Lewis Hamilton ended the 2018 season on a supreme high, with his 11th race victory for the year taken at Abu Dhabi’s stunning Yas Marina Circuit – equalling his personal record from 2014.

The Mercedes racer came away from a standout campaign, arguably his best-yet, in which he secured a fifth Formula 1 World Championship... just the third driver in history to do so after Juan Manuel Fangio… 

… and statistically the greatest of all, Michael Schumacher.

Across his 229 starts, Hamilton compares well with the German – second only to Schumi on wins, podiums, fastest laps and laps led. But Hamilton has the record for points with 3018, and pole positions with 83 to Schumacher’s 68.

The 33-year-old is also the most successful British Grand Prix driver of all time, and has dominated F1’s hybrid era with 51 wins from the 100 events since Australia 2014, the first with F1’s high-tech V6 powerplant.

Hamilton also completed 2018 with 408 points, becoming the first driver to break the 400-point barrier in a single season. 88 points ahead of his title rival, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel - who began the year so strong.

The focus now turns to 2019, and the growing band of young guns set to challenge his mantle such as Charles Leclerc at Ferrari, Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly at Red Bull Racing…. 

…and in future seasons, Lando Norris at McLaren and George Russell at Williams, all of which have bright careers ahead of them.

“I welcome the competition, naturally. I do see a little bit of myself within them, being at their age I had the same kind of 'eye of the tiger', I would say, I guess. But, I guess now it is a little bit different for me being that I am one of the older drivers.”

Hamilton, though, knows he has a key advantage over the young guns.

“I feel like I still have that hunger that I guess that they are coming in with, but backed with experience which - I don't know how you guys feel within your jobs - but within my job experience - and I am pretty sure it is the same in yours - there is no substitute for that. So I hope that speaks mountains next year.”

But a sixth crown will be no easy feat with Ferrari likely to return stronger than ever, with Leclerc joining Vettel, while his Finnish teammate Valtteri Bottas is also determined to up his game.

Regardless, what we are seeing from Hamilton right now is a masterclass in racing, a driver at his absolute maximum and the next few seasons, the two he is contracted for currently, are going to be incredibly exciting – with the Brit constantly searching for ways to be better… 

… both inside and out of the cockpit… 

"As a [racing] driver he is extremely gifted and talented, he has great race craft. In my opinion the best driver of modern times. As a personality, [he’s] somebody that is very self critical that develops all the time, that is able to step up from year to year, somebody that I enjoy working with a lot."

Next year’s big technical regulation change, with its modified wings – front and rear – aimed at closer racing, may create uncertainty over which team will be where come Melbourne… 

But if the Mercedes W10 is anything like this year’s car, Hamilton will again be a force to be reckoned with at the front. Cementing his legacy as F1’s silver standard for performance.