F1 2018: 4 Errors That Cost Vettel the Championship Lead

F1 Grand Prix of Germany
Too many mistakes cost Vettel the championship lead

The 2018 Formula 1 season is well underway and this year promises an exciting duel between the Mercedes and the Ferrari, unlike the previous seasons, which were completely dominated by the Silver Arrows.

Sebastian Vettel started the season well with two race victories in the first two races while Hamilton took his time and secured his first Grand Prix win at Baku, the fourth round of the championship. Often, Hamilton trailed the German in the drivers' championships, but soon found himself back on top, thanks to the needless driving errors by Sebastian Vettel.

With a superior power unit, this season looks like Vettel's to lose, and in this article, let us look closer at the four races the German threw away this season, which handed the championship lead to Lewis Hamilton.

#4 Lock-up at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Azerbaijan F1 Grand Prix
Sebastian Vettel's
tactics cost him a podium at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel was having an excellent weekend at Baku and dominated the Q3. The German started the race in a strong position and maintained his lead right from the start, with the Mercedes and Red Bulls behind him. Vettel along with his team went for an over-cautious move and decided to the car with softs with an intention to finish the race using the same set of tyres. The German's immediate threat Bottas was on a different strategy that required at least two pit stops.

However, the collision between the Red Bulls on lap 40 changed the race dynamics in a drastically different manner. The incident forced both of them to retirement while bringing out the safety car. The timing of the safety car handed the lead to Bottas, with Vettel trailing him in the second place. Aggressive drive by the German at the restart forced him to lock the wheels of his Ferrari while trying to overtake the Finn, which ultimately cost him two places. Sebastian Vettel finished the race in the fourth place.

Elsewhere, Bottas was out of the race due to a puncture, and Lewis Hamilton took the chequered flag in style to take the lead in the championship, much to the disappointment of Vettel.

#3 Crash on the first lap of the French Grand Prix

F1 Grand Prix of France
Vettel collided with Bottas on the very first lap of the Grand Prix

The French Grand Prix marked its return to the Formula 1 calendar for the first time since the 2008 season. A hotly contested qualifying session saw both the Mercedes' locking the front row with Vettel in the third place. The German was less than 0.4 seconds behind the polesitter, Lewis Hamilton. Nevertheless, one should give due credit to Hamilton as he dominated the entire weekend at the Paul Ricard Circuit.

All the racing fans around the globe were hoping for a thriller as Ferrari and Mercedes showed good pace throughout the Grand Prix. However, that was not the case, and they were treated to a rude shock right after the start of the race. The German braked late into the corner while attempting to overtake Mercedes' Bottas; however, he locked-up and collided into the back of the Finn, which damaged the Ferrari's front wing. The safety car was called in and both the drivers rushed to the pits to get their set of repairs done.

Hamilton took the lead at the restart and was hardly challenged for the race win. Vettel, on the other hand, showed great resilience and battled through the midfield to finish the race in the fifth place, which ensured that the Briton would regain the championship lead.

#2 Lapse of concentration at the German Grand Prix

F1 Grand Prix of Germany
Sebastian Vettel threw away a GP win with a momentary lapse of reason

Vettel's needless crash at the German Grand Prix handed the championship lead to Lewis Hamilton, again.

Ferrari showed tremendous pace throughout the weekend, and Sebastian Vettel took the pole at his home Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton suffered a setback in qualifying that saw him start the race from the back of the grid.

The race began in a regular fashion, and there were no surprises, with Vettel leading the race, followed by Raikkonen and Bottas. With clouds over the track, everyone was prepared for the impending rain, and it was not a question of 'if' but a question of 'when.' Meanwhile, the Briton continued his charge up the field with a few nifty overtaking manoeuvres.

The rain eventually came on lap 44, and the conditions made it quite difficult for the drivers as most of them were running on the softs. A slight error in judgement from Vettel, coupled with the damp track conditions, made the German lose his rear on the Sachs Kurve and hit the barriers after sliding through the gravel, which forced his retirement.

Vettel's crash on lap 52 along with the inconsistent rain spells left the door wide open for Hamilton to claim a memorable victory in a race that he started from the fourteenth place.

#1 Collision on the first lap of the Italian Grand Prix

ttel spun off the track after making contact with Hamilton on the very first lap
Vettel spun off the track after making contact with Hamilton on the very first lap

Monza's long straights combined with Ferrari's superior power unit meant that the Prancing Horse was in pole position to win the Italian Grand Prix. Dominant qualifying display that saw a Ferrari one-two only added to their cause.

However, on the race day, once the lights were out, the Italian team were in for a huge shock even before the completion of the first lap. Kimi Raikkonen had a clean start and entered into the first corner well in front; however, the Mercedes' drivers caught up with Vettel, whose getaway was not so convincing. Within half-a-minute, the German made contact with Hamilton's Mercedes, causing him to spin off the racing line. Hamilton, however, escaped the incident unscathed. The incident on the very first lap cost Vettel loads of time, which ultimately killed his chances of a race victory.

At the top of the grid, Hamilton battled with Raikkonen for a good number of laps before zooming past him to take the race lead. The Briton held his nerve and took the race victory, which was his fifth Italian Grand Prix win in a row.

Sebastian Vettel finished the race in the fourth place; however, that wasn't enough as it had handed Hamilton a 30-point lead over the German in the drivers' championship.

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