FIA’s fanfare for the champions in Saint Petersburg | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

FIA’s fanfare for the champions in Saint Petersburg

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08.12.18.

The winners of this year’s FIA Championships have been crowned in a spectacular 2018 FIA Prize Giving ceremony in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

The stars of world motor sport gathered in the Grand Hall of the historic St Petersburg Philharmonia for a glittering evening celebrating a host of remarkable sporting achievements.
 
Highlight of the annual gala show was the presentation of the FIA Formula One 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 Formula One 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’s 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.”
 
In rallying, Sébastien Ogier and Co-Driver Julien Ingrassia went one better than the F1 champion, with the French pairing landing their sixth consecutive FIA World Rally Championship title.
 
Competing once again with Ford-backed privateer M-Sport squad, the French crew emerged triumphant after an epic battle with Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul that went down to the final stages of the last round in Australia.
 
Ogier and Ingrassia took three wins from the first four rounds, but a difficult mid-season spell that allowed Neuville to gain the upper hand. Victory at Wales Rally GB and second place at the penultimate round in Spain, gave the M-Sport pair a narrow lead and fifth place in Australia, as an accident forced Neuville out, was enough to take the title.
 
Sébastien Ogier said: “It was an intense season. The suspense was there right to the last moment of the season and to come out as the winner again was a great feeling. I think Rally Wales GB was the turning point. There were three rallies to go and we were 23 points behind the leaders. We needed a strong result and winning Rally GB was really important, for the points, but also mentally. I believe that from this moment on the pressure was on their shoulders. We all know that psychology has a big effect in sport and we just managed to be stronger in the last part of the season.”
 
Like Ogier’s victory, compatriot Jean-Eric Vergne’s FIA Formula E triumph was another giant-killing act, as the privateer TECHEETAH team driver powered to the title ahead of a host of manufacturer-backed squads, including eventual team champions Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler.
 
The key to Vergne’s victory lay in his metronomic consistency. While the Frenchman stood on the top step of the podium four times, it was the fact that he finished in the points in every one of the season’s 12 races that earned him a first Formula E crown with 54 points in hand.
 
Reflecting on beating Formula E’s major manufacturers, Vergne said: “It gave me a huge amount of satisfaction and the team did a brilliant job. Nobody should forget that we started from scratch only a few years ago. What we have been able to achieve is absolutely outstanding. We did not have the fastest car, we are a private team, with the smallest budget – it was a great achievement for the guys in the team.”
 
Johan Kristoffersson this year took his second consecutive FIA World Rallycross Championship title and the Swede’s 2018 title win was even more emphatic than his first. In 2017 he won seven times on his way to the top of the overall standings but this time, however, Kristoffersson was almost invincible and he only missed out on victory once in the 12-rounds of the championship.
 
“It’s been an amazing season,” said the driver from the team’s title-winning PSRX Volkswagen Sweden squad. “It’s tricky to get the feeling of how great it actually was. Going to every round with the target of being able to fight for the win but to be able to pull off 11 out of 12 in a sport like Rallycross, with the competition at the level it was this year, it shouldn’t be possible to do it, but we did!”
 
A number of special FIA awards were also handed out in St Petersburg.

Firstly the FIA Special Award was given to Russian Automobile Federation President Victor Kiryanov, with his Club having hosted a flawless week of events and meetings for the Annual General Assembly and played an integral role in the organisation of the Prize Giving Ceremony. 
 
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 Formula One star 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, Formula One.
 
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 Grand Prix. Leclerc’s outstanding 2018 performances were rewarded with a 2019 step up to Ferrari alongside four-time world champion Sebastian 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 of motor sport 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 Team Principal Toto Wolff and the team’s Non-Executive Director Niki Lauda won the President’s Award for their efforts in securing a fifth consecutive Formula One Constructors’ title. The achievement makes Mercedes only the second team in F1 history to reach five titles in succession, with arch rivals Ferrari recording six-in-a-row from 1999-2004. Wolff was on hand to collect the award from FIA President Jean Todt, as Lauda continues his recuperation following major surgery.
 
The FIA’s stars of the future were also honoured in St Petersburg, with champions from across the motor sport spectrum collecting their trophies.  
 
In the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, Mick Schumacher, son of F1 legend Michael, was victorious. The rising star had a tricky start to 2018 but eventually unlocked new levels of pace to take eight wins on his way to the title.
 
FIA Karting World Champions Victor Bernier, Patrik Hájek and Lorenzo Travisanutto were also awarded their trophies.
 
The final applause of the year was, of course, fittingly reserved for F1 Champion Hamilton, and with the curtain brought down on another sensational season, preparations are already well underway for what will surely be another great year for motor sport in 2019.