Can anyone stop the Hamilton-Mercedes juggernaut?

Mercedes will be looking to continue its purple streak following another successful season which heralded yet more silverware. The German manufacturer sealed its fifth consecutive constructors’ world championship to maintain a clean sweep of titles across the V6 hybrid era, while Lewis Hamilton joined Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher in an exclusive club of drivers to win five or more championships.

Given Hamilton’s achievements in 2018, a year in which he produced the best season of his F1 career to date, it is difficult to look past the Briton as anything other than the red-hot favourite to claim what would be a fifth world championship in the past six years. Hamilton has already vowed to “press the reset button and go even harder” in his bid to add a sixth drivers’ crown to his growing list of feats and further elevate himself among the pantheon of all-time greats. 

The 33-year-old can see Michael Schumacher’s record of seven titles becoming an increasingly realistic prospect, and he is also steadily closing in on the German’s win record of 91. The tally once looked untouchable but Hamilton, who has a Mercedes contract running until the end of 2020, has already recorded 73 and taken an average of 10 race victories per year across the past five campaigns, winning a staggering 51 of the 100 races since 2014.

Having convincingly fended off its strongest challenge yet in the shape of a revitalised Ferrari, Mercedes is now within touching distance of matching the Scuderia’s overall record of six constructors’ championship victories in a row from 1999-2004. Ferrari will hope a new driver pairing of Charles Leclerc alongside four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel will help keep its record intact as it looks to bounce back. 

Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas’ performances will be under the microscope following a winless season as he enters the final year of his Mercedes deal with reserve driver Esteban Ocon - who has been left without a full-time seat for 2019 due to an unforeseen set of unfortunate circumstances - breathing down his neck and primed to take advantage should the Finn’s form dip continue. 

 

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