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Hamilton and Leclerc come good: How did GPFans' 2018 F1 predictions fare?

Hamilton and Leclerc come good: How did GPFans' 2018 F1 predictions fare?

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Hamilton and Leclerc come good: How did GPFans' 2018 F1 predictions fare?

Hamilton and Leclerc come good: How did GPFans' 2018 F1 predictions fare?

Some elements of the 2018 Formula 1 season went as expected, but there were plenty of shocks and surprises along the way. Back in March, Rob Watts put a set of predictions on record for the campaign that was to come. How did they shape up? Let's take a look…

The drivers' world champion will be...

LEWIS HAMILTON

GPFans said: "[Hamilton's] form during last season suggests he's firmly entering his prime as a driver, and now in his sixth season with the team he argues to be "one of the greatest sport has ever seen", he's developing a similar relationship to the one Michael Schumacher enjoyed at Ferrari in his early-2000s pomp."

The verdict: Not only did Hamilton wrap up title number five, but his 11 race wins moved him to within 18 of Schumacher and has prompted many contemporaries, pundits and even Hamilton himself to begin training sights on the Briton's chances of surpassing the great Schumacher.

MERCEDES

GPFans said: "Judging by the W09's pre-season performance, the diva has been tamed. The car looked stable through the quick corners and - perhaps more crucially - nimble through the slower, twisting sections; a known weakness of last year's car."

The verdict: Two for two! The Silver Arrows were victorious again, while a host of circuits that had seen the team struggle in years prior – Singapore, Brazil and Hungary – went their way this year, meaning that a string of winning streaks at other circuits being broken (China, Britain, Belgium and more) didn't do too much damage.

CARLOS SAINZ JR

GPFans said: "This year, Sainz has a huge incentive to deliver regular results and Renault's expected leap forward in performance gives him the car to do just that."

The verdict: It's arguable that Sainz went backwards slightly in 2018 and next year's move to McLaren (more on them next…) could see him go further in reverse. Sainz registered one fewer point in 2018 compared to his 2017 campaign at Toro Rosso, finished with Renault. A full season in the French squad saw Nico Hulkenberg take the teammate battle and left Sainz scrabbling for a seat somewhat after Red Bull opted to release him.

MCLAREN

GPFans said: "The decision to swap Honda for Renault power will also allow McLaren to compare performance against that of the works team and probable frontrunners Red Bull, so we will finally see if their chassis is all it has been cracked up to be."

The verdict: Oh boy, did it… McLaren's best result of the season was Fernando Alonso's fifth place in Australia as their rivals out-developed them massively. In defence of this prediction, McLaren suckered plenty in yet again after swapping Honda for Renault power units and making predictions of a podium return – and possible race wins – something that Zak Brown now says may not come to fruition for up to a decade.

VALTTERI BOTTAS

GPFans said: "If unable to hit the ground running this year, Bottas could find the going tough, especially if Ferrari and Red Bull become a genuine threat to Mercedes' title chances."

The verdict: Not many drivers will have been as disappointed with their season as Bottas, who said his 2018 "turned to shit" after a promising start which saw confidence drain away after wins in China and Azerbaijan slipped through his fingers. Esteban Ocon lurking in the background at Mercedes next year will ensure that Bottas will not be retained with a repeat performance in 2019.

WILLIAMS

GPFans said: "Having finished slowest on each of the final four days of testing with a car that overlooked test driver Robert Kubica described as handling "like a bus", Williams are set for a difficult year and may regret opting for such a youthful lineup when more experienced options were available."

The verdict: *insert slam dunk GIF*

CHARLES LECLERC

GPFans said: "Ferrari is usually risk averse to employing young talent - they haven't employed a race driver under 25 since [Felipe] Massa in 2006 - but Leclerc's potential is huge, and he could finally be the one they break the mould for."

The verdict: A slam dunk GIF could work again here, but Leclerc's excellent campaign deserves proper analysis. The Monegasque often found himself battling Alonso and held off a charging double champion in Baku for a sixth-place finish that was way beyond Sauber's potential. Confirmation of his Ferrari graduation seemed to inspire Leclerc, who picked up five top-10 finishes in the seven races after his move was rubber-stamped at Monza.

SILLY SEASON

GPFans said: "The driver merry-go-round usually stays still until around Silverstone time, but 2018 is already different. Several top drivers are in the last year of their contracts, so we may see some movement at the sharp end of the grid."

The verdict: Silly didn't quite do it justice in 2018. Only Mercedes and Haas will return with the same driver line-up next season after almost an entire season of rumour, nonsense and shock. Daniel Ricciardo's decision to leave Red Bull for Renault sent the market into overdrive, leaving Esteban Ocon as the ultimate loser. Robert Kubica's return to the grid with Williams, Sebastian Vettel coming under pressure from Leclerc and the debuts of exciting rookies like George Russell, Lando Norris and Alexander Albon – 2018's silly season will pave the way for 2019 to be an amazing one.

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