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.
|Race||Lewis Hamilton||Valtteri Bottas|
|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.
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
|Race||Sebastian Vettel||Kimi Raikkonen|
|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
|Race||Daniel Ricciardo||Max Verstappen|
|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
|Race||Sergio Perez||Esteban Ocon|
|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.
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
|Race||Felipe Massa||Lance Stroll||Paul Di Resta*|
|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
|Race||Nico Hulkenberg||Jolyon Palmer||Carlos Sainz*|
*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.
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
|Race||Carlos Sainz||Daniil Kvyat||Pierre Gasly||Brendon Hartley|
*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.
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
|Race||Romain Grosjean||Kevin Magnussen|
|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
|Race||Fernando Alonso||Stoffel Vandoorne||Jenson Button*|
|Qualifying head to head**||16||3|
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).
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
|Race||Pascal Wehrlein||Marcus Ericsson||Antonio Giovinazzi *|
|Qualifying head to head**||11||7|
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.