Constructors’ championship | 52 points (7th)
Had Racing Point Force India kept all their points in 2018, they would have finished P5 in the teams’ standings.
However, the team went into administration following the Hungarian Grand Prix and lost all their constructors' points because of it. Those points lost included a valuable 15 gained from Baku when Sergio Perez grabbed a brilliant podium.
Nonetheless, Racing Point staged a superb recovery. They managed to collect 52 points in the final nine events: that was more than any other of the squads outside the top three.
With new investors secured and everyone knowing their jobs are now safe, stability has been restored. They can look to the future and hope to reclaim 4th in the championship next year with Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll.
They’ve already shown how good they are on a tight budget; very exciting times may lie ahead for this team.
Sergio Perez | 62 points (8th)
‘Checo’ had a very mixed season in 2018: not great on a Saturday afternoon, but very quick on race days.
Force India lacked pace in the early flyaway races and the Mexican was left pointless after those three events.
Things all changed at Baku, though. After getting hit by Sirotkin on the opening lap, he was forced to pit. Perez then received a 5-second time penalty for overtaking before the Safety Car line – but he managed to recover to 7th before the Red Bulls took each other out of the race.
P5 on the restart turned into a podium as Perez passed Sebastian Vettel who flat-spotted his front left trying to take the lead and rejoined right in front of him. The Mexican got gifted P3 following Bottas’ puncture. Yet again, he took full advantage of the problems for the lead runners and kept his nose out of trouble. He was the only driver outside of the top 3 teams to get a podium in 2018.
At the midway point of the year, he had collected only 24 points and trailed his stablemate by a single point by that stage. Nonetheless, he would turn it around in the second half of the season.
While qualifying continued to be a major problem (5-16 in the head-to-head), the Mexican star produced some excellent performances in many of the races.
For example, he started four places behind Ocon at the Austrian Grand Prix but caught him in the race and the Frenchman had to let him through so he could go after Magnussen. Ultimately, Perez gave the position back at the end but showed how quick he was in the race. At Monza, he began the Grand Prix six places adrift and only finished 1s and a single place behind his stablemate again.
Perez scored 38 points in the second half of the season, which was the most of anyone outside the top 3 teams. His best result was a superb 5th position at Spa.
The only black spot on his year came at Singapore: he made contact with Ocon which put the Frenchman in the wall, and then took a silly swipe at Sirotkin while trying to pass the Russian.
Overall though, in a tough season for him and the team, he did a very good and solid job. Perez clearly held an advantage over Ocon in races like he did in 2017.
Yet, he’ll need to work on qualifying next year. Although in theory, it will be easier against Lance Stroll.
Esteban Ocon | 49 points (12th)
2018 was very up and down for Esteban Ocon both on and off the track. On the track, he delivered brilliantly on a Saturday afternoon. Sadly, for him, he won’t be on the grid next year as he lost out in the driver merry-go-round.
Only Alonso, Leclerc and Vettel outqualified their team-mates more than Ocon did across the year. To beat Perez 16-5 in only his second full season in the sport was mightily impressive. The best result was at Spa as he qualified a magnificent P3 in wet conditions.
In the races, it wasn’t the same story, however. On a Sunday, the tables turned as Perez regularly had a pace advantage over him.
His best race in 2018 was probably at Monaco. A superb P8 on Saturday turned into a magnificent 6th place finish on Sunday as he finished best of the rest on a track where Force India tend to struggle.
Ocon had four 6th place finishes in 2018, but ended up 13 points adrift of his team-mate in the standings.
He certainly wasn’t helped by getting involved in controversial clashes against other pilots in 2018 as you’ll see below.
Incidents with other drivers
Azerbaijan: Throws away a wonderful opportunity for a podium finish by failing to give Raikkonen enough room into turn 3. The pair made contact and Ocon’s race ended in the wall. Ocon said ‘’the Ferrari totally crashed me in the wall,’’ but the reality was the Finn had a good bit of his car alongside the Force India and the Frenchman should have given Raikkonen more space.
Mexico: Gets involved in a fierce scrap with Pierre Gasly. Ocon and Gasly go side-by-side towards turn 4 but the Force India driver leaves his fellow Frenchman no room and forces him off the track. Gasly said post-race ‘’with Ocon it’s always the same thing.’’
Brazil: Easily the biggest talking point of the season when it came to a collision. Ocon, trying to unlap himself, takes out race leader Max Verstappen as he attempted to make a move into turn 2. While the Dutchman could have given him more space and shouldn’t have pushed him multiple times after the race, the young French driver’s reputation took a hit after the incident.
Since he arrived in F1 during the midway point of the 2016 season, he's got involved in a number of controversial clashes with Sergio Perez and other drivers. While they weren't all his fault, he'll need to be more careful in the future.
Despite showing tremendous speed at times in 2018, the Frenchman won't be on the grid next year and will be the reserve driver at Mercedes. It remains to be seen whether he'll replace Bottas at Mercedes for 2020.
The big question is: could he challenge Hamilton more than the Finn? On the evidence of the last two years, probably not on a Sunday. His race pace has not been sensational and Perez has outperformed him in this area.
However, he should be on the grid next year with the talent he has. It's a massive shame he isn't.
Perez vs Ocon
Qualifying head-to-head: 5-16