10. Scott Dixon – IndyCar, 1st

2018 was a year for five-time world champions. Lewis Hamilton and Marc Marquez achieved the feats in Formula 1 and MotoGP respectively – but Scott Dixon became a five-timer himself over in IndyCar.

Dixon’s relentless consistency reached new heights in 2018. Alongside three wins, he hit the podium at Indianapolis (twice), Road America, Pocono, Gateway and Sonoma. Between the Indy GP at the start of May and the season finale at Sonoma, Dixon finished outside of the top five just once, at Iowa.

One of Dixon’s most remarkable moments came at the penultimate race in Portland. After being caught up in a first-lap clash that saw his car get spun and hit by three rivals, one of whom went over the top of his Ganassi car, Dixon recovered to finish the race fifth.

Despite being pushed hard by Alexander Rossi in the title fight, Dixon once again proved why he is one of IndyCar’s all-time greats. At 38, he’s still got a few years left at the highest level, and if 2018’s form is anything to go by, more titles are surely going to come his way.

9. Alex Rins – MotoGP, 5th

One of the standout youngsters on the MotoGP grid in 2018, after an injury-stalled rookie campaign last year Alex Rins properly announced himself in the premier class for Suzuki with an impressive season which included five podiums.

A maiden MotoGP rostrum arrived in the wild Argentina race, seeing off Jack Miller late on, but he struggled for consistency at the start of the season with three DNFs alongside his third place in South America.

In the incredible Assen race, Rins more than held his own with some eye-catching overtakes to secure second place before discovering his consistency to notch up strong points over the second half of the season – only behind Marc Marquez on total points scored after the summer break.

During the flyaway races at the end of the season, Rins continued to show his worth to Suzuki with a trio of podiums in Japan, Malaysia and the wet finale in Valencia to secure fifth place in the MotoGP riders’ standings.

8. Charles Leclerc - Formula 1, 13th

Leclerc’s move into F1 in 2018 was met by much anticipation, given the highly-rated Monegasque’s Ferrari links and arrival in the sport following back-to-back title wins in GP3 and F2. After a tough transition during the opening three rounds, Leclerc soon found his feet and turned heads in the paddock with a superb drive in Baku to claim sixth place - his and the revitalised Sauber squad’s best result of the season.

The 19-year-old’s success did not stop there as his momentum continued to grow. He convincingly beat teammate Marcus Ericsson in both qualifying and on race day, scored 39 of Sauber’s 48-point haul and made it into Q3 eight times, with his Saturday performances in France, Russia and Brazil acting as particular highs.

In total, Leclerc finished inside the points 10 times across 2018 and capped off the season in style with three consecutive seventh-place finishes. The excitement surrounding Leclerc will only continue to rise when he joins Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari in 2019.

7. Fernando Alonso – Formula 1, 11th; 24 Hours of Le Mans, 1st; WEC LMP1, 1st (season ongoing)

Fernando Alonso did plenty to firm up his legacy as being one of modern motorsport’s great all-rounders in 2018, with his first series foray into sports car racing yielding sensational results.

Formula 1 naturally remained Alonso’s priority, and despite early-season promise following the switch to Renault power units, it became a familiar story for the Spaniard. Issues with the design of the McLaren car meant the team regressed through the season, making points a rarity come Abu Dhabi.

Tired of F1, Alonso confirmed in August he would not be racing in the series in 2019, instead turning his attention to other championships, where he had begun to taste success once again.

Alonso made a splash in his Rolex 24 at Daytona debut in January, acting as preparation for his LMP1 programme with Toyota. Alonso took pole and victory on his WEC debut at Spa before completing the second leg of his Triple Crown goal with a Le Mans win.

Alonso did not do it alone, teaming up with Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima in the #8 Toyota, yet it was his night-time stint that was the stand-out display from the trio in the race. He carved over a minute out of the sister #7 car’s lead, paving the way for their fight through to victory.

2019 will see Alonso return to Le Mans and enjoy his second shot at the Indianapolis 500. With a little more preparation than his impressive debut in 2017, he stands a real chance of becoming only the second driver in history to complete the Triple Crown.

6. Jean-Eric Vergne – Formula E, 1st; ELMS, 2nd

Since being ditched by Toro Rosso in F1 at the end of 2014, Jean-Eric Vergne has been on a long road to redemption. He finally got there in 2018 – and boy did he do it in style.

Vergne had spent the previous year building up the privateer Techeetah team, which pulled off a shock by stealing a march on the rest of the Formula E field through 2018.

Vergne led its charge with wins in Santiago – ahead of teammate Andre Lotterer for Formula E’s first one-two – Punta del Este and Paris, before a fifth-place finish in the New York opener saw him wrap up the drivers’ title with one race to spare.

Besides Vergne’s superb Formula E form, he also hit his strides in sports cars as part of G-Drive Racing’s LMP2 stable. Vergne led the team to a dominant victory at Le Mans, only to lose the win over a technical irregularity, but also took wins at Spa in WEC and at Monza, Spielberg and Silverstone in the European Le Mans Series. In fact, it wasn’t until late September that Vergne actually lost a race on-track in sports cars.

So impressive was Vergne’s form that he found himself fielding calls from Formula 1 teams over a possible comeback. Alas, a return is unlikely – he’s in a good groove exactly where he is right now, and unquestionably one of the world’s finest racers.

5. Andrea Dovizioso – MotoGP, 2nd

While Andrea Dovizioso was unable to push Marc Marquez as closely in the MotoGP title race this year compared to 2017, the Italian holding his hands up at the three DNFs at Jerez, Le Mans and Catalunya as the cause, 2018 still ended a strong year for the Italian.

The Ducati rider led the MotoGP world championship after victory in the opener at Qatar before a run of poor results allowed Marquez to produce a healthy points gap in the standings.

Losing out to team-mate Jorge Lorenzo for victory in Mugello would have hurt but a pole position and a win in Brno began to cement the idea Ducati could win at ‘non-Ducati’ tracks.

Victory in San Marino plus podiums in Aragon, Austria and Thailand helped him surge to second in the standings but in an all-or-nothing race in Japan he crashed out fighting Marquez to see the Spaniard seal the title.

But a warning for 2019 was issued with victory in the wet Valencia finale as Ducati’s performance continued to improve against its rivals at a variety of tracks on the MotoGP calendar.

4. Max Verstappen – Formula 1, 4th

Six races into the Formula 1 season, you would have been laughed out of the room for suggesting Max Verstappen would end the year this high in our Crash 100 rankings.

Six incidents in as many weekends had seen Verstappen spurn victory chances in China and Monaco, leading to questions about a possible need to change his approach. While Verstappen dismissed the need to at the time, he stopped trying to overdrive his car, leading to a remarkable run of form to the end of the year.

An opportunistic victory in Austria was followed by a string of podium finishes – 10 between his qualifying crash in Monaco and the end of the year – and two late-season highpoints. First was his dominant victory in Mexico, blowing the rest of the field away as he marched clear at the front. In Brazil, Verstappen was in inspired form, charging from P5 on the grid to lead the race after the pit stops, only for the clash with Esteban Ocon to cost him a sure-fire win.

While there are still rough edges to corner off – his reaction to the Ocon clash being one example – Verstappen is increasingly looking like world champion material. The new Red Bull-Honda era starting in 2019 is one that he will be the face of. It continues to seem like a matter of when, not if, he will become F1’s man to beat.

3. Jonathan Rea – World Superbikes, 1st

History-maker Jonathan Rea continued to write a new World Superbike record book with his fourth consecutive title along with surpassing Troy Corser’s podium record and Carl Fogarty’s win record.

The only meaningful record Rea doesn’t top or share in World Superbikes remains the most pole positions in a season (Ben Spies with 11 from 2009) but Rea’s name is now everywhere you look as the greatest World Superbike rider of all-time.

Despite the technical rule tweaks for 2018, aimed at reeling in Rea’s recent dominance, the Northern Irish rider maintained his almost untouchable pace by winning every single race from Laguna Seca race one until the end of the season – 11 races in total – along with at least one win at every round except Donington Park and Phillip Island.

Returning with a new Kawasaki ZX-10RR in 2019, Rea will target a fifth world crown to take the outright most titles record which he currently shares with Fogarty.

2. Marc Marquez – MotoGP, 1st

2018 became seventh heaven for Marc Marquez as he stormed to the MotoGP world title, his fifth in the premier class, but it was a season full of fierce fighting for the Repsol Honda rider who rarely had a smooth path to victory.

After finishing second to Andrea Dovizioso in Qatar, coupled with his wild incidents in Argentina, Marquez was on the backfoot but a hat-trick of wins in Austin, Jerez and Le Mans ignited his title defence.

A rare race crash, despite numerous practice and qualifying falls, saw Marquez miss out in Mugello before a mid-season run which included five wins and four podiums – finishing on the podium in every race in that stretch – culminating in sealing the riders’ title at Honda’s home race in Motegi.

Wins in the hectic Assen race and at the new Thailand event demonstrated Marquez’s supreme class on his way to the title with three races to spare as none of his rivals could keep pace.

Even with a scary crash with Johann Zarco at Phillip Island and an off at the wet Valencia finale, Marquez still triumphed with the title won after seeing Valentino Rossi push a little too hard while leading the closing stages of the Sepang race. It marked his ninth win of the year and secured a 50% win rate in 2018.

Despite a couple of high-profile mistakes in 2018, Marquez only missed the podium on four occasions all year and maximised his Honda’s performance at every race he reached the rostrum against the fancied Ducati GP18 riders.

1. Lewis Hamilton – Formula 1, 1st

As impressive as his prior successes have been, Lewis Hamilton reached new heights in 2018 as he became only the third driver in history to win a fifth world championship.

Even in the face of a rejuvenated Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel, Mercedes fancied its chances after an impressive pre-season – only for Ferrari to spring a surprise with its early pace as Vettel took wins in Australia and Bahrain.

Hamilton’s first win only arrived in Baku – and in fortuitous circumstances – but he quickly doubled up with a second win in Spain. While another victory came in France, retirement in Austria and a first-lap clash at Silverstone meant he neared the summer break on the back foot.

An issue in qualifying left Hamilton 14th on the grid at Hockenheim, giving Vettel a chance to pull out a decent points lead from pole. But a costly error from Vettel saw him crash out, with Hamilton splashing through the rain to take victory.

Hockenheim may have seen the decisive swing in the championship, but Hamilton followed it up with further displays of brilliance. His pole laps in Hungary and Singapore – both tracks Ferrari was expected to lead at – were astounding, while victory at Monza after a late pass on Kimi Raikkonen was an emphatic message.

Hamilton was clinical throughout 2018, even when the title was settled – a time in the past when he has gone off the boil – as he closed out the year with 11 wins, 11 poles, and a record points total.

But the most impressive aspect of Hamilton’s title win in 2018 was how comfortable he has become. He truly looks at ease in every aspect of his life, combining his on-track successes with pursuits in areas such as fashion and music. Everything with him seems perfectly balanced right now.

And with Hamilton in that kind of mood, it will take something big to prevent him from winning a sixth title in 2019 and edge closer to Michael Schumacher’s records.



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