This Formula 1 season has been a bit of an unpredictable one, with Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton swapping positions in the championship throughout the season. The season has been a very intense one so far and here’s a round up of some of the recent results and what they mean for the championship going into the final few races.
The Singapore Grand Prix was the next race after the Italian Grand Prix that I last reported on. Going into it, Hamilton led the championship by a mere three points. However, in a strange turn of events, Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Räikönnen and Max Verstappen all crashed out together straight after the start. This meant that in the end, Hamilton was able to pull out at the front. In a race with mixed conditions the Grand Prix didn’t last the full distance and Hamilton won by completing 58 of the scheduled 61 laps and, in the process, extended his championship lead to 28 points. Riccardo finished second with Hamilton’s teammate, Bottas, in third. Carlos Sainz put in a fantastic drive for Toro Rosso in fourth. He turned out to be the highest placed driver in an Italian car by the end of the race. Grosjean finished in ninth in what was a difficult race for the Haas team. Vettel, Räikönnen, Ericsson, Wehrlein and Kvyat all retired.
Next up was the Malaysian Grand Prix, where things weren’t going to get any easier for Ferrari. Räikönnen had a brilliant qualifying and would start second. However, Vettel did not set a qualifying time which meant that he would start from the back of the grid. On race day, things would turn for the worse, as Kimi Räikkönen had a turbo failure sending him to the pit lane. He never started the race. It looked as if Hamilton, like in Singapore, would streak away to dominate. However, on lap 4 Vertsappen went up the inside of Hamilton into turn 1 to take the lead of the race. Verstappen would then go on to dominate and win the race with ease, with Hamilton finishing second and Riccardo in third. Toro Rosso had a new driver to replace Daniil Kvyat for this race in ex-GP2 champion Pierre Gasly. He was able to finish in fourteenth whilst his teammate Carlos Sainz retired. Magnussen and Grosjean both had another difficult weekend in the Haas, finishing twelfth and thirteenth respectively. Pascal Wehrlein finished seventeenth and Marcus Ericsson finished eighteenth. Sebastian Vettel had a brilliant drive, finishing in fifth place after starting last. However, there was a weird incident involving Vettel on the cool down lap. The TV cameras cut to a shot of Vettel with broken rear suspension which meant that he’d obviously had a crash somewhere. Vettel came over the radio complaining that Williams driver Lance Stroll wasn’t looking where he was going. Stroll claimed that Vettel ran right into the side of him. Personally having seen all the angles, I think that it was Vettel’s fault as he pulled across on Stroll. Hamilton would extend his championship lead to 34 points over Vettel in the championship. There was speculation as to Vettel taking a penalty for using another gearbox for the next race in Japan after the incident with Stroll. However, this didn’t turn out to be the case.
The Japanese Grand Prix would turn out to be an important race for the championship. Hamilton was on pole with Vettel in second as Räikönnen and Bottas had gearbox penalties. The race started and the biggest loser was Carlos Sainz; who spun out whilst going through the first sector. Not a great star for his final race for Toro Rosso. Sainz was going to leave the team to drive for Renault for the remaining races and the 2018 season. Räikönnen also lost out as he was pushed of the track by Hulkenberg at Spoon. Vettel at the end of lap one started to have engine issues, as Ocon, Riccardo and Bottas all overtook him in the space of the small pit straight. He later retired with a faulty spark plug. On lap eight, Ericsson nearly brought out the safety car after crashing at Degna 2. That ended his race. Hamilton won the race, just, with Vertsappen just behind in second. Riccardo came home in third. Räikönnen finished in a relatively disappointing fifth place. Magnussen and Grosjean were both able to get into the points with great drives, finishing in eighth and ninth. Gasly finished thirteenth and Wehrlein was fifteenth. Sainz, Vettel and Ericsson retired. Hamilton extended his championship lead to 59 points over Vettel, and going into the US Grand Prix, there was a chance that he would win the championship.
The United States Grand Prix saw driver lineup changes for two teams. Pierre Gasly left Toro Rosso for one race to finish his title fight in the Super Formula Championship. Both races were cancelled and he lost the championship by half a point. In his place, Daniil Kvyat would return alongside ex-WEC champion Brendon Hartley to replace Carlos Sainz. Sainz left the team to drive for Renault. Jolyon Palmer left to make way for Sainz. It looked as if this time round, Hamilton and Vettel would fight it out for the race win with Hamilton starting in first and Vettel second. Vettel got a better start and went up the inside into turn one, taking the lead. However by lap six, Hamilton took the place back on the back straight with the help of DRS. Pascal Wehrlein retired early on due to an incident with Kevin Magnussen damaging his rear suspension. Hamilton, however, was able to streak away and win the race comfortably. On lap 46, Ericsson and Magnussen collided in a similar way to the collision between Magnussen and Wehrlein earlier on. However, this time Magnussen was on the receiving end. There was last lap drama between Verstappen and Räikönnen regarding the final place on the podium. Verstappen went down the inside of Räikönnen. However, he had all four wheels off the track meaning he got a five second penalty. This meant that Räikönnen eventually finished third. Vettel was second in front of his teammate. Kvyat had a good return for Toro Rosso finishing tenth and Hartley had a good debut in thirteenth. Grosjean was fourteenth, Ericsson was fifteenth with Wehrlein retiring.
So, with three races to go, Hamilton leads the championship by 66 points. For Vettel to win the championship, he has to finish first twice and second once and hope Hamilton doesn’t finish any races. If Hamilton wins at Mexico, he wins the championship. At the USA Grand Prix, Mercedes won the constructors championship meaning that Ferrari only have Vettel who can attempt to win the championship. However, it will be a miracle if he does…!
Author: Cameron Matthews