It’s not easy to deal with the stress and lows of facing the conclusion of a Formula 1 season. But that is life and one has got to admit it. The 2018 season is over and it’s been a few days already that dust settled over what was a massively entertaining season.
Hamilton wore the crown once again, and with it, the great admiration of being a five-time world champion. Despite five wins, Sebastian Vettel had to endure a tough season that even though, at the start may have looked like going Ferrari’s way, ultimately ended in being anything but that.
But that told, throughout the course of 21 races, there were moments that were special and defined the great abilities of two of modern Formula One’s great drivers.
Let’s take a look at the best Vettel and Hamilton moments of 2018 that increased the intensity of competition.
Vettel’s slip up at Baku, Hamilton’s surprise-win
To be honest, Sebastian Vettel should have won this one. But that he didn’t highlight a critical factor that affected Ferrari’s overall progress this year: the ability to absorb pressure and keep cool under duress.
The closing stages of the contest at Baku is when the race truly came alive, bringing an unlikely result for first, Sebastian Vettel, and later, Valtteri Bottas.
But here’s a fact.
If the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix produced fireworks for the fans, the race truly coming alive thanks to the temperamental outburst between Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, then the 2018 race would always be remembered for Ferrari perhaps exposing the first sign of its weakness at a moment where it could’ve kept calm.
During the closing stages of the enthralling contest at Baku, just as the safety car proceeded into its outlap, Sebastian Vettel, whilst approaching a tricky left-hander locked up a wheel under braking.
In the run-up to a wicked corner, Vettel couldn’t really hold great control of his SF 70H and as a result, saw not one or two but three pursuing cars-Bottas, Hamilton, and Raikkonen, respectively emerge ahead.
What didn’t help Bottas too, within minutes of Sebastian Vettel losing control of the track position was that his Mercedes would run over the debris on the track, sustaining, as a result of the incident, a rear tyre puncture that enabled Hamilton to get ahead, followed closely by Raikkonen.
Vettel throwing away a nearly assured win at Hockenheim
Another race where Ferrari fans were left shocked and disgruntled and where Mercedes fans were drawn closer to the edge of their seats in nerve-wracking excitement, the 2018 German Grand Prix, a race initially feared for being the last ever at the Hockenheimring produced, a rather dramatic result.
Nowhere until the start of the final laps did it ever seem that Lewis Hamilton was anywhere near in command of the track position, let alone the possibility of the enthusiastic driver winning it.
Yet. What did we all see in the end? It was Hamilton, not Vettel who triumphed at the latter’s own home race.
Hamilton and Kimi’s opening lap clash at Silverstone aided Vettel’s win
Sebastian Vettel had the pole position for the 2018 British Grand Prix. He drove a stellar lap and captured the pole on Saturday in front of hundreds of thousands of Hamilton’s home fans at a track where the Briton has enjoyed unflinching support.
Having said that, on race day, Hamilton’s fortunes would undergo a real test of nerves and time while Vettel’s would only experience a greater upshift in fortune as inside the opening lap, Raikkonen would come to blows with second-placed Hamilton, leaving the Briton to spin out of the track and drop down toward the back of the grid.
Yet, at the end of the feisty competition, what one remembers the most is Lewis’ great comeback, having fallen way behind the grid and yet managing to live out the phrase he swears by, “Still, I rise!”
At times, the real victories aren’t in a P1. It’s about the drives that manifest in a fighting podium finish. Imagine the pressure Lewis must have felt at being hit by Kimi’s Ferrari.
Hamilton’s nail-biting win at Monza
When Raikkonen clinched the Monza pole, he didn’t just surprise his critics, he showed both Hamilton and Vettel that he wasn’t done yet in the sport. Later on race day, he’d initially lose his lead to Lewis Hamilton who managed to claim the lead of the Italian Grand Prix on Lap number 8, catching Kimi in the exit of the chicane.
And just when it seemed this was it, and Hamilton would win an easy race is precisely where Raikkonen would appear for ’round two’ of this great contest.
For the next 35 laps, Raikkonen again claimed the lead, passing the Mercedes of Lewis.
But can all good things ever last? Something along these lines might have been the feelings of the ‘Iceman’s’ fans’ thoughts when Hamilton executed a brilliant pass on Raikkonen to control the race lead once again.
It could be said while the Ferrari driver gave his all, the 2018 Italian GP was among Hamilton’s finest ever wins.
Sensational Vettel at Spa-Francorchamps
Ferrari entered the mid-season break at the conclusion of the 2018 Hungarian Grand Prix that manifested in a thumping win for the Silver Arrows and hence, a crushing loss for the Scuderia.
Interestingly, Vettel, upon resuming the season post the mid-season break did well to return Hamilton the favour by bringing up a sensational win at the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.
Deep in the Ardennes, there was no ‘Silver’ lining for Mercedes and their fans and what presided over a 44-lap contest was Ferrari’s Red Letter day.
But, well, truth be told if anyone were to really examine the greatest achievement of the 2018 Silverstone then it would be more than Vettel winning the race; it would boil down to Hamilton recording albeit one of his greatest fightbacks in a race ever.
Ferrari’s dominant pace exposed the weaknesses of their numero uno rivals, Mercedes. Having said that, Vettel and Lewis didn’t engage in any kind of theatrics whatsoever and at the end of the day, as Merc were no match to the Ferrari show, one defined by quick corner speed and higher straight line advantage over the likes of Merc and Red Bull.