Vettel sitting pretty after first half of season
Seb is 11 points ahead of Hamilton as F1 goes into its month-long break
AFTER three years of Mercedes dominance, Ferrari has shown it may hold the golden ticket for 2017’s Formula One championship.
Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen scored a one-two finish at the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday, and in doing so proved the Italian team has the pace it needs to give Vettel his fifth career title and first with Ferrari. Seb’s win extended his points lead to 14 over Lewis Hamilton, while on the constructors’ front the sport’s most successful team has closed the gap to just 39 from leaders Mercedes.
Going into the summer break, Vettel and Hamilton have each won four races but four non-podiums for Lewis means the three-time champ is now playing catch up after 11 rounds. Ferrari’s aero package seems to suit slower tracks like Monaco and Hungary (it finished one-two at both this year), but two high speed circuits lie in wait when racing returns after the month-long hiatus. Strong results for Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas (third in points) at Spa Francorchamps and Monza could see further log reshuffles with just nine races to go.
Some interesting intra- and inter-team warfare has developed elsewhere in the field, with Red Bull’s drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen at each other’s throats after an altercation at the Hungaroring.
Shortly after the start Max drove into the side of Daniel, bursting Ricciardo’s radiator and putting an end to what was a promising race for the Australian.
“It was amateur to say the least,” Ricciardo fumed to Sky Sports television.
“It’s not like he was trying to pass - there was no room to pass .. I don’t think he likes when a teammate gets in front.”
Things are also tense between Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and Haas’s Kevin Magnussen. The two clashed in the closing stages of the Hungarian round and then sparred on live television after the race.
Hulkenberg interrupted Magnussen’s interview to sarcastically call the Danish driver “once again the most unsporting driver”, to which Magnussen responded: “Suck my balls, honey.”
McLaren will use the summer break to try and sew up an engine deal for 2018, with speculation rife the former world champion team could ditch Honda for a switch to Renault power. The team scored its best result of the year on Sunday with Fernando Alonso sixth and Stoffel Vandoorne tenth, but the consistently unreliable Honda unit has been an achilles heel since its return to the sport in 2015.
Honda could be forced out of F1 if McLaren, the only team using the Japanese supplier, terminates its deal at the end of 2017. Sauber closed the door on a proposed Honda partnership last week, announcing it would stick with Ferrari engines for 2018.
The next race will be at Spa Francorchamps in Belgium on August 27. Drivers’ Championship 1. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Ferrari 202 2. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 188 3. Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Mercedes 169 4. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Red Bull 117 5. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari 116 6. Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Red Bull 67 7. Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India 56 8. Esteban Ocon (France) Force India 45 9. Carlos Sainz Jr (Spain) Toro Rosso 35 10. Nico Hulkenberg (Germany) Renault 26
Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen on the Hungaroring podium after finishing one-two on Sunday.