The 10 pics that defined F1 in 2018
© Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool
Brilliance, big shunts, send-offs and seven days that swung things – these are the images that told the story of F1 this season.
A week is a long time …
For the longest season in F1 history, 2018 sure turned quickly for Lewis Hamilton. Despondent after qualifying 14th in Germany when his Mercedes broke down, the Briton benefitted from title rival Sebastian Vettel crashing his Ferrari from the lead in the rain the next day to win at Hockenheim. Another victory seven days later in Hungary, and an eight-point deficit had become a 24-point lead.
A champion's salute
Season 2018 was billed as the 'fight for five' between Hamilton and Vettel to join the great Juan Manuel Fangio on a quintet of F1 world titles; the Mercedes man's mid-season surge saw that fight end in Mexico with two races remaining. Only Michael Schumacher (seven championships and 91 wins) has won more titles and races than Hamilton (five and 73).
Max Verstappen would probably like every race to be held at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City; a year after winning the Mexican GP by over 19 seconds, Red Bull's flying Dutchman doubled the dose in October, finishing 17secs ahead of the rest for career victory number five.
Dive of delight
For two years, Daniel Ricciardo carried the disappointment of losing a Monaco win from pole through no fault of his own. For most of the 71 laps around Monte Carlo in May, he carried a car that was 25 per cent down on power because of an MGU-K failure. In the manic moments after he won the Grand Prix every driver covets like no other, there was plenty of carrying on – and a dramatic dip in the pool atop Red Bull's floating Energy Station.
25 points taken, one point made
Kimi Raikkonen hadn’t won a race in his second spell at Ferrari – hell, Raikkonen hadn't won a race full stop since taking the season-opening Australian Grand Prix of 2013 for Lotus. In Austin, he snapped the longest drought between drinks (113 races) in F1 history. "It's nice to prove to all the people that we can still win," he said.
Stepping up together
Pierre Gasly and Charles Leclerc made waves in their rookie F1 campaigns, Gasly snaring an incredible fourth for Toro Rosso in Bahrain, and Leclerc almost single-handedly dragging Sauber from the F1 basement into midfield respectability. As replacements for Ricciardo at Red Bull and Raikkonen at Ferrari respectively in 2019, it'll be fascinating to see whose star shines brightest, and fastest.
Can't win for losing
Russia has always been a strong track for Valtteri Bottas; the Mercedes driver took his maiden win at Sochi a year ago, and looked set to add to it in September. Then came the call; teammate Hamilton was coming through to claim an extra seven points in his title fight with Vettel, leaving Bottas to finish a dutiful second in a season where he went winless – and where Hamilton eventually won the championship by 88 points. "A difficult day," Bottas eventually surmised when prodded for his thoughts after the race.
A dramatic way to bow out
Fernando Alonso used the mid-year break between Hungary and Belgium to announce 2018 would be his last F1 season for the foreseeable future; at Spa when racing resumed, the McLaren driver's present was more up in the air after he was rammed by Nico Hulkenberg's Renault at the first corner, his McLaren sent skywards and skimming the halo of Leclerc's Sauber before coming to a halt in a pile of bits. Luckily, every driver involved walked away unscathed.
Verstappen lost a certain victory in Brazil when he came into contact with Esteban Ocon's Force India, the French driver attempting to un-lap himself from the race leader on fresher tyres. Verstappen made his frustration obvious, both immediately and verbally over the team radio, and belatedly and physically when he encountered Ocon after the race.
The same 20 drivers who began the 2018 season in Australia also finished it in Abu Dhabi, a statistical anomaly observed for the first time in F1 history. But soon after the flag fell as Yas Marina, Brendon Hartley was jettisoned by Toro Rosso for Alexander Albon, while Sergey Sirotkin made way for Robert Kubica at Williams. Four of this year's bottom five won’t be on the grid next season; Lance $troll, who was 18th of 20 this year for Williams, is the exception as gets a promotion to mid-grid Racing Point F1 for 2019.