After eight months of twists and turns, Lewis Hamilton is now a five time World Champion but where did it go wrong for Sebastian Vettel, who at one time looked set to take this year’s title?

At times this season, Ferrari and Vettel looked the fastest but a series of errors eventually put pay to the possibility of a first Ferrari champion since Kimi Raikkonen in 2007.

Well just where did Vettel throw away the championship as we guide you through those monumental moments which saw the German chuck away his title bid?

 

Azerbaijan Lock Up

Vettel entered Azerbaijan with a nine point lead over Hamilton and that lead very well could of extended to 16 if he hadn’t made what would be the first of many errors.

Following a late safety car, Vettel made what was a pretty desperate lunge when he could of sat back and waited for Bottas’ tyre puncture a lap later.

If he had done that then he would secured maximum points ahead of Hamilton and taken momentum of three flyaway wins into the European leg of this season. 

Instead, that mistake saw Hamilton overturn that nine point deflict into a four point lead by winning race whilst Vettel could only take fourth. 

 

French Madness

Fast forward two months, we find Vettel leading Hamilton but by a single point heading into the French Grand Prix, which hadn’t ran since 2008.

Surprisingly, Hamilton dominated the weekend (bar a wet FP3) which probably rattled Vettel who needed a strong start to stand any chance at victory. 

Vettel certainly got the strong start he needed but made a rash mistake of missing his braking on the inside, ploughing into Valtteri Bottas who was going through turn one on the racing line.

That mistake was unnecessary at a stage of season where every point matters despite a stunning comeback to fifth after serving a five second time penalty. In fact, Vettel was lucky to get that penalty because it was pure stupidity and could of taken both out of the race so could of easily been a 10 second time penalty or worse. 

Either way, it was going to be a key turning point in the championship as Vettel started to make more errors in races to come as Hamilton left France with a 14 point lead. 

 

Home misery

After victory at Silverstone on Hamilton’s home turf, Vettel entered his home race with an eight point lead but nobody could predict how defining this weekend would prove to be in the title fight. 

Hamilton’s Q1 exit with hydraulic trouble cleared the path for Vettel to take pole but an undercut from Kimi Raikkonen forced Ferrari to controversially use team orders in order to propel their no.1 driver towards victory. 

Karma and the weather gods however had other ideas in store once Raikkonen had relinquished the lead to Vettel. 

Their revenge came in form of erratic rain showers moving across circuit, ultimately catching Vettel out as he ran wide at Sachs and ran wide into barrier, therefore handing Hamilton victory after Raikkonen pitted under safety car. 

With victory came a 17 point lead for Hamilton and a physiological blow for Vettel of seeing his title rival extract revenge on his home soil, two weeks after he did the same at Silverstone, albeit with a smaller lead of eight points.

That blow fed into a wet Hungarian GP Qualifying, where Hamilton managed to stick his car on pole before running away to another win whilst Vettel could only line up fourth before finishing second. 

 

Italian woes

Having hit back in Belgium, Vettel entered Ferrari’s home race on a high and a front row lockout, further empowered belief that Ferrari had the fastest car that weekend.

Another mistake however was looming round the corner on Raceday, as both title contenders collided at Variante della Roggia with the German coming off worse as he spun down to back of field.

Raikkonen meanwhile failed to deny Hamilton maximum points despite staging a valiant display for much of race, as the Brit capitalised on Vettel’s mistake to take victory whilst Vettel could only recover to fourth.

That left Hamilton with a commanding 30 point lead entering the flyaways, as Vettel and Ferrari entered a period where they previously slipped up in 2017.

 

Japan Bungle

If Vettel’s mistake at Hockenheim was significant then this incident during the Japanese GP definitely was the moment which effectively finished off his title bid. 

Hamilton had won the previous three races to establish a 50 point lead, placing pressure on Vettel who really needed to win three of last six races to realistically take title fight to the wire in Abu Dhabi. 

That pressure only ramped further up after a Ferrari Q3 tyre error saw Vettel qualify ninth (eighth after Esteban Ocon’s penalty) as he set his time when track was starting to become wet, unlike those ahead of him who timed their laps at start of session. 

Pressure however didn’t seem present as Vettel mounted a brilliant start, recovering positions before a risky lap eight dive down inside of Max Verstappen backfired when both briefly banged wheels to send the German spinning down the order, like he did at Monza after a similar clash with Hamilton. 

As a four time World Champion, Vettel really shouldn’t of tried that move which was a sign of desperation. Especially against Verstappen who is a fighter and won’t yield position easily as we have seen many times before, and the Ferrari has better straight-line speed which would of helped Vettel to make a simple pass with DRS into Turn One. 

Ultimately this proved to be the final nail in coffin because by time Vettel recovered to sixth, Raikkonen was too far ahead for Ferrari to initiate a swap of position as Hamilton stretched his championship lead to 67 points, with another victory and eventually a fifth world title two races later in Mexico, a race which Vettel had to win to keep the fight alive. 

 

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