Can Mercedes start celebrating, Well, can they?

2017 Singapore Grand Prix, Sunday – Wolfgang Wilhelm
Ferrari has ruined their best chance at winning a driver’s title since 2013 and their first constructor’s title since 2008, it was always going to be a bit of a stretch due to Raikkonen being fourth best out of the two teams, he even finds himself behind Ricciardo in the championship.

Since the hybrid era began, Singapore has been a track on which Mercedes had never  been able to adapt, other teams were able to be much closer to them than they are at other circuits. Nico Rosberg did break the trend last year, but if the race was slightly longer then Ricciardo may have got him on fresh rubber. It seemed a case of deja vu for the silver arrows team once more with them locking out the third row and Vettel producing probably the best lap of his life to beat the two Red Bulls who had looked mighty around the floodlit streets. Raikkonen was once again in fourth, looking like a rear gunner.

The weather had been temperamental all weekend, with heavy showers duringthe day and even an almighty monsoon during Saturday afternoon. This was officially the first ever wet night race, as the rain came and went in the build-up to the race It was pretty much decided that with 10-15 minutes to go that the track was wet enough for intermediates, some decided to go on full wets, even in the dry this is a track that keeps you on your toes, especially as it continues to have a very high chance of a safety car.

The calm before the storm came as they lined up in their grid positions, the lights  went out and away they went. Raikkonen and Hamilton made the best start of the top teams, Vettel and Ricciardo were rather tardy. Raikkonen went down the inside of Verstappen generally the safer route, whilst Hamilton went on the outside. Vettel much like his hero Schumacher decided to close the gap, very risky on a wet track, closing the door to where Verstappen could go. Vettel didn’t see what an amazing start Raikonnen made, so he was actually squeezing two cars which never would have worked. Verstappen was not in a bad position with only some front wing damage, but Raikkonen got damaged and was a passenger as he careered into Verstappen also collecting Alonso, and in the end, retiring the three. Vettel has also managed to continue, but not for long, his car was severely damaged, spewing out its fluids, spinning and hitting the wall. Hamilton must have thought all his Christmas’ had come at once at once, to find himself leading the race and realistically the only challenger forvictory would be Ricciardo. Hamilton was, as always, good in the changing conditions and was easily gaining time on the Aussie, radio messages weren’t broadcast but it seems early on he had a gearbox problem, more woe for Red Bull. He managed to get the car home but all Hamilton had to do was to keep it out of the wall.

Due to three safety car periods, the race lasted two hours rather than the full distance being completed, but full points were awarded. Hamilton won his 60th Grand Prix, and now has his eyes firmly set on a fourth world title, while Vettel still has it all to do. Vettel, Raikkonen and Verstappen were called individually to the stewards to investigate the first corner drama, The stewards could not point the finger at anyone but from the public response, Vettel was the catalyst in the situation. It was placed as a racing incident, many expecting a penalty for Vettel, but losing further points to Hamilton is punishment enough for the German.

Has the Championship already been decided? As the legendary Murray Walker would say ‘Anything can happen in Formula 1 and it usually does!’ Just look at Malaysia last year, Hamilton’s ‘No, No, No’ moment, when he was clear of the field. Singapore was a major turning point but is there one last twist in the 2017 season?

By Chris Lord 18/9/17

Mid-Season Report, Who will Rule Formula 1?

It’s this time of the season, where the drivers and the crews are taking their summer break and enjoying some days off with their families and friends.

For the fans, it’s a good point to see how the Formula One teams and drivers performed during the first half of the season. After eleven races Sebastian Vettel is leading in the drivers’ standings (202 pts) followed by the British champion Lewis Hamilton (188 pts), the gap between the two drivers is just 14 points, Mercedes and Ferrari are very close this season, that can be seen from their results and the points that the two teams have collected.

The Silver Arrows are first, on the constructors’ standings, by 39 points. As it seems the title will be a battle of two teams, but what about the drivers?  Will it be decided only between Vettel and Hamilton?

There is one driver who seems able to challenge the two champions, he will try to take advantage of their battle and slowly he will try to claim Formula One’s throne. That driver is Valtteri Bottas.

The Finn is third with 169 points, he is 19 points behind his team-mate and 33 points behind the leader, Sebastian Vettel. Bottas, have finished eight times on the podium and have won two races, his first victory was in Russia and his last one in Austria. It is a great achievement if you consider that it’s his debut season with Mercedes and that he is racing alongside a three-time champion who is fighting for his fourth title.

London, United Kingdom.
Wednesday 12 July 2017.
Carlos Sainz Jr, Toro Rosso STR12 Renault.
World Copyright: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _X4I1034

Mercedes will face a challenge, Bottas is in a good form, Hamilton is desperately wanting to win this season, after last year’s defeat from his team-mate, now their team has to decide if they will let them race or if they will pull the card of number 1 and number 2 driver.

Red Bull Racing is far away from the two contenders, the Bulls are currently third, they have scored 184 points and most of these points were scored by Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian has finished five times on the podium and won in Azerbaijan. From the other hand, Daniel’s team-mate, Max Verstappen is not facing, the best moments of his Formula 1 career. The young driver finished third in China, and retired on five of the eleven races. It looks that Red Bull can secure the third place and focus one the following season, their only threat is Force India.

Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon are doing a good job this season, they have scored 101 points, 72 less of the points which Force India scored in 2016. They both look to be enjoying their season, Perez has finished in the points in nine of the eleven races, whilst Ocon failed to score point/s only in Monaco where he finished 12th.

Williams is not facing its best season so far, Felipe Massa returned from retirement, in order to give the chance to Bottas to move to Mercedes and try his luck in a better team, was it the right decision? The Brazilian finished sixth in the season premiere in Australia, in Bahrain he also finished in the same position, these were Massa’s two best finishes. Last season at the summer break, Felipe had 38 points, fifteen more points from those that he has now.

Baku City Circuit, Baku, Azerbaijan.
Sunday 25 June 2017.
World Copyright: Zak Mauger/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _54I4953

From the other hand, his team-mate, Lance Stroll crashed or trashed (if you prefer) his Williams with every possible way he could think of. From the pre-season tests the young driver was not looking very “skilful”, his results confirmed that. The Canadian had four retirements in the first four races of the season and one more retirement in Monaco, five DNF in eleven races. He scored his first two points in Canada, where he finished 9th. In Azerbaijan, Lance achieved the unachievable, after a top drive he finished third. That was the only podium for Williams this season.

Toro Rosso is only two points behind Williams and chasing them for the fifth place in the constructors’ championship. A battle between Williams, Toro Rosso, Haas and Renault is expected for the fifth place. Last season, Williams secured easily the fifth place, but now they are struggling, these four teams are close to each other and all of them have at least one good drive to racing.

Romain Grosjean finished sixth Austria and scored eight valuable points for Haas, a one man show is a good slogan, which suits, to Renault as Nico Hulkenberg have scored all their points (26) so far. Toro Rosso is in an almost similar situation, Kvyat has scored just four points, whilst Sainz is doing all the hard work. Carlos, finished sixth in Monaco, that was his highest finish and until now he has 56 points, eleven less than Max Verstappen.

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, Canada.
Friday 09 June 2017.
World Copyright: Andy Hone/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _ONY2825

McLaren, is the team which impressed me the most in the last race before the summer break. Fernando, was ready for his holidays but he had only one obstacle to face, the Hungarian Grand Prix. The Spaniard, finished sixth in Hungary, scored eight points and then he took his yacht and visited Greece.

Pascal Wehrelin is trying to save Sauber from its disaster, but his results are not enough. Five points for Pascal, he finished eighth in Spain and tenth in Azerbaijan, his team-mate(s) is still trying to figure out if he is racing in Formula One or..

With nine races to go I am expecting a strong fight between Vettel Hamilton and Bottas, don’t underestimate the Finns!

Who will rule the Formula 1 Kingdom?

Have a nice holiday!

Victor Archakis

*Twitter: @FP_Passion

Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel Have Had Their Fair Share of Bad Luck, it’s Game On Now

The Hungarian Grand Prix  this weekend sees three men in with a chance to lead the World Drivers’ Championship after the race.

Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton are virtually neck and neck at the summit, but Valtteri Bottas has certainly put himself in the hunt.

Suddenly there is a lot more riding on this weekend.

The British Grand Prix set the cat amongst the pigeons in the Formula One World Championship fight.

Where before, Vettel had a lead of 20 points and was steadily extending his lead in the Championship on diet of consistency served with a side of controversy, that gap is no more.

Hamilton’s dominant display at Silverstone coupled with Vettel’s afternoon from hell meant that the Brit’s deficit was cut to just one point.

We’re now exactly halfway through the season, and while Vettel and Hamilton have been the two central figures, Bottas in the second Mercedes cannot be ruled out of the running either.

The Finn has quietly and calmly closed the gap since retirement in Spain from third place – had he finished that race, he’d be only eight points behind Vettel.

Hamilton’s headrest strife in Azerbaijan following that series of crazy events in Baku undoubtedly cost him 15 points, while he was off colour all weekend in Sochi.

Vettel was on for third in Silverstone before his tyre blowout and also should have been higher in Canada after contact with Max Verstappen’s Red Bull caused extensive damage to his front wing and floor, costing the German a podium.

Bottas has confounded experts who said that he was a stop gap until Fernando Alonso could break free from his McLaren contract at the end of 2017.

Victories in Russia and Austria have put him within a race win of the decorated Hamilton.

And that could cause Mercedes a headache. While Ferrari can, and have, lined up behind Vettel from early on this season, Mercedes cannot.

Budapest suits Lewis Hamilton. After all, he has won there five times already – although never in a season in which he has won a world title.

Tighter circuits similar to the Hungaroring layout have tended to suit the Ferrari car, and with the weather often hot in Hungary the Prancing Horse will also be bullish about their chances.

Vettel also has a victory here, taken at the chaotic 2015 staging of the event.

The last time the winner of the Hungarian Grand Prix went on to win the World Championship in the same season was 2004 during the Schumacher/Ferrari juggernaut.

One of the three title contenders will have something to say about that this weekend.


IMAGE CREDIT: Mercedes AMG F1 Photography Pool – Wolfgang Wilhelm, Australian Grand Prix 2017

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