As the Formula 1® season approaches its final third, it's a time of reflection but also a period to look forward. The 2019 season calendar has officially been announced and we're already seeing movement between drivers and teams setting up for next year.
But eyes still remain on the handful of races left on the 2018 calendar, including the United States Grand Prix on October 21.
The season is coming to a head with clear contenders for the F1® World Championship now making the final push, but everything is still up for grabs.
So as we prep to head to Austin, Texas for the F1 USGP at Circuit of The Americas™, lets look at the biggest stories so far of the 2018 Formula 1 season.
It's only fitting that the biggest names in the sport reside at the top of the points leader board at this junction of the season.
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton is sitting pretty at 256 points following a first-place finish at the Italian Grand Prix, putting him 30 points ahead of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel. Both Hamilton and Vettel are clawing at each other for the top spot, with Vettel tailing off after having a emphatic start to the 2018 campaign — the German won the first two races of the year and three of the first seven.
But Hamilton never let Vettel get too far ahead, striking victory at Azerbaijan and Spain and once again in France. Hamilton has taken command in recent fixtures, and increased his chances of a fifth World Championship by winning three of the last four Grand Prix's.
While Hamilton and Vettel go head to head, their respective teams are also clogging the traffic atop the leaderboard. Sitting at third in the standings is Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen on 164 points and Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas sandwiching the two Ferrari drivers in at fourth place.
Raikkonen has yet to win a race this year, but has aided Vettel in the duo's quest to give Ferrari the points lead.
The final seven races of the year will be huge for the two teams. Hamilton has the chance to add another trophy to the cabinet for Mercedes, while Vettel has the opportunity to claim his first prize as a member of Ferrari. As for the other two, Raikkonen is singing his swan song for Ferrari after recently announcing that he's leaving the team at the end of the year, and Bottas has the chance to cement Mercedes' points lead.
The Potential Spoiler
The only team that's been able to crack the ceiling of Mercedes and Ferrari so far this season has been Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer. Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo have been able to collect three first-place finishes this year, with the Dutchman winning at Austria and Ricciardo claiming victory at China and Monaco.
While Verstappen and Ricciardo have a firm grasp on fifth and sixth place in the polls if things stay the same, they've proven that they can cause some mayhem in the final races of the year. If they can add a couple more first-place finishes to their record, they can break up the Mercedes and Ferrari reign at the top.
Race of the Season: Germany Grand Prix
If Hamilton comes out on top this season, this will be the race that will be remembered. It was the perfect storm for Hamilton, literally. The Brit started the race in 14th place due to a faulty qualifying run, making a run at Vettel in the front of the pack seem impossible. But when rain started down pouring and altering the track on lap 25, Hamilton, in fourth place at the time, took advantage of the natural alterations to the track and overtook Vettel, who crashed out, after the safety car period.
The finish of the race saw Hamilton and teammate Bottas finish 1-2, extending Mercedes' points lead and pushing Hamilton 17 points ahead of Vettel in the standings.
Race Results So far
|Grand Prix||Winning Driver||Fastest Lap|
|Australian||Sebastian Vettel||Daniel Ricciardo|
|Bahrain||Sebastian Vettel||Valtteri Bottas|
|Chinese||Daniel Ricciardo||Daniel Ricciardo|
|Azerbaijan||Lewis Hamilton||Valtteri Bottas|
|Spanish||Lewis Hamilton||Daniel Ricciardo|
|Monaco||Daniel Ricciardo||Max Verstappen|
|Canadian||Sebastian Vettel||Max Verstappen|
|French||Lewis Hamilton||Valtteri Bottas|
|Austrian||Max Verstappen||Kimi Raikkonen|
|British||Sebastian Vettel||Sebastian Vettel|
|German||Lewis Hamilton||Lewis Hamilton|
|Hungarian||Lewis Hamilton||Daniel Ricciardo|
|Belgian||Sebastian Vettel||Valtteri Bottas|
|Italian||Lewis Hamilton||Lewis Hamilton|
Updated Driver Standings
|12||Carlos Sainz Jr.||34|
Gear Up for the United States Grand Prix
You can be in Austin to experience one of the biggest race of the Formula One® season with COTA Experiences. With an Official Ticket Package to the United States Grand Prix, you can pick the perfect seat around the track and experience our premium hospitality options. You won't want to miss one of the final races of the season!