W the years are the same. Lewis Hamilton took the top position in our annual ranking last year with an average grade of 9.05. In 2018, the old, new world champion has the same style. This time with two more wins. Eleven season successes, eleven pole positions, 2,331 kilometers in the lead, 408 points, the fifth world title: Hamilton topped the 2017 season with his performance.
Nine times, the title holder secured the top mark in our ranking 10. We rewarded Hamilton seven times after a Grand Prix with a grade of 9. Three times he got an 8. Outliers down there were only for the listless performance in China and the rather meager weekend in Canada.
Vettel with too many mistakes
Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel started strong again and then fell sharply again. Ferrari's number one was on course for the title until the home race at Hockenheim. Then he sank his SF71H after a small driving error in the Sachskurve. The victory in Belgium rekindled hopes. Only to fall into mourning again in Monza a week later. The victories in Bahrain, Canada and England brought Vettel the 10th. Otherwise it was only enough for the top grade in Mexico. The dropouts in France, Germany and the USA put pressure on the average. Five wins weren't enough. The performance fluctuated too much for the title win. On both the driver and the team side.
Kimi Räikkönen has been delivering for the best year since his Ferrari comeback in 2014. It is reflected in third place in the World Cup and third place in our ranking. Valtteri Bottas, however, often convinced in the first half of the season,but fell off at the back more and more. The blowout in Baku robbed him of victory. After 13 races, his average grade was 8.23. Only in Australia (mistake in qualifying) and Monte Carlo (too slow in qualifying) there was less than an 8. From the Italian GP it went downhill. With one exception: In Russia, Bottas raced for pole and determined the race right up to the stable management. Mercedes set up the World Cup on Hamilton early on. You could tell by Bottas.
Red Bull drivers on par
The two Red Bull drivers evened out with an average of 7.76. Daniel Ricciardo belonged to the first third of the season in the team-internal duel. Then the bad luck hit him with full force. Max Verstappen got stronger and stronger because after a few mistakes at the beginning he finally drove more calmly. Nico Hülkenberg finished the midfield in the best place. More than seventh was not possible. In our annual ranking, however, Fernando Alonso and Charles Leclerc were more convincing than the long Rhinelander. Alonso made the best possible out of a bad car. You can see it in comparison to team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne. Leclerc started weak, but the knot burst in Azerbaijan. The Formula 2 champion had finally adjusted the C37 and vice versa.
We will no longer see six drivers in 2019. Fernando Alonso lost his desire after unsuccessful years at McLaren. The top teams don't want the troublemakers. Esteban Ocon loses his cockpit to buddy Lance Stroll, although apart from the dropout in Brazil he had a good season. Marcus Ericsson, Stoffel Vandoorne, Brendon Hartley and Sergey Sirotkin have to vacate their cockpits. All four can be found in the lower part of our annual ranking. For different reasons.
You can find the grades and detailed ratings of all drivers in our slideshow.