VETTEL VS. HAMILTON
Having won the 2006
GP2 title, Lewis
Hamilton made his
expected move up to
Formula 1 with McLaren
in ’07. He earned four
grands prix wins and
finished second in
points as a rookie.
In ’08, five wins put
him in contention at the
Brazilian GP finale, and
a dramatic last-lap pass
for fifth gave him the
title (BELOW) by one
point over Felipe Massa.
was eased into F1 as
reserve driver for BMW
Sauber, before joining
Toro Rosso midway
A sensational win in
the wet/dry ’08 Italian
GP sealed his move to
Red Bull Racing for ’09.
Four wins and second
in points that season
were a precursor to
five wins and the title
in 2010 (BELOW) – the
first of four straight.
seventh in the race. “The car is a bit of a
diva,” noted team principal Toto Wolff.
But, like all divas, given enough attention
the W08 started to come around. Sure,
Vettel’s SF70H won on the twists of the
Hungaroring, but Hamilton’s business-as-usual domination of his home GP at
Silverstone showed Ferrari it had a real fight
on its hand in the second half of the season.
Post-summer recess, Hamilton won
again at fast, flowing Spa-Francorchamps,
but Vettel pushed him harder than
expected. Had Ferrari found something to
counter Mercedes’ high-speed prowess?
Vettel headed to Monza, Italy’s shrine to
Ferrari, with a slim seven-point lead over
Hamilton and hopes of at least hanging on
to the Mercedes’ gearbox at the fastest
track on the F1 calendar. But in the race,
Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas
completed a Mercedes 1-2, with Vettel
third, a distant and excruciating 36sec
behind the winner. For the first time in
2017 it was now the Ferrari driver playing
catchup in the title chase. On paper, a
three-point deficit was nothing, but given
the shift in momentum, it felt huge.
The good news? Singapore next, another
tight street circuit where Mercedes might
struggle and Ferrari could put a marker
down. Sure enough, Hamilton qualified a
perplexed fifth, with Vettel leaving nothing
on the table to earn a wild-eyed,
wall-kissing pole over the Red Bulls of
Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.
And then...those crazy couple hundred
yards that destroyed a golden opportunity
for Vettel to flip the narrative back from
chaser to chased. With both Ferraris and
Verstappen’s Red Bull out of the race
after their controversial start-straight
tangle (see page 13), Hamilton was left to
take an unexpected win and head into the
final six grands prix – including the U.S. GP
at Circuit of The Americas, Oct. 22 – with
a 28-point lead and a fourth title in sight.
Yes, it’s definitely time for Vettel and
Ferrari to show us what they’re made of...
Red Bull and Sebastian
Vettel dominated F1
from 2010-’ 13, with
Mercedes and (mostly)
grabbing the baton in
2014-’ 16. This year, we
finally got the two-team
duel we craved – Vettel
and Ferrari vs. Hamilton
and Mercedes. But have
recent events spoiled
our fun prematurely?
We hope not...
THE DUEL WE’D
ALL WAITED FOR...