Formula One 2017 mid-season round-up: From Vettel’s ‘dangerous’ driving to Hamilton keeping his promise
Formula One’s official summer break began this Sunday post the conclusion of the 2017 Hungarian Grand Prix with Ferrari securing one-two for the second time this season.
Sebastian Vettel took the chequered flag for the Prancing Horse at Hungaroring and extended his championship lead to 14 points over his closest rival Lewis Hamilton.
Walking into the summer break with a point lead like
— ESPN F1 (@ESPNF1) July 30, 2017
Now, the teams have to close their factories down for two weeks and are not allowed to do any work on their cars, or even use work email.
However, team bosses and drivers have a lot of thinking and planning to do.
Driver contracts for the next season have to be sorted out. Some teams may even change their engine suppliers, while those lucky ones, who have everything sorted out already, might be just chilling at a beach.
There are 20 races on the calendar this year, with nine more to go.
It would not be an overstatement if we call the current season as one of the most exciting and competitive seasons for the sport.
The 11 completed races had numerous incidents that will prove to be vital when the world champion is crowned on 26th November at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.
So let’s take a look at how the season fared so far:
1. Australian Grand Prix
The F1 season began with a bang for Ferrari as Vettel won the first race of 2017 in Melbourne. It was Sergio Marchionne’s team’s first win in a season opener since 2010.
For three years Mercedes had enjoyed a stranglehold over the sport, but Ferrari wrenched it away with a display of exceptional pace at Albert Park.
It was Vettel’s first win in 18 months and the quadruple champion at Red Bull took his first step towards a potential fifth world title, a feat that has been achieved only by two drivers so far – Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher.
1. Sebastian Vettel
2. Chinese Grand Prix
As the F1 caravan moved from Australia to China, Hamilton claimed his fifth win in Shanghai, as he recovered from fifth to finish six seconds adrift of his title rival.
It was Hamilton’s 54th career win and his fifth from the last six outings stretching back to last season.
Vettel, who was hindered by a poor pit stop strategy, finishes second.
The result left Hamilton and Vettel hand-in-hand on 43 points.
3. Bahrain Grand Prix
Vettel claimed his second win of the season in Sakhir. The Ferrari driver, who started third on the grid, made the most of the safety car deployment as he edged past his Mercedes opponents Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton to take the lead.
Hamilton, who was hit with a five-second time penalty for obstructing Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo in the pits, finished second ahead of Bottas.
The German driver moved seven points clear in the championship.
4. Russian Grand Prix
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas claimed his maiden win in 81 Grands Prix, when he won at the Sochi Autodrom, holding off championship leader Vettel by 0.6secs.
Vettel extended his lead over Hamilton to 13 points.
Bottas moved up to third in the drivers’ championship ahead of Raikkonen but still 10 points behind teammate Hamilton.
5. Spanish Grand Prix
Hamilton and Vettel went wheel-to-wheel before the Brit secured the second win of the season at Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona.
The Mercedes driver crossed the line 3.4 seconds clear of Vettel, while his teammate Bottas, who won the last race in Russia, had to retire after his engine gave up on Lap 38.
Hamilton cut Vettel’s lead to six points.
6. Monaco Grand Prix
Vettel won the Monaco Grand Prix, with Raikkonen finishing second to ensure Ferrari a one-two in Monte Carlo.
Ferrari pulled Raikkonen in earlier than his team-mate and The Ice Man emerged into traffic. Vettel stayed out and put in some very strong laps in clean air.
Raikkonen, who has not won a race since the 2013 Australian Grand Prix when he was with Lotus, said, “It’s clear to me that Ferrari have chosen their No.1 driver.”
The street circuit win put Vettel 25 points clear of Hamilton in the championship.
7. Canadian Grand Prix
Hamilton registered his sixth Canadian Grand Prix win with a masterful drive around the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
Sebastian Vettel, who dropped to 18th after damaging his front wing, came fourth and stayed at the top of the championship points table.
However, the Ferrari driver saw his lead cut to 12 points.
Apart from winning the race, the Brit also broke his idol Ayrton Senna’s record of 65 pole positions.
8. Azerbaijan Grand Prix
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo picked up his first win of the season and fifth overall, thanks to a temper tantrum of Vettel, who rammed his car into the side of early race leader Hamilton on the streets of Baku.
Vettel was penalized by race officials, ordering him to pit for 10 seconds as recourse for his earlier ‘dangerous’ driving into Hamilton.
After scoring his first points last time out in Canada, Williams rookie Lance Stroll survived the chaotic scenes around him to become the 208th driver in history to score a world championship podium.
Vettel and Hamilton fought their way through to fourth and fifth, separated by just 0.2 seconds at the finish line.
The German extended his championship lead to 14 points.
9. Austrian Grand Prix
Mercedes driver Bottas sealed the second win of his career following a blistering start at the Austrian Grand Prix.
Vettel came home a close second to extend his advantage to 20 points and Ricciardo took the podium for Red Bull at their home track.
Hamilton was still upset after Vettel escaped any post-race reprimand for deliberately driving into him at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
10. British Grand Prix
Hamilton, who secured his fifth pole position at Silverstone, equaling the record of the great Jim Clark, went on to win his home Grand Prix.
It was Hamilton’s fifth British GP win and fourth consecutive win this season.
Vettel suffered a puncture on the penultimate lap of the race as he limped home in seventh.
With a dominant pole to flag victory, the Mercedes driver cut Vettel’s championship lead from 20 points to one point.
11. Hungarian Grand Prix
Vettel took the chequered flag at the Hungaroring to claim his fourth victory of the season.
Hamilton exhibited remarkable sportsmanship as he selflessly surrendered the final spot on the podium to his Mercedes teammate Bottas.
The Brit got a free pass from his teammate Bottas to put pressure on second-placed Raikkonen.
However, Hamilton, who could not overtake the Ferrari driver, kept his word by letting his teammate pass at the final corner.
Now, Vettel heads into the sport’s summer shutdown 14 points adrift of his rival.
The F1 season will resume with Belgian Grand Prix on 25-27 August.
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