The stars of international motorsports gathered in the Grand Hall of the historic St. Petersburg Philharmonia in Russia for a glittering evening celebrating a host of remarkable sporting achievements.
Highlight of the annual gala show was the presentation of the FIA Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championship Trophy to Lewis Hamilton. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team driver made history in 2018, becoming only the third driver to claim five championship wins, matching the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio and closing in on seven-time title-winning great Michael Schumacher. Hamilton took a total of 11 victories during the year, finished off the podium on just three occasions and only once missed out on points across the campaign’s 21 races.
The Briton was pushed hard for much of the season by chief title rival Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari, but four consecutive grand prix victories after the sport’s traditional August break handed Hamilton a commanding championship lead and at the Mexican Grand Prix fourth place was enough to seal a remarkable fifth F1 crown with two rounds in hand.
The F1 Constructors’ title, meanwhile, went to the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team for the fifth consecutive time.
Commenting on the team’s success, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said: “It was an unbelievable season. Did I enjoy the battle with Ferrari? No, I didn’t — it was really tough. But If I look back, I wouldn’t have done it any other way. It’s what Formula 1 is all about. It’s the pinnacle of motor racing and you expect your competitors to be very strong. In the end it makes the end result even more enjoyable.”
A number of special FIA awards were also handed out in St Petersburg.
The Rookie of the Year prize, voted for by members of the FIA Drivers’ Commission, was won for the second year in a row by Charles Leclerc. The Monegasque racer picked up the 2017 for his march to last year’s Formula 2 title and this time out Leclerc was handed the award for the quality of his transition to the top level.
Competing with a Sauber F1 team that was returning to competitiveness after a fallow period, Leclerc managed to finish in the points on new fewer than 10 occasions, scoring a best result of sixth place behind the drivers of the sport’s top three teams at the Azerbaijan GP. Leclerc’s outstanding 2018 performances were rewarded with a 2019 step up to Ferrari alongside Vettel.
The Personality of the Year award, voted for by permanently accredited media from the FIA’s major championship, was presented to five-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton.
The Action of the Year prize, voted for by fans via the FIA’s online channels, was presented to WRC star Teemu Suninen, whose epic save from an almost certain crash during Rally Finland was deemed to be the most incredible moment of the year.
Meanwhile, Mercedes’ Toto Wolff and the team’s Non-Executive Director Niki Lauda won the President’s Award for their efforts in securing a fifth consecutive F1 Constructors’ title. The achievement makes Mercedes only the second team in F1 history to reach five titles in succession, with archrivals Ferrari recording six in a row from 1999-2004. Wolff was on hand to collect the award as Lauda continues his recuperation following a double lung transplant.