12 races in and the 2018 F1 season is already delivering a classic, with three different winning teams and four drivers standing on the top step of the podium.

Lewis Hamilton leads chief title rival Sebastian Vettel by a margin of 24 points heading into the final nine rounds of the campaign, as the pendulum of momentum continues to swing between Mercedes and Ferrari. 

It is a season that has witnessed a number of shocks and talking points both on and off the track, including clashes, collisions between teammates and reliability dramas. At the half-way mark, we have rounded out a selection of the some of the best from this year. 

Shock Moments of F1 2018… So far

Click below to find out our five most shocking moments of 2018 so far. 

5 - Williams struggles, Haas surprises 

A gamble to make a bold change and go for an aggressive car concept over the winter failed to pay off for Williams, as the former world champions made a terrible start to the new season when the F1 circus rocked up to the season-opener in Australia. 

Lance Stroll made it into Q2 but could only finish 14th, while rookie Sergey Sirotkin qualified on the back row of the grid and retired less than five laps into his race debut. The result would set the tone for the first half of the season, with the Grove-based squad managing just one top 10 finish en route to slipping to the very bottom of the pecking order. 

Following up on an encouraging pre-season, Haas turned heads in Melbourne with a demonstration of raw speed and potential as it locked out the third row of the grid. A brilliant start from both drivers saw Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean looking set for a strong result, only for a disastrous pair of pit stops to see the US squad leave Australia with no points. 

Turning around its misfortune and mistakes, Haas has emerged as a genuine contender in the battle to lead the midfield fight and is Renault’s nearest competitors over fourth place heading into the second half of 2018. 

4 - (Red) Bulls lock horns in Baku

Having swapped and changed positions frequently throughout the opening stint of the race, tensions rose between Red Bull teammates Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo as the pair ran fourth and fifth in Baku.

After a number of near misses and scrapes during the early stages, the pair came together in dramatic style as Ricciardo lined up a pass on his teammate on the long drag to Turn 1. Ricciardo initially went for the outside, only to switch back to the inside line. Verstappen edged across ever so slightly to defend with the pit wall just metres away.

With nowhere to go, and having misjudged the manoeuvre, Ricciardo ploughed into Verstappen’s rear, taking both drivers out on the spot in a crash reminiscent of former Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber’s collision during the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix.

The incident prompted a Safety Car period and turned the race on its head, with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton ultimately profiting to claim an unlikely win after teammate and erstwhile leader Valtteri Bottas suffered a tyre blowout with three laps to go. 

3 - Mercedes double DNFs in Austria, Max wins at Red Bull Ring

Lewis Hamilton jumped polesitter Valtteri Bottas to lead an early Mercedes 1-2. Things had been looking good for Mercedes until lap 14, when Bottas was forced out of the race with a hydraulic issue. 

Hamilton lost the lead and dropped as low as fourth during a Virtual Safety Car period that was deployed to recover Bottas’ car, with the team’s chief strategist James Vowles taking the blame for a strategy error over team radio. 

The Briton later joined his teammate on the sidelines when he encountered a loss of fuel pressure in the closing stages, marking the reigning world champions’ first double DNF in two years and its first two-car retirement due to mechanical failures since 1955. 

The result, which Mercedes boss Toto Wolff described as the team’s “most painful day” in the sport, saw Vettel move into the lead of the championship, one point clear of Hamilton. 

It also enabled Max Verstappen to profit as he inherited the lead and went on to score a popular and fitting win for Red Bull on home soil - the team’s first F1 victory at Spielberg. 

2 - Vettel crashes out in Germany, Hamilton wins from 14th

Things had been looking rosy for Sebastian Vettel as he led comfortably in Germany during the opening stint in his search for a first win at Hockenheim. That was until a late rain shower curtailed his hopes. 

As he looked to build a gap over Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen, Valtteri Bottas and the recovering Lewis Hamilton, who had switched onto a fresh set of Ultrasofts, the German slid off the road in damp conditions and crashed into the Turn 13 barriers.

The incident prompted a Safety Car as Bottas and Raikkonen subsequently dived into the pits, while Hamilton - after some initial confusion - cut across the grass at pit entry and remained out. It proved crucial in handing the Briton track position, before fending off an attack from Bottas with some stern defending. 

Despite starting the race from 14th on the grid, Hamilton held on to take a remarkable victory as he enjoyed a massive points swing in his favour to regain the lead of the championship from Vettel in the most unlikely of circumstances. 

1 - Ricciardo swaps Red Bull for Renault

Having looked set to commit his short term future to Red Bull with his alternative options of finding a competitive race seat dwindling, Daniel Ricciardo shocked the F1 world by making a surprise U-Turn to announce he would be leaving the energy drinks company once his contract expires at the end of the season. 

He will instead move to Renault in a switch that has been described as an “enormous risk” for the Australian’s career by Red Bull team principal Christian Horner. 

Ricciardo’s change of heart occurred while on a long-haul flight to the US and has shades of Lewis Hamilton’s exit from McLaren for Mercedes at the end of 2012, given how much of Ricciardo’s career has been backed by Red Bull. 

It proved to be one of the stories of the season and undoubtedly will be looked back on as one of the biggest shocks of 2018, right on the eve of F1’s annual summer break. 

Ricciardo’s switch not only leaves Red Bull facing a big conundrum in deciding who replaces him, but it is also set to have major repercussions up and down the grid with the driver market now blown wide open.