The latest chapter in a summer of remarkable driver market bombshells has confirmed that Charles Leclerc will join Ferrari after only one season in Formula 1, swapping seats with Kimi Raikkonen for 2019.
The news has generally been met with excitement – Leclerc will be the second youngest Ferrari driver in F1 history when he rolls off the grid as a 21-year-old in Melbourne next season and as one of the most promising talents of his generation, it’s a golden opportunity that has been merited.
But it’s not just Leclerc who emerges from the news as a winner – in fact, nearly every party involved in this particular story can look upon the news positively.
“We were a little bit lucky today,” said Sebastian Vettel after having grabbed victory in the opening round of the 2018 Formula 1 season. Buying a lottery ticket on the way home might not be the best option for him – lightning doesn’t strike twice.
When Romain Grosjean’s Haas crawled to a stop on the exit of Turn 2, Vettel suddenly stole a race defining advantage. As the only front-runner yet to make his pitstop, Vettel dived into the pitlane under the subsequent virtual safety car conditions.
Long-time race-leader Hamilton, who had stopped during the green flag running, could do nothing at that moment to stop Vettel emerging from the pits ahead and in the lead of the race. With Albert Park being the second hardest track on the F1 calendar at which to overtake, it was game, set and match to Ferrari in that race-defining moment.
Had it not been for the deployment of the VSC, Vettel would have finished second at best. Luck played a key role but was not the only factor propelling Vettel to victory.
The eve of a brand-new Formula 1 season is one of the year’s most exciting times. The anticipation of discovering which teams have done the best job at scaling the pecking order over the winter, and conversely, which teams have the most work to do?
Predicting the final constructors’ championship results pre-Melbourne is never more than the art of guesswork but in the name of fun, I’ve had a go anyway.
Here is my predicted pecking order for F1’s 2018 season;
Evolution over revolution has been the theme emanating from F1’s factories this winter and with the technical regulations remaining static, this has hardly been surprising. However, as they look to overthrow the sport’s current front-runners Mercedes, Ferrari have unveiled a 2016 challenger which looks decidedly different to it’s predecessor from both a technical and aesthetic standpoint.
Following their domination of the 2014 campaign, Mercedes picked up in 2015 from where they left off. Once again, the Brackley based squad were the class of the field, from the moment the W06 rolled out and completed an astonishing 157 laps on the opening day of testing, to the season finale and the team’s 17th win of the year. It was a campaign where their victory t-shirts were never far away, but also where the men and women in red came back to the forefront, with Ferrari surprising the competition to emerge as Mercedes’ closest challengers.
A year where the sport’s power players took center stage and where Brand Hamilton stole the show.
A lot has changed since the Austrian Grand Prix. Red Bull and Renault have filed their divorce papers, Sebastian Vettel has notched victories number two and three for the Scuderia and crucially, Lewis Hamilton has sealed his third World Drivers Championship title. Meanwhile, Nico Rosberg had failed to record his fourth race win of what has been a difficiult campaign. The breakthrough for the German came in Mexico City, as the re-profiled Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez played host to its first Grand Prix since 1992, with Rosberg claiming the spoils ahead of teammate Hamilton.
Their dice usually dominates the headlines, particularly after such a tense duel, yet Sunday was deservedly dominated by the Mexican fans who collectively staked their claim to the accolade of crowd of the season.
F1’s headlines have been dominated by weeks of speculation regarding what the sport’s notoriously fickle driver market could look like in the event that Ferrari called time on their relationship with the 2007 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen. Today, the debate surrounding who will partner Sebastian Vettel at the Scuderia in 2016 has been drawn to a rather abrupt close, as the team have announced the retention of the Iceman for another season. The status quo at Maranello could cause a shockwave of continuity effecting their competitors.