Vet­tel sit­ting pretty af­ter first half of sea­son

Seb is 11 points ahead of Hamil­ton as F1 goes into its month-long break

The Star Early Edition - - MOTORSPORT - JESSE ADAMS

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.

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