Hamilton, Vet­tel in ti­tle fight

Daily Nation (Barbados) - - Front Page -

LON­DON – For­mula One en­tered a new era in 2017 and next year prom­ises another first even if Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton keep on win­ning.

The Bri­ton’s fourth ti­tle, in the sport’s first sea­son un­der new Us-based own­ers Lib­erty Me­dia af­ter the Bernie Ec­cle­stone decades, has set the scene for an un­prece­dented bat­tle on the track in 2018.

Never be­fore have two quadru­ple world cham­pi­ons fought each other for a fifth crown but Hamilton and Fer­rari’s Se­bas­tian Vet­tel will be lin­ing up to do just that come the Aus­tralian sea­son-opener on March 25.

Blew his top

How they shape up will be fas­ci­nat­ing to watch, with Hamilton stay­ing re­mark­ably cool and com­posed in 2017 while Vet­tel let the ris­ing pres­sure get to him and oc­ca­sion­ally blew his top.

Hamilton rewrote sig­nif­i­cant chunks of the record books in 2017, over­tak­ing Jackie Ste­wart to be­come his coun­try’s most suc­cess­ful driver of all time and first to take four ti­tles.

He took his tally of wins to 62, more than any­one other than re­tired seven-times world cham­pion Michael Schu­macher (91), and eclipsed the Ger­man’s all-time record of pole po­si­tions to end the sea­son with 72.

The 32-year-old scored in ev­ery race, while Vet­tel’s chal­lenge faded amid col­li­sions and me­chan­i­cal fail­ures.

Mercedes com­pleted the cham­pi­onship dou­ble for the fourth year in a row, de­spite rule changes that made the cars faster and wider on fat­ter tyres.

Nine of 20

Hamilton won nine of the 20 races while Vet­tel, the over­all run­ner-up af­ter lead­ing un­til Septem­ber, took five.

Fer­rari, whose last driver’s cham­pi­onship was with Kimi Raikko­nen in 2007, aim to be stronger in 2018 – when there will be one more race and the en­gine quota is re­duced from four to three per driver.

“I can’t ex­pect him to make the same mis­takes,” said Hamilton be­fore col­lect­ing his winner’s tro­phy. “I’ve got to make sure I‘m even bet­ter next year to stay ahead of him.”

With Vet­tel’s team­mate Raikko­nen near­ing the end of his ca­reer and Valt­teri Bot­tas some way off Hamilton at Mercedes, Renault must also raise their game if oth­ers are to en­ter the ti­tle reck­on­ing. (Reuters)

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