baku and Spa will be unacceptable.

Which Force India driver will finish ahead in the championship?

  • Esteban Ocon (71%)
  • Sergio Perez (29%)

Total Voters: 420

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Having done half a season at Manor in 2016, Ocon had more experience of the tracks in the second half of last year and he clearly raised his game at this point, becoming a more consistent threat to Perez. He is quite a bit taller than his team mate, however, and if the VJM11 is close to the limit on weight that could work against him. Perez won this fight last year, but both need to stay out of each other’s way a bit more in 2018.

Williams: Lance Stroll vs Sergey Sirotkin

Lance Stroll, Sergey Sirotkin, Williams, 2018

The first of the new driver pairings for 2018. Rookie Sergey Sirotkin may be race-rusty after spending most of last season in a test driver role at Renault.

Which Williams driver will finish ahead in the championship?

  • Sergey Sirotkin (70%)
  • Lance Stroll (30%)

Total Voters: 417

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Williams has talked a lot about Lance Stroll’s two great results last year: the shock podium in Baku and his front row start at Monza. His dreadful qualifying scoreline against Felipe Massa has been largely overlooked. He is the more experienced, yet younger, of the team’s new drivers, and inevitably questions are being asked about how close either of them will get to the FW41’s true potential.

Renault: Nico Hulkenberg vs Carlos Sainz Jnr

Nico Hulkenberg, Carlos Sainz Jnr, Renault, 2018

We only had a few races to compare Renault’s new driver line-up at the end of last year. Nico Hulkenberg tended to do better, but Carlos Sainz Jnr was having to acclimatise to a new car in little time. both drivers are looking to break out of the midfield and will view the RS18 as their best chance yet of grabbing their first podium finishes.

Which Renault driver will finish ahead in the championship?

  • Carlos Sainz Jnr (47%)
  • Nico Hulkenberg (53%)

Total Voters: 417

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A measure of how well Hulkenberg and Sainz did against their original team mates last year can be taken from the fact neither Jolyon Palmer nor Daniil Kvyat completed the season.

Toro Rosso: Pierre Gasly vs Brendon Hartley

Brendon Hartley, Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso, 2018

Toro Rosso’s latest rookie pairing is an intriguing one. Pierre Gasly took a while to bag a title in the junior categories, eventually taking the GP2 crown in 2016. He might have won the Super Formula crown last year as well had it not been for an unfortunately-timed typhoon.

Brendon Hartley has an excellent pedigree in LMP1 cars which should serve him well, though he had to readjust to several elements of single-seater racing, including standing starts, after his surprise call-up last year.

Which Toro Rosso driver will finish ahead in the championship?

  • Brendon Hartley (41%)
  • Pierre Gasly (59%)

Total Voters: 411

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Toro Rosso’s reliability problems were so bad at the end of last year it was hard to draw any meaningful comparisons between Gasly and Hartley in the handful of races they did together. Both will be hoping the latest Honda power unit is an improvement, though the signs last year were not encouraging.

Haas: Romain Grosjean vs Kevin Magnussen

Romain Grosjean, Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

This is the first time in his entire career – not just F1 – that Kevin Magnussen has stayed with the same team from one season to the next. If he finds a benefit from that continuity it could be bad news from Romain Grosjean, who didn’t beat him team mate quite as conclusively as he perhaps should have done last year.

Which Haas driver will finish ahead in the championship?

  • Kevin Magnussen (28%)
  • Romain Grosjean (72%)

Total Voters: 417

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Last year Grosjean scored more points but Magnussen took the chequered flag ahead of his team mate once more.

McLaren: Fernando Alonso vs Stoffel Vandoorne

Stoffel Vandoorne, Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 2018

Does Fernando Alonso’s decision to dovetail a 21-race F1 season with half-a-dozen endurance races show he isn’t taking the threat from Stoffel Vandoorne very seriously? He had his young team mate easily handled in the woeful Honda-powered MCL32 last year, but Vandoorne showed progress later in the year once the car was able to cover a reasonable distance between breakdowns.

Which McLaren driver will finish ahead in the championship?

  • Stoffel Vandoorne (12%)
  • Fernando Alonso (88%)

Total Voters: 418

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With Lando Norris waiting in the wings, Vandoorne must raise his game against Alonso to hold onto his place in F1. There wasn’t a great difference in their points hauls last year but Alonso was supreme in qualifying, winning 15-3.

Sauber: Marcus Ericsson vs Charles Leclerc

Charles Leclerc, Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018
Charles Leclerc, Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

Marcus Ericsson may have gone over two years without scoring a point but he reckons he can take on and beat highly rated young Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc. How will they stack up against each other in the same car? Their form in Formula Two (previously GP2) may provide a hint: Leclerc dominated the championship in his rookie season; it took Ericsson four years to end a season as high as sixth.

Pascal Wehrlein out-qualified and out-raced Ericsson last year, though perhaps not as regularly as he would have liked. According to Ericsson they were “the two closest team mates on average speed-wise over the year”.

Which Sauber driver will finish ahead in the championship?

  • Charles Leclerc (88%)
  • Marcus Ericsson (12%)

Total Voters: 415

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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96 comments on “Which F1 drivers will beat their team mates in 2018?”

  1. I’m So pumped!

  2. My votes:
    Mercedes: Hamilton
    Ferrari: Vettel
    Red Bull: Verstappen
    Force India: Ocon
    Williams: Sirotkin
    Renault: Sainz
    Toro Rosso: Gasly
    Haas: Grosjean
    McLaren: Alonso
    Alfa Romeo Sauber: Leclerc

    1. @f1frog I think most people will have this combination, only Hülkenberg/Sainz and Ocon/Perez are the ones open for debate really,…? Maybe Gasly/Hartley too?

      1. I’m expecting Gasly to dominate Hartley if I’m honest

        1. Na, Gasly might have a one lap pace but I reckon Hartley will be able to maintain a consistently high average lap time than Gasly, and lets not forget in Hartleys first race, Kyvat out qualified him, but in the race, Hartley’s fastest lap was 1 second quicker than Kyvat and his average lap times were better in the second half of the race. Its a tough call though, but surely one doesn’t win 2 endurance championships without picking up some race nous.

      2. only Hülkenberg/Sainz and Ocon/Perez are the ones open for debate really

        Really? So Ricciardo/Verstappen is not up for debate?

        haha, give me a break! It’s a foregone conclusion that Ricciardo, one of the finest racing drivers in the world, is going to be beaten???


        1. Ricciardo, while a good driver, isn’t as quick as verstappen, that’s how it is, the question is who will beat his team mate, and verstappen beat ricciardo even last year on the stuff that matters, if you correct for mechanical dnf for both drivers he’s ahead on that too.

          It wasn’t 55-45%, there was a huge difference between voters.

          1. Ahead on points too*

          2. and verstappen beat ricciardo even last year on the stuff that matters,
            You do understand how the points scoring works eh? You can’t be the WDC if you score less points than someone else right? Ergo, the stuff that really matters is….. um….points?

          3. @glennb That’s true. Just like LH being outpointed by NR for the 2016 WDC…

        2. @nick101 No you’re right. Technically every pairing is up for debate and nothing is a foregone conclusion, which is why they run all the races to determine the Champions.

          That said, I think Max is just seeming to be someone with that extra bit of special. So I think what should be ‘scary’ for DR is that Max is only still improving. Oh, DR will be fine. He is good and he will get a top ride likely, and have a great career. But Max…

          I think of it this way. Sure DR outpointed Max, and we can analyze that all we want, as we have, but on average, if you take several seasons from a drivers career, especially a successful career, would you say that the winning formula to beat your teammate and win your way to the WDC, would be to be outqualified by him in double the races, be lead by him by more than double the laps, and finish behind him 5 times out of the 7 that you both finished the race?

    2. I went the same, except Hulk instead of Carlos. I think that one will be really close though.

      1. Same except I went with hulkenburg and ricciardo, Force India is the only other one I had to think about.

    3. TR: I picked Hartley because of the extra years he has under his belt. I think he’ll be able to deal better with the pressure, especially when TR finds itself in point scoring positions this year. However, both have been through some setbacks and have proven they can come back. I can see them grow steadily and stay in F1 for a longer time.

      Renault: Sainz made too many rookie mistakes last year, considering his experience in F1. That’s why I picked Hulk.

    4. Exactly same combination as me!

    5. I went with the exact same combination, but I know that we rarely get a season where the teammate battles go by who’s better on paper. A lot of them are debatable – Ricciardo vs Verstappen, Hulkenberg vs Sainz, Grosjean vs Magnussen are probably the hardest to call.

      I thought Hulkenberg vs Sainz will be the most interesting battle. I want Hulkenberg to win, but I just feel Sainz is slightly hungrier for proving a point to Red Bull. Magnussen also gets overlooked quite a bit. He had some great races last year that unfortunately didn’t get translated on the score board.

  3. but Bottas has measured at least as well compared to Hamilton as Nico Rosberg did

    Whoa, really? Nico was far closer to Lewis than Bottas ever was.. In qualifying as well as races.

    Additionally, Bottas doesn’t play any mind games like Nico.

    Even if Lewis has the magnitude of misfortune as he did in 2016, he would still finish ahead of Bottas, I have no doubt.

    1. That line made me lol. Not a little bias there :)

    2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      17th March 2018, 12:56

      I keep repeating myself, although these facts may be true, you must consider that Rosberg had a huge advantage over Bottas. He’d been in F1 for longer and he’d been with Mercedes for 3 years before he had Hamilton as a team mate. Bottas joined against Hamilton in his 5th year with the team quite suddenly without much time to prepare. That is not a fair comparison. Taking this into consideration, Bottas did extremely well and certainly managed to look on Rosberg’s level at times. The first race for example, he was closer to Hamilton in qualifying than Rosberg had ever managed.

      With testing over winter, I expect him to be able to close in. And if he gets better this year and gets kept on the following year, I can easily see him getting to Rosberg’s level.

    3. That’s one of those lines that are best summed up as “Yeah, no.”

    4. I’m pretty surprised by the 10% of votes Bottas has at the moment. Even more than the 12% for Vandoorne.

    5. I honestly think Bottas has more potential to win than Rosberg did and definitely has what it takes to beat Hamilton over a season. It’s just a matter of it all coming together and that may as well never happen for all we know. I’m curious to see how he’ll do now that he’s been with the team for a whole year and has had some input into developing the car. It’s not unreasonable, however, to think that Hamilton will walk all over him in 2018. Could go either way imo.

  4. I’ve picked all the most popular choices. I guess this means I picked all the correct answers, right? :)
    Oh, and I know we all wanted a Kubica option for Williams, didn’t we? Hah ;)

    1. Kubica has no place in a poll about which paydriver we detest the most.

      1. I got most of the popular vote- but Dan will beat Max this year (at least I am hoping- go Dan!)

        Kubica would have been a popular come back this year and many disappointed he did not get the drive and therefore are lashing out at Williams ‘pay drivers’. I would have loved to see him back but question if he could drive the car 100%.

        But as Dieter put it lower teams need to get pay drivers as F1 has such an unfair revenue distribution so if they don’t take a driver with money then they don’t race. We have 10 cars on the grid.

        My outside bet- Stoffel to outscore Alonso (he needs to beat him if any team thinks he is WDC potential).

        1. I Agree with you on Dan/Max Daniel drives more with his head and Max is like Jeremy Clarkson’s Powwwerrr and tends to get in to trouble by that. (breaks things)

          Also with you with Stoffel/Alonso Alonso has gone the way of Jenson Button. You can clearly see he no longer is really interested in F1 anymore.

          1. to get in to trouble by that. (breaks things)

            i noticed last year this illusion was already blown by everyone with some technical knowledge at Renault and RBR.

          2. Mmmm, alonso seemed very good still last year, wouldn’t say he’s gone the way of button yet, we’ll see this year, if he’s beaten on merit by vandoorne he’s either in a decline phase or like you said, no longer interested.

  5. Ok. My vote which didn’t follow popular vote are:
    Perez, Sainz & Hartley

  6. Hm, I didn’t vote for Toro Rosso (don’t know the drivers enough) and Haas (couldn’t call it), and actually found it hardest to cast my vote for Renault (went with Sainz).

    Interesting quiz, especially since it started with two softballs.

  7. I voted for the following drivers:
    Mercedes: Hamilton
    Ferrari: Vettel
    Red Bull: Ricciardo
    Force India: Ocon
    Williams: Sirotkin
    Renault: Hulkenberg
    Toro Rosso: Gasly
    Haas: Magnussen
    Mclaren: Alonso
    Sauber: Leclerc

    1. @jerejj Ricciardo, how come?

      1. I went with Verstappen but I don’t think it’s a slam dunk. Ricciardo is a very good driver.

        1. i voted for Ricciardo too because he is a really good driver and most importantly it is one of the most important seasons of his career.
          Verstappen needs another couple of years to mentally mature completely.

          1. I think ricciardo is the more consistent driver so I went with him to. It will be close but I think verstappen tends to get unexpectedly good results while Ricciardo quietly racks up the points.

          2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            17th March 2018, 13:08

            @notacop Indeed this is a make or break season for Ricciardo, especially before the silly season begins. Of course, the pressure of knowing that can cause its own issues for Daniel but he’s been under pressure before.

            If I recall last season’s results, Daniel has to make improvement in qualifying and be consistent with his race pace.

          3. @notacop For me, and I think not just me, Max has sounded mature beyond his years right from the getgo, which is one of the factors that saw him with an F1 ride at the youngest age ever, which even caused a rule change about the age and requirements to start in F1.

            I don’t disagree that Max may ‘mature’ more yet, although I think of it as just getting better and better, not necessarily maturing, but even taking the word maturing and considering him improving that way too, should be a daunting thing for the rest of the grid.

        2. @redearedrabbit @jerejj @flatsix I have to admit, the Ricciardo VS Verstappen is what I’m looking forward the most this season. I would love to see a Hamilton-Vettel head to head, better with the latter ahead this time, but I fear it’s not going to happen. On the other hand, we have this two guys who potentially can make up a great show. Finger crossed.

      2. @flatsix Why not, LOL.

  8. A couple of surprises in the poll: Leclerc leading Ericsson by miles and Ocon leading Perez by a considerable margin. In both cases, the younger driver is supposedly leading the experienced driver in a year when it seems from pre-season testing, there is a need for both the cars to develop significantly to compete at the sharp end of the midfield. Question remains as to whether, the youngsters are more capable of developing the car this year compared to their experienced teammates.
    I would closely watch Renault this year as both drivers have strong incentives to perform.
    My least favourite lineup this year is Williams. The poll is a reflection of Stroll’s perception among RaceFans.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      17th March 2018, 13:17


      The poll is a reflection of Stroll’s perception among RaceFans.

      That’s because everyone in F1 had a season score of well over 8.5 last year. Too bad, they didn’t ask Alonso what he scored last year – I’m pretty sure the answer would have been 14 :-)

  9. It shocked me that so many people voted for Alonso. Im not 100% sure Vandorne will beat him, Alonso has to fight with himself this year doing two series and nobody know how he will react when the Renault engine does not come up to the expectations.

    1. Vandoorne comes however from a relatively poor season, he didn’t do much better than Stroll. It is quite obvious why people went for Alonso

      1. Vandoorne comes however from a relatively poor season

        @johnmilk That’s a very poorly informed statement.

    2. @notacop beating Alonso is definitely difficult and require incredible talent. Vandoorne seems pretty good, but the vote is not about if Vandoorne will strive, but if he will have more point than Alonso at the end of the season. All in all, seems pretty normal for me that people expect Alonso to be ahead, Vandoorne is yet to show he could beat a world champion.

      1. Yeah, sometimes im too optimistic. Point wise it will be really hard to beat him

        1. I was a bit ‘shocked’ that you were shocked, lol, given that no small number of people still consider FA the best driver on the grid in spite of LH’s success.

  10. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    17th March 2018, 12:55

    Well, it all depends on the definition of beating their teammate.

    Looking at the poll results, F1 fans think that Bottas is 3 times as likely as Kimi to beat his teammate but it’s still a 10% chance. Wow again:-)

    I expected Verstappen and Ricciardo to be closer (maybe 60-40) given Daniel’s popularity.

    Stoffel’s odds of 15% against Alonso are great when compared to Bottas and Kimi. I’m not sure why folks would rate him above Bottas and Kimi – the difference is not marginal, Stoffel has 5 times better odds than Kimi.

    Perez dios mio :-) I did not see that one coming.

    Hulk-Sainz – those odds tell me that if Renault has reliability and the engine is competitive, they will be a threat for Red Bull. If they can keep some clean sheets while the Bulls lock horns in some races, we could see Hulk and Sainz turn into Matadors and subdue the 2 Bulls.

    1. I expected Verstappen and Ricciardo to be closer (maybe 60-40) given Daniel’s popularity.

      Not to mention that fact that Dan is one of the fastest drivers in F1, the best overtaker and has some of the best race craft on the grid.

      But sure, his ‘popularity’ is the defining factor…

      1. ‘The best overtaker’ is something to me that is highly debatable. One of the fastest…sure. Some of the best racecraft…sure, I think we’ve seen some instances of that too. But ‘best overtaker’ I think only comes from Sky’s (Brundle’s) enthusiasm when he would call him the last of the late brakers, but for me that was always because in his top 3 car he was too often starting further down than he should have been. DR was not starting races playing with the big boys as often as Max for example, and so it is easier to appear as a great passer when many of the ones you are passing are ones you should have been ahead of on the start grid to begin with. But not always…for sure DR is good. But I don’t think he is ‘the best’ at any one thing.

    2. @freelittlebirds The poll question is Which [Team] driver will finish ahead in the championship? which is much more easy (and objective) to determine the result at the end of the season. So I’ll assume of official championship standing result for the purpose of this discussion. But you’re right, if we stick to the article title, what “beating” a teammate means is much more open to interpretation.

  11. My votes:

    Mercedes: Hamilton – Easy choice, but would love if Bottas can beat him this year.
    Ferrari: Vettel – Same as Mercedes really.
    Red Bull: Ricciardo – This one was a tough one, as I like both drivers a lot, so I could be wrong.
    Force India: Ocon – Same as Red Bull.
    Williams: Sirotkin – Sort of a tough one, since I haven’t really seen Sirotkin in many races.
    Renault: Sainz – Like Red Bull and FI another tough vote, so it could go either way.
    Toro Rosso: Gasly – I like both guys really so it might go either way.
    Haas: Grosjean – Magnussen hasn’t impressed me since he came back. Sorry.
    McLaren: Alonso – Alonso has never been outscored by his teammate over a even-numbered season.
    Sauber: LeClerc – probably the most obvious choice, and I expect him to outscore him with a margin.

    Think 1 or 2 of my choices are debatable to be honest.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      17th March 2018, 13:11

      @robbo For Hamilton it will be a matter of confidence vs complacency. In the past, we’ve seen him fall off the curve after he wins the championship. Will he be complacent and go into the season thinking he’ll win the championship? If so, odds he won’t and Bottas will probably beat him. On the other hand, if he really is hungry for the 5th championship and willing to fight for it, he’s going to be riding a huge wave of confidence and he should be able to beat Bottas.

    2. Actually, without going to check stats, I don’t recall a season other than some bad year at mclaren where button got more points than him, but that’s pretty obvious, if the car is very slow and unreliable, the worst driver of the 2 could be lucky and get the car to last and get a surprise result and the best could not.

      There’s ofc hamilton’s mclaren rookie year, but that’s a draw, so apart from that don’t think alonso ever lost in points and don’t see why he should now, unless the decline starts or he’s no longer motivated, but if the car is ok-ish, I think he should be fine, after the years he’s had.

  12. I want to live my life with an optimistic mindset as those 4% that voted for Kimi

    1. Outside the current favorites, I went for Ricciardo as I see Verstappen having more incidents, Perez can hustle the top results, Hartley and Magnussen for overall consistency.

    2. I voted for him on the basis that the season has to throw up one major team rivalry surprise, and the only really shocking outcome I could imagine was Kimi beating Seb Vettel. Also I thought it might annoy some Vettel fans, but I thought better of that, so I voted for the first reason…

    3. I’m touching wood, but that’s the probability of Seb crashing and breaking a leg or two.. Who would have voted for Irvine over Schumacher in ’99?

  13. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    17th March 2018, 13:40

    I’m not going to vote until I’m sure about every team. Here is what I think so far:

    Mercedes: Hamilton
    I do think Hamilton is pretty much the best driver on the grid. And Bottas didn’t put him under a lot of pressure last year. I do expect it to be closer, but unless Hamilton has some seriously bad luck, or Bottas has a massive turn around, I’m pretty sure he’ll beat him.

    Ferrari: Vettel
    I think this is one of the easiest decisions of them all. Raikonnen just isn’t close to the top of the field any more.

    Red Bull: Ricciardo
    Many will disagree, but I still think Ricciardo is the more complete driver. His overtakes in my opinion are about the best of any drivers on the grid. Pretty much never result in any contact. verstappen’s passes often do come out well, but in my view, they are not as clean as Ricciardo’s. For example, the start in Canada and Mexico both resulted in contact that he was incredibly lucky lot to get away with. In mexico, he ended up damaging Hamilton’s fromt wing and Mercedes ended up having to replace it. Although on this occasion, it was certainly worth it as he won this race by over 20 seconds. Although I would say verstappen had a slightly better season than Ricciardo, I’m not totally convinced Verstappen would have beaten Recciardo even with less of his bad luck. Ricciardo had more reliability problems and suffered 2 retirements where Horner said Red Bull were at their strongest. that was certainly some bad luck there. Ricciardo only had one less retirement than Verstappen and was more than a race win ahead in points. I could well be wrong, but I think Verstappen needs to be slightly more cautious this year in the first corner as for Ricciardo, being like that has helped keep him out of trouble. We will see. I could well be wrong, but I think there wasn’t really enough evidence last year during the races to show who was clearly the more complete driver. And before hand, I think Ricciardo had the edge on Verstappen.

    Force India:Perez
    Ocon certainly had a good first full season last year. But although he was close to Perez, I don’t think he’s quite good enough yet to manage to beat him consistently enough to get more points over a full season. But it will probably be tight.

    Williams: Not sure.
    Really stuck here. Stroll was really disappointing overall last year, even for a rookie. And I can’t be at all certain how he’ll do against another rookie. I really think they should have kept Massa. I think they will probably be close.

    Renault: Hulkenberg.
    I still think Sainz was one of the most over rated drivers last year. I pretty much agree with the ranking of this site, which was the 10th best driver of the year. But I’d say his year looked no better than Massa really. Massa had less really good moments, but made nothing like the amount of mistakes Sainz did. I don’t think Sainz is consistent or particularly fast. This may be a bit of a strange comparison, but lets look back to qualifying in Red Bull 2015. Ricciardo dominated Kvyat. And Kvyat most certainly has been evenly matched to Sainz in qualifying. And now Verstappen is looking better than Ricciardo in that area. I think verstappen’s qualifying performance has improved a huge amount, But I don’t think Sainz had. Either that or Kvyat was extremely good in this area which I feel is unlikely. Sainz caused more retirements than any other driver last year so his consistency needs to improve and he needs to make less mistakes. Hulkenberg made a few errors but not as bad as Sainz has looked pretty close to Perez the years before. Although Sainz may improve, I think Hulkenberg will beat him.

    Toro Rosso: Not sure.
    I just don’t know enough about either of these drivers yet to judge. One thing I think though is that they probably will be last in the constructors. Partly because of the engine and the inexperienced line up.

    McLaren: Alonso
    Pretty easy this one. Alonso is certainly one of the top drivers, although I’m not sure how good he is compared to some years ago. He hasn’t had the chance to show his skill in quite some time. But even though Vandoorne was a rookie last year, I’d say the first half of the season was worse than Stroll. The crash in Spain was incredibly clumsy. Although it can be difficult not realising how fast another car can be, you need to pay more attention than he did. Then he crashed twice in Monaco which didn’t look very good. Given all the hype he had, it really wasn’t a good start. But he did get far better later on. He’ll be closer to Alonso, but very unlikely that he will manage to beat him.

    Sauber: Ericsson

    I’m really surprised by the amount of votes that think Leclerc will beat Ericsson. Just because of their past career doesn’t always show what they will be like in F1. Just look back at the start of Vandoorm’s season. Ericsson may be towards the back of the grid in terms of how good he is compared to the rest, but the fact this is his 4th year with Sauber and 5th in F1 is a huge benefit to him. Even in 2014, towards the end of the season, there were some races he was giving Kobyashi a hard time. Then 2015, I do think Nasr was far better in the first half, but although the points didn’t show it, Ericsson looked better in the 2nd half. Then certainly looked better in 2016. Even last year, pace wise, he was very similar to Wehrlein. He certainly made more mistakes but there were much more highly rated drivers that made more costly mistakes than Ericsson did such as Sainz that year. Many go on that he hasn’t scored any points in the last 2 years and that Wehrlein and Nazr have. Well all the points that Nazr and Wehrlein got in 2016 and 2017 were down to others misfortune. Ericsson was the closest to getting points out of either of these 2 on one occasion without retirements clearly helping him get them. And he’s missed out on a possible 2 races where he could have got a point or 2 this year. He’s not a great driver, but he’s nothing like as bad as people make him out to be. It is mainly bad luck that he hasn’t managed any points recently. But I just don’t see how a rookie stands much of a chance to beat an experienced team mate like Ericsson unless there is a load of luck involved.

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      17th March 2018, 15:33

      Forgot Haas. Grosjean
      I think Magnussen had just a few good moments each of the 3 years he’s been in F1. But he’s made quite a few clumsy mistakes each year too. I think Grosjean will be better, but not by that much. It is a shame. I used to rate Grosjean much more highly. Towards the end of 2013, I thought he was very good, but it seems he makes far more mistakes when his car isn’t capable of as higher finish. It will be tight between them I think.

    2. Leclerc has been hyped based on his pre f1 record to be a verstappen level driver, you don’t see how a verstappen level rookie can beat a relatively bad experienced driver?

      I view schumacher at the same level as verstappen in terms of their first years in f1, and he was faster than his team mate from the start, qualifying 7th in belgium in 1991, if leclerc is as good as the hype and the pre f1 record shows, I’m not saying I expect him to get particularly ahead on the grid with the car he has, but I expect him to DESTROY ericsson, look even at alonso in minardi 2001, even with a car incapable of scoring points you can impress lots of teams if you have that level of talent.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        18th March 2018, 7:55

        No actually, I’m still not sure. Think about how highly rated Vandoorne was, then he was terrible in the first 6 races and rated as one of the lowest drivers in the mid season driver rankings. Fair enough, Ericsson was lower, but hardly by anything. But he was as high as 15th or 16th out of 22 drivers one year which wasn’t bad at all given his criticism. Given lots of the drivers rated behind him have gone now, that makes him look worse than he is. He’s not the best out there, but I still think he’s reasonable. Even though Ericsson has made several mistakes, much more highly rated drivers like Sainz made more last year. Although others don’t see it because of the lack of points, I think he’s been having slightly more better drives each year. I think being in his 4th year with Sauber and 5th in F1 should be enough to beat a rookie, even if they are highly rated. Being highly rated very often doesn’t mean they will be stunning to start with. To be totally honest, Ericsson and Wehrlein have said the Sauber was very tricky to drive. I think it will be very tough for Leclerc to start with. But towards the end of the season, yes, I expect he probably will be better than Ericsson. But I very much doubt he will beat him over the season.

    3. With respect to Max and Danial, I think Max is an aggressive hard charger that has already in his young career made all others around him well aware of what he is capable. If you don’t watch out he’ll run over your front wing on his way by, in a perfectly legal way. Max has already sent out a signal, you better watch out, I’m coming through.

      Sure I think it can be said that Max appears the more reckless or mistake prone, the one to break something more as some people say, but I think it is because he is simply purely driven to get to the front, and when you only have a 3rd best car, that’s going to take some aggression and some risks.

      I think Max already cleaned things up a lot last year over the year before. Recall how he was accused of jamming particularly Kimi up by moving on him when Kimi had already committed to a braking point at a corner. We (they) talked about the ‘Verstappen rule’ which was actually not a new rule but just a reminder that it is not acceptable to jump in front of someone who you know will not be able to react for they have already started braking.

      But that was in 2016, and if I’m not mistaken we did not hear a peep about that from anything Max did last year. He pushed things a bit far in 2016, had his wrist slapped for it, and in the meantime has learned what is too far but has taught everyone else to be aware. Drivers that see him in their rear view mirrors already know they’ve got a challenge ahead of them in the coming corners, depending on how bad the dirty air effect is of course.

  14. Hamilton, way better than Bottas
    Vettel, same
    Verstappen, was already better last year
    Perez, not sure just a gut feeling
    Hulk, He will finally get a podium
    Toro Rosso, I really don’t know
    Magnussen, gut feeling as wel
    Alonso, unless the double schedule doesn’t work
    LeClerc, I hope

  15. Mercedes: Hamilton. As good as Bottas is, I can’t see him closing the gap.
    Ferrari: Vettel – far better than this version of Raikkonen.
    Red Bull: Verstappen, though not by a huge amount.
    Force India: Ocon. Think he needs to push on and beat Perez in 2018.
    Williams: Sirotkin. Less experience but seemingly a bit more talent.
    Renault: Hulkenberg – will probably be close but can’t see Sainz beating him.
    Toro Rosso: Hartley, on a coin-flip. It’ll be down to luck anyway…
    Haas: Grosjean strikes me as being the better driver of the two.
    McLaren: Alonso – ahead of Vandoorne in every way, for the time being at least.
    Sauber: Leclerc, because it’d be horribly embarrassing if he lost. Probably down to luck, though.

  16. My votes:

    Mercedes: Hamilton – Easy pick.
    Ferrari: Vettel – Again, easy pick.
    Red Bull: Ricciardo – He’s more mature driver than Max. I think Max still could make some big mistake this year that lose him big points.
    Force India: Perez – Perez maybe the most underrated driver in this site. It’ll be close but I think Perez will finished higher than Ocon.
    Williams: Stroll – I don’t think Williams will be regular point contenders this year, which mean couple finishes in (lower) top 10 will be very important for their battle. Stroll has above average form in wet which could bag him some important points.
    Renault: Sainz – Tough choice. I rate Sainz higher than Hulk but I wouldn’t be surprised if Hulk wins instead. The biggest surprise will be if their performance is not even close.
    Toro Rosso: Gasly – Unknown F1 qualities. Gasly more recent single seater experience might tip the balance for him this year.
    Haas: Grosjean – He is more consistent than Magnussen… unless it’s wet.
    McLaren: Alonso – Still a very fast driver. If MCL 33 can compete for podiums regularly, we’re going to see a very hungry Alonso. If it’s another flop, then Vandoorne probably will pick more points.
    Sauber: LeClerc – Another unknown F1 quality driver, but Ericsson so hasn’t showed anything special while LeClerc racing history is very promising.

    1. Interesting reasoning for stroll, he was indeed quite good on the wet and with renault and mclaren which should climb back the grid points chances for williams should be less.

      1. @esploratore Yeah, I’m assuming Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull drivers is still 99% guaranteed to finish inside top 10 unless they have DNF (including Kimi, the weakest rated driver form those teams). That leaves only 4 other spot for other drivers to get points. Car wise, Renault, McLaren (maybe), Force India, and Haas are the strong contenders to pick up points based on final half of 2017 season. Driver wise, Renault have strong pairing in Hulk and Sainz, FI also have strong pairing in Ocon and Perez. McLaren has very strong Alonso and not yet proven but definitely not bad either Vandoorne. Haas has quite consistent Grosjean and Magnussen that can be quick sometimes. Williams chance on paper this season is really low, since their car performance wise is in downward slope for 2014-2017 and their drivers pairing is the weakest comparable only to STR and Sauber (which I also couldn’t see competing for points this year).

  17. For posteriority. I’ll leave my picks recorded. A mix of what I think.


  18. I found Renault and Red Bull choice very difficult. Votted Ocon for FI but i think that will be close, same for Haas.

  19. My choice:
    Mercedes: Hamilton
    Ferrari: Vettel
    Red Bull: Ricciardo
    Force India: Perez
    Williams: Sirotkin
    Renault: Hulkenberg
    Toro Rosso: Gasly
    Haas: Grosjean
    McLaren: Vandoorne
    Alfa Romeo Sauber: Leclerc

  20. When you look through the list like this, you realise that the current F1 grid is the weakest it’s been in quite a while.
    There are quite a few drivers who still need to prove they belong at this level, and a few more who are hanging on by a thread. I suspect we might see quite a few new drivers and changes in 2019.

    Kimi is unlikely to be retained at Ferrari, Bottas is unknown at Mercedes, Ricciardo will probably go to Ferrari, unless LeClerq does an amazing job, and Sainz will probably be pulled back to RBR. Ocon might be able to snatch the Mercedes seat, Kimi or Bottas might end up at Renault, Gasly (& Harltey) will most likely get a 2nd season due to the lack of Red Bull junior drivers knocking on the door, unless RBR go with Honda power & Gasly gets a Honda backed teammate. Grosjean, Magnussen, Stroll (on ability at least) are likely to be on borrowed time, Ericsson is as good as gone, & Vandoorne & Sirotkin have to show their worth.

    2019 could be musical chairs.

    1. I don’t think the grid is that bad, actually from what I’ve read on mathematical analysis it’s as good as it’s ever been.

      We have alonso, hamilton, verstappen, ricciardo, vettel as top drivers, alonso, hamilton and vettel all likely are in the top 10 best drivers of all time, if not, they’re almost all in there, verstappen is at the same level, he just has to prove it when he gets a good enough car and ricciardo is another who could be in the top 20 ever.

      Then we have decent drivers like bottas, sainz (was very close to verstappen as team mates), perez, ocon (could become like verstappen, he had a very good early f1 career), hulkenberg, some of which never had the chance of a true top team and I’m not talking about a declining mclaren!

      Leclerc could also be another great if he lives up to the hype from his junion record, then we have a former good driver, raikkonen, who is only average now and on his way out.

      Vandoorne wasn’t bad last year, alonso is a hard benchmark, he’s probably better than raikkonen by now.

      Then we have unknown quantities like toro rosso drivers, sirotkin and ofc, like in every grid, a few bad drivers like stroll (who could still improve) and ericsson.

      1. junior*

        1. I sure don’t see (feel like) anything DR has done or will do (pure speculation I know) would warrant him being ever considered in the all time top 20. By the time LH and SV are done winning WDC’s, those will be going to Max once he has the necessary WCC car, not DR, imho. So with the time DR has left in his career, which is still a lot, methinks he better be suddenly way way better if he’s to make such a list. He’ll have to trounce Max this year and be pestering LH and SV as well. Realistically, if you go by the talk that DR will either stay at RBR or go to Mercedes or Ferrari, that puts him as a number two driver no matter how you look at it. I even have been wondering lately if his best move wouldn’t be to try to go to Renault and make that ‘his’ team, rather than trying to go up against drivers that already have the upper hand on theirs.

          I think on the one hand DR is in a good spot in that he will have a good long career doing what he loves and making a boat load of money, but dominating Champion? Can’t see it.

  21. The three I most want to see are Red Bull (two great drivers), Force India (two warring drivers) and McLaren (because it would be typical Alonso to finally have a good car but find himself with an unexpectedly tough team rival).

  22. It strikes me that most choose Verstappen but looking at the comments here it’s mostly the Ricciardo fans who feel the need to clarify themselves.

    1. Yes, obviously cause everyone sees ricciardo is in a bad situation with such a team mate, it’s certainly not good to be destroyed in qualifying and pretty much always be behind in races before mechanical problems strike.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        18th March 2018, 8:54

        I don’t get what people mean by Verstappen destroying Ricciardo in qualifying. He only beat him 3 more times than it being even between them. That is in no way destroying. In that case, Perez destroyed Ocon, which I don’t think many will agree with as they were 13 – 7 too.

        Verstappen was better overall in qualifying. No doubt about that. But I voted Ricciardo as I think he is the more complete driver. Him being cations in the first corner has kept him out of trouble. Although it often isn’t his fault, Verstappen doing his great starts has often resulted in contact. Such as in Spain, Canada, Singapore and Mexico. I wouldn’t blame him at all in Singapore, but it is a fact that if he had backed off like Ricciardo did, he won’t have been involved in the incident. On tracks like that, being careful like Bottas and Ricciardo were is often what brings results. I think Verstappen stands a better chance at getting more points if he doesn’t take quite so many risks. In Spain, although many will disagree, he could have backed off or gone wider as going 3 into one just didn’t work when he went as tight as he did. Bottas can’t just disappear. Yes, he did allow them along side, but Kimi and Verstappen chose to do what just wouldn’t work. And Verstappen didn’t allow Kimi room to turn away from Bottas. So I personally blame Verstappen most for that incident. But I agree with the stewards verdict of no further action.
        Even in Mexico, Verstappen did have a very good start, but he was incredibly lucky that he didn’t get a puncture when he had contact with Hamilton. His rear left tyre clipped Hamilton’s front wing and broke a bit off as he pulled in front before he was fully passed. This resulted in Hamilton having to spend extra time in the pits having to get his front wing replaced. Everybody praised that overtake but it certainly wasn’t the cleanest and was very lucky. But it was worth it as he dominated that race. But I don’t think he should take this many risks this year as these sort of things could just end up ruining his races like in Italy. Then another negative point for Verstappen is that during the races, he’s the only one who’s been fully responsible for any of the teams non finishes.

        I just think Ricciardo’s overtakes are much cleaner and overall, I still think he’s a slightly better racer than Verstappen even if Verstappen’s speed has gone up recently. If we have a season with equal luck, we will see who comes out on top. But I’m going for Ricciardo.

        It may seem like I’m being harsh on Verstappen. I do think he’s one of the best on the grid. I’m just trying to make it clear why I believe Ricciardo is overall just that bit better. Lets remember he was rated number 1 on this site in 2016. I don’t think Ricciardo has gone downhill since then, I just think Verstappen has got better.

        1. Fair enough. I do think you are being a bit of a politician to word it that just 3 more better quali days by DR would have put them tied. Take 3 away from Max and give them to DR and Bob’s your Uncle. But the fact remains, it was 13-7 and I could just as easily word it that for a fact, without playing woulda, coulda, shoulda, Max nearly doubled DR in outqualifying him.

          Max being the hard charger that he is, and knowing he’s only in the 3rd best car, meant he was going to have to be take some risks with the top runners in order to make any waves. DR on average was more surrounded by cars and had to be more careful and could not risk contact while already lagging behind Max. He had to at least survive and hope to reel himself back up to where Max already was from the start, on average.

  23. My votes which didn’t follow popular vote are- Perez, Stroll, Hartley, Magnussen and Ericsson.

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      18th March 2018, 9:36

      Well I agree with most of them. Although the only one I may disagree with is Magnussen. Although I think it will be close. But it could well be the case that as Magnussen hasn’t yet had that many seasons, he could well get better. And it most certainly is the case that Grosjean has gone downhill since 2013 I’d say.

      But I agree on Perez. Ocon was close, but never got to the stage where he was consistently looking beter then Perez. I think it will be very tight again, but I think Perez will manage it.

      Although I thought Stroll was very poor last year, he did have 1 or 2 rather strong races. I think he came in just 1 year to early. If he’s worked where he needs to improve, which I think he will have done, I think he’ll be better than Sirotkin this year. But not by that much.

      Toro Rosso was hard. But I think it will be Hartly. Purely because of his experience. He looked like he may have come into F1 many years ago. The fact that they have shown interest in him again really shows they are hopeful. Gasly may get better in time, but I think the fact Hartly has had more racing experience could well bring him out on top.

      It seems we are in a small minority voting for Ericsson. I don’t think the fact that he’s got no points in the last 2 years shows that he shouldn’t be on the grid. Whenever he’s had good races, it has usually been when there haven’t been any retirements to help move him up into the points. In 2016 and 2017, that is basically the all Nasr and Wehrlein managed to score points. Ericsson would have got points on 1 or 2 occasions both last year and before if some retirements helped out. Ericsson believes that his weight affects his performance a bit as he says Sauber haven’t managed to adjust the weight of his ballast to go with his weight that well. If they get this sorted, he could well improve slightly. As as this is his 4th year with Sauber, even with a highly rated rookie joining him, I think Ericsson will be better for most of the season, enough to beat him. But from then onwards, Leclerc probably will be better.

  24. Both Vettel and Hamilton get huge margins in teh votes so far, even higher than Alonso’s even though they’re teammates are multiple GP winners and Kimi is even a World Champion… BUT there’s nothing to say here, both are expected to be on top, even though I except that Bottas will put-up a better fight than is fellow finn…

    My only votes different than the current majority is at Red Bull and Toro Rosso. But those are like “personal bets” but not surprising at all if it goes the other way. Max is no doubt a genius but to me this is kind-of Senna VS Prost. I was always a Prost-fan whilst most of the people I know were Senna-fan so in this way I have to go with Daniel. On their “junior” team, I think Hartley can pull a surprise and it would be great to see a previous reject getting his chance and nailing it.

    Apart from these 2, the major in-team fight will be at Renault. Great pair of drivers and I only gave it to Hulk due to experience but I really don’t know. Carlos was on-par with Max so if the team and car is “stable” and he doesn’t need to overdrive, Hulk is gonna have a hard time.

    although I think there will a clean winner, the in-fight at Haas and Force India will be interesting too and for sure will be cause of great entertainment during the season.

    For the 2 other teams, it will be a clean win: Stroll and Ericsson are simply not good enough even if their team-mates will not be great (but Leclerc should be a talent in the coming years).

  25. Most of the choices simply follow the obvious. I for one hope there are a few wrong answers there rather than the same old, same old names.

    For instance, Bottas did rather better than many expected considering it was his first year in the team. He’s rarely been near the podium prior to 2017 let alone on the top step. Having that first season’s experience within the team this coming season, I’d not be surprised if it is much closer between the two M-B drivers. Hope so. Processions are not that interesting.

    Not long now to see some F1 action after what to me has been a longer winter break dragging on than usual

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      18th March 2018, 23:14

      Glad to see some people have this view on Bottas :)

      Give him more of a chance. Verstappen may have adapted well to an unexpected change to another team, But some drivers take over a season. This is Bottas’s first year with a top team. And his start was extremely strong considering this. If his start was that strong, that shows he has potential to get far better once he’s used to the team. While he did fall back later on this season, with a fresh start and time over to winter to work hard with his engineers to put some input into how he likes his car to suit his driving style, we could be in for a huge surprise. Pace wise, I expect him to be a lot closer to Hamilton than he was last year. But depending on if there are more strong teams this year, the gap in points may remain similar. If Mercedes are on top with Ferrari just behind and Red bull a fair way off most of the time like last year, I expect Bottas to be quite a bit closer to Hamilton in the championship points.

      I’m not convinced Rosberg would have done any better than Bottas if he’d just come from Williams unexpectedly with the same experience as Bottas had, like Bottas did. Rosberg had since 2010 to work on his performance with this team. Give Bottas another year and he will very likely improve. I predict he will get better and Mercedes probably will keep him. As Bottas and Hamilton seem to get on way better than the previous line up at Mercedes. The tension between the 2 ended up resulting in double DNFs like in Spain 2016 or other contacts. In a season like last year when Ferrari were much closer, that would have lost them a lot of points. But Bottas never binned the car or caused Hamilton any trouble. Mercedes may see a benefit to this even if Hamilton is a lot better.

  26. Bottas

    1. @geemac genuinely interested: how can you pick Bottas over Hamilton? All your other picks seem reasonable so I don’t think you’re just messing with the poll.

      1. @m-bagattini A fair question. I have been a believer in Bottas’s abilities since he started doing FP1s for Williams back in 2012. He did great things for Williams in 2013 which largely went unnoticed due to how dire the FW35 was for most of the season. He then turned himself into a solid podium contender as Williams form rose.

        He had a solid first season for Mercedes given his late call up and was a genuine title contender until the mid-season break. I think that now he has has a “normal” winter with Mercedes he will go from strength to strength. He is a clever guy, he works hard and he has shown that he can beat Hamilton in a straight fight. I think he has the ability to put a championship wining campaign together in the same way Rosberg did. If the cards fall for him, he can get the job done. I also think Ferrari and Red Bull will be there or thereabouts, so the fight won’t just be between the two Mercedes drivers.

        1. @geemac thank you for your answer. I agree with you, basically, Bottas has what it needs to win a championship. But the thing here is that his teammate is Lewis Hamilton, and that guy is much stronger than I’d like to admit. On the other hand, Finns are people who don’t get particularly impressed, so maybe part of the halo (no pun intended) surrounding Hamilton does not affect Bottas in any way.

          The only way I can see him beating Hamilton is a 6 drivers race to WC, as you suggested: in that case, with a lot of points “stolen” and maybe Hamilton forced to lose his temper, risk more, being under pressure… maybe, in that case, Bottas can beat him.

          Which is something I really hope, by the way. Thanks for sharing your view!

          1. I agree with him not really seeming to get flustered by Hamilton’s “aura”. When his form did dip it seemed to be more a case of “I know the car can do this because he is doing it, so I have to work out how to do it to” than a “this guy is so quick I can’t possibly match him”.

            I think people mistake his more reserved approach for weakness, but I genuinely think he just wants to quietly go about his work. You don’t need to cause waves to be a world champion, quiet guys can and have won the title before.

  27. I disagree with the majority on a couple drivers:

    Daniel Ricciardo
    Brendon Hartley
    Carlos Sainz
    Marcus Ericsson

    Verstappen is too uneven in his driving still. His best is better than Danny, but his worst is worse than Danny’s worst!

    Hartley, I think will simply be able to get up to speed faster thanks to his vast motorsport experience.

    Sainz I simply rate more highly than the Hulk. Nothing more to it, they’re both great drivers and Renault are rocking a super strong driver pairing.

    Ericsson has so much experience and despite a weight disadvantage (says Vasseur anyway) kept Wehrlein honest last year. I rate him higher than most of you do, but I think his experience will be what driver Sauber forward this year.

  28. I’d love to see the results of this poll for last year, but it looks like f1fanatic didn’t do this poll last year (or at least I couldn’t find it). Anybody knows of a similar poll conducted at the beginning of 2017?

      1. Awesome! Thank you so much, @pja!

        Interestingly, you guys nailed every single team battle. Even the one which was arguably harder to predict, the one at Red Bull, you also got that one right by 62-38. Not sure if that means you really know your stuff… or it means F1 is really boring and predictable XDDD

  29. My predictions on who will win the team mate battles in 2018.

    Hamilton vs Bottas

    I expect Bottas to have a better season than last year overall, he will be more settled after a full year with the team and will be more experienced in general especially after taking his first win in 2017, although I think he will perform better, if F1 is more competitive at the front this year his stats such as wins and championship position may actually be worse in 2017.

    Even though Bottas will be more of a challenge I still think Hamilton will finish ahead of the two in the championship table come the end of the season, there will be the weekends where Bottas outperforms Hamilton but that will be as far as it goes unless reliability plays a significant part.

    His future at Mercedes may be down to which route the team want to go, do they want a settled team with a good backup driver to Hamilton or do they want to try to get the best two drivers possible even if it causes problems within the team?

    Vettel vs Raikkonen

    Out of all the teammate battles for 2018 this is the one I am most certain in choosing one driver over the other, there are a few other teams where I am pretty confident that one driver will come out on top but not as much as with Vettel at Ferrari.

    Ever since Raikkonen re-joined Ferrari he has been outperformed by his teammates, first Alonso and then Vettel and I see no reason why that will change this year.

    The main question will be will Ferrari decide to offer Raikkonen another contract extension for 2019, I would be surprised if he stays for another season, however I have thought that for the last few years but Raikkonen is still at Ferrari.

    Red Bull
    Ricciardo vs Verstappen

    In my opinion this is the best driver pairing on the grid, and I think Verstappen finish ahead in the championship out of the two, all things being equal such as reliability.

    Ricciardo is one of the best on the 2018 F1 grid but I think Verstappen is currently better and if he manages to fulfil his potential could go on to become an all-time great of the sport.

    Force India
    Perez vs Ocon

    I think this will be close but that Ocon will edge it, he will benefit from now having had a full season in F1 and should be even more of a challenge to Perez than last year.

    This season could be crucial for either driver to even be considered by a top team, while the driver who comes out on top would not be guaranteed an offer from a bigger team you feel it would do serious damage to the defeated teammate’s career prospects, but while Ocon is young enough to at least get another chance Perez probably isn’t.

    Stroll vs Sirotkin

    Again I think this could be close but the fact that this is Stroll’s second season in F1 while Sirotkin is a rookie should mean Stroll finishes ahead in the championship table.

    No matter how good a car Williams produce this year I think that the driver pairing will be a big weakness, I class them both as young prospects for the future, they may turn out to have good careers in F1 or they may not, but I think ideally a team should at least one experienced driver racing for them, having two drivers with so little experience may not only hurt Williams but also the development of both drivers themselves.

    Hulkenberg vs Sainz

    This could be the closest team mate battle on the grid this year and I wouldn’t be surprised whichever driver finished ahead in the championship, but if I had to pick one I would say Hulkenberg.

    Sainz should be settled at Renault now and I think they should be evenly matched, having a competitive teammate should hopefully push each of them to be better.

    Toro Rosso
    Gasly vs Hartley

    I don’t really follow other series of motorsport so I can only base my predictions on the handful of Grand Prix both drivers competed in at the end of last season and even then I don’t think I can make a meaningful assessment.

    I thought Gasly was slightly better of the two last year but now Hartley has had time to fully adjust to F1 and will not be racing in other series I think he should be better.

    As I had to pick one I chose Gasly, but again I wouldn’t be surprised whoever comes out on top.

    Grosjean vs Magnussen

    Although I think Magnussen will be closer to Grosjean this year I think that Grosjean should still finish ahead of Magnussen in the championship table.

    Alonso vs Vandoorne

    Alonso should win the teammate battle at McLaren, while Vandoorne should be better this year in his second full season, and if the car is more competitive it will give him more chances to shine, he will not be on Alonso’s level, but then most aren’t.

    The only question is how will competing in a full F1 programme and a full endurance car programme affect Alonso, it might not make a significant difference to his performances in F1 at all, but if Alonso was in a position to genuinely fight for the F1 championship this year, I am pretty certain he would be focusing 100% on F1 and would not be racing anywhere else.

    Ericsson vs Leclerc

    Normally I would always back the experienced driver against his rookie teammate, especially when the experienced driver has been in F1 for almost four full seasons, but not in this case, I think Leclerc will have the more impressive season at Sauber than Ericsson.

    However as I usually say the further down the grid you go the more likely a one-off result can have a significant impact on a drivers position in the final championship table. One driver may comprehensively beat his teammate in most rounds but if they are at the back of the field they won’t score any points for all their hard work, and if the other driver manages to make it to the end and beat his teammate in a race with a high retirement rate he may finish ahead in the championship due to one good result.

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