Hamilton heroics and misery for Max – the best and worst of the F1 season so far

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Lewis Hamilton will head on his summer holidays 24 points clear of Sebastian Vettel after winning the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The sport will now take a month-long break before battles resumes in Belgium on August 26.

With 12 of the 21-race calendar completed, Press Association Sport runs the rule over the first half of the season.

Best driver

Daniel Ricciardo has impressed for Red Bull, refusing to be overshadowed by Max Verstappen, and winning two races, while Fernando Alonso is somehow in the top half of the standings despite McLaren’s woeful car – this after the British team said they would be back at the sharp end too. Rookie Charles Leclerc has set tongues wagging with his top performances and could yet land a seat at Ferrari in 2019. But the honour must go to Lewis Hamilton. By his own admission, he has not been at his devastating best, yet, while Sebastian Vettel has stumbled, Hamilton is the FedEx of Formula One: he always delivers. Hamilton has five victories to Vettel’s four, winning from 14th in the rain at Hockenheim and putting his Mercedes on pole in Hungary before taking his second win in eight days. Vettel will have his work cut out to stop the Briton from winning the title.

Worst driver

Marcus Ericsson continues to put forward his case for being remembered as one of the worst drivers in recent F1 memory, while Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin have formed the most underwhelming line-up of Williams’ history. The accident-prone Romain Grosjean has also been outclassed and outscored by his Haas team-mate Kevin Magnussen, but, on the basis of the driver to have made the most mistakes, Verstappen has nowhere to hide. It was not until the seventh race of the season that the Dutchman finally had a clean weekend and, for a champion-in-the-making, that simply is not good enough. Crashes with Vettel, Hamilton, Ricciardo and the wall in Monaco (when he was a contender to win) are all black marks on a disappointing season.

Biggest surprise

There are those who buckle under the burden of expectation and those who revel in it. Step forward Leclerc. The Monaco-born driver has lived up to his billing as the next big thing by getting the very best, and more, out of his modest Sauber machinery. Leclerc has embarrassed his experienced team-mate Ericsson with a number of over-achieving qualifying and race displays. Alonso did the same with Minardi before landing a seat at Renault and winning two championships. Leclerc could yet do the same if, or perhaps when, he moves to Ferrari.

Biggest moment

If Vettel loses out on the title to Hamilton for a second year, he will probably look at his crash in Germany as the moment he threw away the championship. The Ferrari driver was on course to win his home race before the heavens opened and he lost control. Vettel slammed into the barriers and, to make matters worse, Hamilton sealed a famous win from 14th on the grid.

Best race

Azerbaijan is swiftly earning a reputation as the venue for thrills and spills and the fourth round of the championship was another classic. First Red Bull team-mates Ricciardo and Verstappen crashed out at 220mph. Then Vettel ran off the road trying to pass Valtteri Bottas for the lead before the Finn’s tyre blew up only a handful of miles from home. Hamilton emerged from nowhere to claim one of the most fortunate victories of his career.

Worst race

For all the prestige that Monaco provides, the race itself is often a dud and so it proved again this season. With overtaking impossible on the narrow street circuit, a procession ensued and it was made all the more farcical with Ricciardo able to win, despite being down on power for most of the race. Hamilton called it one of the most boring he has been a part of and it was hard to disagree.

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