With the holiday season now in full swing and racing on hold for a few weeks at least, it is the perfect time to take a look back on the year that has been and pick out some of the highlights of the year.

Over the next three days, Crash.net's editorial team will be reflecting on some of their favourite personal moments from the season that has been. From extraordinary moments on-track to poignant moments off it, it acts as a nice look back on our year.

In part one, F1 Digital Editor Luke Smith picks out his favourite 2018 moments.

Top 10 of F1 2018 Moments

WEC 6 Hours of Spa – Alonso-mania hits sports cars

Covering the FIA World Endurance Championship has always been a joy, often acting as a nice escape from the high-pressure, intensive nature of the Formula 1 paddock.

But WEC got its own taste of F1 this year as Fernando Alonso embarked on his LMP1 adventure with Toyota, laying the foundations for his debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June (which one of my colleagues will come to in their highlights).

There was a noticeable shift in the WEC paddock upon Alonso’s debut at Spa, particularly when it came to fan focus. The open nature of the paddock has always been one of the series’ perks, yet with Alonso, it meant he was often surrounded no matter where he went, while the Toyota motorhome had dozens of fans outside all day with various pieces of merchandise waiting to be signed. Alonso even joked how when he went to use the toilets, a number of fans also just so happened to need to go at the same time..!

But what was really noticeable was the change in Alonso himself. Away from the struggles of F1, he was finally in a series where he could be competitive – taking pole and victory on debut for Toyota alongside Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima – and appeared to be really enjoying himself. He was more at ease talking to media, seeing a different set of faces (well, myself excluded!) and answering a different set of questions instead of the same-old, same-old he encountered in F1.

While it may only have been a sports car race on a sunny Saturday at Spa to most, it marked the true arrival of Alonso to the WEC paddock – a big moment for all involved this year

From Montreal to Silverstone – The Quintuple-Header

For all of the concerns about the pressures of the ‘triple-header’ in Formula 1 this year, I ended up putting my own spin on things by going two steps further and turning it into a quintuple-header with five races in five weeks.

Having already managed one triple-header earlier in the year (Azerbaijan GP, Spa WEC, Spanish GP; I'd also do one more across Silverstone WEC, the Belgian GP and Italian GP in the summer), I ventured to Canada thinking ‘hey, this is doable, right?’ It was just about, albeit a little stressful at times, and it was very rewarding.

Montreal was the first step, with Sebastian Vettel taking a convincing victory for Ferrari 40 years on from Gilles Villeneuve’s victory at the circuit which now bears his name. A speedy getaway on Sunday night followed to get back to London on Monday before turning things around to hit the road to Le Mans on Tuesday.

Le Mans is one of those races which, at 5am on Sunday, when you’ve been awake nearly 24 hours, watching timing screens for the past 14 and start going stir-crazy in the somewhat ripe media centre, you hate. But after a bit of sleep, some breakfast, and, finally, the chequered flag, you’re itching to do it all over again. Leg two complete.

Quite why I went back to London instead of just staying in France escapes me, but anyway: next up was Paul Ricard, and the return of the French Grand Prix. It was a disastrous race weekend in terms of organisation, the worst I attended all year, but standing on the grid seeing the French flags fly while La Marseillaise rang out, there was an underlying feeling that F1 belonged back in its spiritual home.

After another dash back to London, then came Austria. The Red Bull Ring has become a favourite circuit of mine given its picturesque setting, and it offered a bonkers race as Max Verstappen sent his travelling band of fans into raptures with a thrilling victory.

And then came the final leg at Silverstone which, again, did not disappoint, with Sebastian Vettel charging to a stunning victory for Ferrari, capped off with one of the overtakes of the season on Valtteri Bottas. Lewis Hamilton managed to fight his way back through the field to take second place after being spun on the opening lap, ensuring Vettel did not stream away in the points standings.

To do five straight races was a bit of a slog at times, but if you’d ask any racing fan if they’d want to do it, the automatic answer would be ‘yes’. By the time I’d done Germany and Hungary, it totalled seven races in eight weeks – but would I do it all again? In a heartbeat.

F1 German Grand Prix – The Turning Point

“I’m f**king sick of losing.”

Those were the words uttered to me by a Mercedes team member on Saturday night at Hockenheim who we’d ran into at dinner. Hours earlier, Lewis Hamilton’s hopes of a fifth title had taken a big blow when his car ground to a halt in qualifying, leaving him 14th on the grid.

Title rival Sebastian Vettel had taken pole at home for Ferrari, giving him a golden chance to extend his eight-point lead in the drivers’ championship and gain momentum ahead of the summer break.

At that point, things did look bleak for Mercedes. It had won just one of the previous five races. Ferrari looked to be the quicker team in all areas, and had a run of tracks coming up that appeared to favour the SF71H car. The title race looked set to take a decisive swing in the races that followed.

And it did – but not in Ferrari’s favour. What followed at Hockenheim on race day was the definitive turning point in the 2018 season. Hamilton charged up the order to move into contention at the front, with a short, sharp rain shower resulting in a clumsy mistake by Vettel. He locked up in the final sector, slid off the track and into the wall, ending his hopes of a maiden Hockenheim victory.

Hamilton was able to capitalise – with a slice of fortune after missing the ‘IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN’ radio call – and grab a remarkable victory, turning the tables in the drivers’ championship. It sparked a run of six wins in seven races for Hamilton, acting as the catalyst in his fifth title win.

I reminded that Mercedes team member of what they had said later in the year. “Funny how things change,” they said. And it all was rooted in that Sunday at Hockenheim.

F1 Hot Lap with George Russell

F1 United States Grand Prix – Hot Lap with George Russell

OK, this one is totally self-indulgent… but it was definitely one of my highlights of the year. Pirelli launched a new Hot Lap scheme in 2019 that saw Mercedes, Aston Martin and McLaren all supply their top-end road cars to take guests around for hot laps – and, on occasion, the odd journalist.

I was fortunate enough to get a chance to go for a lap with Mercedes junior and 2019 Williams F1 driver George Russell at the Circuit of The Americas in October. You can check out the full video above.

It was easily one of my highlights of the season, and great to see one of F1’s young talents having so much fun behind the wheel of a car. There are also few better ways to get to know what a circuit is really like, COTA being one of the most individual there is.

F1 Mexican Grand Prix – King Lewis V

While there was always a sense of inevitability about Lewis Hamilton’s coronation as a five-time world champion in Mexico, it was still poignant to see him become just the third driver in F1 history to hit the milestone.

It actually proved to be one of Mercedes’ worst races of the season as Hamilton faded badly through the race, eventually crossing the line fourth, but he was still the man of the hour after the chequered flag.

An impromptu press conference was called about an hour or so after the race where Hamilton, a driver whose relationship with the media has swung back and forth through the years, spent a good 45 minutes answering questions.

For me, this was the real mark of just how far Hamilton has come over the last few years. A world away from the tense times of his rivalry with Nico Rosberg, Hamilton was completely at ease and very comfortable talking with us.

It was one of the strangest press conferences I’ve been to. There was a journalist called Fernando Alonso whose name amused Hamilton, Tommy Hilfiger turned up (I didn’t even know he was an actual person); vegan diets were discussed, and Hamilton also made peace with a journalist who hadn’t attended one of his press conferences for a number of years after some bad blood in the past.

But through it all, we could really see the man Hamilton had become. Everything at that moment seemed perfectly-balanced. There was no needle, no point to prove. Instead, only gratitude and humility – things that could so easily have been missed as he soaked up the enormity of his achievement that day in Mexico.