Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Hungaroring, 2018

2018 F1 driver rankings #1: Hamilton

2018 F1 season review

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In the five years since the V6 hybrid turbo era arrived, this was the hardest challenge for Mercedes yet. The competition were closer – often faster, in the case of Ferrari. Lewis Hamilton looked off his game over the opening races.

But once he clicked with the W09 he was unstoppable. Hamilton dominated the second half of 2018: having won three of the first 10 races, he only only lost three of the remaining 11 rounds. On the way he put a lock on his fifth world championship title.

He should have started the season with a win in Australia, but an error on the Mercedes pit-wall meant he followed Sebastian Vettel home instead. The Ferrari driver wquickly shored up a point advantage which looked worrying for Hamilton, but he struck back with wins in Azerbaijan (a lucky one, as he’s lost position to Valtteri Bottas, but inherited the win when debris put his team mate out) and Spain (where he was in control).

Weekend like Canada and Austria, however, showed he had a real fight on his hands. At Silverstone he dug deep, produced a brilliant lap for pole, but spun his wheels at the start and was bundled off by Kimi Raikkonen. Undeterred, Hamilton fought back and took a fine second place.

Better was to follow in Hockenheim where he was confined to 14th on the grid by a technical problem in qualifying. A mid-race rain showed offered him the chance to close in on the leaders and he was taking seconds a lap out of Vettel when the Ferrari driver crashed out. He avoided a penalty after making an 11th-hour call not to pit and found himself in the lead when the race restarted. He held Bottas off for half a lap before the team intervened, called off the fight and guaranteed Hamilton’s victory.

Lewis Hamilton

Beat team mate in qualifying15/21
Beat team mate in race17/20
Races finished20/21
Laps spent ahead of team mate866/1202
Qualifying margin-0.17s (adjusted)
Points408

He was on a role. Ferrari were quicker in Hungary but it rained in qualifying and Hamilton took pole. With the Ferrari drivers taking time to get ahead of Bottas, Hamilton clung on to win.

He couldn’t keep Vettel behind at Spa, but Hamilton won the next four in a row, leaving the championship a foregone conclusion. Singapore was a highlight: On a track which has been tough to Mercedes in recent seasons, Hamilton delivered a stunning lap for pole position and controlled the race.

Mercedes felt the pressure from their rivals again late in the season, but Hamilton knew he only had to keep out of trouble and the title was his. Sure enough, fourth place in Mexico sealed the deal. Yet in a break with past seasons, he won the final races for good measure, ensuring Mercedes another constructors’ title, and ending an almost flawless season in the best possible way.

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Over to you

After a not-bad beginning, he started to put great performances, specially with the comeback in his home turf. But obviously Germany was the first key. His pace with new tyres under the slight rain was legendary, and winning from 14th is historic. Great poles in Hungary and Belgium led to another epic win in Italy without the fastest car and that lap in Singapore sealed the championship. Still he rises, still the best.
@DiezCilindro

What’s your verdict on Lewis Hamilton’s 2018 season? Which drivers do you feel he performed better or worse than? Have your say in the comments.

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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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81 comments on “2018 F1 driver rankings #1: Hamilton”

  1. I disagree!

    (Kidding)

  2. Gets a lot of heat for various reasons but there’s no denying the speed and consistency he has. The way in which Vettel faded from contention just shows how Hamilton is simply in a different class from the rest of the field.

  3. Completely the right choice.

    A great song and dance was made how Vettel was disadvantaged by poorer reliability in 2017. Yet, in 2018,Hamilton suffered a technical DNF in Austria, a hydraulics failure in Germany, a grid penalty plus radio mal-function in Bahrain, a technical issue in Canada & a engine problem in Brazil. At the point he took the title Mexico, Vettel had not had 1 single technical issue. That makes his taking the title with a few rounds to spare, even more remarkable.

    Mercedes also had their fair share of strategic errors, but Merc won despite their gaffes, partly because Hamilton was able to avoid compounding the situation by being largely error-free.

    To so easily beat a 4xWDC, in equalish machinery, under the intense pressure cooker of a title fight- Hamilton deserves the number 1 spot.

    1. I believe Vettel is the k my driver in the grid not to suffer any technical issues during the races the entire season.

      100% reliability.

        1. Sensor failures are common. He’s the only not to retire from s race with a mechanical issue. So he had 100% reliability

    2. Couldn’t agree anymore. The Mercs and Ferraris were equal on performance throughout the year, and in fact, Seb’s Ferrari was even more reliable. Lewis just rose to the challenge this year, and just made another 4 time WDC look mediocre at best. Can’t argue with his #1 spot in the rankings.

      Honestly, I look forward to the Leclercs and Verstappen taking the battle to Hamilton sometime soon.. because he’s done and dusted the Vettel challenge over the past two seasons.

    3. You know, I hadn’t realized it but you’re absolutely right! Vettel enjoyed perfect reliability. Casts an even bigger shadow on his performances this year, if you ask me.

    4. I always have trouble believing the in race Mercedes ‘engine trouble’. The engine in Brazil that was on the verge of self destruction won the following race to name such an incident.

      1. Because the parts that were damaged, they were allowed to change for similar parts that were previously used.

  4. It was always going to be tough to choose between Stroll and Lewis but I guess we need to give out a few marks in sympathy for time spent in Stevenage. Can HAM make it 6 next year or will the Merc steamroller eventually falter? I’ll enjoy reading about all the exciting live races in 2019 right here on RaceFans! :-)

    1. Hamilton is the best driver this generation

      1. Yeah, Hamilton and Stroll, best drivers of this generation bar none.

    2. He just tainted the stevenage heritage..

      1. He misspoke and apologised for it. Believe me Stevenage will survive this horror…..

  5. Best driver this year by a mile. It helps that he has a Mercedes car, but that doesn’t take anything away from it.

    1. Except the car does make a difference. It makes an enormous difference

      1. Bottas has the same car.

        1. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
          18th December 2018, 19:32

          Sebastien also had a faster car for a lot of the season.

      2. @Zac Warren.

        Vettel had an overall equally paced car that was more reliable.

      3. Put me in the Merc next year, i’ll win a WDC!

        Yeah, it’s that easy…

        1. sorry mate, you won’t even win against Stroll in williams.

        2. I’d be really surprised if you could beat Bottas in the Mercedes car. Most people couldn’t.

          1. None of the world wide keyboard warriors on F1 websites, could even beat Stroll.

      4. Except Vettel had an overall better package but couldn’t deliver. Drivers can make a difference like what Hamilton did against Vettel.

  6. I don’t agree with this

      1. @blackmamba “Patriotism” Look at his post history.

        @johnmilk

      2. just felt everything was very peaceful @blackmamba, just wanted to stir things a bit

        @ftruth are you stalking me?

  7. Peak Lewis. I expect him to be up there and challenging next season and he will end up as all time GP winner. However, I think the championships will get harder. Gut feel he will be a 6 time champ maximum.

    1. If Mercedes nail the new aero regs and be competitive I see Hamilton winning both 2019 and 2020. Vettel is going to be preoccupied with Leclerc, Verstappen has an unproven Honda and Bottas is….well, Bottas.

  8. 6th paragraph, should say he was on a roll rather than role.

  9. Still sticking to my prediction that he will get his 6th title with Mercedes, but equal Michael’s record in a Ferrari and retire as the GOAT.

  10. He was on a role

    Lol, I agree, year after year….

    1. Haha Bottas was the one playing the role…

  11. The Silverstone lap, the Singapore lap and the aggressive move on Lap 1 in Italy were my top 3 highlights of an overall blinding season. The most well deserved WDC from anyone in years. Probably since 2008 tbh.

    1. His pole lap in Australia as well was incredible…..

      1. Agreed. At the time we thought it was Mercedes qually advantage all over again as we didn’t have Bottas to benchmark against because he stuffed it. In hindsight, that lap was up there with Silverstone and Singapore, 6 tenths to the faster Ferraris. Epic.

    2. Also the recovery drive in the rain in Germany that put Vettel under enough pressure for him to spin out and allow Hamilton to win the race. Singapore was a truly epic qualification that will live down the decades, that special. The other qualifications in the rain sealed his ability on wet tracks and qualification combined. Plus winning the 5th title against a slightly better Ferrari and a 4x champion.

      1. Truly epic season….

  12. Overall, the best and the most consistent driver of the season. Unlike his title-rival, he didn’t throw away any possible points except maybe for the US GP to some extent, which is what ultimately proved decisive for the WDC outcome.

  13. I’ve been reading the driver rankings (and skim reading the comments) and now that the list is complete I’ve got some reservations about some placings.

    I can’t see how Ham is no.1 when he won the title by virtue of his main rival just unravelling so spectacularly. Ham never had to drive out of his skin and merely played the percentage game knowing he had a competitive car and Vet obliged.

    I remember reading an article on the weekend of the Silverstone GP where Vet was basically saying F1 isn’t that important to him now as a family man and I knew then Ham would win the driver’s championship with ease even though Vet was leading by 1 point at the time.

    All of Vet’s mistakes the last two seasons suddenly make sense to me now and signal the end of him as an elite F1 driver so Ham wiping the floor with him isn’t that big a deal.

    I would put Ver 1st, Ham 2nd with 3rd vacant as there was no one close to these two throughout the season.

    1. @sibusisokolwapi Vettel made all those mistakes because Hamilton was driving out of his skin thus piling heaps of pressure on Ferrari and Vettel so your argument doesn’t make sense.

    2. Because Verstappen didn’t crash once during the first 6 races. Oh wait. Anyone ranking Max ahead of Lewis needs their head checked.

      1. Ver out performed the potential of his car (hence the crashes), I can’t say the same for Ham. He was driving within himself for long stretches of the season. That doesn’t mean he didn’t drive well but it wasn’t impressive for his talent.

        Get off Ham’s nuts and look at the whole season objectively.

        1. Verstappen performed to the potential of his car. Please stop with this nonsense that HE out performed.

          The crashes were all as a result of his own immaturity and not looking at the bigger picture.

          1. VER often out performed the potential of the car this year. And it was very easy to tell when he did so because the car spun, ran off-track or slammed into a wall.

        2. @Ghost Racer I guess you missed Brazil. Good night

        3. Get off Ham’s nuts

          Like your on Verstappen’s? Not a way to win an argument.

      2. He did not .. spain was great performance, unexpected on that track. 3th place podium!
        You do not really mean the touching stroll “incident” as an example of a crash.

    3. @sibusisokolwapi Monza wasnt driving out of his skin? He had everything to lose and still went for it. Verstappen was all over the place and you want to put him first just because he decided to ‘turn up’ at the tail end of the season?

      It’s a season ranking not a final couple of races ranking MATE.

      1. My family had to check on me as I involuntarily shouted when he crossed that line in Singapore qually. Took my breath away.

    4. I’m not sure Ham even knows what an unforced error is. That in itself is pretty impressive to me.

    5. merely played the percentage game

      An interesting take on somebody winning over half the races when 3 other drivers had cars of similar speed (not even counting the occasionally impressive Red Bulls).

    6. I would put Ver 1st

      Nobody who threw 3 wins away in a season as well as hit every one of his main competitors should get number 1 spot.

  14. What a great season from Hamilton. One for the ages.

  15. Monza was brilliant I will concede and so was Singapore, Silverstone/Aus quali and that is my point, he was brilliant for a small part of the season for such a huge advantage he had over Ver.

    This season was no where near Ham’s best season of driving. He didn’t have to be beyong good is my point/gripe. This season has nothing on his rookie year and his maiden driver’s title.

    1. Reply fail to @RB13

  16. #1 Hamilton; #6 Vettel; #9 Raikkonen & #11 Bottas
    There’s only four car had the change to win WDC, so either Hamilton is the greatest ever driver in history or he only won it because his rivals didn’t deserved the three other seats.

    1. Agree, option 2, hamilton isn’t the greatest ever, he’s one of the best ever, but if you think about it, names like: bottas, raikkonen since his come back to ferari and vettel 2018 aren’t worthy of the car they had.

      If f1’s goal was to challenge hamilton as much as possible, vettel and bottas should be replaced as well by people like alonso and verstappen, or ricciardo, considering verstappen might have a decent car as well.

  17. His rivals were pathetic especially Bottas who got out pointed by Ver in a clearly inferior car.

    Vet needs to do some introspection and bring his A game mentally because he looked too blase after making mistakes and didn’t look like he wanted to win a championship.

    Max on the other hand learnt from his (even though he said he hadn’t changed his approach). Elite sportsmen won’t admit defeat/fault even though actions after a failure show a tweak in their approach.

    1. @sibusisokolwapi Agreed on Bottas. #11 is still too generous.

      I can’t place Verstappen at #1 because of his early season performance. But still, Verstappen deserved the #2 mainly because those who ought give us excitement fail miserably.

      1. I gave Max #1 because he outperformed his car’s potential while Ham performed on par relative to his car’s potential and his direct competitors gave weak performances.

        Max drove the 1st few races trying to do too much too soon instead of playing the percentages and collecting the points available to him.

        In some weird way I’m glad he did because he soon found the edge of the limits of his car and looked a world beater on inferior equipment when the conditions were right.

        I can see why people penalise him for those 1st few mistakes but for me I see them in the context of him trying to take the fight to the Mercs and Ferraris.

        1. @sibusisokolwapi I’m no fans of Lewis, but this year he made very few mistakes and when he did, it’s not so costly. Let say that we both agree that Max has bigger talent, I think Lewis still won the championship if they had the same equipment in 2018. Lewis would be the Rosberg if both of them in Merc this year.

          1. Ham made few mistakes because he wasn’t on the edge that often and was playing the long game to win the title knowing his car was very good and because he knew Vet’s head wasn’t in it.

            This year definitely wasn’t even in Ham’s top two drives (his rookie year and maiden title years were better)

            Ham v Ver would go to Ham on experience at vital moments (ie Ham would’ve handled the Ocon incident differently) and not raw speed. Max would wash Ham in the same car when it comes to raw pace.

        2. @ghost racer
          You keep saying Max outperformed his car. Ok in China the car was capable of winning but he didnt win. In Monaco same thing, car capable of winning and he wrecked it. In Mexico the car was capable of pole and he didn’t get it. Spun the car in Australia. Just few instances i can recall where he ‘didnt outperform’ his car.
          Max’s season was filled with mistakes especially the first half.

    2. Max was really on the edge in Brazil wasn’t he? You should really stop with the nonsense.

  18. I don’t think Verstappen out performed his car, the Redbull car was always a good car, less the engine, and they were never in contention as the package wasn’t as good as Ferrari or Mercedes (over the course of the season).

    Circuits where you expected Redbull to be strong, most of the time they were, until of course a engine related problem stopped them. But having said that I’d be willing to bet that Riccardo would’ve probably finished in front of Verstappen if he didn’t have so many dnf’s. Max didn’t have that many engine related issues, compared to Riccardo and most of the time when he didn’t finish higher up was due to his own poor decision making on track. Verstappen did put a nice run together when he had consistent podiums but you need to be able to do that over a course of a season, not part of it.

    There is no way in hell Verstappen can out rank Hamilton this season, but what is important is that on tracks that Redbull are strong (i.e. engine power isn’t a critical factor) Redbull were more than likely expected to be on the front row.

    1. Max outperformed his car by a country mile. He out pointed the sister car that won both championships and nearly did the same to Rai whilst being compromised by reliability and his own mistakes.

      Ric was behind Max almost everytime he retired and was washed in quali. The 2 races they had no issues Ver beat Ric.

      1. @sibusisokolwapi

        The only driver who pulled out a lap that was faster than his team though was physically possible was Hamilton. The idea that Hamilton wasn’t pushing is just garbage – so obviously false it might as well be a lie.

        The time you could argue Lewis lifted off a little was a last couple of races before securing the title – because he’d been there before and lost a championship when it was within grasping distance in 2007, so I totally don’t blame him for just making sure he got the points in the bag. In fact, I’d argue that makes him a *better* driver.

        Vestappen is a mighty talent, no doubt. But you’re throwing accolades at him that the evidence just doesn’t support. He’s also got a LOT to learn as a sportsman.

      2. Verstappen out pointing the sister Merc tells me several things.

        1) The redbull car wasn’t bad (chassis) and competitive, track depending.
        2) Verstappen is a better driver than Bottas.
        3) Redbull car performs much better than the Merc in dirty air.
        4) Redbull as a team are on par with Merc ( inspired strategy changes mid race allowed win(s))

        The man that out drove his car was Alonso, the McLaren package with identical engine to Redbull and they were nowhere, but some how Alonso got points finishes.

        To Verstappen’s credit most of the time when the red bull was competitive he did get the job done.

  19. He had a fantastic year, a little rusty at the start but once he was on, no-one was stopping him.
    All the other drivers will have to up their game big time if anyone is going to get near him next year.

    1. I hope Leclerc lives up to the hype

  20. You might want to proofread this article

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