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Blundell on F1: Time for Hamilton to tighten the screw

9th November 2017

Lewis Hamilton has already been crowned the 2017 Formula One World Champion, but the four-time World Champion will be looking to add salt into the Ferrari wounds as the Formula One paddock arrives in Brazil.

Mexico provided us with a thrilling conclusion to the title fight, with Hamilton and Vettel coming together on the opening lap as Vettel’s front wing punctured Hamilton’s right rear tyre – forcing both drivers into the pits on the opening lap. As Vettel needed to finish second to keep the fight alive, crossing the finishing line in 4th place was not enough to stop Lewis Hamilton from being crowned champion for the fourth time in his career.

As I predicted, Red Bull flew under the radar to snatch victory from the squabbling pair of Vettel and Hamilton. A truly sensational performance from Max Verstappen saw the 20-year-old bully Vettel out of the lead at turn one and once he was in clear air, he was untouchable.

Max’s difficult start to the season, that saw seven retirements from the first fourteen races, has been turned on its head as Max has now won two of the last four races and has outscored all of his rivals. This form has set the foundation for what he hopes will be a title challenge in 2018, as long as Red Bull provide him with a competitive car from the first race of the season.

As for Ferrari, the pantomime continues with Vettel’s on track performances allowing the ever-reliable Valtteri Bottas to creep up on the German and reduce the gap to just fifteen points as we enter the final two races of the season. The Ferrari management would hate to see Vettel finish behind both of the Mercedes drivers, in a season they were once tipped to top the Silver Arrows, so Ferrari need to be on top form if they’re to save face with the Tifosi and their management.

This week has seen Formula One announce its engine regulations for the 2021 season and after Mercedes and Renault expressed their disappointment in the new engine regulations, Ferrari have gone one step further and said it could quit completely if it was not happy. With Ferrari committed to the championship only until the end of 2020, the door has opened for Ferrari to leave the sport for the first time since the championship’s inception in 1950.

With the new regulations attracting up to four potential new engine suppliers for the 2021 season, it really feels as if Liberty has brought an ‘out with the old, in with the new’ mentality to Formula One and of course this was going to upset a few people on the F1 pitwall. Ultimately, change was needed to make Formula One attractive to independent engine suppliers and I see this news from Ferrari as a an attempt to scare Liberty into bowing to the pressure.

With louder, simpler and cheaper engines proposed for 2021 - it’s hard to understand Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault’s criticism of the new regulations. Yes it will become an arms race, but isn’t that what Formula One has been for the past 70 years?  

Looking ahead to this weekend, the Brazilian Grand Prix provides a highlight of every season without doubt. Championships have been won and lost in Interlagos and the track has played host to some of the greatest races in the history of the sport. I know I speak for everyone when I say we will be hoping for a rainy affair this weekend and after last year’s race, our appetite has been whetted for another dramatic race in Brazil.

My predictions for this weekend point towards another Lewis victory as he searches for his second victory at the circuit but I think this may be one of the tightest battles we see between Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull all season long.