The Spanish Grand Prix may be the pivotal moment in the 2017 season that saw the competitors
of for the title battle emerge.
Lewis Hamilton won his 55th career race after a race-long battle with Sebastian Vettel. He made a crucial overtake at the first turn on Lap 44 to take the lead stolen by Vettel at the start.
For many events, it has been hoped that the two with a combined seven championships might be the two fighters because of their history in Formula 1. That hope may now just be a reality.
After DNFs in Spain, Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas now have a massive deficit to their teammates. Vettel and Hamilton have 104 and 98 points, with Bottas 35 and Raikkonen 55 away from both main rivals. A massive 450 points remain, but it will be hard to gain them back.
Bottas was also put down after his highest point of the year, winning in Russia, giving no space to develop momentum. Raikkonen realistically just delivers consistent top-fives, but nothing too spectacular.
Also, Red Bull suffered their worst classified result of the year, with Daniel Ricciardo 75 seconds adrift and Verstappen failing to finish. The team isn’t likely to take many points away apart from occasional flukes, potentially next time out in Monaco.
Hamilton and Vettel rarely have off weekends, putting any immediate bad luck potentially out of the way.
They are not making errors, with Vettel managing to provoke a system restart after a minor problem in qualifying. He could have stopped on track instead and started at the back.
Both expertly fought with danger by banging wheels as Hamilton attacked Vettel at Turn 1 and went off the track near Turn 2 on Lap 38.
Vettel is currently on a six-race podium streak, his best form since 11 in a row (winning nine) in 2013. Hamilton has 18 from his last 21 events. This evidence may produce a nail-biting final few races.
Just One Thing Left…
At some point, pressure has to start to emerge, with Hamilton particularly giving dramatic messages over his radio in this contest.
It may have been the position of his radio earpiece, but he appeared to be heavily breathing while driving the car and trying to fight Vettel. He also looked exhausted after the race.
Vettel has appeared confident all year and both seem mature enough to keep up the public image. Add to that, neither has been in a strong title battle against a car from another team for years (Hamilton 2008, Vettel ’12) so they may just enjoy it.
For now, the two are still laughing and joking to the public, but for how long?
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