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5 underrated moments of the 2018 F1 season

F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi
F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi

The 2018 Formula 1 season happened to be one of those years where it wasn't only the frontrunners on the grid that took away the cherry on top of the cake.

It could be said that there were quite a few who dug into the cake and had a great taste of it.

While the efforts of the familiar race-winners and podium collectors were utterly resolute and consistent, the likes of Hamilton, Verstappen, Raikkonen, Vettel making stepping on the podium a habit, if not winning one race after another, and one wonders whether the other performances from the back of the grid that were inspiring got their due.

Having said that, in a sport where the philosophy of 'the winner takes it all' is quite clear, it can be said that there were other winners from the different parts of the grid who were able to make the most of their ability.

Here are the top 5 underrated performances from the 2018 F1 season:

#5 Daniel Ricciardo's dogged pole effort at Mexico

F1 Grand Prix of Mexico - Qualifying
F1 Grand Prix of Mexico - Qualifying

Ricciardo's start to the 2018 season wasn't bad at all. By winning a race in his third Grand Prix for the year at China and his second of the year in only his sixth race, his year from thereon would spectacularly nosedive.

While many of the problems were about the car, the Red Bull machine being inconsistently sluggish, fraught with technical problems, Ricciardo, it could be said, continued to persist, despite his heart having taken a beating in spirit owing to the machine.

Yet, somehow, the Aussie was able to continue dauntless, in a season where he'd eventually concede 8 DNFs and was thus, also able to collect arguably his most heroic albeit unsung moment.

When Daniel clinched pole at Mexico, in a weekend that utterly belonged to Red Bull during qualifying, the Aussie driver had already collected 7 race finishes outside the top fifteen on the grid.

It was a sensational pole lap at Mexico City, where Daniel went at 1:14:759 that would find itself dampened by another DNF in the race.

#4 Kevin Magnussen's lap at Singapore

F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
F1 Grand Prix of Singapore

The Singapore GP was a faultless drive from the perspective of Lewis Hamilton. Yet, there were some massive gains from the other drivers and teams as such.

For starters, Ferrari were lucky to receive a reality check that maybe, under bright shiny lights at the Marina Bay, they didn't have the fastest car, as expected all weekend. They weren't able to stop Mercedes, clearly the faster machines on high-speed corners and the long main straight.

Moreover, while there were gains for the others on the grid, nothing may have been more beautiful or fulfilling than the massive gain that Haas's Kevin Magnussen clinched.

Interestingly, in a car that was neither the fastest nor close to being the fastest, the often reclusive Kevin Magnussen was able to extract the fastest lap of the Grand Prix.

It was on Lap 50 where Magnussen would go at 1:41:905, and hence was able to set the fastest lap record for Singapore in 2018.

#3 Fernando Alonso's cool and collective limp back into the pits- Baku

F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi
F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi

Could there be another driver who'd draw praise and respect for not winning a race but actually parking his car safely into the pits for a quick wheel change other than Fernando Alonso?

While the race at Baku was more about the safety car deployment at regular intervals of the Grand Prix and one that was a bit unsettled thanks to constant action at different parts of the grid, the race was something different altogether for McLaren's Fernando Alonso.

Right at the start, for no fault of his own, the Spanish Samurai stepped onto the sprinkled debris on the track that emanated from the opening lap contact between Kimi's Ferrari and Force India Racing Point's Esteban Ocon.

As a result, Alonso, sustaining a rear wheel puncture would jump into the pits and re-emerge afresh for the contest, but not before having swiftly manoeuvred the limping McLaren into the pits, something that not many contemporary drivers would've managed.

Experience, after all, always matters, doesn't it?

#2 Bottas proving he was more than a critic-fashioned wingman

F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi
F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi

In case you think that Valtteri Bottas, who clearly emerged as a disappointment from 2018, didn't collect anything worthy to remember from this year, then think again.

In the just-concluded season, Bottas, who endured a winless run, was also the same driver who set the bar high for setting fastest laps.

Confused?

It may not entirely easy to remember that despite being pressed by other (arguably more organised) drivers particularly during the races, events that saw the Finn concede what were often either track positions, or places that would've earned him a podium, Bottas set the most number of fastest laps in 2018.

With 7 fastest laps, the Finn was the unsung figure.

#1 Max Verstappen vs Lewis Hamilton's dogfight at the US GP

F1 Grand Prix of USA
F1 Grand Prix of USA

With Sky's David Croft said with a bit of customary excitement that "Maybe, Raikkonen is re-born in the USA," he wasn't merely describing the importance of the win to the Iceman; probably, he also helped signify the importance of a Grand Prix where there was some ballsy driving.

Last year, it was precisely around Turn 17 at the Circuit of the Americas where Red Bull's Max Verstappen passed Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen but not clearly to emerge third on the podium, a move that would draw the necessary ire of the authorities, being finally scrutinised and therefore, penalised.

But this year, while there was Mad Max on the move once again, coming really close to being passed by the car behind, he would realise who he was up against.

In displaying some closely fought driving, a spectacle so thrilling as to have left the commentators and fans closer to the edge of their seats, the Max Verstappen versus Lewis Hamilton show, particularly toward the end of the race, left fans thrilled, and the Grand Prix almost having the order of the cars in their collective pursuit of Raikkonen, changed.

Hamilton would all but pass Verstappen exactly around Turn 17, which is where Verstappen would come back on top sensationally.

Was this the best unsung moment of the year?

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Edited by Sai Krishna
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