Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Sochi, 2018

“He was the better one of us”: Hamilton’s rivals on his fifth title

2018 F1 season

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For the second time in his career, Lewis Hamilton successfully defended his world championship crown.

His fifth title win was arguably one of the hardest he had to fight for. The first half of the season saw a close fight between Hamilton’s Mercedes and Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari, and Red Bull were also in contention for victory.

But in the second half of the year Hamilton closed down the championship fight, winning six out of seven races at one point. A title battle which looked like it would go down to the wire was decided with two rounds to spare.

The few who have the privilege of racing the world’s fastest racing machines are best-placed to appreciate the drive and dedication needed to win one world championship, let alone multiple titles. Here’s what eight of Hamilton’s peers made of his latest achievement.

Lewis Hamilton, Esteban Ocon, Spa-Francorchamps, 2018
Ocon: Press “doesn’t seem to affect” Hamilton
I think it was not surprising Lewis was consistent, fast and reliable all season, he’s always been. When the pressure is there it doesn’t seem to affect him.

Definitely Seb’s made mistakes in comparison and [Hamilton’s] been the stronger of the two. Even when he didn’t have the strongest car he was still scoring and that made the difference.
Esteban Ocon

In the end Lewis deserves the championship. He’s been really strong especially in the second part of the year. No mistakes and in the end I think that’s what paid off.

If you want to win you need to score points more or less every race. [We’ve] seen a couple of times when they didn’t have the pace like today they finished fourth, fifth, third… might not be ideal, you always want to win, but this is 15 points plus 12, plus 10… in the end it makes a difference. I think we saw that when you score zero points in one race weekend it’s really difficult to recover them in the next couple of races. Obviously that’s the main thing.
Pierre Gasly

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Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Yas Marina, 2018
Alonso praised Hamilton’s “commitment”
Lewis winning five now and being the same as [Juan Manuel] Fangio, as I said before, it’s a great achievement and if one had to do that in our generation, I’m happy that it’s Lewis because he showed the talent and he showed the commitment.

When the car was dominating he delivers and won the championship. When the car was not good enough to win the championship, he still put in some performances to show his talent and that’s difficult to see in our days.
Fernando Alonso

You need to get your team together and you need to deliver in a consistent way so that the team can provide you with what you need. If you need different things every weekend then it’s difficult for the team to provide you with the right package.

It looks like Lewis has really nailed it this year. He’s had a package that he was happy with every time and he was delivering consistently and not making many mistakes and getting in trouble with other drivers. He’s just been very good. He clearly deserves the championship.
Kevin Magnussen

Whoever has the most points has won it and in the end if you ask 10 people they all have a different view probably how it’s been won or lost. It makes no difference, he won it, fair play and congratulations to him.
Kimi Raikkonen

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Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Hockenheimring, 2018
Bottas: “He keeps getting better”
The last two years he’s been the best in Formula 1 and there’s always other drivers that are hungry to try and beat him so it’s definitely not easy to stay there.

He’s been able to stay there at that level for many years. I think sometimes it feels like, and Lewis has said as well, that he keeps getting better. It is impressive. I have big respect for his achievements and he truly deserves those.
Valtteri Bottas

He’s just been consistent and he’s been getting better by the looks of it. I’m not at Mercedes, I don’t know what goes on behind the scenes but you rarely see Lewis crash, you rarely see Lewis make silly mistakes.

I think that’s the key to scoring a championship at the end of the day, it’s just picking up points. If you’re third and the risk of overtaking second is high it’s just about picking up the points at the end of the day. All those points add up. He’s proven that over the last couple of seasons in particular.

It’s been great to see alongside Sebastian in, I would say, an equally competitive car. Maybe it’s more competitive, maybe it’s less, I don’t know, you can talk in details. But he’s just out-raced him and out-drove him and you have to respect that as a racing driver because a season like Formula 1, 21 races, it’s such a long year and he seems to just come in every weekend and get the job done which is easier said than done. Big respect towards him.
Lance Stroll

I congratulated him, I think he drove superbly all year and was the better one of us two. So I told him well deserved and to enjoy it – number five is something incredible.
Sebastian Vettel

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2018 F1 season

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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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  • 24 comments on ““He was the better one of us”: Hamilton’s rivals on his fifth title”

    1. I thoroughly agree with all of them.

    2. Difficult to find fault or disagree with anything said, really.

    3. Wow – that quote from Vettel. He’s clearly capable of being a gracious gentleman and brutally honest with himself.
      It cannot have been easy to say “… he drove superbly all year and was the better one of us two”. Racers are usually bullish about their accomplishments and scathing about (or dismissive of) their rivals.
      My respect for Vettel as a person has just risen another notch.

      1. The Seb we see today is a different man to the one that left RBR, his time at Ferrari seem to have matured him and turned him into a really likable guy.

        1. Papo Chicharra (@)
          25th December 2018, 0:22

          That’s a foggy judgement Foggy. Restrain yourself.

      2. Vettel the person maybe, vettel the driver can only lose respect after 2018, I don’t see how hard it is to say hamilton drove better after the terrible season vettel had, who wouldn’t have drove better?

        1. wouldn’t have driven*

        2. I meant as a person, I did not imply or suggest that Hamilton did not drive better than Seb, he obviously did.

        3. @esploratore OK but the thing I like about Vettel is that he seldom outs in a mediocre performance. Usually his mistakes come from battling at the front, trying to hard maybe, or just simply not that skilled at close racing. But the speed and commitment are always there.

    4. HAM deserves the title and is in the GOAT discussion. But he only had one real rival this year, and VET shot himself in the foot repeatedly.

    5. It’s very hard to objectively judge Hamilton’s performance this year – he has certainly been great. However:
      – His team mate Bottas has been woefully bad in comparison. Hard to say how the differential is caused by Him or Ham, or a bit of both.
      – Ferrari and Vettel had been faster at times, but not consistently.
      – Red Bull have been slower and less reliable than Mercedes. On the days when this is not the case, Verstappen has looked more than a match for Hamilton.

      So no real challengers then.

      Over the three years at Mercedes when Hamilton had a competitive team mate, Nico Rosberg, he came out on top. But Rosberg managed to out-qualify and out-race Hamilton around 45% of the time. This year Ham has had no consistent competition from within or outside the team.

      But even ignoring the car advantage he was the best and deserved to win this year. But I don’t buy this was his best year, and would have loved to either see Rosberg, Alonso or Ricciardo in the other Merc – only then could we really judge things.

      1. Yes, absolutely, alonso would’ve been more competition than rosberg, rosberg expect another 2016, so hamilton would’ve won with even reliability, ricciardo don’t know, I think he might be a little slower, although reliable as a driver, verstappen also would’ve been crazy competition, but on the other hand makes mistakes ricciardo doesn’t make.

        1. “verstappen … makes mistakes ricciardo doesn’t make”
          On the other hand Verstappen has outperformed Ricciardo by greater margin Hamilton beat Bottas…
          Ricciardo wasn’t flawless (penalty Aus, crash Aze, crash Spain + 2 spins, colliding with Bot, Hun) and was significant slower on track.

          Most exciting battle would be Verstappen against Hamilton in equal cars…at this moment Hamilton won in a car that was much more competitive (or even dominant). Imagine Verstappen in a car with the same advantage Lewis had

    6. Simply the best package: driver and car in balance and only team errors could break that package.

    7. Lewis was in the Zone this year, thoroughly deserves the title.

      Naturally, with this many titles, the GOAT debate will ensue, but its really hard to quantify, and frankly I dont think it matters. Lewis will be regarded as one of the greatest of his generation.

    8. Truly deserved championship for Lewis but I’d like to put a quote from Max in:”yes he did great but it’s easier when you have the car to do it”

      1. ” but it’s easier when you have the car to do it”

        Try telling that to Vet, Raik & Bottas who also had the “cars to do it”

        1. They know they had the cars to do it and they failed. Btw. FIA chose overtake of the year Ric on Bot but everybody in F1 knows that the easiest driver to pass is Bottas. So it is always a combination of car, driver and the tech-boys behind the scenes. Nobody in F1 ignores that Ves, in the same conditions, is more than a match for Lewis. The only one by the way. Ham is great.

        2. Max is obviously referring to the difference between the redbull and the Mercedes

          In his mind he will beat Lewis in the same car

          1. Max has beaten Lewis in lesser cars several times now.

            1. Granted the Red Bull is a lesser package, generally speaking. We know this. It’s why Lewis usually finishes ahead of Max.
              But Max has not beaten Lewis in a car that did not have some advantage on race day, whether because the Mercedes’ power advantage was nullified at altitude, better tyre wear or a better strategy. And Max has never beaten or outqualified Lewis on a wet track.
              It would be nice to see them go head to head in equal cars.

    9. Depailer how did you get to “45% of the time..” please show us the formula. Or are u just guessing like alot of other wannabe couch experts. 1 in any competition there will be times when a person just wins by a small gap or by a huge gap. 1 goal or 5goals. In the end the winner recieves the same trophy is ranked the 1st. The records show it. Fact. No guessing or couch determined percentages… Lewis won. Lewis lost. Lewis won etc.

    10. Lewis was rubbish at altitude though. Only 4th at Mexico for heavens sake. Max would have been champion if Renault’s engine was on par with Merc like it was there.

      1. Based on your logic then Max was “rubbish” at the 19 races he didn’t win.

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