The 2018 Formula 1 World Championship has thrown up some cracking moments so far, from controversial clashes to great races with some great overtakes! Ferrari has got closer to the ever-dominant Mercedes and Red Bull have also cropped up with some race wins in the first half of the season. But which drivers have impressed, and which have disappointed? In this part, I will be focusing on Kimi Raikkonen, Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez, Fernando Alonso and his teammate Stoffel Vandoorne.
The Finnish racing driver has had a solid year so far with Ferrari – mainly helping his German teammate Sebastien Vettel in his fight for his fifth World Driver’s title and helping the Prancing Horse secure another Constructors’ title. It’s fair to say the Finnish ace has played second fiddle to the German for much of his time at Ferrari whilst they have been teammates. He has continued to do this again for the first half of this campaign, giving Vettel a helping hand in slowing down the Mercedes drivers’ or the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo if they’re competitive – helping his teammate hopefully secure a race victory or score as many points as possible.
However, when the Finn has had the more competitive car, he has struggled to make the most of it. One particular incident was in Qualifying at Baku earlier in the season where he was five tenths in front of the chasing pack through the middle sector on his final lap, looking like snatching pole position away from his teammate only to have a disastrous final sector ultimately qualifying sixth on the grid for race, going on to finish the race in second behind Lewis Hamilton.
The Finnish Ferrari racer has failed to finish on two occasions in 2018 and has only failed to finish on the podium in two other races at Monaco and Canada where he finished fourth and sixth respectively.
Rating: 7/10 – Excellent at playing second fiddle to his teammate in helping him score as many points as possible but has lacked the composure to maximise his own race finishes when he’s had a car capable of getting a good race result. Kimi may be moving away from Ferrari next year, losing his seat to the young Charles Leclerc who has impressed in his debut F1 season.
The young Dutchman had a shaky start to the season with a battling sixth place finish in Australia where he also pirouetted. He then failed to finish in the second round of the Championship at Bahrain. Verstappen finished fifth in round three at China after contact with Sebastien Vettel at the hairpin, handing the win to his Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo. It would be this incident that he would publicly apologise for but led to a debate as to whether or not he could truly fulfil his potential at Red Bull. Things didn’t get any easier for Verstappen in the next round at Baku where he crashed out of the Grand Prix after colliding with teammate Daniel Ricciardo at turn one taking both Red Bulls out following a fantastic battle a few laps previously.
Thankfully for the ‘young-gun’, he had a clean and quiet race at Spain finishing third. He battled his way back from last on the grid in Monaco to finish ninth after crashing in Free Practice three – potentially ruining what could have been a one-two for the Red Bulls around the streets of Monaco, a race that his teammate Daniel Ricciardo would eventually win. The Dutch ‘star’ would return to the podium next time out in Canada finishing third before finishing second at the French Grand Prix. In front of a huge following crowd from Holland, Verstappen clinched his first win of the season with a great drive as he watched both of the Mercedes retire through mechanical failure. Since then, the Dutchman has endured three difficult Grand Prix’s with a ‘DNF’ in Britain, a fourth-place finish in Germany followed by another ‘DNF’ in Hungary.
Rating: 6/10– It’s been a season which could have looked so much better – points wise – at this stage had it not been for costly mistakes taking away vital points for both him and his Red Bull team. He has shown great pace at times but sometimes lacks the maturity to look at the ‘long game’, Championship wise. He needs to get out of this habit quickly if he wants to become World Champion one day, which we all know he has the potential to be.
Its been a difficult first half of the season for the Mexican with his Force India team struggling with money and eventually going into administration, affecting how many upgrades they could bring to their 2018 challenger. After failing to score any points in the first three races, the Mexican secured a third-place finish in a chaotic Azerbaijan Grand Prix before finishing ninth in Spain and twelfth in Monaco – dropping outside of the points again. A difficult Canadian Grand Prix followed where he finished fourteenth before failing to finish in France – his only ‘DNF’ of the season so far. A string of consistent points finishes followed finishing seventh in Austria, tenth in the British Grand Prix and seventh in Germany. It was at Hungary where the team announced it had gone into administration and a difficult weekend followed, dropping outside the points yet again finishing fourteenth. Thankfully though, the team has been brought out by a group of investors led by Lawrence Stroll – father of Williams driver Lance.
There’s not really much more I can say about Sergio Perez as I don’t think he has been able to show off his true speed this season due to the unfortunate situation that has surrounded the team. He is currently beating his teammate Esteban Ocon in the driver’s championship by one point which is always important for a driver to do and has two fewer retirements than the Frenchman.
Rating: 8/10 – I do feel sorry for both of the Force India drivers because of the situation they have been with the team, but I think both have done a great job. Perez has shown consistency with only one retirement to his name and has even scored a podium at Baku. In a tricky situation, Perez has driven brilliantly without trying to cost the team too much money. Hopefully, now that they are out of administration they can push on into the second half of the campaign and look ahead to a brighter future, and this is the same for Sergio Perez too.
Where do we start with the two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso? After only last week announcing his retirement from Formula 1 and then being very critical of the “lack of track action”, the Spaniard has raced with his heart on his sleeve throughout the first half of this campaign. In all the races Fernando has finished, he has finished in the points with a highest place finish of fifth which he got in the opening round of the season at Australia. He also has three seventh-place finishes to his name and four eighth-place finishes. However, the Spanish McLaren driver has failed to finish four Grand Prix’s so far this season.
It’s fair to say that after three tough seasons with the McLaren-Honda team, the move to the Renault power-unit for this year probably hasn’t been quite as effective as they’d hoped for. The team have struggled to adapt to the change, with a car that isn’t one of the quickest or most reliable on the 2018 grid. Fernando currently sits ninth in the drivers’ Championship at the half-way stage.
Rating: 9/10 – In my eyes, any driver who shows passion and desire to improve is a good one in my books. Fernando has fought for every point he can get and has never really given up. When things have gotten difficult, Fernando has always been the first over team radio to try an alternate strategy to try and improve both his and the teams’ finishing position. I’m sure whatever he does next year, he will quickly become a front-runner if he has a car capable and if not, will continue to fight as hard as he always does.
The Belgian hasn’t hit the heights of his Spanish teammate with only eight Championship points so far compared to Fernando’s forty-four. Vandoorne has only finished in the points on three occasions, the last of which came at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Vandoorne has two ninth places to his name and one-eighth place along with three ‘DNF’s’ – one less than teammate Fernando Alonso. It hasn’t been the most memorable season for the Belgian, hence why Stoffel’s is the shortest.
Rating: 4/10 – This may seem harsh to some people but in truth, it hasn’t been the greatest of seasons for Stoffel so far – especially when you compare his results to Fernando’s. Despite Formula 1 being a team game, it’s still important for drivers to beat their teammate or at least equal their performances. In truth, I don’t think Stoffel has done this. I know the car isn’t the best but there is no reason why Fernando can extract more from the car than Stoffel. Hopefully, Stoffel can have a better second half of the year because he is a very quick and good driver. He won the GP2 (now Formula 2) Championship back in 2015, a Championship you don’t win if you aren’t quick. Stoffel may need this as his seat could be under scrutiny for next year from Lando Norris – a driver who has had success in whatever he has driven in over the last few years.
By Jordan Hollands