After three years of fighting ‘the enemy within’, Lewis Hamilton seemed to thrive on battling for a championship against a rival from another team. Although for the first half of the year his own team mate ran him close.
Heading into the summer break Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were tied five-all on race results. Hamilton’s decision to allow Bottas back through into third place in Hungary prompted many to question whether those three lost points might cost him the championship.
|Beat team mate in qualifying||13/19|
|Beat team mate in race||11/19|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||676/1167|
In retrospect, this looks like the wise move of a driver with phenomenal self-belief and ability to see the bigger picture. Souring relations within his own team and with his then very competitive team mate was not a price worth paying for three championship points.
Life with a competitive team mate can be harder but it also brings benefits. Few were the days Sebastian Vettel could count on Kimi Raikkonen taking points off Hamilton.
Hamilton came back from the summer break on a confidence high which translated into his driving. He resisted a surprisingly competitive Ferrari at Spa and calmly converted a clear pace advantage at Monza for two wins in a row. That became three after Singapore where Sebastian Vettel’s title hopes suffered a hammer blow.
In Malaysia he played a wise game, backing off from a confrontation with Max Verstappen to secure second place and another coup on a weekend where Ferrari were stronger than Mercedes. The contrast with Vettel’s tactics in Singapore could hardly have been more obvious.
He romped to victory in Japan and brushed Vettel aside for another win at Austin. From then on the championship was a formality.
That crushing second half of the season seemed unlikely earlier in the year when Hamilton had a much tougher fight on his hands. The Mercedes was a particularly fickle beast to begin with, good for one lap but weaker in a race stint, which Vettel could exploit at times. But Hamilton dominated in China and scored a satisfying win by passing Vettel in Spain. On home ground at Silverstone he was in devastating form.
Monaco was an alarming dip early in the season but it proved a one-off. And though he had his now traditional ‘post-title slump’ the real story was how he’d won the championship with two rounds to spare when for much of the year it had looked set to go down to the final round.
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Showed crushing form in the races leading up to Mexico where he wrapped up the title. Consistently winning race after race and cleverly accepting 2nd when Verstappen charged at him in Malaysia. With a few exceptions he has well and truly shown Bottas the way this year, while also playing the team game in Hungary. His most impressive title win to date.
What’s your verdict on Lewis Hamilton’s 2017 season? Which drivers do you feel he performed better or worse than him? Have your say in the comments.
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