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).

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.

277: What happened in the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix?

I normally like to mull a race over before writing about it, thinking about its impact on the championships and hunting out various stats. However, I didn’t want to fall into the trap of not writing about it with the Japanese Grand Prix only a week away and with a busy weekend ahead then.

This was a race full of incident – three Virtual Safety Car appearances show that.

Yesterday, I wrote that the Mercedes team were on the verge, for the second time this season, of equalling the record for consecutive wins in Formula One. Yet again, though, it was not to be.

Daniel Ricciardo fended off team-mate Max Verstappen to take a shock victory after Lewis Hamilton retired from a commanding lead with 15 laps remaining. This was his fourth victory and his first of the season  his first for over two years. Red Bull also gained their first one-two since 2013.

At the start, Nico Rosberg was placed into a spin by Sebastian Vettel – the Ferrari driver coming off worse with broken front suspension – however, he recovered to finish third and extend his championship lead to 23 points with five races to go.

Hamilton had driven the perfect race up until his retirement – a mixed strategy of soft then hard tyres allowed him to build a gap ahead of everyone else. But “an unexpected mechanical failure of the internal combustion engine with no prior warning” according to Mercedes, ended his hopes of a first victory since before the summer break.

Behind the podium finishers, Kimi Raikkonen finished fourth with Valtteri Bottas fifth and Sergio Perez sixth. Fernando Alonso battled his way up the field from last on the grid (a total of 45 grid penalty places seemingly ruining his weekend), to take seventh ahead of Nico Hulkenberg and Jenson Button. Jolyon Palmer finished 10th to score his first point of his F1 career.

276: What happened in the 2016 Singapore Grand Prix?

It occurred to me this morning, while watching the qualifying session for this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix, that I hadn’t written about the last race, two weeks ago, in Singapore.

My initial reaction was that, like a few other races this year, not too much happened.

Yes, there was a start line accident, caused by too many drivers trying to be on the same piece of tarmac at any one time, but I really couldn’t think of much else that happened.

There were no start line issues really – no clutch dramas that have plagued the started of the Mercedes drivers this year. But the chaos behind meant that it didn’t matter. Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India was the victim of the accident caused by Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr trying to be in the same place as him.

His accident sent the Safety Car out – meaning the race maintains it’s 100% Safety Car record. One marshal near turn one had not yet returned to his post, and had to sprint for cover as the cars hammered towards him approaching top speed. He was still running alongside the track as Rosberg and the rest came by. All was well – although it was a scary moment.

Towards the end of the race, there seemed to be a threat to Rosberg from Daniel Ricciardo but there were too few laps left for that to happen.

In the end, he held on to win in his 200th race and send his teammate back to 8 points behind in the title race.

Mercedes can equal the record for the longest winning streak by an F1 team at the next round of the championship – an eleventh win would tie the record set by McLaren in 1988. The team can also seal the Constructor’s Championship by getting both drivers on the podium – and 1-2 or a 1-3 will do the job.

249: What happened in the 2016 Italian Grand Prix?

The 2016 edition of the Italian Grand Prix was one dominated from start to finish by Nico Rosberg. His pole-sitting team-mate, Lewis Hamilton threw his opportunity for victory away at the start by making a poor start – however, he still finished second. Rosberg was unthreatened throughout the race and finished 15 seconds ahead of Hamilton, reducing his Championship lead to 2 points with seven races remaining.

The two Ferrari drivers, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, finished third and fourth.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo came fifth, ahead of the Williams of Valtteri Bottas. The other Red Bull of Max Verstappen came seventh with Sergio Perez eighth in his Force India.

Felipe Massa and Nico Hulkenberg completed the points finishers for Williams and Force India, respectively – points for Williams placing them ahead of Force India for fourth in the constructors’ championship.

Fernando Alonso provided a little piece of interest in a lacklustre race by slapping on a fresh set of tyres and setting the fastest lap of the race towards the end – highlighting the huge progress that McLaren and Honda have made in the last twelve months. The other notable incident being a collision between Jolyon Palmer’s Renault and Felipe Nasr’s Sauber – both retired with damage, although Nasr was given a 10-second penalty which he took in a convoluted way by returning to the track 10 laps down, serving his penalty then retiring again from the race.

The off-track news then has been far more interesting than the on-track action this weekend. We have heard about the retirement of Felipe Massa from the end of this year, the sabbatical of Jenson Button for next year with the option to return in 2018 (his new two-year contract with the McLaren team being an intriguing development after qualifying yesterday) and the possibility of a new owner of the sport also coming to light this evening.

172: What happened in the 2016 Canadian Grand Prix?

Lewis Hamilton took his fifth Canadian Grand Prix victory last weekend, edging him closer to the record of Michael Schumacher, who won seven times in Montreal.

Race winner Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the podium with the trophy at Formula One World Championship, Rd7, Canadian Grand Prix, Race, Montreal, Canada, Sunday 12 June 2016. © Sutton Images

Race winner Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the podium with the trophy at Formula One World Championship, Rd7, Canadian Grand Prix, Race, Montreal, Canada, Sunday 12 June 2016. © Sutton Images

The record for victories at the same circuit, by the way, is held by Schumacher, but at the French circuit of Magny-Cours, where he won eight times.

This was Hamilton’s 45th victory and the 51st for Mercedes, equalling Red Bull’s success. Hamilton now needs seven more wins this year to surpass Alain Prost’s tally of 51 race victories and become the second most successful driver in history.

Both Mercedes drivers lost places on the first lap of the race, making them the worst starters of the season so far. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have lost 15 positions on the first lap of races so far this year.

The retirement of Felipe Massa from the race now means that no driver will be able to score points in every race this year.

108: What happened in the 2016 Chinese Grand Prix?

Nico Rosberg continued to develop his perfect start to the 2016 Formula One season by emerging as the winner at this morning’s Chinese Grand Prix – crossing the line more than half a minute ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Daniil Kvyat. This makes his championship lead 36 points ahead of his team mate Lewis Hamilton, who finished seventh.

From the outset, the race looked like it was going to be an interesting one. Hamilton had engine problems in qualifying and would start last, while Rosberg continued his good run of form and started on pole position.

At the start, though, the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo managed to get into the lead.

Behind him, there were cars running off the track in all directions in a chaotic start. Contact between the two Ferrari’s of Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen was the trigger of a domino effect through the rest of the pack as they swerved to avoid the red cars. Kyvat’s exuberance had been one of the causes of the clash in the first place as he swept past to create a wedge. Hamilton collided with Felipe Nasr’s Sauber and both Raikkonen and Hamilton limped to the pits with no front wings.

Ricciardo’s lead didn’t last long, as his left-rear tyre failed along the back straight on lap four – another in a vast array of tyre problems this weekend – which placed Rosberg back into the lead and brought out the Safety Car to clear the debris.

There Rosberg stayed.

Throughout the rest of the field, there were scraps aplenty with lots of good racing lower down the field.

Daniel Ricciardo recovered to a solid fourth. Raikkonen made his way up to fifth.

Lewis Hamilton struggled to pass Felipe Massa’s Williams and ended up crossing the line in seventh.

Remarkably, despite all the contact, there were no retirements in the race.