With a final run-down following the Formula 1 season finale in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, here are Crash.net F1 Digital Editor Luke Smith’s complete driver ratings.
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes – 10
A perfect 10 for Lewis Hamilton to cap off his greatest season in F1 to date. Showing a post-coronation strength that was missing in 2015 and 2017, Hamilton was peerless in Abu Dhabi. He delivered a beat-down of the field in qualifying before pulling clear early on in the race, and then managing his tyres well after the early stop under the Virtual Safety Car. Sebastian Vettel got close late on, but Hamilton was always in control with time in hand and a chance to turn up the wick if required.
Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes – 6
A disappointing end to a disappointing season for Valtteri Bottas. His score of 6 is that high by virtue of his excellent display in qualifying, as the race saw him struggle badly on his tyres once again. Bottas held his nerve ahead of Vettel through the opening stint, but was powerless to stop the Ferrari driver passing on the Supersofts, with both Red Bulls also following through. Four P5 finishes in a row to close out the year leaves Bottas with work to do over the winter.
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari – 8
Sebastian Vettel may have failed to end Ferrari’s win drought at the Yas Marina Circuit, but he was on-song in Abu Dhabi, bouncing back after his struggles in Brazil. Vettel was quick in qualifying, and did the best strategy available in the race. Hamilton was never really beatable, but to get the upper-hand on Bottas was a good way to end the year.
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari – 6
In true Kimi Raikkonen fashion, his weekend review is short and sweet: decent in qualifying to take P4 on the grid, but not as quick as Vettel; held position early on in the race before an electrical issue forced him to retire. The bigger disappointment for Raikkonen was that he kept P3 in the drivers’ standings, meaning he has to go to the FIA gala in St. Petersburg next month!
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull – 7
Daniel Ricciardo’s final race for Red Bull yielded a strong if unspectacular display en route to fourth place. Ricciardo lost out to Charles Leclerc at the start before fighting back, and then led for a while after a long first stint. It was a clever strategy play by Red Bull, but his inability to catch or pass teammate Max Verstappen meant a repeat of his China charge was not possible.
Max Verstappen, Red Bull – 8
Verstappen called his final Q3 lap on Saturday a “f**king disaster”, yet things appeared to be going from bad to worse when he dropped as low as 10th on the opening lap due to an overheating engine. Verstappen was able to fight his way back up the order in style with some bold overtakes, and managed to get the undercut on Ricciardo before passing Bottas on-track to grab third, marking his 11th podium of the year.
Sergio Perez, Force India – 7
Sergio Perez picked up a handful of points for Force India in Abu Dhabi to close out a rough season, fighting back from a poor qualifying that left him 14th on the grid to take eighth at the flag. Perez lacked the pace to keep Carlos Sainz Jr. back, but had enough of an edge on the Haas cars to comfortably take P8, finishing just behind Charles Leclerc.
Esteban Ocon, Force India – 6
Esteban Ocon had a tricky final outing with Force India in Abu Dhabi. Good qualifying put him in the frame for points, but he lost out to the recovering Verstappen and teammate Perez in the first stint before getting stuck in traffic after pitting. Ocon picked up a five-second time penalty for going off-track to complete his pass on Stoffel Vandoorne, before an engine issue caused him to retire late on while in P10.
Lance Stroll, Williams – 6
Lance Stroll’s last appearance for Williams may have failed to yield any points, but the Canadian put in a good display on race day, beating both teammate Sergey Sirotkin and the McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne.
Sergey Sirotkin, Williams - 5
Sirotkin used the word “painful” to describe his race in Abu Dhabi, and rightly so. A poor start was followed by a poor first stint that meant he sat plum last before even making his first pit stop. He ultimately finished a distant 16 seconds from Vandoorne, crossing the line as the last classified finisher.
Nico Hulkenberg, Renault - 7
We can only really pass judgement on Nico Hulkenberg’s qualifying display in Abu Dhabi given his terrifying first-lap flip after contact with Romain Grosjean. Hulkenberg did well to outqualify teammate Carlos Sainz Jr., and would likely have been in the fight to lead the midfield had it not been for the collision. Nevertheless, he ends the season as F1’s ‘B-Class’ champion.
Carlos Sainz Jr, Renault – 9
This was perhaps Sainz’s strongest display of the season as he signed off from Renault in excellent fashion. Despite dropping out in Q2, Sainz made a long first stint work to get the jump on the likes of Perez and Charles Leclerc, the latter having pitted under the early Virtual Safety Car. Sainz managed his tyres well to come home in no man’s land, 18 seconds clear of Leclerc behind.
Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso – 7
Gasly was looking good to finish his time with Toro Rosso with another charge into the points, having been left 17th on the grid due to his power unit issue in Q1. Gasly pulled his customary trick of making a long first stint work well, and was sitting 10th with 10 laps to go when his engine failed (again), forcing him to retire from the race.
Brendon Hartley, Toro Rosso – 5
After outqualifying Gasly on Saturday, Brendon Hartley had a good chance to impress in Abu Dhabi, only for things to take a turn on the opening lap. Damage after hitting debris from the Grosjean/Hulkenberg crash forced Hartley into an early pit stop and into taking the old-spec front wing that did not work with the rest of the aero package on the car. Hartley made a mistake on the first restart lap after the Safety Car, tapping the wall at Turn 19, and while his tyre management was good en route to 12th, he was never really in contention for points.
Romain Grosjean, Haas – 7
Grosjean called his Q3 effort one of the best laps of his F1 career on Saturday after securing P7 on the grid, but the race failed to live up to the same kind of billing. The contact with Hulkenberg was a racing incident, yet it left Grosjean’s Haas VF-18 with damage, making his result of P9 a decent result, all things considered.
Kevin Magnussen, Haas – 6
Poor qualifying (13th) and a poor start left Magnussen way down in P16 at the end of the opening lap, but from there he produced a good fightback, running long on the first stint before a late stop that allowed him to grab the final point for P10. A nice double-score for Haas to cap off its third season with.
Fernando Alonso, McLaren – 9
Fernando Alonso’s swansong F1 race offered another gritty and entertaining drive, complete with more team radio gold. Strong pace in the early part of his second stint put him in contention for points, running P11, but he couldn’t quite catch Magnussen (even with three straight chicane cuts!). A memorable finale to a memorable F1 career.
Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren – 6
Stoffel Vandoorne’s final F1 outing didn’t bring any points, but we saw a good bit of fight from the Belgian that we’ve not seen a huge deal of through 2018. Coming under pressure from Ocon and Grosjean on fresher tyres, Vandoorne was able to keep both drivers back for a while, giving teammate Alonso the chance to draw closer to them. However, his pace in the second tailed off, leaving him behind Stroll at the flag.
Marcus Ericsson, Sauber – 7
Things were shaping up for Marcus Ericsson to end his time with Sauber with points, the Swede having jumped up to P8 in the early stages of the race following the Safety Car and VSC and with a long first stint planned. An issue ultimately forced him to retire, denying Sauber the chance to nick P7 in the constructors’ from Force India.
Charles Leclerc, Sauber – 9
The hype around Leclerc has been one of the stories of F1 2018, making it fitting that the season should end with him justifying it once again. Another Q3 appearance was followed by a stunning start that saw Leclerc jump both Red Bulls on the opening lap, before an early stop under the VSC. From there, Leclerc had to focus on tyre management, meaning he could not cover off the faster Sainz, but he did well to keep Sergio Perez back and take P7. A fine ending to his one-year spell with Sauber.