Midseason Review: 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship – Scuderia Ferrari


Sebastian Vettel - Ferrari - Spain Pit Lane
Credit: Scuderia Ferrari

After mounting a title charge last year against Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport, Scuderia Ferrari will be hoping it’ll be second time lucky as they aim to win their first championship since 2008. Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen maintain their seats for the year and will lead the prancing horse into the 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship.

SEASON SUMMARY

Ferrari started their season strongly with Sebastian Vettel claiming a surprising win in Australia and Bahrain. Team-mate Kimi Räikkönen collected two back-to-back podiums in China and Azerbaijan where Vettel faltered with incidents and mistakes that cost him valuable points. Their car looked strong throughout the year, especially in qualifying as the SF71H on full power produced incredible lap times which has helped Vettel claim five pole positions so far.

The Canadian Grand Prix saw Vettel take a dominant win and boost his championship ambition. However, in the next race at Paul Ricard, Vettel clashed with Valtteri Bottas sending both cars down the field. Räikkönen was able to take a trophy back home for the Italian team. Austria saw Ferrari gain an advantage as their rivals Mercedes suffered a double retirement.

Both Räikkönen and Vettel took a double podium at the Red Bull Ring and soon followed with victory at Silverstone, helping Vettel with his championship lead. But it soon faded away at the German Grand Prix, he went off track and crash into the barrier whilst leading the race. Ferrari lie second in the constructors championship, ten points away from Mercedes.

Ferrari have produced a championship challenger once again and look to be the leading force ahead of Mercedes, but due to some critical errors being made by both drivers and the team leaves then behind their rivals. The SF71H has shown what Ferrari can do with the pace, especially in qualifying when they turn the engine up.

For the second half of the season, Ferrari will be hoping no repeat of last year’s title collapse and push to beat Mercedes in their attempt to claim a fifth consecutive championship. Vettel has often performed strongly in the second half of the season and a 24 point gap is reachable, as Vettel proved back in the 2012 season with a 42 point gap. Räikkönen has shown he can be consistent after scoring five consecutive podium finishes so far, proving he can be a vital driver in Ferrari’s bid for the constructors title. Can Ferrari finally get the monkey off their back and finally win a title in ten years? We’ll have to see in December.

5 | Sebastian Vettel | Points: 189 | Position: 2nd | Best Result: 1st (X4)

Sebastian Vettel - Ferrari - Press Conference
Credit: Scuderia Ferrari

Vettel lost out on the championship against Lewis Hamilton last year with two races to spare and aims to finally clinch his first title with the Scuderia this year. He started the year strong with a win in Australia, thanks to safety car error by Hamilton and Mercedes. The following race at the Bahrain Grand Prix, he held off Bottas in the final stages of the race to clinch victory in his 200th Grand Prix start. His race was compromised in China after Max Verstappen hit the Ferrari of Vettel, dropping him down to eighth place as he struggled home with a damaged car.

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix was a perfect opportunity for Vettel to grab his third win, but lost out when he attempted to pass Bottas after the safety car restart where he locked up heavily at Turn 1. He ended that race in fourth place behind Sergio Pérez. Another podium opportunity was lost in Barcelona when a miscalculation during the VSC handed third place to Max Verstappen after making a second pit stop.

Canada saw Vettel take victory in dominant fashion as rivals Merecedes faltered with their older power units but in the next race in France, the German clash into Bottas at the opening lap which sent both cars to the back of the pack. He was able to recover to finish in fifth but lost the championship lead to Hamilton, who went onto to win the race.

Ferrari took advantage of Mercedes’ double DNF in Austria and claimed a double podium finish, with Vettel in third. The British Grand Prix saw Vettel claiming his first win at Silverstone since 2009, after dominating most of the race and passing Bottas in the final few laps. His low point of the season came on homesoil when leading the race, Vettel went off and crashed out of the race, handing the lead back to Hamilton in the championship. After finishing second in Hungary, Vettel lies twenty four points behind Hamilton at the the halfway stage of the season.

Both Ferrari and Vettel have made a stronger championship charge compare to 2017, with the SF71H being a more superior car than its predecessor. Things could have been different for the Ferrari driver if those crucial mistakes, mainly in France and Germany, didn’t happen. Despite his mistakes, Vettel has been performing strongly this season against Hamilton and will aim in the second half of the season to catch the Brit and claim his fifth world championship. His wins in Bahrain and Silverstone showed his skills and patience when attacking and defending against his fellow drivers but it’s important for Vettel now that he can’t make more mistakes in the second half of the season, with the risk of losing more points so high with 24 point gap.

7 | Kimi Räikkönen | Points: 146 | Position: 3rd | Best Result: 2nd (X2)

Kimi Raikkonen - Scuderia Ferrari - Hungary
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd.

After an impressive 2017 season where he finished fourth overall, Kimi Räikkönen stayed on for another year with Ferrari as they aim to clinch their first world championship since 2008.

His season started well with grabbing third place at the Australian Grand Prix. Bahrain ended unexpectedly when during a pit stop, he hit one of his mechanics whilst he was changing his wheel. The following race in China saw him gain an unexpected podium after earlier in the race, Räikkönen was put on a long strategy to help Vettel catch up with Bottas. He would land himself another podium finish in Azerbaijan with second place, his best result of the season so far.

After retiring from the Spanish Grand Prix, Räikkönen would continue his good form with fourth and sixth place in Monaco and Canada respectfully. He returned to the podium in Paul Ricard after passing Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo in the late stages of the French Grand Prix. Victory came close at the Red Bull Ring with another second place finish, seconds away from race winner Max Verstappen. The Finn rounded off the final three races before the summer break at Silverstone, Hockenheim and Budapest with three third place finishes. Räikkönen currently lies third overall with 146 points to his name.

It seems that every year Kimi Räikkönen is getting better and better as he collects the second most podiums out of anyone this season, even beating team-mate Sebastian Vettel by one podium. His consistency in races has helped him place as an outsider for the championship, but it would be very ambitious for the thirty-seven year old to seek a second title.

There have been couple of occasions in qualifying where Räikkönen has made critical errors in final runs that could have earned him better grid positions or even pole positions. That race win is still waiting for the Finn as he hasn’t won a race since the 2013 Australian Grand Prix but if he continues his good form, a win is certainly not far away.

As for his future, there are talks that Räikkönen could be staying on for another year, ahead of Charles Leclerc. Logically it would make sense as a second season in F1 would help Leclerc prepare as the Finn will hope to round off his career with the Scuderia. Will Kimi stay? That will be the question in the driver market for 2019.

Ferrari - Monaco - Kimi Raikkonen
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd.