After 21 epic races and the crowning of a British five-time World Champion, Formula One brought the curtain down on 2018 in Abu Dhabi last weekend.
Now, its time to reflect on how each Constructor performed and assess who has excelled and who flopped beyond expectations.
*Order is based on final Constructor standings hence why Force India are seventh due to their change of entry, although their results from throughout whole season counts for both drivers.
|Race/Driver||Lewis Hamilton||Valtteri Bottas|
|Qualifying Head to Head||15||6|
Having faced their toughest fight in the Hybrid era, Mercedes will be ecstatic at how this season has turned out.
With Ferrari the fastest car in opening half of season, the Silver Arrows did a brilliant job in keeping their cool in working away to reduce the gap with Lewis Hamilton’s Azerbaijan and Germany victories coming through incredible mix of luck and strategies, whilst he dominated in Spain, France and Hungary races.
Their and Hamilton’s patience were eventually rewarded after summer break with a sublime run of dominance as a mixture of poor upgrades and mistakes crept into Ferrari’s title bid, eventually destroying their hopes and gifted Mercedes a fifth consecutive driver/team championship double.
This season of course didn’t come with its faults with Austria an obvious low whilst Valtteri Bottas failed to win a race yet played the no.2 role brilliantly. He however should be disappointed in failing to win any races although Baku was within grasp if it wasn’t for debris puncturing his right rear after a second safety car period.
In summary, this has been a slow burner of a season which came good through constant improvement and Ferrari suffering yet another title bid collapse but Bottas needs to rediscover his mojo for 2019.
Grade = B
|Race/Driver||Sebastian Vettel||Kimi Raikkonen|
|Qualifying Head to Head||17||4|
If Ferrari had only one New Year resolution for 2018, it surely had to be ‘don’t repeat the mistakes of 2017’.Embed from Getty Images
Well after a bright start, they blew the opportunity of a driver and team double through their own undoing like they did last season. This time however, more of blame probably has to go on Sebastian Vettel for being too opportunistic at times.
Six probable wins equalling 125 points were thrown away through Vettel’s own stupidity in making silly moves on both Mercedes and Red Bull drivers, although his Germany retirement was simply his own mistake in the wet.
We could argue that he threw away a possible win in China but ultimately, Max Verstappen was at fault for that one just like Vettel was during their clash in Japan. Either way, if he hadn’t thrown those points away, the gap to Hamilton would of been much closer.Embed from Getty Images
As for Kimi Raikkonen, he has just been himself and thoroughly deserved his final Ferrari victory in USA through brilliant defensive tactics against a two stopping Hamilton.
Another great thing that I liked about Raikkonen this season was his cleverness in forcing Ferrari to effectively spell out a team order at a stage of season when both still could of won the title. Now that is what you call brutal brilliance in showing your team what you can still do when they favour the other driver.
In summary, a strong season but still need to nail that consistency if want to really take title fight to the final race next year.
Grade = B
|Race/Driver||Daniel Ricciardo||Max Verstappen|
|Qualifying Head to Head*||5||15|
* Verstappen participate in Monaco Qualifying after a FP3 crash.
This has really been a season of two halves for Red Bull depending how you view their season.
Reliability was a massive theme throughout the season with nine retirements caused by unreliability. The issues became more apparent in Daniel Ricciardo’s side of garage from Germany onwards with four of his five retirements between then and end of season being component related as he prepared to depart for Renault.
Focusing on the positives, this car grew throughout the season as evidenced after the summer break because Max Verstappen finished the season in strong form. He took 144 points and seven podiums from last nine races of season, which was only bettered by eventual champion – Hamilton with 195 points in same period plus eight podiums
If had to criticise one thing about this team is that they failed to anticipate the collision in Azerbaijan between both drivers, when it was obviously building to that end result throughout race. Although too early to use team orders, they could of at least allowed Ricciardo through with promise of a swap back if Ricciardo couldn’t get away to try and get third.
In end, they lost 25 points and just about sums up a tough season of poor reliability against a car capable of podiums and three lucky wins in China, Monaco and Austria on top of a dominant Mexico weekend.
Grade = B
|Race/Drivers||Nico Hulkenberg||Carlos Sainz|
|Qualifying Head to Head||13||8|
Renault have had quite the year compared to recent seasons and this quality lineup has really helped push them forward.
For me, the overall consistency throughout this season of one driver picking up the points baton in races when other struggled has worked wonders against Haas, even if the second half of season brought its tough moments in Belgium, Russia and Brazil.
Renault therefore are probably well set up ready for Daniel Ricciardo’s arrival next season but more reliability work is needed in order to continue growing and consolidate this season’s progress.
Grade = B
|Race/Driver||Romain Grosjean||Kevin Magnussen|
|Qualifying Head to Head||11||8|
* Grosjean didn’t participate in qualifying for Azerbaijan and Canada Grands Prix.
From a disasterous start with two botched pit stops in Australia, Haas has had a brilliant season by their standards.
Constantly benefitting from closer connections to Ferrari, Haas has really shown progress in all areas apart from results on Romain Grosjean’s side of garage but he did improve from Austria onwards.
Its hard to pick a negative given how far this team has come in three season, but downforce probably cost them fourth place as evidenced by poor results in Monaco, Singapore and Mexico.
Overall its has been an impressive season but if can rectify their downforce weakness and get both drivers firing on all cylinders from opening race, 2019 should be even better.
Grade = B
|Race/Driver||Fernando Alonso||Stoffel Vandoorne|
|Qualifying Head to Head||21||0|
McLaren shouldn’t be happy with how this season has gone because to let their solid start slide with a series of poor performances is simply unacceptable for a team of their standards.
The only positive here really is the fact that Fernando Alonso had stayed with team because without his talents, McLaren probably would of been lucky to pick up the points that they did in Austria, Great Britain and Singapore and perhaps finish behind both Force India and Sauber.
As for Alonso, he was unlucky to end his F1 career with another top ten finish after his 2019 replacement – Carlos Sainz finished sixth in Abu Dhabi to pip his compatriot to tenth, but can at least take heart in only being amongst a few drivers who completed a qualifying clean sweep over their teammates.
Either way, this car hasn’t done neither Alonso or Stoffel Vandoorne justice but their start to season saved them from embarrassment.
Grade = D
|Race/Driver||Esteban Ocon||Sergio Perez|
|Qualifying Head to Head||16||5|
Having endured a tough year of evolution in ownership, Force India should be happy with how this season has finished.
At start of year, I did wonder if Force India had overcomplicated their car design but they have actually done a solid job in improving the car throughout season even if would of finished fifth without change of owner.
The highlight of Force India’s season has to be Belgium because they had registered as an new entry under Racing Point at start of weekend, so to put both cars on second row in the wet then hold on to take 18 points from the race was incredible.
Ultimately, reliability and silly driver errors cost them a shot at fighting for at least sixth if had maintained their early momentum from second half of season. In end however, this has been a tough season on and off track so seventh is a great result.
Grade = C
|Race/Driver||Charles Leclerc||Marcus Ericsson|
|Qualifying Head to Head||17||4|
Charles Leclerc has definitely been the story of 2018 as he led a Sauber revival in his rookie season of F1.
39 points, higher finish than experienced talent like Romain Grosjean and comfortably outqualifying teammate, Marcus Ericsson all highlight just what a talent Ferrari have on their hands as he makes the step up with Kimi Raikkonen replacing him next season.
If there is one fault with the Monegasque, its his wet weather skills as he really struggled to handle Germany when it rained, spinning off on a couple of occasions. Given his youthful age, hopefully he can rectify that in years to come otherwise Ferrari could be in trouble at wet races next season given Vettel’s poor record in rain this decade.
Ericsson meanwhile made considerable improvement and Bahrain saw him end a 50 race run of no points since Italy 2015 where he also finished ninth.
Overall, this has been a real year of progress for Sauber with both drivers maximising every power unit upgrade that Ferrari gave them.
Now the challenge has to be to continue to stride forward given that they have a now ex Ferrari talent alongside a Ferrari junior in their cars next season.
Grade = C
|Race/Driver||Pierre Gasly||Brendon Hartley|
|Qualifying Head to Head||13||6|
*Brendon Hartley failed to set a time within 107% rule in Azerbaijan and missed British Grand Prix Qualifying after a FP3 crash.Embed from Getty Images
Although a ninth placed constructor finish is disappointing, Toro Rosso should take heart from progress made under its new power unit deal with Honda.
The biggest highlight has to be Pierre Gasly who has done a solid job in a decent if unspectacular car, with fourth in Bahrain being a top highlight whilst just being on cusp of points in races where he didn’t finish in top ten.
Compare that with Brendan Hartley then its clear to see why he has earned promotion to Red Bull for next season, especially as he was able to get into middle of points on a few occasions whilst the New Zealander highest finish was only ninth.
Overall a solid season with excellent work alongside Honda to develop the power unit despite results suggesting otherwise to ensure that next season should be a promising one.
Grade = D
|Race/Driver||Lance Stroll||Sergey Sirotkin|
|Qualifying Head to Head*||8||12|
*Lance Stroll failed to set a time in Qualifying for British Grand Prix after a spin.Embed from Getty Images
2018 has been absolutely diabolical for Williams with an uncompetitive car and all their points really coming from pure misfortunes of other drivers.
Its hard to find any positives to take from this season at Grove other than the fact that rookie, Sergey Sirotkin has outqualified the more experienced Lance Stroll but overall a terrible season which is thankfully now consigned to the history books,
Next year is already looking promising with Robert Kubica partnering talented Mercedes junior, George Russell, but any improvement won’t disguise just how poor things have been this season.
Grade = F