Only one thing has changed in the race to the 2017 Formula One Championship.
After Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement from the sport after winning last year’s Championship and Mercedes signing the relative rookie Valtteri Bottas the smart money would have been behind Lewis Hamilton to cruise to victory in 2017 without any real struggle.
Enter fatter treads and wider bodies. And that ridiculous T-wing. It appears that the engineers in the Silver Arrows garages have been caught sleeping because Russia (ex Bottas) and Monaco showed just how much better Ferrari’s car had been put together.
Fast forward to now, 7 races in, and it appears that this season will be all about Mercedes and Ferrari. The smarter money is behind Vettel to win this year’s Championship: he has a better engineered car than Lewis. What about Kimi? Well if Monaco is any indication, then Kimi is not in contention if Ferrari has anything to do with it. He is clearly the #2 driver to Sebastian notwithstanding Sebastian’s cracking laps after Kimi was brought into the pits in Monaco.
Something has happened over the off-season at Ferrari. They are bold and open to taking risks. This is a far cry to the Ferrari we have seen in the last two years who were risk-averse, scared to make mistakes, and always second-thinking their strategy (which ultimately cost them many points in 2017).
Couple Ferrari’s new-found confidence and Liberty Media’s fan-focused style – driver on-track interviews, fan days, and access to behind-the-scenes activities – this year is off to an entertaining start. But for Russia no race has been too boring to watch but we still see a two-horse race in the constructors’championship.
As for Christian Horner and his Red Bull team – well, they’ve fallen even further behind and it is unlikely we will see Red Bull dominate the sport in 2017.
The other good news is Esteban Ocon who has secured points for Force India and is 8th in the title race. Future Lewis Hamilton? Perhaps – he certainly has the talent. And despite the Force India’s taking each other out in Canada it is exhilarating to see the two young guns Perez and Ocon fight it out.
Right at the bottom of any F1 table remain McLaren Honda. How heartbreaking Canada was. The rumour mill spun out talk of McLaren reverting back to Mercedes supply for 2018 which is a good move – but gut feel is that Alonso will quit F1 this year with the lack of championship team space available for next year. Alonso can’t take the beatings for another year- 5th is not good enough for him, a driver of his calibre should consistently be on the front row.
Vettel for the championship, Ferrari for the constructors’ title.