Midseason Review: 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship – Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport


Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport - Hungaroring
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport are currently leading both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships after the first twelve races of the season.  Both Lewis Hamilton and his team-mate Valterri Bottas have had, for the most part, a solid season, scoring a total of three-hundred-and-fourty-five points in the first twelve races.

SEASON SUMMARY

This season was going to be one or two things: either complete dominance by Mercedes, as has been the case since the inception of the hybrid era of Formula 1, or a close battle between the top teams: Scuderia Ferrari, and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, and by this stage in the season it seems to be tipping more towards the latter.

This season hasn’t all been plain sailing for the Mercedes boys either.  Bottas was involved in a first lap incident at Turn 1 with German title rival Sebastian Vettel during the French GP which was held at Paul Ricard; both drivers spun, and it negatively affected both men’s race, and caused Vettel to lose the lead of the Championship to Bottas’ team-mate, defending World Champion Hamilton.

On the flip side, the tables did turn in favour of Mercedes at the German Grand Prix, held at the Hockenheimring.  Vettel was the home favourite for the victory, and was on target to win, which would have been an impressive feat, considering the changing and treacherous conditions the drivers were forced to contend with, but on lap 51 he went off at the Sachs curve, which caused a safety car period, and also allowed Hamilton to take the race win, and close down the point gap between himself and Vettel.

Both drivers seem to be evenly matched in qualifying performance, Bottas usually being a few tenths down on Hamilton in qualifying, but sometimes matched when it comes to the race on Sundays.  The Championship battle within the team looks as if it will continue until the end of the season in Abu Dhabi.

44 | LEWIS HAMILTON | POINTS: 213 | POSITION: 1ST | BEST RESULT: 1ST (x5)

Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport - Hungaroring
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

The defending World Champion has had an up and down season.  The last couple of years haven’t been as easy as the beginning of the hybrid era, with Ferrari and Red Bull being added in to the mix in the fight for the Championship this year.  Hamilton has had a total of five wins so far this season, finishing in the top ten in all but one race, scoring a total of two-hundred-and-thirteen points so far.  He has, however, faced challenges throughout the season, many of these coming in the form of reliability issues.

For example, during the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring, Hamilton had qualified well, starting second on the grid behind team-mate Bottas who had managed to secure pole.  However, on lap 62, he was forced to retire his car due to an issue which had arisen with the fuel pressure.  The team also suffered a double-DNF on his this occasion as Bottas also retired due to a hydraulic issue.

Lewis was pushed out of qualifying in Q1 at the German GP at the Hockenheimring due to an issue with the hydraulic powered steering system on his car, which saw him qualify fourteenth on the grid.  He was able to take advantage of his strong abilities in wet and changeable conditions, and come from fourteen to first, partly in thanks to Sebastian Vettel’s controversial accident.

In the British Grand Prix, which was held at Silverstone, the Brit started poorly and was spun around by Kimi Räikkönen at turn three and found himself at the back of the field.  However, during the course of the race, he was able to work his way back up the field to finish second.

Notably, since last season and the beginning of the partnership of Bottas, the relationship which he has with his team-mate seems to be a lot less fraught than the one he had with Nico Rosberg in years gone by.

In terms of his future in Formula 1, it appears set to stay at the Brackley-based outfit for the time being, having just signed a two year deal with the team.

Lewis has had a very positive season this far, albeit with a few minor hiccoughs along the way.  He will want to keep up this momentum until the end of the season in an attempt to keep the Ferrari drivers behind in the Championship battle.

77 | VALTTERI BOTTAS | POINTS: 132 | POSITION: 4TH | BEST RESULT: 2nd (x5)

Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport - Hungaroring
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Finn Bottas has had a solid season so far.  Currently fourth place in the Drivers’ Championship, and leading the Constructors’ alongside British team-mate  Hamilton, the future for the twenty-eight year old is looking bright.  Racing for the Grove-based Williams Martini Racing from 2013-16, Valtteri has gone from strength to strength since joining the Brackley-based outfit last season.

Bottas has scored a total of one-hundred-and-thirty-two points this season, and had a total of five podium finishes.  His strong performances, like has been the case with team-mate Hamilton, have on occasion being plagued by reliability issues.  For example, at the Austrian Grand Prix, he was forced to retire on lap 13 after experiencing issues with the hydraulic systems on his car, while Hamilton suffered a problem with fuel pressure.

The twenty-eight year old’s future in the sport appears to lie with Mercedes, as he has signed a one year extension to his current contract, with the option of adding another year in the future.  He will be looking to build on his current efforts for the remaining eight races of the season, and try to end his second year with the team on a high, perhaps coming second in the Drivers Championship.

Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport - Hungaroring
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Mercedes are showing consistent dominance, and the added threat of Ferrari means that there car really needs to come into its own in their fight with the Italian team for if they want to be in with a chance of securing yet another back to back Championship win.  This year there is also the added threat of Red Bull, and not many are a match for Daniel Ricciardo‘s spectacular late breaking overtakes, and with Max Verstappen to watch out for, it should be an interesting fight.