ONE CHAMP SETS A NEW CHALLENGE AS ANOTHER LEAVES
In 2015 and ’17 Lewis Hamilton went distinctly off the boil after securing the championship, but not this year. If his Brazilian Grand Prix win could be considered a tad fortunate, there was no doubt about the result in Abu Dhabi last weekend. Hamilton controlled the race beautifully to score his 11th win of the season, a tally that seemed unlikely at the height of his battle with Sebastian Vettel. Not one to miss out on a psychological advantage, Lewis was keen to point out that he viewed the race as a start to his 2019 campaign. The gauntlet has already been thrown down. Not joining that battle will be Fernando Alonso. Whatever you think of the double champion, it’s impossible to deny that he has been one of Formula 1’s top performers for a decade and a half. He will be missed, as Hamilton and Vettel acknowledged following the trio’s emotional slow-down lap. As Alonso leaves, the driver who should have been the fourth top driver of the era is set to make his race comeback. Quite how competitive Robert Kubica will be on his return with Williams (see page 4) is open to question, but the fact that he has made it back at all after his serious rally crash is a great story of drive and tenacity. There are always new drivers to step in too, of course, and it’s great news that the top three in this year’s Formula 2 standings – George Russell, Lando Norris and Alexander Albon (p5) – all have F1 seats for 2019. All are also former Mclaren Autosport BRDC Award finalists (with Russell winning in ’14 and Norris in ’16), and the 30th victor will be announced at the Autosport Awards this weekend. Turn to p48 to see how 2017 winner Dan Ticktum got on in his prize F1 test, and p52 for an insight into how this year’s four finalists were put through their paces.