Vettel versus Hamilton: Game on in Belgium

Jawad Yaqub Roar Guru

By , Jawad Yaqub is a Roar Guru

Tagged:
 ,

1 Have your say

    Sebastian Vettel signs autographs for Ferrari fans at the Formula One Grand Prix in Austria. (GEPA Pictures/Red Bull Content Pool).

    Formula One will roar back into life in the forest of the Ardennes, with the Belgian Grand Prix set to mark the resumption of the 2017 title fight between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton.

    Vettel comes out of the annual summer break as the championship leader, with a 14-point margin over his Mercedes AMG rival. Both drivers have tallied four-wins apiece in their respective campaigns, with the duo going tic-for-tac so far.

    With nine races remaining in the 2017 championship, the margins for mistakes continue to shrink, with the inevitability of power-unit penalties also looming over the drivers.

    In 2016, Hamilton famously took a host of penalties at the Belgian Grand Prix, having exhausted his allocated power-unit components through the season.

    The result saw the Briton start from the rear of the grid, but miraculously finish on the podium – which minimised the damage in the points tally to Nico Rosberg.

    When and where will Ferrari and Mercedes AMG look to enforce these changes, will be almost tactical as much as necessity.

    Circuits such as Monza, at which the Silver Arrows can wrought the advantage of the straights could be where they take the hit.

    Development gains from the mid-season break will also be vital, with Mercedes AMG having made advances over the Scuderia since the Spanish Grand Prix earlier in the season, attested to by their four victories since – as supposed to Ferrari’s two wins.

    What Mercedes AMG as an advantage as well, is that Valtteri Bottas is only 33-points behind Vettel in the standings and remains a threat to the championship too.

    The Finn so far has been excellent in capitalising on weekends his teammate struggles and has admirably held off the charge of the pressuring Vettel twice, to capture wins in Russia and Austria.

    Whether Ferrari’s Finn in Kimi Räikkönen can increase his input in this back half of the season, is also a major factor – with the onus being on taking results away from their rivals, for the newly renewed for 2018 driver.

    Räikkönen remains winless in 2017, despite an emphatic pole position at the Monaco Grand Prix. The consensus from the races contested so far, is that Ferrari have favoured their championship contending driver in all instances where the Finn has been in positions to win.

    Both Vettel and Hamilton head into races at which they’ve won multiple times, though it is the German who in his previous title winning campaigns has been the stronger driver in the second half of the season.

    In 2012, Vettel overturned a 42-point deficit in the second half of the season, to win his third world championship at the final race in Brazil.

    He also had that record-equalling run of nine consecutive wins in 2013, which came from the Belgian Grand Prix to the season-ending event also in Brazil.

    So, it is very much game on for the 2017 title. All three drivers currently in the hunt, face a challenge of consistency and need for capitalisation in every race, as the margin for error becomes non-existent.