Two wins in the first three races have moved the Ferrari in the first place on the championship board, not far from Mercedes which is just three points behind.
Sebastian Vettel has found his lost personality and leads the Scuderia to one of the most thrilling seasons. Two chequered flags, a second position in China and 68 points for the four-time world champion so far in this season. Whilst his main title contender, Lewis Hamilton, won one race and finished two times in the second place.
It’s still too early to judge, but I strongly believe that it will be a very close battle between two of the best drivers on the grid. Both Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have the ability to get the 100% of their car and fight wheel to wheel for the title. Lewis Hamilton looks satisfied because finally Ferrari is competitive and Sebastian Vettel is a respected opponent in his eyes. From the other side, Vettel wants to return to the top and win his fifth title in his Formula One career and fulfill one of his childhood dreams.
In China the safety car gave an advantage on Lewis to lead the race, as Ferrari called Vettel into the pits earlier, when the virtual safety car was deployed, but in Bahrain the safety car was in Ferrari’s favour, and a five seconds time penalty which Hamilton received might cost him the race or at least a battle between him and Vettel for the chequered flag.
The only ‘disappointing’ so far is that Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen are not as fast as their team-mates. The Finns, are struggling to follow Hamilton’s and Vettel’s pace, Valtteri showed some of his skills by taking the pole position in Bahrain, but that was not enough to secure him a good race on the following day. But it is not fair to judge Bottas, as he moved from Williams to Mercedes only a few months ago and he is still trying to find an ideal set-up for him.
From the other hand, Kimi Raikkonen is far away from his good side, the Finn is looking lost and unable to help Ferrari at that moment. Kimi finished fourth in Australia and Bahrain, and fifth in China, so far he has scored 34 points in the championship, half the points which Vettel have scored.
Raikkonen had a good season last year, hence everyone was expecting something good from him this year, but he failed to satisfy his fans. He is a very experienced driver, and I hope that he will improve his performance and will manage to fight for a place on the podium and for a victory in the following races.
The new regulations have improved the quality of the sport. Faster cars, wheel to wheel battles and very impressive overtakes make the 2017 season the best season of the last years.
It was obvious from last year that Ferrari wanted to take advantage of these changes and make a reliable and fast car, the risk paid off for the reds until now and Tifosi are dreaming a tittle after almost nine years.
I cannot predict the winner of the 2017 season, but I certainly can say that this year will make us to hold our breath until the final chequered flag in Abu Dhabi.
Victor Archakis – F1 Editor – @FP_Passion