Formula One

F1 Season Review

Sunday saw the sun set on this year’s Formula One championship after highs and lows in a thrilling season.

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes emerged victorious after Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel let a summer lead slip for the first ever time, whilst Force India shone brightly in midfield.

McLaren Honda and several Renault powered teams experienced reliability nightmares but Sauber ended this season plum last with no prize money.

As teams now head home to reflect the events of 2017 and look ahead to 2018, here at Sport Grill, we will also be looking back at the season team by team.

 

Mercedes

Race Lewis Hamilton Valtteri Bottas
Australia 2nd 3rd
China 1st 6th
Bahrain 2nd 3rd
Russia 4th 1st
Spain 1st Ret
Monaco 7th  4th
Canada 1st 2nd
Azerbaijan 5th 2nd
Austria 4th 1st
Great Britain 1st 2nd
Hungary 4th 3rd
Belgium 1st 5th
Italy 1st 2nd
Singapore 1st 3rd
Malaysia 2nd 5th
Japan 1st 4th
USA 1st 5th
Mexico 9th 2nd
Brazil 4th 2nd
Abu Dhabi 2nd 1st
Points 363 305
Qualifying head to head 13 7

This has been an unbelievable season by Mercedes’ standards. especially after Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement at end of last year.

Hamilton seemed to struggle to produce his usual strong start of recent years against a resurgent Ferrari. He did however win on home soil at Silverstone in a Mercedes 1-2, which was only Mercedes’ second 1-2 at that point.

In end, the Silver Arrows came good after the summer break with Hamilton scoring six consecutive podiums (5 wins & 1 second place) between Belgium and USA Grands Prix.

That coupled with Ferrari imploding led to Hamilton clinching his fourth world title to become Great Britain’s most successful F1 driver of all times, having already beaten his idol’s Ayrton Senna’s record of 70 poles. 

 

Hamilton breaks Senna pole record
Hamilton talking in post match press conference about breaking Senna’s pole record, Sutton Images

 

By beating Senna’s record, Hamilton is the all-time pole record holder. 

Valtteri Bottas had a decent season as he settled into the Mercedes and recorded two more podiums than Hamilton before summer break. (8-6).

Ultimately, Hamilton’s experience reigned supreme once the season resumed as he ran off, leaving Bottas looking at second best in the championship and qualifying head to head.

Alas, it wasn’t to be but third in drivers’ championship is a feat to be proud of for the Finnish driver.

Overall, this has been a tougher season for Mercedes, who have struggled at high downforce tracks such as Monaco and Singapore.

Although they had to contend with Ferrari fighting back, they turned things around and pulled clear to win a fourth Constructor title.

Normally, it would be top marks and an A* but given their struggles this season, it has to be an A this time.

Grade = A

 

Ferrari

Race Sebastian Vettel Kimi Raikkonen
Australia 1st 4th
China 2nd 5th
Bahrain 1st 4th
Russia 2nd 3rd
Spain 2nd Ret
Monaco 1st 2nd
Canada 4th 7th
Azerbaijan 4th 14th
Austria 2nd 5th
Great Britain 7th 3rd
Hungary 1st 2nd
Belgium 2nd 4th
Italy 3rd 5th
Singapore Ret Ret
Malaysia 4th DNS
Japan Ret 5th
USA 2nd 3rd
Mexico 4th 3rd
Brazil 1st 3rd
Abu Dhabi 3rd 4th
Points 317 205
Qualifying head to head 15 5

Ferrari will be delighted with how 2017 has panned out, despite reliability and a inter team collision wrecking Vettel’s title challenge.

The first half was definitely strong with the high downforce tracks of Monaco and Hungary allowing them to dominate Mercedes.

Reliability woes however started creeping in after the summer break with Vettel and Raikkonen then colliding in Singapore to gift Hamilton the perfect opportunity to steal his march in the title fight.

Malaysia was tough with Seb mounting an impressive fightback, having made a Q1 exit due to unreliability whilst Kimi didn’t start after an battery issue.

If can iron out unreliability, next year could be a great battle with Mercedes and at least Kimi can say he got a pole this season around Monaco.

All in all, a much better season but room to improve.

Grade = B

 

Red Bull

Race Daniel Ricciardo Max Verstappen
Australia Ret 5th
China 4th 3rd
Bahrain 5th Ret
Russia Ret 5th
Spain 3rd Ret
Monaco 3rd 5th
Canada 3rd Ret
Azerbaijan 1st Ret
Austria 3rd Ret
Great Britain  5th 4th
Hungary Ret 5th
Belgium 3rd Ret
Italy 4th 10th
Singapore  2nd  Ret
Malaysia 3rd 1st
Japan 3rd 2nd
USA Ret 4th
Mexico Ret 1st
Brazil 6th 5th
Abu Dhabi Ret 5th
Points 200 168
Qualifying head to head 7 13

Red Bull will be delighted with how their season ended despite reliability issues troubling them all season long.

China aside, every race up till Silverstone saw one driver retire whilst the other finished. If look back and wonder where things went wrong, those races will be the ones that Christian Horner ponders upon the most whether through own fault or not.

Hungary saw the dreaded teammate clash but since Malaysia, both Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen have been on it with stronger results than Ferrari or Mercedes.

The key for next season will be to make as strong a start as they can and avoid unreliability.

In summary, two great drivers who have been held back from showing full potential by unreliability for much of season. With three wins, this is a decent season but more will be expected in 2018.

Grade = B

 

Force India

Race Sergio Perez Esteban Ocon
Australia 7th 10th
China 9th 10th
Bahrain 7th 10th
Russia 6th 7th
Spain 4th 5th
Monaco 13th 12th
Canada 5th 6th
Azerbaijan Ret 6th
Austria 7th 8th
Great Britain 9th 8th
Hungary 8th 9th
Belgium 17th 9th
Italy 9th 6th
Singapore 5th 10th
Malaysia 6th 10th
Japan 7th 6th
USA 8th 6th
Mexico 7th 5th
Brazil 9th Ret
Abu Dhabi 7th 8th
Points 100 87
Qualifying head to head 13 7

Oh Force India, what can I say about those Pink Panthers?

After reaching fourth in Constructors’ championship last season, to see this team continue growing has just been incredible to watch from a fans’ perspective.

For starters, they managed double point finishes at the opening five races for first time ever. 

Monaco was tough but Force India experienced what probably was their first true test managing two fast drivers. 

Canada, Azerbaijan and Silverstone were three races where points were lost, due to Bob Fernley or Omar Szafnauer failing to make best decision for team. 

 

Force India, Baku
Force India about to collide at restart, Sutton Images

 

We however have to praise them for letting the drivers try and sort it out on track (even if was a mistake in Baku).

Throughout this season, Force India have been amongst the best speed trappers on one lap pace.

Race wise, they have often been third or fourth best and even topped the speed trap in Belgium, Italy, Singapore as well as a 1-2 in Monaco. 

In term of driver split, Perez recorded the faster speed trap in Belgium and Italy whilst Ocon was the better in Monaco and Singapore. 

Despite their driver clashes, for a team like Force India to post SIXTEEN double point results and their best ever point tally in 10th season of Formula One is just exceptional.

Now for 2018, the priority has to be continuing their rise whilst fending off the expected charges of Renault and McLaren. 

Force India haven’t been perfect this season but they haven’t let their budget stop them pushing the big boys, whilst having better reliability than Ferrari and Red Bull.

In summary, this has been an extraordinary year that everyone at Force India can be proud of, no matter what happens in the future. 

Grade = A 

 

Williams

Race Felipe Massa Lance Stroll Paul Di Resta*
Australia 6th Ret  
China 14th Ret
Bahrain 6th Ret  
Russia 9th 11th  
Spain 13th 16th  
Monaco 9th 15th  
Canada Ret 9th  
Azerbaijan Ret 3rd  
Austria 9th 10th  
Great Britain 10th 16th  
Hungary WD 14th Ret
Belgium 8th 11th
Italy 8th 7th  
Singapore 11th 8th  
Malaysia 9th 8th  
Japan 10th Ret  
USA 9th 11th  
Mexico 11th 6th  
Brazil 7th 16th  
Abu Dhabi 10th 18th  
Points 43 40  
Qualifying head to head** 17 2

*Di Resta stood in for Massa at Hungary.

** Massa didn’t race in Hungary after practice so qualifying head to head is over 19 races.

After a decent start, Williams brought a upgrade to Austria and its fair to say that upgrade has hindered them ever since.

Felipe Massa has done a good job, after stepping back in following Valtteri Bottas’ move to Mercedes.

The Brazilian managed to race to 12 point finishes and was just outside in Singapore and Mexico.

Lance Stroll has been disappointing with 12 Q1 exits but looks strong on one lap pace in wet, as seen by his front row start at Monza after a torrential qualifying session.

Race wise, Stroll needs to improve his pace a bit because if Massa can race from back of grid to points, there’s no reason why he can’t either.

Looking at those results, I am wondering if Stroll might of benefitted from being a reserve driver this season before stepping up in 2018.

Bottas benefitted from that experience and look where he is now so maybe in hindsight, it would of been wisest thing to do here.

Williams should of fought back against Force India in battle for fourth this season but in end, are lucky to get fifth after nearly being overhauled by Toro Rosso at start of Asian swing.

Paul di Resta is however one bright spot because he hadn’t driven the car until qualifying in Hungary.

Despite that holdback, he put in a decent performance to outqualify Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson. Race day then brought progress till a oil leak ended his outing on lap 60.

Definitely a year to forget but have to admire how their upgrades has helped race pace at expense of qualifying.

Grade = C

 

Renault

Race Nico Hulkenberg Jolyon Palmer Carlos Sainz*
Australia 11th Ret
China 12th 13th  
Bahrain 9th 13th  
Russia 8th Ret  
Spain 6th 15th  
Monaco Ret 11th  
Canada 8th 11th  
Azerbaijan Ret Ret  
Austria 13th 11th  
Great Britain 6th DNS  
Hungary 17th 12th
Belgium 6th 13th  
Italy 13th Ret  
Singapore Ret 6th  
Malaysia 16th 15th  
Japan Ret 12th  
USA Ret   7th
Mexico Ret   Ret
Brazil 10th   11th
Abu Dhabi 6th   Ret
Points 43 8 6*

*Carlos Sainz’s points tally in this table is from his four races at Renault. Look below for his points tally from Toro Rosso.

After a challenging 2016, Renault has made plenty of progress this season despite unreliability.

The decision to sign Nico Hulkenberg was correct because he can deliver points, even in a poor car. Although the German suffered six retirements (his most in F1), he has been the breadwinner for Renault.

Nico Hulkenberg in Abu Dhabi
Nico Hulkenberg during Abu Dhabi weekend

Jolyon Palmer started the year hoping to continue his improved form from end of 2016. Alas that wasn’t to be through unreliability and misfortune. He however can hold his head high with a sixth place finish in Singapore, courtesy of mayhem up front.

In end, the decision to replace him was justified by Carlos Sainz coming in and instantly challenging Hulkenberg on one lap pace.

Summarising this year for Renault, it has been a season of progress against fate as demonstrated by their last gasp snatch of sixth place in constructor championship.

There is room for improvement in reliability though but with a strong driver line up next season, the French outfit should be challenging for fourth.

Grade = C

 

Toro Rosso

Race Carlos Sainz Daniil Kvyat Pierre Gasly Brendon Hartley
Australia 8th 9th    
China 7th Ret    
Bahrain Ret 12th    
Russia 10th 12th    
Spain 7th 9th    
Monaco 6th 14th    
Canada Ret Ret    
Azerbaijan 8th Ret    
Austria Ret 16th    
Great Britain Ret 15th    
Hungary 7th 11th
Belgium 10th 12th    
Italy 14th 12th    
Singapore 4th Ret    
Malaysia Ret   14th  
Japan Ret   13th  
USA   10th   13th
Mexico     13th Ret
Brazil     12th Ret
Abu Dhabi     16th 15th
Points 47 5 0 0

*With so many driver changes, for logistic reasons there isn’t a qualifying head to head for Toro Rosso. 

2017 has been tough for Toro Rosso, who were looking set to challenge Williams for fifth till driver changes started occurring.

Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz started 2017 as Toro Rosso’s drivers but a torrid mid season resulted in Autumn changes.

Unreliability affected Kvyat more during early races but the team were impressive in terms of point finishes, with double results in Australia and Spain.

Canada was the turning point with a double retirement but the team just slipped further into reliability trouble.

Sainz then stated his desire to drive for a strong team and justified his wish by producing a strong drive to fourth in Singapore and a tenth in Belgium.

Kvyat meanwhile continued his downward spiral and was justifiably replaced by Pierre Gasly.

Most people would of probably expected an more experienced driver like Sebastian Buemi to come in compared to Gasly.

I think Buemi would of been best option alongside Kvyat when Sainz moved to Renault because they both are proven point scorers, even if the latter has been in terrible form this year.

In the end, Pierre Gasly replaced the Russian at Malaysia and has done a decent job in a unreliable car.

Gasly however had to miss USA whilst Sainz had left, meaning that Brendon Hartley made his F1 debut alongside the returning Kvyat.

That weekend saw both cars deliver decent results and Hartley managed to beat Gasly’s debut result. Kvyat however managed to take a point, which suggested that maybe a break was what he needed to refreshen his focus.

Since then, Hartley and Gasly has been in the car and have posted modest results for rookies.

 

Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso USA
Brendon Hartley on F1 debut weekend in USA

 

Toro Rosso have had a season of change but in hindsight, maybe they should of not brought Gasly and Hartley in at a late stage of season.

That decision is ultimately, what I think cost them sixth in the constructor championship.

Overall a great season by Toro Rosso, if only let down by end of year changes affecting their constructor championship battles.

Grade = D

 

Haas F1

Race Romain Grosjean Kevin Magnussen
Australia Ret Ret
China 11th 8th
Bahrain 8th Ret
Russia Ret 13th
Spain 10th 14th
Monaco 8th 10th
Canada 10th 12th
Azerbaijan 13th 7th
Austria 6th Ret
Great Britain 13th 12th
Hungary Ret 13th
Belgium 7th 15th
Italy 15th 11th
Singapore 9th Ret
Malaysia 13th 12th
Japan 9th 8th
USA 14th 16th
Mexico 15th 8th
Brazil 15th Ret
Abu Dhabi 11th 13th
Points 28 19
Qualifying head to head 12 8

Haas F1 brought Kevin Magnussen in to replace Esteban Gutierrez but experienced a challenging second season in F1.

Australia was a nightmare but the team did well to grab some scrappy points throughout the season.

Brakes ultimately were a real issue, especially for Grosjean whilst Magnussen had his fair share of bad luck.

In end, to fall short of sixth in constructors by ten points and finish eighth after various issues is an achievement in a team’s second F1 season.

If can get on top of those brake problems over winter, this team could really challenge in midfield but a fine season never the less despite failing to hit the heights of 2016.

Grade = C

 

McLaren Honda

Race Fernando Alonso Stoffel Vandoorne Jenson Button*
Australia Ret 13th  
China Ret Ret  
Bahrain 14th DNS  
Russia DNS 14th  
Spain 12th Ret  
Monaco   Ret Ret
Canada 16th 14th  
Azerbaijan 9th 12th  
Austria Ret 12th  
Great Britain Ret 11th  
Hungary 6th 10th  
Belgium Ret 14th  
Italy 17th Ret  
Singapore Ret 7th  
Malaysia 11th 7th  
Japan 11th 14th  
USA Ret 12th  
Mexico 10th 12th  
Brazil 8th Ret  
Abu Dhabi 9th  12th  
Points 17 13 0
Qualifying head to head** 16 3  
  • * Jenson Button replaced Alonso in Monaco whilst the Spaniard competed in Indy 500.
  • **Alonso missed Monaco so his and Vandoorne’s Qualifying head to head is over 19 races.

McLaren for third season running has been hindered by terrible unreliability.

The first half can be considered a total write off till Hungary when the high downforce and technical requirements saw them experience their best weekend of the year with a double point finish.

Fernando Alonso is definitely a man of steel, having put up with the Honda engine for so long and an ironic failure during his Indycar debut at Indy 500.

The Spaniard however can be happy with how the run in ended with three consecutive point finishes and little unreliability (aside from topping Q1 at Silverstone).

 

Fernando Alonso at Silverstone twenty seventeen
Fernando Alonso on a drying track at Silverstone

 

Next year sees them switch to Renault, which should put them back in hunt for fourth in constructor championship.

Put the Renault engine and McLaren’s excellent chassis together and they will definitely be fighting for points more often.

This season however has been just as poor but slightly better in terms of progress and a decent end to the season.

Grade = E

 

Sauber

Race Pascal Wehrlein  Marcus Ericsson  Antonio Giovinazzi *
Australia   Ret 12th
China   15th Ret
Bahrain 11th Ret  
Russia 16th 15th  
Spain 8th 11th  
Monaco Ret Ret  
Canada 15th  13th  
Azerbaijan 10th 11th  
Austria 14th 15th  
Great Britain 17th 14th  
Hungary 15th 16th  
Belgium Ret 16th  
Italy 16th 18th  
Singapore 12th Ret  
Malaysia 17th 18th  
Japan 15th Ret  
USA Ret 15th  
Mexico 14th Ret  
Brazil 14th 13th  
Abu Dhabi 14th 17th  
Points 5 0 0
Qualifying head to head** 11 7  
  • Antonio Giovinazzi stood in for Wehrlein as he recovered from a pre season injury.
  • ** As a result, Wehrlein and Ericsson’s qualifying head to head is over 18 races.

After a tricky start as result of Wehrlein’s injury keeping him out for opening two races, Sauber have had an ok season with last year’s Ferrari engine.

I can’t say a lot about Sauber because they have had off track issues like a change in team principal. They also were at an performance disadvantage as a result of having a 2016 Ferrari engine.

That makes Wehrlein’s eighth place in Spain all the more special (even if didn’t stop them finishing last in constructor championship) via a clever tyre strategy.

In summary, a decent but difficult season but should fare better in 2018 if can secure a close relationship with Ferrari, thus getting Charles Leclerc and Antonio Giovinazzi in the cars.

Grade = D

 

With the 2017 season now over, if missed any races or our half term report you can now find each race round up below alongside our half term report. 

  • During the off season, you can keep up to date with latest F1 news on Facebook by following the F1 News and Memes ( group on Facebook.

 

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