As the dust settles on another epic performance by Mercedes in the 2018 Formula One championship, rival teams will be eager to correct their mistakes and raise their game ahead of 2019's curtain raiser in Australia.
Five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton signed off his season in style with a pole-to-flag victory in the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi, his 11th race win of the campaign.
The 33-year-old Brit, who has won 51 of the 100 races in the V6 turbo hybrid era, has become the first driver to score more than 400 points in a single season and is now just 18 wins away from Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of 91.
Although Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel had arguably the better car for much of the season, Mercedes handled early setbacks with extraordinary resolve and came back strongly after the August break, reaping the rewards en route to their fifth consecutive drivers’ and constructors’ double, an achievement which the world of motorsport was quick to praise. Reigning Formula E champion Jean Eric Vergne said:
''I think Formula One and motorsport is team work and what he and Mercedes have done together is absolutely amazing and you know, it's like this when you get into a winning spiral, nobody can stop you unless he (Hamilton) gets tired of winning, which he doesn't seem to. He's been simply the best this year, far better than all the other drivers. I don't think the Mercedes was a much better car than the Ferrari but he was simply way better than the others.''
Despite Mercedes' domination, the 2018 season offered a series of memorable moments.
Kimi Raikkonen's first victory in 113 starts, Daniel Ricciardo's breath-taking overtake in Shanghai, Charles Leclerc's debut and Vettel sliding into the barriers in Germany were among the moments that kept motorsport fans on the edge of their seats.
2018 also saw two-time world champion Fernando Alonso bid farewell to Formula One after an illustrious career.
The Spaniard will be missed but when one door closes another opens and 2019 will see the return of Robert Kubica, eight years since he suffered severe injuries and the partial amputation of his arm in a rallying accident. Unable to grip the steering wheel like he used to, the 33-year-old has had to adapt following a long rehabilition process.
Kubica's return could well and truly go down as one of the most extraordinary comebacks in the history of sport and is testimony to the determination and fighting spirit which his team Williams will undoubtedly need as they will be looking to bounce back following their worst formula One season to date.