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The 2017 F1 Season So Far

By Kevin Cain

With eleven races under our belts so far in the 2017 F1 season, things are hotting up as to what, to date has been a highly entertaining championship and unusually as yet there have been no back to back winners. At time of going to print F1 is due to reconvene in Belgium after the summer break. So far we have Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton with four wins each, Valtteri Bottas with two and Daniel Ricciardo winning the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The Remaining Races: Nine races are left to decide who will win this year’s coveted trophy, starting in Belgium on 25th August and then followed by Italy 1st September, Singapore 15th September, Malaysia 29th September, Japan 6th October, U.S.A 20th October, Mexico 27th October, Brasil 10th November and finally Abu Dhabi on the 24th November.

The Story So Far: What we have learned after the first eleven races is that there is no runaway leader this time out. Although Vettel and Hamilton are looking strong, there have been upsets from Bottas and Ricciardo. Bottas drove superbly at the Russian Grand Prix it was a beautiful drive and made many F1 fans think again about possible a new championship victor.Raikkonen has been his normal consistent self and you can always rely on the Iceman to push amongst the leaders throughout the whole season. Hot news this season was the decision of Fernando Alonso to quit F1 and drive in the Indianapolis 500.

The Problem With Overtaking: This season’s F1 has shown little in the way of overtaking, in fact there has been a dirth. The sport has gradually been evolving over the years to comply with more stringent safety regulations and now we are told :

You don’t need constant overtakes to make a race exciting”

Apparently now, F1 is more about endurance and a game of Cat and Mouse. Old school Grand Prix fans are not particularly enamoured as to how their favourite sport has developed, and in some respects that is fully understandable.

The flip side of the coin is that now we are seeing some of the fastest ever cars on the track, the new breed of cars have powerful hybrid engines with really aggressive new aerodynamics together with fatter tyres. All of this has transformed the F1 car into an amazingly fast racing machine that is tearing down lap records on a regular basis.

Top Teams Ruling The Roost: Recently the managing director for motorsports, Ross Brawn, issued a warning that the top three teams are getting too far ahead of the pack. Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull have dominated F1 for some time now and Brawn was quoted saying “A situation where a small number of teams are a long way ahead of their rivals is unhealthy for the sport.”

He honestly believes the gap between the top three and the rest is simply too big. Perhaps the planned revamp of the engine regulations that is due in 2020 will help to address this current situation. Since the current V6 hybrid turbo regulations have been in place at the start of 2014, Mercedes have won 57 out of 70 races, with Ferrari winning seven and Red Bull six. Brawn has previously said, “F1 should be accessible to the largest number of teams possible” and that is why he has been carrying the torch for rule changes.

The Hamilton / Bottas Syndrome: Lewis Hamilton is showing some real love and affection towards his team mate Valtteri Bottas, and being very humble about it also. Love him or hate him, you cannot knock Hamilton’s attitude both towards his colleague and his team. The popular charitable act towards Bottas in the Hungarian Grand Prix, ensured that Bottas finished on the podium for the fifth successive time and the eighth in total. That gesture actually meant that Bottas equalled Vettel’s podium appearances and went two ahead of Hamilton.After the race Hamilton said, “ Letting Bottas past was tough but I am a man of my word” he then went on to explain that it was difficult sacrificing the three points, but it was in response to an earlier gesture by his teammate after Bottas had let him in earlier in the race.

Not Sporting A Brazilian: The Hungarian Grand Prix threw up a quite remarkable F1 fact. Not since the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix had a race started without a Brazilian driver on the grid. This was due to Felipe Massa’s absence and the whole event felt sort of weird not having the samba boys there. The history of Brazilian drivers in F1 has been quite incredible, there have been over 30 drivers from the South American country that have graced F1 racing, including three world champions, Senna, Piquet and Fittipaldi. In fact Ayrton Senna was only 31 when he won his third title, which made him the youngest three-time champion ever.

The purists of F1 are not too convinced if the direction their sport is going is in the right direction. But ever since the conception of motor racing, the sport has always evolved season by season.From engine changes to laws protecting safety, FI has progressively changed. In a way motor sport is quite different from any other sport in that at its core is a piece of machinery that is constantly evolving. The motor industry never stands still, and as it develops new technologies they will of course be adopted into F1 in some shape or form.

Because of this F1 will remain as an ever changing sport, by its very nature it is at the forefront of car development and positively promotes improvements in the motor industry as a whole.

Whether the second half of the season will prove to be as interesting as the first, it will remain to be seen. If Ross Brawn’s predictions prove to be correct then the big three will rule the roost.

If you are thinking of watching the next Grand Prix and are looking for somewhere exciting to see it, then why not head down to I-Rovers Sports Bar in LK Metro. Enjoy the FI along with a cool beer and also perhaps a great English Breakfast. PHOTO FLAG