With 2018 wrapping up it’s time to pick apart who triumphed and who faltered away from the Formula 1 world championship standings – with a few surprising results.

Winner

With the obvious candidate of Lewis Hamilton as reigning Formula 1 world champion being an assumed winner, there is no argument against including the Mercedes driver in this list. But looking further afield it is fair to assess a host of others also excelled this season starting with the standout rookie of the year.

Charles Leclerc

Slotting into a revitalised Sauber certainly suited the 2017 Formula 2 champion alongside Marcus Ericsson but with it came extra pressure to impress and live up to the sky-high billing as a future F1 world champion.

Top 10 of F1 2018 Moments

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Leclerc endured a tricky time getting up to speed in Formula 1 over the opening three races – failing to challenge for the points in Australia, Bahrain and China despite opportunities presenting themselves – but everything clicked in the crazy Azerbaijan Grand Prix with an outstanding sixth-place finish.

Points at four of the following five rounds, the exception coming at his home race due to brake failure in the closing stages, showed the F1 world his potential rang true as he quickly gained admirers up and down the paddock.

With blessing from Ferrari’s deceased President Sergio Marchionne, Leclerc went from F1 rookie to Ferrari certainty over the summer and the announcement from Maranello duly arrived ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix that he would replace Kimi Raikkonen for 2019.

Added pressure as a Ferrari driver in waiting proved of little significance to the 21-year-old, credited with an old head on young shoulders, with five points finishes from the final seven rounds to complete a stellar end to his breakthrough campaign.

Leclerc ended up comprehensively outscoring Ericsson by 30 points at the end of the season and has set up a trajectory leading many to tip he’ll be more than a understudy to Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari in 2019.

Loser

Mercedes

Perhaps a surprise inclusion on this side of the list given a fifth consecutive F1 world drivers’ and constructors’ crown has been wrapped up in 2018 – putting it equal with Ferrari’s 2000-2004 all-conquering run – but by Mercedes’ high standards this season certainly left a few question marks.

Directly compared to 2017, Mercedes recouped fewer points (despite an extra race), fewer wins and fewer pole positions this year despite some scintillating form from Hamilton.

A combination of bad luck, poor timing, team orders and dip in performances by Valtteri Bottas made him endure his “worst season” by his own admission having become the first Mercedes driver to miss out on a race win since Michael Schumacher in 2012.

Slipping Standards

655 points (2018, includes 1 more race) - 668 (2017)

11 wins (2018) - 12 wins (2017)

13 poles (2018) - 15 poles (2017)

Austrian Grand Prix double DNF – first double mechanical retirement in V6 Hybrid era

While Hamilton’s exploits masked other key deficiencies in the scoring tallies, Mercedes’ rivals have grown stronger taking advantage of stable regulations on the engine side to improve developments and seizing opportunities on the aerodynamic and chassis design front.

Ferrari were credited with the stronger overall package for the majority of the season but came up short while Red Bull also grew in threat when circuits suited their strengths.

“Ferrari has ramped up their game over the last years tremendously and I think the performance levels were pretty close to each other,” Mercedes chief Toto Wolff said. “We had a few races where we were doing well and then Ferrari came back and they had the upper hand.

“I think this fluctuated over the season. In the end we came up with a small advantage, but they have become a formidable competitor.

“If Honda goes [well] with Red Bull next year it might be another team joining the party but with the new regulations anyway it’s up in the air if somebody else could be competitive, but we very much embrace the challenge, we enjoy the fight.”

Follow Page 2 for more winners and losers in F1 2018...

 

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