Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, start, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2017

Hamilton champion again as Vettel clash opens door for Verstappen

2017 Mexican Grand Prix review

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On a race weekend where Formula One fully embraced the Mexican holiday of ‘Día de Muertos’ – the ‘Day of the Dead’ – the battle for the 2017 world drivers championship met its end.

The sole survivor, Lewis Hamilton, joined the upper echelons of Formula One’s greats by taking a fourth world title and, in doing so, matched the man who he had fought a season-long campaign against.

Sebastian Vettel, fighting until the very last, would taste the defeat of losing a competitive championship battle for the first time in his career.

But as an enthralling title fight between two of the sport’s greats drew to its conclusion another driver, Max Verstappen proved once again he is set to be a contender for the ultimate prize for many years to come.

Championship rivals clash

Max Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2017
Three into turn three didn’t go
The thousands of passionate Mexican fans who had packed out the Autodromo Hermanos Rodríguez on Saturday had been treated to one of the most competitive qualifying sessions of the season.

With Vettel on pole, Verstappen alongside and Hamilton directly behind, the 900-metre run down to the first corner looked set to be one of the most explosive prospects of the 2017 season. It didn’t disappoint.

As the lights went out, all three got away well, with Vettel leading the field down to the tight right-hander. Verstappen was right in his slipstream, however, and pulled left to take the outside line while Hamilton fanned out even further as the field hit the braking zone for turn one.

Vettel tried to fend off Verstappen’s assault but the Red Bull had the inside line for turn two and swept through into the lead. Vettel, out of position, was helpless to prevent Hamilton from bolting past him into the outside of the right-hander of turn three.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2017
Mexican Grand Prix in pictures
Vettel, seeing his already slight chances of a world title potentially slipping away from him, tried desperately to not let Hamilton escape and aggressively tried to fight back at the Mercedes. The Ferrari clipped the right-rear of the Mercedes. The contact seemed relatively minor, but the consequences for the championship were major.

Hamilton immediately fell back, his right-rear tyre punctured by the Vettel’s front wing. This looked like the nightmare scenario Mercedes had dreaded.

But Vettel’s Ferrari was also damaged, missing large chunks of the front wing. In an extraordinary turn of events, both championship contenders arrived in the pits at the end of lap one to have their wounded cars seen to.

Vettel arrived home first and was soon on his way again with a new front wing, but already the odds for the Ferrari ace seemed insurmountable. Hamilton followed his rival into the pits, only to emerge ten seconds adrift of Vettel in last position. It would be the closest Hamilton would ever get to the Ferrari.

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Vettel makes his way to the points

Through the drama behind, Verstappen was now clear out in front ahead of the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas. Next came Esteban Ocon who had skilfully navigated his Force India through the mayhem to assume third position.

Felipe Massa and Carlos Sainz Jnr had also both suffered punctures of their own and had pitted and resumed ahead of the two championship contenders. The question of whether the title battle would stay alive into Brazil became a question of how much Vettel could make up ground on the field.

Lap 19 show of support by fans in the grandstand, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2017
Mexico’s earthquake victims were remembered on lap 19
By lap 11, Verstappen had pulled out an advantage of five seconds over Bottas, which was 10 seconds clear of Ocon. Vettel’s recovery had seen him catch up to Massa’s Williams in 15th place. Vettel used DRS to get a good run on the Williams heading to turn four as Massa covered the inside line, forcing Vettel to the outside and over the white lined confines of the track.

Vettel kept his inside line into turn five, forcibly taking the position with a move that looked clumsy at best, potentially illegal at worst. Despite the unconventional nature of the move, the stewards saw no need to investigate the incident.

Soon Gasly and Grosjean were despatched by the charging Ferrari, but behind all of them, Hamilton was having major difficulties passing a single car and was still stuck in last position behind Sainz’s Renault.

Ever since its return to the Formula One calendar in 2015, the Mexican Grand Prix had proven to be one of the sport’s most enthusiastic and impassioned venues with hundreds of thousands of local fans flocking to the circuit each year.

But this year the race carried extra significance following the devastating earthquake that had struck Mexico just one month prior. To commemorate and celebrate the memories of all those who had died on September 19th, the crowd all stood on lap 19 to salute in tribute to the victims.

Renault’s mass breakdown

Hamilton was still struggling for pace and unable to make progress anywhere near the progress that his rival Vettel was. On lap 21 the absurd prospect the world championship leader being lapped by Verstappen became reality. Meanwhile Vettel took 12th off Hartley.

In the high-altitude setting, no engine supplier had more troubles over the weekend than Renault. The Toro Rosso pair both had their Saturdays severely compromised by turbocharger failures and come Sunday, there were more troubles.

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2017
Ricciardo didn’t last long after a dazzling first lap
Despite a fresh set of power unit elements installed into his Red Bull, Daniel Ricciardo only lasted five laps before he was forced to retire to the pits with another engine related problem. With the sister car of Verstappen out front, you could forgive Red Bull for feeling nervous.

That anxiety heightened when Nico Hulkenberg became the second Renault powered car to drop out of the race on lap 26. The hapless Renault driver, who had now retired with mechancial failures in four of his last five races, was forced to pull over on the long main straight with warnings that ‘the car is not safe’ strongly suggesting the problem was ERS related.

Then, the Renault-powered troubles were compounded further on lap 32 when Brendon Hartley became the third car to be forced out with smoke seeping from the rear of his Toro Rosso. Not even half distance had been reached, yet half of the Renault-powered cars were now out of the race.

With Hartley’s car on the side of the track needing recovery, the Virtual Safety Car was deployed. Hamilton took advantage to box immediately for super soft tyres, with Vettel later following suit to switch back to the ultra soft compound.

Not long after the race resumed, Verstappen, Bottas and Raikkonen all pitted for their one and only stop, all reclaiming their positions on pit exit. Already, Verstappen seemed in complete control of the race, with his advantage over Bottas having grown to over 12 seconds.

Red Bull knew they were in a dominant position, with Verstappen the fastest man of anyone on the circuit, bar Vettel with his ultra soft tyres. Running in the mid 1’20s, Verstappen was told that all he needed to do was match Bottas behind, who was lapping in the high 1’20s.

By now, Vettel had passed Kevin Magnussen to take seventh place and was using his ultra soft tyres to good use to set about catching Perez in sixth place. On the other hand, Hamilton was still having difficulties making progress and was still sitting in 15th place, behind Pascal Wehrlein’s Sauber.

With Renault-powered cars dropping like flies, Red Bull were now having to remind their race leader not to go too fast.

“Okay Max, that was the same time as the previous lap,” the team warned. “I’m really sorry,” replied Verstappen, sounding like a mischievous schoolboy.

“Mamma mia”

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2017
Vettel couldn’t make it to the second place he needed
Hamilton easily motored past Wehrlein, Gasly and Marcus Ericsson to move up to 12th place. With Mercedes forecasting an eighth place finish for the championship leader, it seemed like the title battle would be determined more by where Vettel would finish.

Seeing his chances of a fifth world championship slip ever further away, Vettel was continuing to fight for ever second he could make up over the cars ahead.

Having eventually caught Perez, Vettel was able to scythe past the local hero into the first turn to relieve him of sixth, before taking fifth from Lance Stroll a handful of laps later.

With Ocon dispatched, Vettel had, remarkably, managed to recover up to fourth place. But having done so much, there was still so much more time to be made up and not many laps left in which to do it in.

“Kimi is 23 seconds in front,” Ferrari informed their challenger. “Oh mamma mia,” came the reply from Vettel, recognising the sheer magnitude of the challenge he now had to keep his hopes alive. “That’s a little bit too much.” It had been a valiant effort by the Ferrari driver, but he rose no further.

Back out front, any nerves that Red Bull may have had over Verstappen’s car will likely have reached their peak when Carlos Sainz became the fourth Renault-powered driver to retire from the race with only a handful of laps left.

Verstappen took it upon himself to try and calm the team’s concerns – by promptly lowering the fastest lap of the race.

With Vettel facing the impossible task of overcoming his delta to Raikkonen and Bottas ahead, Hamilton could almost afford to enjoy his late scrap with his former sparring partner Fernando Alonso over ninth place in the closing laps.

The McLaren driver was enjoying what he felt was the ‘best car of the weekend’ around the Mexico circuit and had moved up ten places from the start to find himself in ninth with the world champion-elect behind him.

Not one to just roll out the red carpet for anyone to pass him, Alonso fought hard to keep the Mercedes behind him, expertly fending off Hamilton’s attacks through the opening sector, before he managed to eventually force his way past in turn five.

It was, as Alonso’s engineer characterised it, ‘good but fair racing’ and a poignant reminder of how exciting it would be to see these two champions fighting against each other for regularly once again.

Title number four for car 44

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2017
A relieved Hamilton let rip
And so it was that the Mexican Grand Prix, and indeed the world championship battle, had now run its course. Verstappen duly crossed the line to secure a dominant victory. His second of the season and second in the last four races to go a long way to helping to put the disappointment of his 2017 campaign behind him.

Valtteri Bottas finished 20 seconds later and, in doing so, made it official that Vettel was now unable to catch Hamilton in the championship and meaning that Lewis Hamilton was the 2017 Formula One world champion.

Raikkonen finished a lonely third, almost a full minute behind Verstappen, with a defeated Vettel crossing the line fourth and having to reconcile that his fifth world title would have to wait for another day.

But it was all about car number 44, which secured a fourth world championship in ninth place to cement Hamilton’s position as one of the very best to ever step into the cockpit of a Formula One car.

Hamilton’s joy at becoming champion once more was more subdued than in previous years, but the terrific atmosphere of the stadium section provided the perfect setting to crown a world champion as Hamilton saluted the crowd and soaked in the reality of becoming the fifth man to taste championship glory on four separate occasions.

“Honestly it doesn’t feel real,” Hamilton said.

“Obviously that’s not the kind of race that I want when you’re 40 seconds behind or something. But I never gave up and that’s really what’s important – what’s in my heart. I kept going right to the end. I’m grateful for today and I just want to lift it up to my family and to God and thank my team.”

Despite being beaten in a championship battle for the first time in his Formula One career, Vettel was gracious in defeat, embracing Hamilton in the press pen and extending genuine congratulations to his season-long rival.

“It’s disappointing, obviously,” Vettel said. “Lewis has done a superb job all year round and deserves to win the title, so congratulations to him. It’s not about anybody else. Today is about him. It’s his day.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2017
Verstappen admitted he’s been cruising
Verstappen, untroubled throughout the race, took everything in his stride and put any nagging disappointment from last weekend’s post-race penalty firmly behind him.

“I was cruising. It was great,” he admitted.

“The start was very crucial and I went around the outside and that worked out well. From there on, I was basically just looking after the tyres and the car just performed brilliantly in the race. Of course big thanks to Red Bull because without them, this was not possible. After last week, this is a perfect race.”

The focus on the conclusion to the championship battle masked a series of excellent performances in the top ten.

Force India secured fourth place in the constructors’ championship for the second year running with a strong double points finish for Ocon and Perez, while Lance Stroll produced his best drive since Azerbaijan to move from 11th on the grid to sixth at the chequered flag for Williams.

Kevin Magnussen kept his nose clean to turn around a horrible start to the weekend for Haas into a solid eighth place finish, while Alonso showed that the McLaren really was quicker than its endless engine penalties suggested by taking the final point in tenth from almost the rear of the field.

Lewis Hamilton four times world champion
Hamilton wins his fourth world championship title
But the most important result in Mexico was that one of the most intriguing championship battles in the last decade had finally come to an end.

It may have concluded sooner than the neutral observer may have liked, but despite the controversial nature of the opening lap clash it was great to see that the two men who had relished the opportunity to finally compete head-to-head at the start of the season were able to respect each other as equals once their fight had ended.

The depth of talent at the sharp end of the Formula One grid has rarely been this competitive. It is an exciting prospect to consider just how many drivers we could potentially see battling to etch their name on the world drivers’ championship trophy in 2018.

Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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61 comments on “Hamilton champion again as Vettel clash opens door for Verstappen”

  1. Verstappen took it upon himself to try and calm the team’s concerns – by promptly lowering the fastest lap of the race.

    I loved this, and his laughing apology when his race engineer reported in a deadpan voice that his current lap time was the same as his earlier lap time, after having been asked to slow it down a bit.

    1. And similarly:

      Verstappen took it upon himself to try and calm the team’s concerns – by promptly lowering the fastest lap of the race.

  2. Having seen the replay of the start from Vettel’s onboard, I was not impressed with how he clipped Hamilton’s tyre. The first contact, between Vettel’s front wing and Verstappen’s tyre looked completely incidental and a regular racing incident. The second contact of Vettel’s wing with Hamilton’s tyre looked to me like it was either extremely careless or deliberate.

    1. I disagree. From the replays, I believe three things happened:

      1. Vettel understeered a little through the exit of the corner
      2. Upon putting the power down, he had to correct a small amount of oversteer
      3. He perhaps anticipated that Hamilton would be a little quicker away from the corner(?)

      Given how much the cars were sliding through the exit of that corner during the weekend, I don’t think Vettel did anything wrong. That’s not to say he played it perfectly, but for me there’s nothing in this other than racing incident.

    2. Just not sure how you can acknowledge that brilliant move by Max and contact with SV’s right front wing, and then expect that SV would have been in perfect shape to make some conscious deliberate decision to hit LH, come out unscathed, and still win, which is what he needed to do.

      Let’s question why LH would put himself in harms way to begin with. He’s a racer, saw an opening on SV created by Max, and went for it, but certainly did not have to risk that to win the WDC. Does LH play no part in this contact for putting himself in the mix having seen what was unfolding in front of him? He could have done a ‘Prost’ and won the WDC more wisely, but then I get that LH was never not going to win the WDC sometime over at least the last 4 races anyway, so he did have the luxury of being able to play a little and try to stamp his authority on the WDC. He just didn’t have to though. He chose to put himself in harms way, even after seeing Max looking to win the WDC for him.

      1. @robbie I replied to the Hamilton question earlier, he was clearly staying out of the Verstappen-Vettel tangle down the straight, but when they tangled and slowed down, a pass was on. And he would have taken it (second place) had Vettel not collided with him.

        So, Vettel. I’ve simply got to question this argument – paraded by all the pundits – that Vettel had more to lose. It’s just not logically true. After the first few corners, the race and championship is really over for Vettel if Hamilton is ahead, bar a Hamilton engine retirement. Everyone, including him, obviously, knew that. He might even catch Hamilton and pass him. But he needed Hamilton down the field, not a place or two behind. So if anything different was going to happen, it had to be in those opening seconds. Statistically, then, he would have more chance from a collision causing Hamilton tyre damage and not himself (see Rosberg, Spa 2014, when the latter recovered to second, while Hamilton was out of the race: for Vettel, the minimum he needed) than from letting Hamilton go and seeing if his engine packed in (after a season of 100% reliability).

        I’m not saying it was on purpose. I’m just saying it’s not true he had more to lose. In that kind of collision, the chances stack various ways, including a roll – with reasonable odds – in which he comes out very well. Better odds probably than a Mercedes engine failure.

        1. @david-br I think it is pure speculation to say LH would have taken second off SV.

          I just reject the notion that SV was calculating a hit on LH in order to put him down the order in order to prolong his WDC chances. But I know it is popular around here these days to slam SV into the weeds as some serial whacker. I think he just knew that all he could do in his control was to try to win the race. Max threw a wrench into that plan and things got hairy, and LH decided to put himself in the mix when he didn’t have to fight that fight right then and there and would still have cruised to the WDC with plenty of points even if SV were to win.

          Of course SV had more to lose…the WDC was LH’s to lose, being in the much stronger position points wise. SV had one choice which was to win that race and hope for some issue with LH, but SV was never going to do that with a shattered front wing, and give him credit, he’s smart enough to know that. I know it is popular to paint SV these days as worse than MS, but he simply is not.

          1. @robbie I was just arguing that it’s not necessarily true that he had more to lose by colliding. In any collision between him and Hamilton, who knows who will come out with damage or not? It’s mostly a lottery. And he needed something a bit out of control to get Hamilton out of the running.

            However I tend to think it was just clumsy. Vettel is many things, fast, definitely brave, but not so good at judging distances and correcting in close racing. Nothing to say he didn’t ‘use’ that clumsiness in some senses – by being aggressive, these incidents tend to happen around (and to) him. But no, I don’t think he’s anything like Michael Schumacher in terms of cynicism.

      2. Michael Brown (@)
        30th October 2017, 15:34

        @robbie Hamilton left plenty of room for Vettel in turns 2 and 3 so I don’t see how he’s in the wrong for “putting himself in harm’s way.” In addition, he was in front of Vettel.

      3. Hamilton did nothing wrong there. He gave plenty of room to Vettel, but again Vettel had a hard time fighting with the best drivers. Deliberate or poor driving.

      4. @robbie For the question about Hamilton, considering that Senna is his idol, it is not a stretch to believe that he (Hamilton) saw a gap and went for it. Senna famously said: “And, if you no longer go for a gap that exists, you are no longer a racing driver”. I would think that those words have sunk into Hamilton’s mind.

        Moreover, before the race, Hamilton stated that he wanted to win the championship in style – by winning the race. He saw his opportunity and seized it. Knowing how difficult it is for the Merc to follow in dirty air, he might have thought of it as his best chance to win the race.

        1. Yeah for sure, and I am trying to be careful to say LH chose to go for it, as he saw an opening. He didn’t do anything wrong. Nor did he need to put himself there. That’s all I’m saying. Other’s, like Prost, have been applauded for doing the minimum to win. It had become virtually impossible for LH to not win the WDC this year, so he didn’t literally need to put himself where he did, other than his ‘need’ as a racer to race. And it bit him. But he had the luxury to take that bite. And LH knew SV had no choice in the matter. LH had all kinds of options to still come out as WDC.

          1. It would be you that would some how try and imply Hamilton was at fault.

            I suggest you rewatch the opening. Verstappen and Vettel left plenty of space for Hamilton and Vettel in particular was compromised on speed enough that even though Hamilton played it cautious through turn 1 and hung back he still cleared Vettel going through turn 2.

            Does LH play no part in this contact for putting himself in the mix having seen what was unfolding in front of him?

            No, Hamilton is 0% at fault for the collision. It is not Hamilton’s fault in the slightest that Vettel couldn’t control his car. If what Hamilton did was put himself in harms way then what you are saying is basically driving near Vettel is putting yourself in harms way (presumably because he has such a hard time not crashing into people?)

            Let’s question why LH would put himself in harms way to begin with

            Lets question why Vettel would accelerate into a corner already occupied by his championship rival in full knowledge that he was driving a car with a damaged wing and reduced handling ability.

            Like seriously what are you suggesting Hamilton do different? Just park up and let everybody through just in case he finds himself next to a clumsy driver?

          2. I like the victim blaming by some people.
            ‘Why was Hamilton walking around in a short skirt knowing that Vettel was right behind him? Does he really need to wear it?’

            Well done folks

      5. Kevin Kelleher
        30th October 2017, 17:44

        Robbie, I agree MV made a good move to position on track left to make the 1st corner. What I question is what SV was thinking on track right, when he took a line that put him at the same space as MV, knowing the likely outcome, in this case it was a damaged front wing curtisy of MV’s left rear tire.

      6. Hamilton didn’t put himself in harm’s way. They weren’t side by side, Hamilton was cleanly in front of Vettel and in no way able to do anything about being rear-ended. The only way you can keep yourself out of harm’s way for something as unpredictable as that is to just not be on the circuit.

        I have doubts about how much of an accident it was. Vettel already had a damaged front wing, He’d lost first and worse of all Hamilton was ahead. Vettel needed Hamilton 10th or lower if he was going to salvage his chance because even if he did somehow manage to overtake Hamilton in the race, just finishing ahead wouldn’t have been enough.

        Vettel did the only thing that gave him a slim chance and in my opinion sacrificed an already damaged wing in the hope of taking Hamilton out.

    3. @adrianmorse It’s an interesting one. Lots of people are quite rightly bringing up the fact that Vettel had oversteer which accounted for the contact with Lewis’ right-rear. However, whilst this is a perfectly reasonable argument against those saying that it was deliberate move by Vettel, it doesn’t explain why he chose not to avoid an avoidable incident.

      If you watch Seb’s onboard exiting turn 3 you can see that he gets an initial moment oversteer once his right-rear has landed back on the tarmac as he begins to accelerate out of turn, which he is able to instantly correct, however judging from the engine noise he then continues to keep his foot down hard which then causes a second moment of oversteer, which ultimately sends him into the path of Lewis. It’s in this split-second between both oversteer moments that he’s made a decision (most likely born out of desperation) to maintain maximum aggression and give himself the best possible chance at getting back ahead of Lewis, albeit greatly increasing the likelihood for contact and damage.

      In a way it’s quite reminiscent of him going into the back of Hamilton at Baku, in which he’s essentially second-guessing the actions of the guy in front as opposed to reacting to them. I agree with the stewards in that it was a racing incident, but I think it was another example of poor judgement from Vettel in wheel-to-wheel combat.

    4. (@adrianmorse) (@robbie) (@ninjenius)
      I’d be more inclined to expect it was deliberate if Vettel hadn’t proved countless times over the years that he’s hopeless at going wheel to wheel. He had more to lose than Hamilton in terms of points.

      The guy simply can’t race (and as Ricciardo proved in 2014, isn’t particularly fast either).

      1. @Martin Stopped reading at your first sentence because I haven’t implied he was at fault.

        @Jim Rustle Yeah let’s just ignore his 4 WDCs. And let’s rip his WDC car away from him and give him something slow, unreliable, and nothing like what used to fit like a glove for him, and still expect the world of him.

        1. @robbie
          ” I haven’t implied he was at fault.” really? he had no need to be there is implying he made a mistake which means you put blame at him! you very very funy fan! you have no idea what you are talking or you are delusional!

  3. Another race ruined by a vettel brain fart

    1. He just isn’t his/the best in traffic

  4. Sebastian Vettel, fighting until the very last, would taste the defeat of losing a competitive championship battle for the first time in his career.

    I wouldn’t count 2009 as not competitive

    1. While it’s true that he was in contention until the last two races (one more so than this year), he was playing catch up the entire year following Button’s 6 out of 7 wins at the start. I wouldn’t have called that competitive, so much as a “long shot” that dragged out as the Brawn failed to develop to the pace of Red Bull. This year, he’s been in with a real chance until the last 3 or 4 races where the bid has imploded somewhat… but he’s lead the Championship and been within touching distance all year.

      1. @ben-n

        The real reason Vettel was playing catch-up in 2009 was because he crashed or spun off in three races that season. It’s the same story as this season. Vettel is fine when he’s alone in front in the fastest car, but he just doesn’t know how to cope when there are other cars around him.

        Red Bull was perfectly competitive right from the start, but he took himself out in the first two races and later again in Monaco. Also, Button won two of those six races starting behind Vettel.

        Button wasn’t ahead so much because of the dominance of the car, but because Button simply was a much better racer. Vettel would get stuck behind other cars or he would fly off and lose position while Button stayed on track and made passes when he needed too.

  5. Loved the battle Hamilton had with Alonso. Loved how Alonso forced him wide at the first right hander but immediately left him space for the second left hander. Good fair racing. The old timers show again how it’s done. Can’t wait for the best on boards video from this race

    1. Great fun! We can only hope that a Renault engine pushes the McLaren’s closer to the front allowing us to see these kind of battles on a weekly basis.

  6. People calling others crazy for thinking there’s a chance Vettel did it on purpose, obviously don’t have a clue about F1. The whole history of F1 is littered with examples of underhand driving between WDC contenders, as well as on the technical front.
    So already we have an “established” “tradition”, and it’s not that uncommon.
    Add to that Vettel’s general behavior in the similar situations in the past, and you have a pretty good reason to at least think twice before dismissing it as just-another-racing-incident.

    I personally think he did it on purpose, although not premeditated.
    I think he was either gonna go for the win and hope for the best, but when he lost the lead, and perhaps saw damage on his front wind, he regressed into his default, not-so-bright, mode of thinking he usually falls into in this type of situations.
    He was in third, Hamilton in second, and he had a front wing damage. So in that split second, when the opportunity arose, he decided that his best chance is to inflict an irreparable damage to Hamilton by puncturing his rear tire (as these kind of incidents often damage the car a lot), and/or damaging his rear, and/or hoping he Hamilton spans out due to a punctured tire.
    At that split second, when he was already third, behind Hamilton, he had nothing to lose and everything to gain by damaging his rear tire and, as it turns out, the diffuser.

    You may agree or disagree, but you can’t say you haven’t seen in many times before in WDC showdowns.

    1. We can’t deny that WDC contenders have done similar things in the past. I have responded to @adrianmorse above in reference to this incident, and why I don’t think it was deliberate. If you watch the replays slowly, you’ll note the initial understeer, then oversteer correction (which as I’m sure you know, you need to apply opposite steer to correct).

    2. I have to admit that it crossed my mind after seeing that he’d already damaged the wing against Verstappen, but the aerial view seems to show him losing the rear slightly and correcting into Hamilton’s right-rear tyre. Unfortunate and somewhat suspicious, but personally I’d give him the benefit of the doubt here.

      1. I think that hard fighting for WDCs is what we should want and expect to see in the pinnacle of racing. If we hadn’t seen it many times before in F1, it would not be a series enthralling enough to be called the pinnacle.

        At this particular race SV was guilty of being put out of shape by a brilliant move on Max’s part, and upon recovering and going for it at the same time, sawing at his wheel, LH, who arguably didn’t have to put himself in harms way and risk so much, was there and contact ensued. A pure racing incident. Unfortunately LH had to question ‘deliberate?’ and the FIA had to air that for us to hear, and so the debate will ensue ad infinitum.

        1. Fair question from Hamilton, Vettel already did this to him this year. But it doesn’t matter.

      2. @ben-n Despite making an argument for it being a real possibility, Vettel colliding deliberately, in this situation I’d tend to go for driver instinct. In other words, what other Formula 1 drivers, past and especially present, think: they have a much better instinctive understanding whether it was deliberate or not. Judging by the pundits (Hill, Brundle etc.) everyone seemed to think Vettel was trying to correct with his steering, but some thought maybe not too hard (he could have braked or lifted a little maybe). Hmm. So still difficult to say. (Compare with the driver opinion on Rosberg spinning off in Monaco qualifying in 2014, which seemed to be much more conclusively a case of ‘on purpose’ if unprovable.)

        1. Michael Brown (@)
          30th October 2017, 15:58

          @david-br I agree on this view, though my first thought when seeing Vettel’s onboard was that it seemed incredibly convenient for him to have oversteer and clip Hamilton’s rear tire. But you can see from the helicopter camera that Vettel’s car twitched with oversteer right before he hit Hamilton, and he actually overcorrected this after the contact because Bottas was forced to avoid Vettel.

          I think it’s a stretch to say that Vettel deliberately steered into Hamilton. When drivers get oversteer they don’t first think if they have enough room to safely correct it, they correct it on instinct. I’d still put the blame on Vettel, if I had to, because he should have taken turns 2 and 3 a bit slower to avoid contact with Verstappen and Hamilton.

          1. @mbr-9 i think only vettel can answer for these two super stupid moves!

            he knows max wont give him space much like him wont do either, but he still went for it knowing quite well he will crash!
            second time with ham, on his on board footage, there is a moment his steering wheel is straight and aiming towards right rear of ham half way, does an oversteer situation to seal it as an unintentional incident!

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiOGSiEwHM0

            if you watch this analysis video from 3.05, you will see so much silly things vettel does, and cant really say, he just lost control! impossible! his history with max does tell a lot! he knows max wont give him an inch of space, ham clearly ahead wont park his car to allow vettel to pass him either… what choice did vettel have? yup “unintentional” collision!

          2. @mysticus
            My impression throughout the race was that Vettel was going to get a free pass for all but the most blatant incident, just to keep the championship tension rolling. The footage is entirely clear in showing that Vettel both undoes the lock round turn 3 and accelerates simultaneously, meaning that instead of taking the corner cleanly, he collides with Hamilton (who he was by then never going to pass or even draw level with). Yes, afterwards he corrects at the last second before colliding, but too late. That doesn’t explain why he drove towards Hamilton though. Somewhere between clumsy (bad) close racing and a frustrated swipe towards Hamilton which he half-heartedly corrects last minute.

      3. Vettel should have understood that he should slam on the throttle because that would send him into Hamilton. Vettel created that “moment of correction into Hamilton” himself by using a lead foot to come out of that corner.

        1. Exactly. It’s fairly obvious really. Vettel realizes Verstappen and Hamilton have got past him within the first few seconds. Race and championship over. It’s a desperate, frustrated move towards his rival (think back to the Baku incident where he did the same and supposedly didn’t realize that he’d actually struck Hamilton’s car). But Vettel is cynical, he’s emotional, and thinks better of it, more or less, and tries to steer out of it without really caring at that point if there was contact. Again – sorry to repeat this – at that moment, it makes no difference that he risks damaging his car if (a) he knows it’s already taken damage from the Verstappen touch (a piece clearly flies off past Vettel’s head: he knew), and (b) Hamilton gets away safely, it’s over anyhow. It’s his last chance to make a difference to the race outcome.

          1. But Vettel isn’t cynical
            (important correction)

    3. Well Biggsy, then tell us why would a driver that HAS TO win the race in order to stay in contention would deliberately run into other drivers on purpose with the huge risk of dropping back yourself? It makes no sense, plus that for me the onboards show no signs of deliberate contact.

      1. Learn to read:

        He was in third, Hamilton in second, and he had a front wing damage. So in that split second, when the opportunity arose, he decided that his best chance is to inflict an irreparable damage to Hamilton by puncturing his rear tire (as these kind of incidents often damage the car a lot), and/or damaging his rear, and/or hoping he Hamilton spans out due to a punctured tire.
        At that split second, when he was already third, behind Hamilton, he had nothing to lose and everything to gain by damaging his rear tire and, as it turns out, the diffuser.

        1. Lol, ‘you may agree or disagree’ but if you disagree you’ll get a ‘Learn to read,’ like yours is the only answer, and past incidents are irrefutable proof of what happened yesterday.

        2. Biggsy, I did read your opinion. I just don’t think it makes sense and I certainly think it’s not what happened.

      2. A motorsports fan
        30th October 2017, 15:33

        “Well Biggsy, then tell us why would a driver that HAS TO win the race in order to stay in contention would deliberately run into other drivers on purpose with the huge risk of dropping back yourself?”

        because at the time the lights went out, vettel was p1, when vettel hit max, vettel was p2, and when vettel hit hamilton, he was p3. vettel was also aware of the long run pace of ham and ves – faster than his. given the positions and his behavior, your argument turns against you.

        i agree however that it does not appear deliberate. but i also think that in circumstances such as these many things drivers do are not deliberate in a cognitive sense. vettel needed a good result badly, and this likely influenced the manner in which he reacted – or rather failed to when hitting hamilton. same thing when max made a bad mistake and took out ricciardo. he did not do that on purpose, but it was likely a result of frustration due to a lot of DNFs and losing track position that led to that error of judgement – just wanting too much.

        1. He may have panicked, he may have wanted to get the place back too soon, but there is nothing that makes me believe he drove into Hamilton deliberately.

          1. @matthijs like nothing makes you believe vettel ram into the side of ham deliberately nor he acknowledged at all? until he was forced to?

            one clumsy move hmm ok check, two clumsy moves in succession where he was nowhere near danger of him hitting the back of other car when he had time and space to avoid it, not so much! everyone says bla bla bla he had nothing to gain from this… really? loosing front wing vs competitor loosing rear wheel miles to pit lane?

            you may be blind, and i dont expect you to believe it, but there was a great chance risky but great chance of him taking out ham, and continue his chances of champ alive! some great things with great risks in f1!

          2. @matthijs first sentence in reference to baku incident, which he did hit ham deliberately! and avoided acknowledging it until he was forced! so what makes you think he is not capable of doing it out frustration to try that again, more professionally like footballers do with technical penalties when taking out (stopping) an opponent and making it look like it was unintentional!

            he drove those corners like he was a rookie fish out of the pond! not like a 4 time wdc winner! being 4 time 4wdc and driving like that makes everyone question his motives!

    4. I don’t think he did it on purpose, I think it was more that he under steered unexpectedly having not realised his front wing was damaged. Seb’s spacial awareness has always been a bit questionable so wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t realise he’d hit Hamilton until too late.

  7. That ‘Mamma mia’ and ‘that’s a little bit too much’ was endearing I found. A racer, knowing the odds were against him, but going for it anyway, not assuming anything until told it just wasn’t going to work out. Accepting that LH and Mercedes were just better this season. Good stuff.

    1. It is not limited to Sky.
      Look at BBC’s Formula 1 page right now.
      Can you guess which driver is not there? Not even once, in the 30 headers and outcuts?
      No? NO!

      Hamiltons veggie diet, check. His chat in the kitchen, check. Three drivers who are not in F1 right now, check. Someone who has nothing to do with F1, check.
      Testimony to how much Max has gained respect that a race win by him is not newsworthy anymore; not enough to put it on the landing page, not even in the fine print.

      Yet, bizarre.

      1. Well they need to enjoy it, since it won’t last. They are Brexiting on many things in the (near) future

    2. Hmm, not sure what SV said on the radio when he found out he was too far out to affect his chances, has to do with Sky or BBC.

  8. Just to add my thoughts on the Vettel-Hamilton collision… I don’t believe it was intentional, but the argument that Vettel ‘had more to lose’ makes no sense to me.

    Vettel knew his front wing was already damaged because part of it had just flown past his head after touching Verstappen, and he realistically needed Hamilton to DNF or fail to score. He knew there was at least a chance he’d need to pit for a new wing anyway, and everyone knows that a rear puncture at the start of a lap can easily trash the bodywork and lead to a retirement.

    So from Vettel’s point of view, hitting Hamilton with that already damaged front wing and trying to give him a puncture was 100% the best move for his championship chances. And the force of the impact meant a puncture was almost guaranteed.

    Again, I don’t think he did hit him on purpose. It’s impossible to fairly make such an accusation from the video alone, and having watched it back many times the steering wheel movements suggest to me that he just made a mistake. But at that particular moment, it was the best thing he could have done…

    1. I just don’t buy that SV would intentionally play that way, in spite of the piling on of him this season by many posters around here. I don’t think he would consider that a prideful moment, nor victory.

      Now I know saying that will make some around here laugh, citing Baku, but in his defence here’s how I see it, based on what he has said of it. He hasn’t really apologized for intentionally hitting LH, because he genuinely thought he was being brake tested, and he had a human reaction to it, and also said that is what fans like to see. (Not meaning the hit of course but the human side) He has pretty much shrugged Baku off as him being human. Singapore was simply racing and he could not have foreseen what ended up happening…couldn’t have known how much Kimi was bottling Max in.

      Bottom line for me is that SV does not have a reputation for driving into cars for ‘victory’ and I expect there are posters that will love to speculate otherwise based on all kinds of things that are not anything to do him having some career long reputation of hitting people intentionally. Yet I expect even ‘multi-21’ will somehow be made relevant here.

      1. If lewis lifted his paddle even slightly then it could not have been a deliberate move as vettel was very aggressive and wanted to stay too close but if they all don’t pull away at same speeds then it goes wrong… if that’s not the case then he could have avoided it but again this was the time for maximum defense and not doing it will ruin everything. Vettel is a fair racer so i don’t think he could have planned this.

    2. I doubt it’s intentional. This is not a Rosberg wanting to “prove a point” type situation.

      Vettel is just a poor racer. He always has contact with other cars if there is some fight for position. It’s the “red mist” that hits Vettel time and time again.

      A proper racer would have gone a little softer on the throttle, kept his car under control and merged in behind to live to fight another day.

      1. I feel like Vettel lacks a bit of finesse in battle it always seems a bit ham fisted. There is a reason he had a reputation for not being comfortable around other cars early in his career.

  9. Being a Ferrari supporter I have been both impressed by Vettel and really disappointed by his racing this year. He had all the tools to win the championship and basically threw it away in a few races. Hamilton as always was there to take advantage. In this race in particular Vettel could have accepted he lost the lead and second spot and possibly find another way to first. He’s car was fast and it would have been close with strategies and possibly the battle between Verstappen and Hamilton could have slowed things down upfront.
    Frustrating he did not see that. Anyway I don’t think he’s move was deliberate, more desperate than anything.
    Let’s be honest though, Hamilton’s moves last year in Abu Dhabi to back Rosberg into Vettel was much more deliberate and to in my opinion very unsporting. Funny how no fuss was made about that, particularly by the British media..

    1. Ferrari needs an emotionally flat driver to win. The driver needs to compensate for their passion that sometimes results in (organised) chaos. Vettels temper just is too much icw the team

  10. Seemed like Vettel was (purposely) poking at Lewis and Max’s back tires with his front wing.
    First he poked Max when he passed him, The Lewis when he passed him.
    He is good enough to not do that.

  11. Lewis didn’t poke Max when he moved in front of him.

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