FOR­MU­LAIC SUC­CESS

FROM AUS­TRALIA TO ABU DHABI, HERE’S HOW LEWIS HAMILTON WON THE 2018 F1 DRIVERS’ TI­TLE

The Gulf Today - Panorama - - SPORT - By David Tre­mayne

If 2017 had been a teaser, 2018 was very nearly the real thing: an all­out fight be­tween Mercedes and Fer­rari, Lewis Hamilton and Se­bas­tian Vet­tel. After so many years of dom­i­na­tion in the turbo-hy­brid for­mula, Mercedes had se­ri­ous com­pe­ti­tion from Fer­rari, and pre­dictabil­ity was the ca­su­alty. All through the sea­son it was sim­ply not pos­si­ble to say who was go­ing to win head­ing into each of the 21 races.

Mercedes should have won in Aus­tralia, but the tim­ing of a safety car de­ploy­ment caught them on the hop and handed the vic­tory to Vet­tel, who then won again in Bahrain. Both suc­cesses en­dorsed the view from pre-sea­son test­ing that the Fer­rari were slightly faster.

Hamilton’s team­mate Valt­teri Bot­tas got more from his Mercedes in the next two races, but lost in China thanks to some ex­cel­lent strate­gic re­ac­tion by Red Bull and Daniel Ric­cia­rdo’s bril­liant op­por­tunism. The un­think­able had hap­pened: after three races Mercedes had yet to win, and Red Bull, with their less po­tent Re­nault power unit, had.

Hamilton fi­nally bagged one at the fourth at­tempt, when for­tu­nate cir­cum­stances in Azer­bai­jan saw Vet­tel make his first er­ror of the year and Bot­tas robbed at the 11th hour by a punc­ture. He was late for his vic­tory press con­fer­ence after go­ing to the team hos­pi­tal­ity to con­sole his team­mate.

The English­man then fi­nally found the sweet spot of the Mercedes W09 EQ Power+ to dom­i­nate the Span­ish GP, before Ric­cia­rdo won again in Monaco even though his Red Bull RB14’S ERS

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