24 OCTOBER 2017
FORMULA 1: HEAD TO HEAD
t’s time for Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari
to show us what they’re made of. But I’m
getting ahead of myself, so rewind to 2015...
Vettel was a four-time Formula 1
champ with Red Bull Racing, yet the lure
of Ferrari proved too strong and he joined
for 2015. The Scuderia was in the throes
of rebuilding (when isn’t it?), having been
caught flat-footed at the start of F1’s
turbo-hybrid power unit era, but three
Vettel victories in ’ 15 hinted at progress.
Last season’s winless frustrations argued
otherwise – which is why Vettel’s start to
2017 was as unexpected as it was exciting.
Three wins and three seconds from the first
six grands prix breathed new life into a
championship reeling from three seasons
of almost total Mercedes domination.
Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton, champion in
two of those three seasons (2014 and ’ 15)
was cast in an unfamiliar, but fascinating role:
playing catchup (not so unfamiliar, given his
ultimately unsuccessful chase of teammate
Nico Rosberg last year) in a Mercedes with
a razor-thin window on setup (a very
unfamiliar scenario). The team in silver had
opted for a long-wheelbase configuration
for its W08, making it a potent weapon on
high-speed circuits. But at higher-downforce
tracks, the sweetspot proved elusive, the
nadir coming at Monaco, where a confused
Hamilton qualified 14th and struggled to
IT’S CRUNCH TIME
F1’s title battle between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton
turned on a dime in Singapore. Can Vettel turn it again?
WORDS Laurence Foster
Sebastian Vettel started on a tear, with three wins from
six races. Lewis Hamilton’s five from the next eight –
taking him up to seven – swung it the other way.