Lewis Hamilton vs Sebastian Vettel, the title fight lit up the 2017 season. After total dominance by Mercedes and its drivers from the start of the hybrid-era in 2014, the 2017 season saw a magnificent battle between Mercedes and Ferrari for most of the season. The title fight between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel was gripping. Two contrasting personalities and the best of the best in Formula 1 going head to head was a battle to savour. A race by race look at the battle for the World Drivers’ Championship (WDC) that unfolded.
Lewis Hamilton vs Sebastian Vettel 2017 – Race by Race
1. Australian GP – The Opening Riposte: On a scorching day in Melbourne in the opening race, Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel were quicker and easier on the tyres. As Vettel extended his first stint and gained track position, it was game over for Lewis Hamilton. Mercedes was beaten on pure pace in the first race of the 2017 season.
Hamilton: (Start:1,Finish:2):18 pts
Vettel: (Start:2,Finish:1):25 pts Win #1
Lead: Vettel By 7 pts
2. Chinese GP – All Even: On an overcast, cool day in Shanghai the race started on a damp track. Hamilton used the Safety Car to switch from Intermediate tyres to Slick tyres and kept his lead after a good start to win and even things up in the title race.
Hamilton: (Start:1,Finish:1):33 pts Win #1
Vettel: (Start:2,Finish:2):33 pts
Lead: All Even
3. Bahrain GP – Vettel Wins: In the hot and dusty conditions in this night race, Ferrari thrived as it was easier on the tyres and faster. Valtteri Bottas took pole position and had to yield to Hamilton as he had better race pace. Vettel led the way and regained the lead with his second win. The battle was truly joined between the two champion drivers.
Hamilton: (Start:2,Finish:2):51 pts
Vettel: (Start:3,Finish:1):58 pts Win #2
Lead: Vettel By 7 pts
4. Russian GP – Vettel Extends Lead: Bottas won as he defended his slender lead in the closing laps to edge Vettel. The Finn’s first Grand Prix win helped Hamilton as it prevented Vettel from opening up a bigger gap in the championship with a win.
Hamilton: (Start:4,Finish:4):63 pts
Vettel: (Start:1,Finish:2):76 pts
Lead: Vettel By 13 pts
5. Spanish GP – Nip and Tuck for Hamilton: Mercedes’ strategic decision to pit Hamilton at the right time under the Virtual Safety Car helped negate Vettel’s lead. Mercedes further aided Hamilton by using Bottas to keep Vettel behind him after the pitstop which helped Hamilton open up a lead. A race that Vettel should have probably won.
Hamilton: (Start:1,Finish1:):88 pts Win #2
Vettel: (Start:2,Finish:2):94 pts
Lead: Vettel By 6 pts
6. Monaco GP – Ferrari favours Vettel: Kimi Raikkonen seized a surprise pole and lead the way. The strategy decisions by Ferrari seemed to favour their championship leader Vettel and denied the Finn victory. Mercedes and Hamilton struggled mightily on this twisty and slow track with their car which had the longer wheelbase. Vettel and Ferrari seemed firmly in control and Mercedes left the race with furrowed brows. Hamilton was a full race win behind Vettel at this point.
Hamilton: (Start:13,Finish:7):94 pts
Vettel: (Start:2,Finish:1):119 pts Win #3
Lead: Vettel By 25 pts
7. Canadian GP – Hamilton Fights Back: After a disastrous outing in Monaco, Hamilton and Mercedes buckled down to study the race in the intervening days and came up with solutions. The Mercedes W08 was dubbed a “diva” and the team struggled to understand how to unlock the speed in the car from race to race. The car also struggled to switch on the 2017 Pirelli tyres. For the first time in the hybrid-era, the Silver Arrows were under pressure. They responded like champions and Hamilton took pole and equaled his idol Ayrton Senna’s 65 pole positions and won the race. Vettel after a damaging scrap with Max Verstappen at the start managed to finish fourth.
Hamilton: (Start:1,Finish:1):119 pts Win #3
Vettel: (Start:2,Finish:4):131 pts
Lead: Vettel By 12 pts
8. Azerbaijan GP – Title Race Explodes: After a dominant performance in Montreal, Hamilton was back on track in the championship battle. The Briton arrived at Baku determined to deliver after an error-filled race in 2016. Hamilton took a dominant pole and led the way. As driver errors on the narrow track brought out the Safety Car, the restarts were dramatic. On one such restart, Hamilton slowed down as he came out of a corner and Vettel ran into the back of his car. To compound the error, in a moment of road rage, Vettel shunted into his rival’s car. The penalty Vettel incurred and Hamilton’s headrest problem saw them finish 4th and 5th respectively.
Hamilton: (Start:1,Finish:5):129 pts
Vettel: (Start:4,Finish:4):143 pts
Lead: Vettel By 14 pts
9. Austrian GP – Vettel Stays In Front: A war of words after the run-in at Baku ensued between the championship contenders and a truce was called after Vettel’s apology. Hamilton started on the backfoot with a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change. Bottas came to the rescue of his teammate again after the Finn kept Vettel at bay with a pole position and a win.
Hamilton: (Start:8,Finish:4):141 pts
Vettel: (Start:2,Finish:2):161 pts
Lead: Vettel By 20 pts
10. British GP – Hamilton Dominant: By the 10th race of the season, it was clear that neither Vettel or Hamilton was going to shake the other one off easily. A razor-edge fight for the title was on between the two best drivers of their generation. Hamilton decided to skip the F1 event organized for fans in London to take a holiday and refresh mentally. As he was savaged by the media for this, the Briton arrived at his home race under a shadow. A dominant pole and win ensued. Vettel and Ferrari faltered as they were outclassed and worn-out tyres burst towards the end of the race. The lead was cut to one point.
Hamilton: (Start:1,Finish:1):166 pts Win #4
Vettel: (Start:3,Finish:7):167 pts
Lead: Vettel By 1 pt
11. Hungarian GP – Vettel Returns To Winning Ways: As had become the norm in 2017, at this twisty slow track Mercedes struggled and Ferrari was dominant. A 1-2 for Ferrari saw Vettel win and go into the summer break with a decent lead.
Hamilton: (Start:4,Finish:4):178 pts
Vettel: (Start:1,Finish:1):192 pts Win #4
Lead: Vettel By 14 pts
The Summer Break could not have come faster. After the intense heat of battle, everybody needed a respite. Vettel had led the way all season.
12. Belgian GP – Hamilton Edges Vettel: After the summer break, the battle royale resumed. On a track where Mercedes and Hamilton were supposed to dominate Ferrari and Vettel, the Italian team nearly pulled off a surprise. Post-Summer break updates on the car worked and the Ferrari challenge was alive and thriving.
Hamilton: (Start:1,Finish:1):203 pts Win #5
Vettel: (Start:2,Finish:2):210 pts
Lead: Vettel By 7 pts
13. Italian GP – Hamilton Takes The Lead: At Ferrari’s home race, Mercedes dominated with a 1-2 and Hamilton took the lead for the first time in the championship. It was damage limitation all the way for Vettel as he finished third.
Hamilton: (Start:1,Finish:1):228 pts Win #6
Vettel: (Start:6,Finish:3):225 pts
Lead: Hamilton By 3 pts
14. Singapore GP – Crash and Burn: Mercedes struggled as expected at this track and Vettel pulled off a dominant pole position. Hamilton started fifth and was in damage limitation mode. Within a few seconds of the start, Vettel, Raikkonen and Verstappen were involved in a spectacular shunt that ended their race. Hamilton overtook Daniel Ricciardo at the start and was handed the lead and did not look back. An unexpected win for Hamilton and zero points for Vettel resulted.
Hamilton: (Start:5,Finish:1):253 pts Win #7
Vettel: (Start:1,Finish:DNF):225 pts
Lead: Hamilton By 28 pts
15. Malaysian GP – Hamilton Extends Lead: All weekend Ferrari had the fastest car, but Vettel was out of qualification with an engine issue. Hamilton took pole and judiciously let the hyper-aggressive Verstappen pass him. The second-place points were safely in the bag. Vettel scythed through the field from 20th on the grid to finish fourth and stay in the game.
Hamilton: (Start:1,Finish:2):271 pts
Vettel: (Start:20,Finish:4):237 pts
Lead: Hamilton By 34 pts
16. Japanese GP – Ferrari Implodes: Vettel was in must-win territory now. But on race day, a spark plug failure led to another DNF. Hamilton took pole and made it count with a win. It seemed like an insurmountable lead for Hamilton with four races to go. The three races in Asia were disastrous for Ferrari and both championships slipped away.
Hamilton: (Start:1,Finish:1):296 pts Win #8
Vettel: (Start:2,Finish:DNF):237 pts
Lead: Hamilton By 59 pts
17. United States GP – Hamilton Inches Closer: Vettel kept his chin-up and hoped to fight back. The German got the perfect start to lead the pole-sitter Hamilton into Turn 1. But the Mercedes was too fast on the day and Hamilton sealed his ninth victory of the season.
Hamilton: (Start:1,Finish:1):321 pts Win #9
Vettel: (Start:2,Finish:2):255 pts
Lead: Hamilton By 66 pts
18. Mexico GP – Hamilton Clinches Title: Vettel had not given up and took pole-position. The German had the exuberant Verstappen on the front row, with Hamilton right behind them. Verstappen took the lead at the start and the title rivals ran into each other. The resultant damage saw Vettel finish fourth and Hamilton ninth only. But on the day, it was enough for Hamilton to win his fourth world championship.
Hamilton: (Start:3,Finish:9):323 pts
Vettel: (Start:1,Finish:4):267 pts
Lead: Hamilton By 56 pts
With 2 races to go in Brazil and Abu Dhabi, Lewis Hamilton had his fourth title in the bag. After the win in Hungary before the summer break, Sebastian Vettel finally won again in Brazil (Win #5), the penultimate race. It was too little, too late. In a season that saw the title battle oscillate between the two contenders, races 14-16 saw a 56-point swing towards Hamilton. This title fight showcased the best of Formula 1 for the fans in 2017. Hopefully, the 2018 season will see more drivers joining the battle in front.
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