Safe to say the 2018 Formula 1 season has well and truly been wrapped up. And Ferrari, who were looking like the worthy winners by the beginning of the campaign, have quite easy aided Lewis Hamilton his fifth world title and for Mercedes, their fourth consecutive Constructors’ Championship.
As mentioned, Ferrari had a bang-on start to their new campaign, having won the opening two races (Australia and Bahrain), but a tactical supremacy coupled with Vettel’s faux pas was enough for the Silver Arrows to turn things around. The final nail Ferrari’s coffin was hammered in the Japanese Grand Prix where – if not mathematically, then practically – Vettel lost his title to Lewis Hamilton.
The German was quick in his response and rightfully said, “We made it a bit too easy for them in the last couple of races.” The doom for the German occurred in as early as the fourth race of the season (Azerbaijan Grand Prix). Starting on pole, Vettel had victory written all over his fate, but as it seemed, the Providence had something else to offer.
Cruising on with a 10-sec lead, Ferrari made the blunder was pitting Vettel early in the race, which eventually costed them by Bottas picking up a place. And as Vettel tried passing the Finn into the turn one, he locked up and lost places, allowing Hamilton to gain places. The Brit was further helped by Bottas’ puncture and the fate was sealed. In what could have been an easy 25-point race, Vettel finished off the podium and his lead was down to just six points.
The Spanish Grand Prix was all about Mercedes’ domination and for the second time running, Vettel failed to acquire a podium finish, and in the process, lost his championship lead for the first time to Lewis Hamilton. The gap though (7 points) was extremely lenient.
Up next was the French Grand Prix and Vettel’s fate was sealed in as early as the first turn, where he collided with Bottas after locking up his front left. The result was a five-sec time penalty. An easy third or even second place finished eventually turned out to be an off-podium finish for the German, allowing Hamilton to open up a 22-point lead.
Vettel then had a great opportunity of closing up the gap in Austria where both Mercedes shockingly retired due to an engine failure. But a potential win for the German eventually resulted in a disappointing third-place finish. Although Vettel regained the lead, it was just a 3-point advantage.
Following a win in Britain, Vettel had a 10-point lead over his championship rival and from this point onward, everything went against his will. The German was cruising to a comfortable victory in his home Grand Prix, but a late rain-shower saw him heading into the barrier, eventually allowing Hamilton to take home the glory. An easy 25-point race resulted in a disappointment and Lewis regained his top spot, opening up a 15-point lead.
An alternate 1-2 for Hamilton and Vettel followed in Hungary and Belgium before Formula 1 returned to the historic Italian Grand Prix. The tension was there, as Ferrari hadn’t won a race at their home since 2010. Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest lap in Formula 1 history during the qualifying and was followed by his teammate for a Ferrari 1-2. The race, however, was extremely contrary. Vettel collided with Hamilton as they went into the second chicane and a potential win resulted in a disappointing fourth-place finish.
Lewis stretched his lead to 28 points.
Two back to back third-off finish followed for the German in Singapore and Russia, which saw Lewis opening up a greater advantage. Then came the Japanese Grand Prix. Ferrari made the blunder in as early as the qualifying, which saw Vettel starting the race from ninth. The German was picking up the places but collided with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen before ending his race to lowly sixth.
With just four races to go and Hamilton leading the chart with 67 points, Ferrari and Vettel need more than luck by their side. And now the question remains, what if Vettel hadn’t made any mistake whatsoever? How the Championship would have looked? This is how Vettel had scored if not for his mistakes:
|Races||Sebastian Vettel||Lewis Hamilton|
|Australia||1st (25 points)||2nd (18 points)|
|Bahrain||1st (25 points)||3rd (15 points)|
|China||8th (4 points)||4th (12 points)|
|Azerbaijan||1st (25 points)||2nd (18 points)|
|Spain||4th (12 points)||1st (25 points)|
|Monaco||2nd (18 points)||3rd (15 points)|
|Canada||1st (25 points)||5th (10 points)|
|France||2nd (18 points)||1st (25 points)|
|Austria||1st (25 points)||Retired (NP)|
|Britain||1st (25 points)||2nd (18 points)|
|Germany||1st (25 points)||2nd (18 points)|
|Hungary||2nd (18 points)||1st (25 points)|
|Belgium||1st (25 points)||2nd (18 points)|
|Italy||1st (25 points)||2nd (18 points)|
|Singapore||3rd (15 points)||1st (25 points)|
|Russia||3rd (15 points)||1st (25 points)|
|Japan||3rd (15 points)||1st (25 points)|
As per the tally, Vettel should have been leading Lewis by at least 30 points. And if that had been the case, the remaining four races would have been the thrillers; unlike now.