2018 Formula One Season Results

I realise that I haven’t posted much about last year’s Formula One season, but I have been creating my usual graphs to display the progress of each participant in both the drivers and constructors championships throughout the year after each race.

Below you can see how the season developed in those title fights, ultimately won by Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes team. I hope to write more about the forthcoming season as it happens in 2019.

The 2017 F1 Season: Final Championship Points

I love a good graph. So, here are two showing the Championship points throughout the 2017 F1 season in both Drivers’ and Constructor’s Championships.

If we focus on the two title protagonists, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, it’s clear to me that Ferrari, in particular, threw the Championship away with poor reliability and some silly mistakes in races.

Lewis Hamilton won the title after gaining an unassailable lead after his victory in Mexico. However, Sebastian Vettel led the championship until the Italian Grand Prix, but his Singapore Grand Prix crash and technical problems in Malaysia and Japan put an end to his championship hopes.

What happened in the 2017 Australian Grand Prix?

The long wait for the 2017 Formula One Season to begin ended at the end of March. A new era of regulations creating more aggressive looking cars with wider tyres and revised rear wings had generated a lot of interest over the winter break. The takeover by Liberty Media had also seen huge advances in social media presence since the end of 2016 too.
However, the opening race of this much-hyped new era didn’t really live up to expectations at all, and the answer to the question above is, not that much at all really. The faster cars produced Melbourne’s shortest ever race (true, it was only just over 4 seconds quicker than the previous shortest race, and it was shortened by one lap after an aborted first start…) but only the third fastest in terms of average speed – both the 2004 and 2007 races were completed at higher speeds.
Lewis Hamilton started the Australian Grand Prix from pole position for the sixth time, tying Ayrton Senna’s record. It was also his and Mercedes fourth in a row at this track. At the start of the race, Hamilton led with Sebastian Vettel putting him under pressure from the outset, gradually slipping back but always keeping the gap reasonably close.
Also new for 2017 are more durable tyres. This allowed drivers to push harder for longer – contributing to the brisk pace spoken about above – and lap times generally came down with every lap as fuel was burnt rather than increasing as in recent years. Some signs of overheating began for Hamilton around lap 12/13, when he began to complain of grip troubles. His lap times showed his problems but we never really saw them drop like a stone – the cliff edge drop off – that we are used to either. Hamilton and Mercedes therefore changed tyres earlier than they had planned, allowing the Ferrari of Vettel to pound around, pit and come out in front of Hamilton. When Hamilton rejoined, it was behind the Red Bull of Max Verstappen and he lost a chunk of time. This really gave the race to Vettel.
Valtteri Bottas, in his Mercedes debut, came through to third having a steady, if unspectacular, race. Kimi Raikkonen was fourth having lost lots of time in his first stint. Max Verstappen finished in fifth in the end.
Force India’s Sergio Perez had pulled off a seemingly rare overtaking move to claim seventh from Carlos Sainz Jnr. Daniil Kyvat finished ninth, having run briefly in sixth after a long first stint, gifting that place to the returning Felipe Massa.
Esetban Ocon grabbed the final point, although McLaren’s Fernando Alonso had looked to be on course for that for a long time, some damage forcing him to retire before the end of the race.
However, Vettel came through to win for Ferrari, raising the prospect of a much closer championship fight this year than in recent seasons. This was only the ninth time Mercedes have been defeated in the 60 races since the V6 hybrid turbo engine formula was introduced, and the first time anyone other than them or one of their drivers has led the constructors or drivers championships for almost three years. The victory was Vettel’s 43rd and Ferrari’s show of strength went further with Kimi Raikkonen claiming his 44th (only Michael Schumacher has more – 77).

364: Why haven’t I written about the end of the Formula One season?

Simply because I’ve been distracted by other projects… bits and bobs. And also because the shock retirement of Nico Rosberg soon after clinching his title came as a huge surprise. It threw the driver’s market into disarray. There still hasn’t been an announcement about Lewis Hamilton’s teammate for next year, but the strong rumours surrounding Valtteri Bottas’ move and Felipe Massa’s U-turn from retirement don’t seem to be going away any time soon.

Hamilton won 10 races to Rosberg’s nine, and secured 12 pole positions to his teammate’s eight. But in a championship fight, only one stat matters: points.

Here’s how the season ended:

And some stats about the season:

2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Rosberg finished his season with a second place at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – but race winner Hamilton didn’t make it easy for him, ignoring team orders to quicken his pace having tried to slow the pack down and make it more difficult for Rosberg to finish on the podium. All good gamesmanship, if not sportsmanship, and understandable when something as important as a title is on the line. Mercedes might have had stern words and a hard time organising the pair next year – had Rosberg not walked away from the sport. As it is, it seems to send out a message to any incoming driver that they aren’t going to have an easy time.

Rosberg became the second driver to follow in his father’s footsteps – father Keke, the 1982 world championship winner – after Graham and Damon Hill did the same.

This was the only real interest in the race. Jenson Button, who now looks to be retiring from Formula One rather than taking a sabbatical, missed out on finishing the race after a suspension failure. Sebastian Vettel came third, with the Red Bull pair of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo rounding off the top five.

Other points scorers were Kimi Raikkonen in sixth, Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez in seventh and eighth with Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso completing the top ten.

337: Will Nico Rosberg regret today’s decision?

A mere five days after he became Formula One World Champion, Nico Rosberg has announced, quite out of the blue, that, for sure, he is retiring. He had been confirmed as the Mercedes teammate to Lewis Hamilton for next year.

I sort of understand where he is coming from. He has raced for 25 years to achieve this dream of his – “I’ve climbed my mountain. I am on the peak,” he said in a statement. He has a young family, and a life beyond racing that he possibly has never experienced before.

But to achieve that dream and then draw a line under it forever, seems strange to me. Not defending the title. Not using the opportunity to race as the Champion. I am astounded by it.

I have often said how I’m not his biggest fan. How I don’t believe that he is the best driver out there. But he is still only one of a handful of men to reach the pinnacle of Formula One and I admire and respect him for that.

However, when the lights go out in Melbourne in March, will he regret his decision to turn his back on the most successful team of recent years? We will probably never know.

Who will Mercedes put in his place? Will it cause a shuffle up of the ostensibly stable driver market, especially now that most teams have confirmed their line-ups… or at least, we thought they had. Interesting times lay ahead.

331: How can the F1 title be won tomorrow?

Nico Rosberg goes into tomorrow’s final Formula One race in Abu Dhabi 12 points ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

If Hamilton wins at the Yas Marina Circuit, Rosberg must finish third or better.

If Hamilton crosses the line in second place, Rosberg needs to be sixth or better.

If the German finishes seventh, they would be tied on points, but Hamilton would clinch the title having scored more third places. They have both won nine times this year, and would have also scored four second places each.

If Hamilton finishes third, then eighth place or better for Rosberg will be enough to win the title.

If Hamilton is fourth on Sunday, Rosberg will require just one point (10th) to be crowned champion. If Rosberg fails to score they would be tied on points, but in this scenario he would win the title having finished second four times compared to Hamilton’s three.

Should Hamilton cross the line only in fifth, Rosberg will win the title regardless of where he finishes.

Hamilton has been on top all weekend so far, having secured pole with Rosberg three tenths behind.

Bring it on.

328: What happened in the 2016 Mexico and Brazilian Grands Prix?

I have gotten a little behind in my write-ups of the Formula One season, so I’m doing them both in one post – particularly as this weekend sees the title-deciding season finale in Abu Dhabi.

Mexico first.

Lewis Hamilton won the race which was thrilling for around ten laps – 5 at the start and 5 at the end… the middle part was simply dull.

He needed to win in order to keep his Championship hopes alive, chipping away at Nico Rosberg’s lead – but Rosberg held all the card heading into this race. Hamilton’s only error really was a trip across the grass at the first corner. There was a good fight for third though between Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.

The podium ceremony was unique too – Verstappen joined the Mercedes pair for his third place, but he was given a penalty and demoted in position. Vettel jogged to the ceremony instead – only to subsequently lose that and be replaced by Ricciardo after everyone had gone home.

To clear that up, Ricciardo moved to third, Verstappen to fourth, and Vettel to fifth, three hours after the race.

Onto Brazil then…

Max Verstappen once again starred, delighting the crowd in Brazil with plenty of activity. This crowd had earlier booed as two red flags and a total of five safety cars made for a broken up afternoon.

Verstappen’s magnificent drive through the field to take third place was one of the great performances in F1 – it must rank alongside the best we have seen from Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher.

Lewis Hamilton was magnificent, making no mistakes whatsoever – it is easier to do so with no spray from other cars to look through…

Other than that, nothing really happened!

Abu Dhabi comes next, this weekend, rounding off a rather predictable season. The Mercedes team have won 18 of the races so far – and 50 of the 58 since 2014. I really hope that the 2017 rules shake things up a bit.

318: How can Nico Rosberg win the title today?

I haven’t written about the Mexico Grand Prix yet – to be fair there isn’t a huge amount to write about. There was interest at the start, and interest at the end but the middle section was pretty dull.

However, the title races currently looks like this, with Mercedes dominating the Constructor’s Championship for another year and already having the title sewn up:

There is a chance that in less than 4 hours’ time, Nico Rosberg could be the next Formula One World Driver’s Champion. All he needs to do is win today’s race and he is unassailable in his position at the top of the Championship.

A Lewis Hamilton victory would guarantee the title goes down to the wire in Abu Dhabi – which would be the second time in three years that the two men have contested a world championship crown at Yas Marina.

History isn’t exactly on Hamilton’s side though – the Briton has nine starts in Brazil, but is still yet to win. Conversely Rosberg has won the last two races in the country…

So then, Rosberg can also win the Championship if he is:

  • second and Lewis Hamilton is fourth or lower
  • third and Hamilton is sixth or lower
  • fourth and Hamilton is eighth or lower
  • fifth and Hamilton is ninth or lower
  • sixth and Hamilton is tenth or lower

If Roberg finishes seventh (or lower) then Hamilton can still win the title in Abu Dhabi.

As I’ve said previously, if Rosberg were to become the 2016 Champion, he would be only the second son-of-a-past-champion to take the title himself – the only other time this has happened in history was with Graham Hill (champion in 1962 and 1968) and son Damon (champion in 1996).

302: What happened in the 2016 US Grand Prix?

Lewis Hamilton continued to keep his title hopes alive with his 50th career victory in Texas last weekend, becoming just the third driver to do so: Alain Prost (51) and Michael Schumacher (91) are ahead of him.

However, if Nico Rosberg wins on Sunday and Hamilton fails to finish inside the top nine, Rosberg will be crowned champion. Hamilton is now 26 points behind with 75 available in the final three races.

There are things that Hamilton has done that no other driver has – for instance, he became the first driver to have set pole position at 23 different circuits, beating Prost’s previous record. There are only 9 places around the world where both have taken pole position, highlighting just how much the championship has changed in the last two decades. For those who care, those circuits are in Spain, Canada, Germany, Hungary, Brazil, Monaco, Italy, Britain and Belgium. Hamilton has just three circuits on the current calendar where he hasn’t taken pole: Baku, the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez and Suzuka.

Away from the stats, Hamilton’s first win since the German Grand Prix in July was a dominating display. Rosberg finished second after losing a position to Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo at the start. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel finished fourth.

Ricciardo was a solid second for a lot of the race, certainly up until the first pit stops – after which he made an early final pit stop for medium tyres on lap 25. However, teammate Max Verstappen suffered a gearbox failure, creating a virtual safety car period allowing the two Mercedes drivers to get a free pit stop scuppering Ricciardo’s chances of securing second place from Rosberg.

Verstappen also caused some interest in the middle of the race by thinking that his team had called him in for a pit stop. The mechanics were not ready for him and he was delayed as they scrabbled to get tyres together for him. The Red Bull mechanics were impressive as they managed not to waste too much of his time – in the end it didn’t matter as he didn’t finish the race.

There was more pit stop drama too as the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, who was on course to take fifth, had to stop at the end of the pit lane after the team believed a wheel was not secured properly.

Behind all of this was a great battle for fifth place between Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso), Felipe Massa (Williams) and Fernando Alonso (McLaren). Alonso grabbed sixth place from Massa with four laps to go after the retiring Brazilian driver locked a wheel. Alonso then closed down the two-second gap to Sainz with less than a lap to go. He dived for the inside at turn 12 and took the place to further boost his points total for the season.

292: What happened in the 2016 Japanese Grand Prix?

Nico Rosberg strengthened his position at the top of the Driver’s Championship with another dominant victory at Suzuka, his lead is now 33 points with four races left – he can secure the title without winning another race this season if needed. Mercedes sealed their third consecutive Constructors’ Championship at the race with Lewis Hamilton’s third place finish.

Rosberg was never threatened for the lead, even though Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was a little under 5 seconds behind at the finish. Lewis Hamilton had a sniff of that second place, recovering from another poor start. Hamilton needed a decent points haul after his retirement in Malaysia from the lead. He crawled off the line and found himself down in eighth place by the first corner. It feels like he has endured poor start after poor start but, as the chart below shows, he has generally made his lost positions back up again – he has only lost 9 places after lap one so far this season.

He created some excitement in a relatively dull race, especially after the first pit stops, making many passes to make up positions. That second place of Verstappen’s ultimately proved too much to gain, though, as he attempted to pass the Dutch driver at the final chicane on the penultimate lap.

Back markers and blue flags were another talking point with both Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen discussing them over the radio throughout the race. Despite this, Vettel came fourth with Raikkonen fifth.

The Malaysian winner, Daniel Ricciardo, was sixth in his Red Bull. Force India pulled further ahead of Williams in their private battle for fourth in the Constructors’ Championship with Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg finishing seventh and eighth ahead of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas in ninth and tenth.

The next four races could be very tense, but Rosberg is looking likely to mirror Damon Hill’s achievement of twenty years ago and become the next driver to win the championship who is the son of a Formula One champion.