F1 Driver Ratings – 2018 Season Averages
Two weeks have passed since the conclusion of the 2018 Formula 1 season, and the majority of drivers are beginning to embark on their winter shutdowns to recharge ahead of the new year.
The run-up to the holiday season is the perfect time to reflect on the year that has been, with the same being true for F1. The various award ceremonies have been wrapped up, the montages have been cut – and at Crash.net HQ, we’ve crunched the numbers to deliver our end-of-year driver ratings.
On the Monday after each grand prix this year, we rated each driver out of 10 for their weekend performance, meaning we can produce an average for all 20 racers across the 21-race season.
20. Sergey Sirotkin, Williams – 5.67
A baptism of fire for Sergey Sirotkin in F1 as he spent the majority of his rookie season in the sport clamouring towards the rear of the field in the troublesome Williams FW41 car. High points came in Monaco, Belgium and Italy, but in a year where he failed to take the chequered flag running in the top 10, he also props up our average driver ratings.
19. Lance Stroll, Williams – 5.71
Given Sirotkin’s score, it perhaps comes as little surprise that Williams teammate Lance Stroll also ranks lowly across the course of the year. He had particular strong weekends in Azerbaijan and Italy, scoring points both times around, but could not otherwise breach the top 10. A handful of really low ratings also bring his average down.
18. Brendon Hartley, Toro Rosso – 5.81
Brendon Hartley’s first full season in F1 was one filled with missed opportunities and misfortune. Whilst teammate Pierre Gasly was able to lead Toro Rosso’s charge, Hartley struggled to match his teammate through the early part of the year. Despite a strong end to the season, it wasn’t enough to save his seat at Toro Rosso for 2019, with Alexander Albon taking his place.
17. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren – 5.86
It was unfortunate that Vandoorne, one of the most dominant junior motorsport drivers in recent times, joined McLaren for two of its worst years in F1. Like the team, he started strongly in 2018, but a point-less run between Baku and Mexico, combined with a 21-0 whitewash defeat in qualifying to Fernando Alonso made for grim reading come the end of the year.
=15. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber – 6.48
It was quite the ride for Marcus Ericsson and Sauber through 2018 as they rose from backmarkers to (on occasion) midfield leaders, sending a real warning shot to the rest of the F1 grid for next year. Ericsson couldn’t match prodigy teammate Charles Leclerc for much of the year, but was never too far behind. His end to the year was particularly strong, leaving most sad to see him go come the final race in Abu Dhabi, with a move to IndyCar beckoning in 2019.
=15. Romain Grosjean, Haas – 6.48
Eight races without points to start the year dragged Grosjean’s season average way down, with his close to the year being much stronger. While Haas teammate Kevin Magnussen was able to lead the team throughout the year, Grosjean struggled for consistency. The team has a whole may have missed opportunities, but Grosjean was culpable for a number of key errors at the start of the year – something he will want to iron out come 2019.
14. Esteban Ocon, Force India – 6.62
Following his breakout 2017, Esteban Ocon was always going to be under pressure to produce a repeat season this titme around. But 2018 ended up being a year where the Frenchman’s off-track stories – namely his future – took precedence over his on-track performances. It was a decent year for Ocon, but no finish any higher than sixth plus a difficult start and end to the year leaves him way down our end-of-season rankings.
13. Sergio Perez, Force India – 6.71
There’s rarely much to separate Force India teammates Ocon and Sergio Perez, and the same is true of our driver ratings. Just 0.09 separates the pair at the end of a tough year for the team, but one in which Perez once again emerged as team leader. His smash-and-grab podium in Baku was the high point that boosted morale at Force India just when it was needed. After Canada, he scored points in all but two of the races he finished, giving him a tidy haul to close out the year.
12. Carlos Sainz Jr., Renault – 6.76
As Renault saw off the challenge of Haas to top the midfield, Carlos Sainz Jr. played a key role in the team’s run to P4 in the constructors’ championship. Sainz started the season particularly well, picking up points in seven of the opening eight races, but had a mid-season slump as questions swirled about his future. The Spaniard landed a seat with McLaren for 2019, and signed off from Renault in fashion with a foot-perfect run to sixth in Abu Dhabi.
11. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault – 6.81
Hulkenberg once again proved himself to be Renault’s team leader in F1 as he won the ‘Formula 1.5′ championship – an actual thing on Reddit – by taking P7 in the drivers’ standings. Hulkenberg regularly breached the top six when drivers from the ‘big three’ slipped up, and while he season was not the most consistent after a handful of errors, he still impressed – something crucial ahead of Daniel Ricciardo‘s arrival at the team in 2019.
10. Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso – 6.86
Consistency was never Toro Rosso’s strong-suit through 2018, its form varying from track-to-track in such bizarre fashion that even Gasly himself had given up making predictions ahead of weekends. Gasly’s obvious high-point was in Bahrain, where he took Honda’s best F1 result in a decade, but he also put in some stunning drives at races where Toro Rosso looked way off the pace and stood no chance of points, Mexico being the clearest example.
9. Kevin Magnussen, Haas – 6.90
Magnussen ranked highly when we totted up the averages at the summer break, having led Haas’ charge through the early part of the season. But as the team saw a dip in form partly thanks to the rise of the likes of Force India and Sauber, so did Magnussen. Seven points from the final eight races was a disappointing haul for the Dane, who had been one of F1 2018’s stand-out stars earlier in the year.
8. Fernando Alonso, McLaren – 7.04
Fernando Alonso’s final hurrah in F1 (for now, at least) saw him once again dragging a sub-standard car up the grid, kicking and screaming. McLaren’s switch to Renault power units failed to yield the kind of performance boost that had been expected, leaving Alonso still frustrated, but he was still able to put in some stunning displays. Dragging his car back to the pits on two wheels in Baku before recovering to seventh was a particular highlight.
7. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes – 7.14
A rough year for Valtteri Bottas ended with a string of fifth-place finishes, but his displays through the early part of the year contributed to a decent average rating for the full season. He even picked up a perfect 10 in Russia, having not put a foot wrong before getting the call to move aside for Lewis Hamilton. He did enough for Mercedes to secure a fifth straight constructors’ title, but was one of the weaker number two drivers through the grid this year.
6. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull – 7.19
Daniel Ricciardo may have only scored two podium finishes in 2018 – both being victories, in China and Monaco – but it did not tell the true tale of his season. Bad luck struck time and time again, most cruelly in Mexico when he was sidelined in the closing stages of the race when running P2, and various issues through the year left him fighting through the field. His performances were still impressive through the season, but he struggled to match teammate Max Verstappen for the most part, even when on a level-playing field.
5. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari – 7.24
It may have been Kimi Raikkonen’s final season with Ferrari in 2018, yet it was arguably his strongest. While he still failed to match Sebastian Vettel‘s form, particularly through the early part of the year, Raikkonen ended the year with just as many podiums as his teammate, and also managed to score his first win for five years at the United States Grand Prix in October. Racing for Sauber may be a step down, but he showed in 2018 he still has the fight and passion to race at the highest level.
4. Charles Leclerc, Sauber – 7.43
A sensational year for F1’s outstanding rookie from the Class of ’18. Leclerc had a difficult start to life in F1, struggling in the first three races, but thereafter was hugely impressive. P6 in Baku was the best result, but his strongest run came towards the end of the year as he scored two 10s, a 9 and two 8s in the final seven races. A big step to Ferrari awaits next year, but he’s proved in 2018 that he has the makings of a very special driver.
3. Max Verstappen, Red Bull – 7.52
Verstappen sat a lowly 11th in the average ratings at the summer break, having endured a rough start to the year. Incidents at each of the first six race weekends made for grim reading, but a change in approach post-Monaco sparked a sensational finish to the year. Seven podiums in the final nine races, including victory in Mexico and a win snatched away in Brazil, saw him shoot up the rankings come the end of the year. Had the opening half of the year gone better, he’d surely have finished higher than P3.
2. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari – 7.57
You’d have been laughed out of the room for suggesting in the summer break Sebastian Vettel would only win once more in 2018. Alas, a combination of a number of costly errors plus Ferrari’s run down a blind alley on updates resulted in a sharp downturn in form, dragging Vettel’s average rating down from 8.17 before Spa to just 7.57 come the end of the season. Ferrari may have slipped up, but there’s a lot to be put down to Vettel.
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes – 8.57
Quite simply, this was Lewis Hamilton’s greatest season in Formula 1. Facing a formidable foe in the form of Vettel in a Ferrari that was the quickest car for much of the season, Hamilton ended the year with 11 poles, 11 wins, and a record points total for a single F1 season. His form through the second half of the year was especially impressive as he racked up six wins following the summer break, two of which came after his title victory as he busted the theory of his post-coronation slump. An end-of-year average rating of 8.57 is a sizeable step over the rest of the pack, but does justice to his remarkable form.
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December 10, 2018 at 11:46AM