2017 Season Review – Part Four – Hamilton begins a charge as Ferrari begin to falter

Features

Belgium

Hamilton returned at his best following the summer break, beating Vettel to take pole by two tenths. It was another special day for the Mercedes driver, who equalled the record number of poles set by Michael Schumacher. It was a great come back from the German, who appeared to be struggling to get the lap together.

Meanwhile, it was a great session from Verstappen who out-qualified Ricciardo to start his ‘home’ grand prix fifth. The two were behind Raikkonen, who suffered vibrations from the rear of his car throughout the session. Then he says that he “F***** it up” his final run of the session, so he aborted his lap.

The race soon turned into a two horse race between Hamilton and Vettel, as they remained within two seconds of each other. However it was described by both of them as a “fun” battle, but Hamilton was able to successfully defend off the German and built the gap.

The two Force India’s came together once again on the way to Eua Rouge. Ocon got alongside Perez on the way down to the corner, the Mexican then squeezed his teammate into the wall, with them making contact with Ocon’s wing punchering the rear of Perez.

Verstappen’s home race was brought to an end after he was forced to retire because of an engine failure. That hindered the progress of Raikkonen, he was found not to have slowed down enough for the yellow flags. That earned him a five second stop and go penalty.

It was a decent result for Hulkenberg with seventh place, ahead of Grosjean and Massa. Things also where looking up for Alonso who was running well in the early stages, before the realities of the Honda power saw him drop out of the race.

Italy

Qualifying at Monza was heavily impacted by rain throwing up a mixed grid, and that was even before penalties were awarded. Hamilton put in a really good strong lap in the wet conditions to set the new all time pole record, after going a second faster than Verstappen. It would be Stroll who started third, thanks to penalties.

It was another dominant performance by the Mercedes in the race, with Hamilton building his lead over Bottas from the start as Stroll was soon left behind by the power of the two works Mercedes. Ferrari was also unable to match the pace finishing the race half a second down, allowing Hamilton to take the lead of the championship.

But it was also a good afternoon for all the Mercedes powered cars who to go.”

It was a great race for all of the Mercedes powered cars as the Williams and Force India’s were running not far off the pace of the front-runners. But both Stroll and Esteban Ocon were unable ultimately to withstand the pressure of the works Mercedes of Bottas.

Monza was always going to be a tough race for McLaren, both cars appeared to be swamped by the midfield and fell away. That was before first Vandoorne and then Alonso on the final lap of the race retired.

Singapore

Mercedes always expected that Singapore was going to be a difficult weekend, and it was proving so as Vettel took pole ahead of Verstappen. The Ferrari driver broke the pole record as Hamilton could only manage sixth, and was half a second off the pace.

The gap between Hamilton and Bottas was seven tenths, while the Finn was only two tenths faster than the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg. So could Vettel retake the lead in the championship as Mercedes struggled?

Any chance of doing so was over in moments as Vettel, Verstappen and Raikkonen all crashed as the headed down into the first corner. It was the Finn who got the better start, getting alongside Vettel as Verstappen hit the rear of the Ferrari. That took all three cars out on the opening lap.

That made Hamilton the race leader as he sailed off into the night to take the win. Ricciardo also looked in good form holding of Bottas for second place, but the story was now becoming about which of the midfield teams could take the most from the race.

Sainz was the biggest benefactor as Hulkenberg gave him fourth after he as forced into an extra stop with a hydraulic problem, Hulkenberg initially returned to the track in tenth, but was forced to retire.

Malaysia

Hamilton beat Raikkonen by four tenths of a second on his final run in Q3 taking pole position. It was a difficult afternoon for Vettel, the German failed to qualify despite fitting a new power unit in between FP3 and qualifying. Until that point of the weekend, Ferrari had looked very strong.

While Ferrari were aware of the turbo issue, they decided to run the risk as the change would have led to a grid penalty. But now with the failure, they had to change the part.

Hamilton had to fight in the race with Verstappen, after the Dutchman got past him in the early phase of the race before going onto taking victory. It was another strong win for the Dutchman as he managed to fend off Hamilton in the much faster Mercedes.

The Brit would later say he would be relishing future fights with Verstappen. For Vettel, it was a perfect recovery from the back to fourth, however despite putting the pressure on Ricciardo in the closing stages of the race was unable to take third place.

Things were looking up for McLaren as Vandoorne made a great start, he was running behind Perez, but the power of the Honda engine wasn’t  match for the Mercedes powered Force India. But the Belgian hung on to fifth place which was the best result of his career.

Ocon fought his way back to tenth following a spin at the start and that sent him onto the grass. Pierre Gasly finished fourteenth in his first Grand Prix, the Frenchman held of Jolyon Palmer and Nico Hulkenberg.

So had Ferrari began to throw away the title? And had Mercedes begun to build their advantage as the final races would decide the outcome of the championship!

Jack

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.