BEHIND THE HEADLINES – The half term report

Behind The Headlines Features

Formula One heads off on its summer break now, with the championship fight proving closer between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, the remaining nine races will be pivotal in the ‘fight for five’ titles between the two greats of the current generation.

Since Vettel won his first world championship and stole Hamilton’s title as the youngest champion in 2010, we have wanted to see both men put in a direct fight which we have seen over the last eighteen months. Hamilton won last year in his Mercedes, although the ‘diva’ meant the silver arrows weren’t as dominant as we had seen between 2014-16.

Where Mercedes won that title was in Singapore, that race where the championship pivoted to the Germans after Vettel crashed out, followed by disastrous weekends at Sepang and Suzuka. Mercedes shouldn’t have won, as we continue to see this year, the car really struggles with low speed high downforce circuits. That means Budapest was a surprise, Mercedes wouldn’t have I believe won that race if it was a dry qualifying.

In Le Cassette, Spielberg, Silverstone and Hockenheim, they were strongholds of Mercedes. Mercedes performed well in the low downforce high-speed circuits, meaning they should have won in Shanghai. But I have seen Mercedes buckle under pressure, thus making mistakes which could cost the championship.

Vettel’s mistake while leading his home grand prix, crashing out, could become the defining moment of his season. You could hear the frustration and heartbreak on team radio, a rare mistake one which had huge consequences costing points.

Hamilton was also cost points when he retired in Spielberg, that means from twelve race one retirement each. The friendly fight we thought we lost following Baku last year has returned, they clearly have repaired the mutual respect for each other.

As ever, the Finn’s will need to play their role Kimi Raikkonen is more obviously supporting Vettel, while Mercedes are using Valtteri Bottas in a less obvious support role. Bottas has I feel been allowed to race more than Raikkonen, but the fact that both teams are being open about it and that good for the sport

One of the stand out performers this year, has been Charles Leclerc and Sauber. We have seen a major turn around both in performance following the Alfa tie up. Sauber has always been a good team, but the years of under investment and financial difficulties really hurt the team.

Leclerc, a Ferrari driver and current F2 champion, has given great on-track performances and shown why he was able to dominate last years F2 season. We know the Monacan is tipped for great things, Ferrari we know face a decision between Raikkonen and Leclerc next season.

I don’t see Ferrari changing the decades’ old policy of taking established drivers, but do they sign Daniel Ricciardo, go with rookie Leclerc or stick with Raikkonen? The last rookie who was really successful debuting for a top team over a season was Hamilton.

Red Bull still lag behind on power circuits, but are closer than last year and are in the fight when we are at aero circuits. The team are the dark horses, Ricciardo does remain in the title race but I think even with the support of Max Verstappen he will struggle to fight for the title.

But the team naturally I believe won’t because they are all for equality, while Verstappen remains mathematically in contention. Red Bull need to build on this for next season, but I feel they have shot themselves in the foot by moving to Honda.

Honda has been a surprise this year and have made great progress, however its I feel not enough to challenge for titles as soon as 2019. Ideally, I believe their best hope is waiting for the post-2020 engine regulations as that’s a clean slate for all the manufacturers.

While Sauber rise, someone’s got to fall, Williams and Force India have failed to match their performance from recent years. Williams problems is simple, the car just doesn’t work, and the team say ‘even Hamilton and Vettel would struggle with the car.’

Force India have not built the car they have managed in recent years; I think partly due to the financial mess they are in. Despite going into administration, I think this was a move by the team was to force the sale of the team.

We know, Jordan/Midland/Spyker have always struggled but we know they can recover. This isn’t the end of the Silverstone team, its looking to build a solid future going forward. Vijay Mallya is in difficulty legally and that doesn’t help.

McLaren, “we have the best chassis give us an engine” was not true. We based on those claims should be around Red Bull, they lack performance to be up the front with the midfield. Racing director Eric Boullier has paid for that by resigning.

The political debate this year has been around the next engine regulations, but the question now is about the alliance between Mercedes and Ferrari following Sergio Marchionne’s death. They recognise horses, Ricciardo does remain in the title race but I think even with the support of Max Verstappen he will struggle to fight for the title.

But the team naturally I believe won’t because they are all for equality, while Verstappen remains mathematically in contention. Red Bull need to build on this for next season, but I feel they have shot themselves in the foot by moving to Honda.

Honda has been a surprise this year and has made great progress, however its I feel not enough to challenge for titles as soon as 2019. Ideally, I believe their best hope is waiting for the post-2020 engine regulations as that’s a clean slate for all the manufacturers.

While Sauber rise, someone’s got to fall, Williams and Force India have failed to match their performance from recent years. Williams problems are simple, the car just doesn’t work, and the team say ‘even Hamilton and Vettel would struggle with the car.’

Force India has not built the car they have managed in recent years; I think partly due to the financial mess they are in. Despite going into administration, I think this was a move by the team was to force the sale of the team.

We know, Jordan/Midland/Spyker have always struggled but we know they can recover. This isn’t the end of the Silverstone team, it’s looking to build a solid future going forward. Vijay Mallya is in difficulty legally and that doesn’t help.

McLaren, “we have the best chassis give us an engine” was not true. We based on those claims should be around Red Bull, they lack performance to be up the front with the midfield. Racing director Eric Boullier has paid for that by resigning.

The political debate this year has been around the next engine regulations, but the question now is about the alliance between Mercedes and Ferrari following Sergio Marchionne’s death. They recognise for the success of the sport the two manufacturers need each other to get changes they want!

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.

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