Ferrari raise the bar and other talking points from the 2017 F1 season

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Valtteri Bottas became the final winner of this year’s Formula One season after he held off Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday.

The 28-year-old Finn, who started from pole position, led from the lights to the flag apart from a spell following his first pit stop when Hamilton was in control.

Hamilton claimed his fourth world championship with two races to spare after he took an unassailable lead over Sebastian Vettel in Mexico last month.

Here, Press Association Sport looks back at five things we learned from the 2017 campaign.

What was your highlight from the season?

Let us know on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

Ferrari raise the bar… but Vettel faltered

The season may have ended in a rather underwhelming fashion, but that should not detract from what has been a strong year.

Ferrari raised the bar and in Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel the sport finally witnessed the two greatest drivers of their generation going toe to toe for the first time.

For much of the year it looked as though the championship would go down to the wire with the season swinging from Mercedes to Ferrari and Hamilton to Vettel only for the latter’s charge to capitulate in the Far East.

Hamilton acted like a man reborn following the departure of his long-term foe Nico Rosberg, and while Vettel crumbled under the pressure in Baku (penalised for deliberately swerving into Hamilton), Singapore (crashed out from pole) and Mexico (damaged his car after a first-lap collision with Hamilton), his rival delivered his fiercest performances when it mattered most.

Hamilton’s qualifying lap at a rain-soaked Monza – where he was more than one second faster than anyone else – and victories at five of the six races staged after the summer break cleared his path to glory.

But with only minor tweaks to the regulations over the winter, expect Hamilton and Vettel to do it all over again in 2018.

Sebastian Vettel.

New owners under pressure

Liberty Media promised to revolutionise F1 following their £6.4billion purchase in January and swift removal of the long-standing Bernie Ecclestone from its helm.

But aside from improving F1’s reach on social media (albeit from a starting point of zero) it is a sport largely untouched from Ecclestone’s days in charge.

A 13 per cent drop in the prize money pool (some £32million) for the first time in recent memory has done little to endear the new regime to the teams, while the new logo, unveiled after the season finale in abu dhabi, courted disdain rather than pleasure.

Liberty’s vision for the future is also unclear which is becoming a growing source of frustration for most of the teams.

“If you look at this year we have accomplished a significant amount,” Sean Bratches, F1’s American commercial boss, argued ahead of the season finale.

“This is a journey and not a destination. We have great aspirations for this sport. You don’t flick a switch and things happen. I can assure you we are going 24/7 and working to make this sport as great as it can be because we believe there is a huge opportunity.”

Nowhere for McLaren to hide in 2018

Glasses of champagne were shared between members of McLaren and Honda on Saturday evening as they toasted the final race of a partnership which has been doomed from the start.

It was hardly a surprise to see the broader smiles were on the faces of McLaren personnel rather than those from the Japanese manufacturer.

This has been a torrid three years for both parties, but McLaren, who will be powered by the more competitive Renault outfit next year, will now hope to finally turn a corner.

The famous British team, a winner of 20 world championships, has hidden behind Honda’s failings for too long and in 2018 it will be time for them to deliver.

What next for Ricciardo?

Daniel Ricciardo has emerged as one of the sport’s most likeable figures – thanks in part to his so-called ‘shoey’ celebration in which he, or an invited guest, swigs champagne from his sweaty race boot.

But despite finishing ahead of his team-mate Max Verstappen in the championship, Red Bull have made it clear that it is their intention to build the team around the 20-year-old Dutchman.

Aside from Hamilton, who is due to pen a new deal with Mercedes, Ricciardo is the major player out of contract at the end of next season.

With Mercedes and Ferrari circling, it will be fascinating to see where the Australian ends up.

The future is in safe hands

While question marks remain over the sport’s owners, the future of Formula One, in terms of its on-track quality at least, appears more certain.

Verstappen, who turned only 20 last month, put reliability woes from the opening half of his campaign to one side to record two impressive victories in the latter stages of the season, while 21-year-old Esteban Ocon has thoroughly impressed in his first full term in the sport.

There is British interest for the future, too, with Lando Norris, 18, signed up as a McLaren reserve driver for next season after winning the European Formula Three championship, while George Russell, the 19-year-old Englishman who sealed the GP3 title this year, impressed on his recent practice run-outs with Force India.

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Lewis Hamilton and Esteban Ocon among winners in our end of season F1 awards

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When Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton crossed the finish line at Yas Marina Circuit on Sunday to seal a dominant Mercedes one-two, fireworks shot out from above the stands to draw the curtain on another F1 season.

It was another remarkable campaign for Hamilton as the 32-year-old sealed a fourth drivers’ title, finishing in front of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by a comfortable 46 points.

It was not the competitive season we were all hoping for but Ferrari did put up somewhat of a fight to challenge Mercedes, and Vettel walked away with five race wins in 2017.

The two Red Bulls — Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen — combined for three grands prix triumphs.

Here, we look back at the year that was with driver of the year, team of the year and rookie of the year awards up for grabs.



The Briton won nine races – more than any other driver this season – en route to sealing a fourth world title and levelling drawing level with Vettel (four world crowns) in the process.

He looked virtually untouchable at Silverstone, Monza and Austin – and capitalised effectively on Vettel’s retirements in Singapore, Malaysia and Japan.

The 32-year-old was a different class and it will be difficult to see him beaten in 2018 as he eyes Juan Manuel Fangio’s haul of five world titles.



No surprises to see the Silver Arrow secure a fourth successive constructors’ championship with Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas on the podium 13 times each.

Ferrari will be expected to make further improvements during the off-season, but will it be enough to close the strong gap in the championship?



He may have finished fourth in the drivers’ standings, but the Ferrari driver has failed to win  since the Australian Grand Prix in 2013.

If it wasn’t for the reliability issues of Max Verstappen and the recent retirements of Daniel Ricciardo, the Finn could well be lower in the standings.

For a driver on the fifth highest salary, the 38-year-old does not justify his position as an elite driver with the second best team in the sport. Could 2018 be the Ice Man’s final F1 season?



The F1 season blew into life in Baku in June as Vettel swung into Hamilton after wrongly thinking his rival brake-tested him.

The German was hit with a stop-and-go penalty, handing Hamilton the advantage to take the honours. However, the Britons headrest came loose later in the race and he was forced to pit for repairs allowing Vettel to finish ahead of him.

Away from this incident there was plenty of drama, with the Finnish duo of Bottas and  Raikkonen clipping each other, while Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez collided – not for the first time this season either.

Azerbaijan F1 Grand Prix



Few rookies have enjoyed such a consistent start to their F1 careers as the Frenchman finished eighth in the drivers’ standings and scored points in every race except two this season.

The 21-year-old has accumulated 87 points in the driver’s standings, just 13 points behind his experienced Force India team-mate Sergio Perez in seventh position.



The flying Dutchman endured a mixed campaign, with seven retirements in 14 races, but managed to clinch points in every race that he completed.

His standout performances included wins in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as podiums in China and Japan.

A bold statement to make, but except the 20-year-old to challenge Hamilton and Vettel for the title in 2018.



With Daniel Ricciardo collecting nine podiums and Verstappen closing out the season in flawless fashion, Christian Horner’s men should challenge Ferrari for second place in the constructors’ championship next season.

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Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen lead the way in our F1 2017 driver ratings

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The curtain has fallen on the Formula One season after Abu Dhabi played host to the final race of the year.

Lewis Hamilton claimed his fourth world championship after taking an unassailable lead over Sebastian Vettel with three rounds to spare.

Here, Press Association Sport runs the rule over the class of 2017.

Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

A near-faultless performance by the 32-year-old Briton to surpass Sir Jackie Stewart as the country’s most decorated driver.

Off the pace at early races in Russia and Monaco but delivered a mesmerising second half of his campaign – which included winning five of the six grands prix staged since the summer break – to clinch the championship with three races remaining – 9 (out of 10).

Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)

Started the season on the front foot, claiming the first pole position of his career at the third race in Bahrain before outclassing team-mate Hamilton at the next with his opening win in Russia.

But despite recording further victories in Austria and Abu Dhabi, the former Williams driver has been unable to live with Hamilton, and will face a stern fight to convince Mercedes to stick with him in 2019 – 6.

Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)

Led the championship for 12 of the 20 races but crumbled under pressure. Scuppered certain victories in Baku (penalised for deliberately swerving into Hamilton), Singapore (crashed out from pole) and Mexico (damaged his front wing after a first-lap collision with Hamilton), too.

Unfortunate with technical gremlins in Malaysia and Japan, but should have taken Hamilton to the wire – 6.

Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)

A steady campaign for the veteran Finn but not in the same league as team-mate Vettel.

Willingness to play second fiddle has earned him another one-year deal with the Italian team, but could be on his way out in 2019 if Ferrari punt for Daniel Ricciardo – 5.

Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)

Candidate for Move of the Year after he passed three cars at one corner en route to winning a chaotic Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Finished fifth in the standings, but has been overshadowed by team-mate Max Verstappen since the summer break. Out of contract at the end of 2018 and could be tempted by pastures new – 7.5.

Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

Failed to finish five of the opening nine grands prix due to an unreliable car and hinted he could look beyond Red Bull.

But has excelled in recent races – with wins in both Malaysia and Mexico – and was rewarded with a bumper new deal to stay at Red Bull for a further three years – 8.

Sergio Perez (Force India)

A solid campaign and finished seventh in the standings as best of the rest behind the Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull drivers.

Came through a turbulent spell with rookie team-mate Esteban Ocon after they collided twice in Belgium – 7.5.

Esteban Ocon (Force India)

One of the year’s strongest performers. The lanky Frenchman set a new F1 record by finishing the first 27 races of his career and has finished outside the top 10 on just two occasions this term.

Will be a contender to replace Bottas at Mercedes in 2019 should they part company with the Finn – 8.

Felipe Massa (Williams)

Returned to help Williams out of a sticky spot following Bottas’ departure to Mercedes and is finally bringing the curtain down on a career which should have ended here 12 months ago.

There has been little to separate him and rookie team-mate Lance Stroll which says all you need to know – 4.

Lance Stroll (Williams)

A podium finish in Baku and front-row start in Monza have been the highlights for the Canadian teenager, but he has done little to prove he will be a star of the future.

Will drive for Williams again next year but could be shown up if a fully-fit Robert Kubica becomes his team-mate – 4.

Fernando Alonso (McLaren)

In terms of results, arguably the double world champion’s worst year. But the 36-year-old Spaniard has still managed to out-perform a McLaren car lacking in Honda power.

Remarkably he was in contention to win on his Indianapolis 500 debut before his engine gave up. May return to the sharp end in 2018 if new Renault engine is up to scratch – 8.

Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren)

Struggled to live with Alonso’s pace at the opening grands prix, but the Belgian rookie has gently proved his worth as the season has worn on.

There will be nowhere to hide next year if the McLaren-Renault package proves a contender, with British teen sensation Lando Norris waiting in the wings – 7.

Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso)

Drafted in by Toro Rosso at the Malaysian Grand Prix in October after they axed Daniil Kvyat. Car has been largely unreliable during his short stint. Will be desperate to make his mark next year – 5.

Brendon Hartley (Toro Rosso)

A debutant at 27, Hartley became the first New Zealander to take part in a Formula One race for more than four decades.

Handed his F1 bow in the United States and has done enough to prove he deserves a chance in 2018 – 5.

Nico Hulkenberg (Renault)

A steady haul of points in his first year at Renault. Blew away British driver Jolyon Palmer but will face stiffer competition from Carlos Sainz next term.

Finished sixth on four occasions this year – 7.

Carlos Sainz (Renault)

Impressed at Toro Rosso and has been rewarded with a drive at Renault. Another strong year will put him on the radar of the sport’s big players – 7.

Romain Grosjean (Haas)

The Frenchman, best known for his radio grumbles, has had an average campaign at a team which has failed to leave a mark on the sport’s imagination – 5.5.

Kevin Magnussen (Haas)

Caused some controversy following an X-rated bust-up with Hulkenberg in Hungary, which was screened live on television, but a largely anonymous year for the former McLaren driver – 5.

Marcus Ericsson (Sauber)

Has managed to forge a four-season career in the sport despite a host of underwhelming performances – 3.

Pascal Wehrlein (Sauber)

Missed the first two races of the year with a back injury and despite his links to Mercedes his stock has fallen. Faces a fight to save his grand prix career – 4.5.

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