Johnny Herbert: Lewis Hamilton can dominate again in 2018 - but beware Red Bull

Johnny Herbert
World beater: Lewis secured his fourth title at a canter this year although he was helped by Ferrari’s mistakes: AFP/Getty Images

Ahead of the Formula One season finale in Abu Dhabi, Johnny Herbert rates the teams and offers his predictions for 2018.

Mercedes

Their ability to develop the car has been impressive and, after some struggles, they were still able to give Lewis Hamilton the car he wanted when he wanted it. There were some alarming results for Lewis, in particular, but he and the team still went on to win the title at a canter.

Mark (out of 10): 8.5

Prediction for 2018: It is not such a big shift next season, so you would say it will be more of the same for Mercedes.

Ferrari

From the outset, and for most of the season, they looked so, so strong — and then the errors crept in. There was Sebastian Vettel’s move at the Singapore Grand Prix and that faulty spark plug in Japan. What is a shame is that the previous race in Brazil showed the car is still damn quick.

Mark: 9 for most of the season but 7.5 at the finale

Prediction: The issue next year is that the engine allowance shifts from four to three, and Ferrari reliability has not been as strong as that of Mercedes.

Red Bull

It's not like the car was poor at the start of the season, but it wasn’t where most of us expected it to be. But the way they have developed the car, with designer Adrian Newey coming back on board, is remarkable, and they have a great driver pairing in Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.

Mark: 9

Prediction: Renault’s power unit is not as good as that of Mercedes or Ferrari. If they sort that, they are right in the hunt.

Force India

They are a great team who have shown again the right strategy and methodical thinking in creating a car within their budget. Sure, they have to take the occasional risk, but those mostly paid off. They handled the driver spat between Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez very well.

Mark: 7.5

Prediction: Again, fourth in the championship looks a realistic ambition for a team who are the best of the rest.

Williams

They have fallen away further this season since that resurgence in 2014-15, bar that excellent podium from Lance Stroll in Azerbaijan, which silenced a lot of his critics. I have been impressed by him, but now things rest on who they choose to replace the retiring Felipe Massa.

Mark: 6.5

Prediction: It will be a great story if Robert Kubica gets the drive, but that would be an error in my view. So much depends on who gets that second seat.

Toro Rosso

I have made no secret of the fact I am a fan of Carlos Sainz Jr, and again he has been very impressive this season, punching above his weight. Daniil Kvyat has not rectified his problems and he has paid the price by losing his seat.

Mark: 6

Prediction: It is up in the air with the change from Renault to Honda power. It is a potential masterstroke if it pays off.

Renault

The team have done a pretty good job, but the in-season development has not quite been up to scratch. I think Nico Hulkenberg has done well with what is at his disposal, and it is now a great driver line-up, with him alongside Carlos Sainz Jr, who already looks at home in the team.

Mark: 6

Prediction: I’d imagine there is genuine excitement in the team. The engine has improved and they have one of the best driver line-ups on the grid.

Haas

I have always rated Romain Grosjean highly and I think Kevin Magnussen has given him a real run for his money this season. It has been an enjoyable battle to watch. But the team have gone from flashes of brilliance to then being painfully inconsistent, which needs to be addressed over the winter.

Mark: 6

Prediction: They have the speed, and they have addressed their brake issues, so with greater consistency the only way is up.

McLaren

The chassis is not bad and I know we have complained about the power unit for a while now, but it has also showed good raw pace. Fernando Alonso has been, well, Fernando, with some impressive drives, but it has all been overshadowed by the end of the Honda partnership, which has clearly fallen short of everyone’s expectations.

Mark: 7.5 for the chassis, 6 for the engine

Prediction: The Renault power unit is not perfect, but it is better than Honda, so it will be interesting to see how that slots into the McLaren.

Sauber

They have been where we would have expected them to be this season following the sad demise of Peter Sauber and then the departure of team principal Monisha Kaltenborn. It all goes back to the “pay driver” situation from 2015, a catalyst for their downward spiral.

Mark: 5

Prediction: There are positive noises coming out of the team now, so they should be on the up in 2018.

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