By Reece Dixon
Formula 1 is a sport that’s certainly endured its fair share of criticism in recent years. The ‘you can’t overtake!’ narrative tends to crop up at least once every poor race, while 2014’s switch to the less pitchy V6 engines continues to be a more prominent black mark. Then, of course, there are those fed up of Mercedes taking all the spoils of late. And I’m sure even some are still gritting through their teeth at the sheer sight of the halo.
Indeed, it’s easy to get caught up in everything perceived as ‘wrong’ with modern day F1. But despite all the negativity the sport digests, the highs and lows, passion and incidents of the 2018 season have arguably made it the most rollercoaster year since Sebastian Vettel’s surprise 2010 title charge.
In Bahrain, China, Azerbaijan, Austria and Silverstone, we’ve been treated to some spectacular races from start to finish. You've always got to take the good with the bad, and truth be told, we’ve also had to bear a few processions - ones where we were starved of wheel-to-wheel action (*cough Canada cough*). without a few dull ones here and there, we would never really be able to appreciate the classics that have ultimately led to an epic two-way fight for the championship.
If you thought Mercedes were under pressure in 2017, well, their dominance is truly over one year on. 2018 has given us three different driver victors, three different team winners and seven different podium sitters. 19/20 drivers have scored points. We've seen flashes of what the future holds with the brilliance of Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly holding it down for the young guns. Meanwhile, the ever-consistent Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso have been joined by a feisty K-Mag in the fight for best of the rest.
Throughout all this though, we've had a head-to-head to savour. Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have been going back and forth with the lead of the Championship since lights out in Australia (which suddenly seems so long ago). Both drivers' winning and losing races they arguably shouldn't have. Both keeping us on the edge of our seats. Both leaving it all on the line.
In a season of such marginal gains, Lewis has now opened a 24 points advantage on his Ferrari counterpart. However, if part 1 of 2018 has taught us anything, it's that this season is full of twists, turns and more turns and I'm sure there's plenty more to come.
I hope everyone who's working in this great sport has a relaxing summer break – you deserve it! I'm looking forward to Spa.