The 2018 season was a rollercoaster ride in terms of emotions. During the races, every single mistake was scrutinized by the fans with tempers running high, but certain moments still shone through when each one collectively grew emotional about the sport.
One such moment was Fernando Alonso’s last race in Formula One. There was hardly anyone watching who didn’t want the Spaniard to score a point or who didn’t tear up a little when the multiple world champions, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, gave him a guard of honour before the trio did donuts on the straight.
While the year was packed with surprising moments, there were also a few others that came as no surprise to anyone. For instance, Racing Point announcing Lance Stroll as their driver for 2019 did not make anyone gasp.
Here is a list of moments throughout the season which left everyone with their mouths hanging open:
#5 Kimi Räikkönen winning the US GP
If one had missed the race in Texas and woke up the next day to read the headlines of Kimi Räikkönen stealing a win at Austin, they would surely have another look to check if they were mistaken.
The best chance Kimi had at clinching the winner’s trophy all season was at Monza where he was on fire during qualifying. However, that wasn’t to be and the eldest driver on the grid scraped out a win at the United Stated GP to make up for it.
Kimi started on the front row behind Lewis Hamilton and swooped past through Turn 1. Lewis was told to do the opposite of Kimi when it came to pitting for fresher rubber and when Ferrari did not call in the Finn, Hamilton went for a quick tyre change.
He was soon at the heels of Räikkönen again but the latter defended his position before dashing into the pits himself. A second pit stop for the British driver left him competing with the second-placed Max Verstappen through the later stages of the Grand Prix.
While both of them were close to the one-second mark of Kimi at one point, the 39-year-old held on to win a Formula One Grand Prix after a 113 race long draught.
#4 Sebastian Vettel crashing out at the German GP
At the start of the season, it seemed to be the year when Ferrari bounces back and clinches the world championship with the help of Sebastian Vettel. Before the German GP, Vettel was on top of the drivers’ table with an eight-point difference separating him from Lewis Hamilton. However, it can be said that Germany was where the season started to unravel for Sebastian, and as an extension for Ferrari.
The four-time world champion clinched pole during his home Grand Prix and looked the best bet to win for more than half the duration of the race. It was soon after that the rain began to fall and everything went awry for the red team.
Vettel had a seven second gap opened up when suddenly the visual of the German running off the tarmac only to bang against the barriers left everyone shocked. The agony was evident in his voice when he apologized to his crew but the damage was done. A sure shot victory had slipped out of his fingers and to rub salt into the fresh wound, the win was grabbed by title rival, Lewis.
#3 Sergio Perez on the podium in Azerbaijan
The Azerbaijan Grand Prix has been proving an extremely thrilling affair for the previous two years. Sergio Perez lined up eight on the grid and once the lights went out, mayhem followed. Esteban Ocon ran into the side of Kimi Räikkönen’s car and that crash spelled retirement for the Frenchman.
Multiple tyre punctures and front wing damages ailed many of the drivers. Once a safety car was deployed to remove Ocon’s Force India and Sergey Sirotkin’s punctured Williams, almost everyone dashed into the pits for damage control. Sergio was one of them, getting his front wing changed and was also handed a five-second penalty for causing a collision with Kimi.
Once the two Red Bull drivers came together on lap 40, another safety car period bunched up the field. By now, Perez was running fifth after making up more than ten places. Valtteri Bottas, who was leading the race, suffered a puncture, pushing Perez up to fourth. The Mexican then seized the moment to pass by Sebastian Vettel, who had flat-spotted his tyres, to end up on the podium.
#2 Max Verstappen and Esteban Ocon colliding in Brazil
The Brazilian Grand Prix started off well for Max Verstappen. Climbing up from fifth, the Dutch driver was running in second place by the end of lap 10. He passed Kimi Räikkönen around the outside, before diving past the other Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel and soon enough, Valtteri Bottas was next to be overtaken.
After the pit stops, Max steadily cut down the lead Lewis Hamilton had over him and caught and passed the Briton by lap 40. The Red Bull driver was putting in the times and looked in good form to stake claim to the victory as Verstappen successfully defended from an attacking Hamilton.
The danger, however, was not from the Mercedes driver, but indeed from backmarker, Esteban Ocon. After getting a new set of tyres fitted, Ocon emerged out of the pits in front of Max and the blue flags ensured he gave way to the Red Bull driver. The former then tried to unlap himself to make full use of the fresh rubber when both the drivers collided to take the lead out of Verstappen’s hands.
The Frenchman served a penalty for the accident and Max expressed his disappointment after the race when they met at the weighing scales.
#1 Daniel Ricciardo signing up with Renault
Daniel Ricciardo was one among the few hot commodities on the grid who had the expiration dates on their contracts nearing. Red Bull Racing wanted to develop the team around Max Verstappen, as they had claimed before trying to gloss over their own words. They had also renewed the Dutch driver’s contract to retain him till at least 2021.
It was not hidden that Daniel was looking elsewhere for a seat but soon it was evident that neither Mercedes nor Ferrari were too forthcoming to seal a deal with the Australian. The whispers about talks with McLaren and Renault were heard, but not too many paid heed to them because why would Daniel want to leave Red Bull for either of those teams?
As it turned out, the pitch that Cyril Abiteboul, the managing director of Renault F1, gave Ricciardo was enough for him to sign on the dotted line with the French manufacturers, but it left a lot of people astonished. Arguably, driving for a factory team is an advantage and Renault have history on their side. Only time will tell what fate has in store for Daniel.