Stroll on 2017 title fight: “Lewis handles pressure, Vettel folded”

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In the round-up: Lance Stroll says Lewis Hamilton handled the pressure of a championship fight better than Sebastian Vettel last year.

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Felipe Massa, Williams, Baku City Circuit, 2017
Suspension trouble robbed Massa in Baku
Ben reflects on the feel-good story that might have been last year:

Every time I get reminded of Baku, it makes me think of Massa. I mean Stroll was under five seconds behind Ricciardo and although Stroll was great that day, Massa was on another level.

Every restart until he had his problems, he was fighting with cars that were clearly better than his like Vettel at one stage. I think he could well have managed to beat Ricciardo that day and get a win that he had waited ages for.

And if he had been kept at Williams for this season and their car goes the right direction, with certain circumstances like there was at Baku, I think he could have had another chance to win this year. I think he easily was good enough to deserve another season.
Ben Rowe (@Thegianthogweed)

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  • 60 comments on “Stroll on 2017 title fight: “Lewis handles pressure, Vettel folded””

    1. By the look of things this Thursday we should have a better idea of Strolls potential. Good racing to him in 2018. Its going to be a test of endurance by all outward appearances.

    2. In general, Mercedes was the faster car more often than not, and that gave Hamilton the luxury of not having to take risks. Look at how ultra-cautious Hamilton was at the start of Russia and Hungary for instance. Part of the reason to why Vettel was involved in collisions was because he had to be aggressive. His inherit car disadvantage meant that he couldn’t leave anything on the table.

      In 2011, when the tables were turned (Vettel had a modest car advantage), Hamilton was the one who was constantly taking risks and crashing into people trying to make up for it.

      1. I do agree with you partly, but his Baku and Singapore incidents though were not really from a car disadvantage scenario, they were just erratic mistakes due to not being able to handle the pressure.

        1. While baku was inexcusable and controversial the singapore incident was just a racing incident. Too many cars trying to go into same space. The thing is vettel had to be aggressive and make those moves because his car was worse and just to be in the competition he needed to take full benefit of any chances he could get. Hamilton could just drive normally and his car will give him the advantage. Front rows were given and reliability was not an issue.

          In reality it was amazing how close vettel managed to get in such inferior car. It would have truly been a superman performance had vettel beaten hamilton in that car.

          1. @socksolid, was the car that inferior, or is it an assumption because, after several years of Mercedes producing strong cars, people automatically assume that the W08 was going to be better? There is a strong argument that, in the opening races at least, the SF70H may in fact have been the superior car to the W08 (the W08 being overweight in those opening races, whilst the restrictions the FIA imposed on the suspension system Mercedes and Red Bull had both been developing hurt both of those cars, particularly under braking).

          2. In reality it was amazing how close vettel managed to get in such inferior car.

            @socksolid

            Don’t agree with you at all on this one. There was no way that the Ferrari was ‘such an inferior car’ . As anon mentioned it seemed more solid than the Mercedes in the opening races, and was definitely as good if not better till the halfway point of the season. They lost a bit of quali edge after the oil burning clampdown, but they still had the race pace to match Mercedes. I would say the reliability made the Ferrari fall slightly short of the Mercedes this year, but it was probably the closest gap we’ve had between 2 championship contending teams since 2008.

            Alonso got much closer to the championship in a much more inferior Ferrari in 2010 and 2012. Vettel really didn’t do that great a job as his predecessor to be honest.

            1. You are simply not looking at the full picture. The main reasons why vettel managed to stay in the running for so long are pretty simple. First it took mercedes quite a while to get their car to work. The first half of the season mercedes could not rely their car like they could on the second half. Merc had the power and aero advantages but the car was finicky to drive and set up. By halfway season those issues were fixed making the ferrari clearly a second rate car compared to the mercedes.

              Secondly ferrari put all their eggs into vettel’s basket. While mercedes were running two equal cars ferrari put vettel ahead of kimi at every single opportunity. Which is the right move as vettel was quicker but if you look at how many points vettel would have lost if kimi was given equal opportunities. And how many points hamilton would have gained if bottas was treated like kimi you’d get a much more clearer picture.

              In the end mercedes won the championship easily as they clearly had the better car all year. They had the speed in the car to afford to treat both drivers equally, they had issues with the car they had the time and speed to fix and in the end they totally obliterated ferrari in the end. In the end merc had all the best bits and once the reality caught up with ferrari they fell into their own place while mercedes won everything.

            2. @socksolid, with regards to your comment about “how many points Hamilton would have gained if Bottas was treated like Kimi”, I’m not sure it would have made as much of a material difference as you think it would. In fact, over the course of the season, it looks like having Bottas on an even footing worked out to be slightly advantageous for Hamilton.

              If we look at the earlier part of the season, when the title was still up for grabs, there are a few notable races where Bottas ended up beating Hamilton.

              In Russia, when you look at the finishing order, it actually worked out better for Hamilton for Bottas to be in the lead and taking points off Vettel. Hamilton wasn’t in a position to contend for the podium positions on raw pace, so ordering Bottas to hold station behind Hamilton would have, at best, moved him up one place into 3rd. That, in turn, means Vettel would almost certainly have taken a fairly easy victory instead – so, under that scenario, Vettel would most probably have been four points better off (Hamilton would have gained three points, but Vettel would have gained seven).

              Now, if you look at the Austrian GP, where Hamilton had to start further back on the grid and ended up 4th due to that gearbox penalty, the points situation works out in the same way as well – by ceding track position, and the win, to Vettel, it would have left Vettel four points better off in terms of the net points swing in his direction than having Bottas finish behind Hamilton.

              Baku, peculiar race though it was, is another situation where Bottas ultimately ended up taking points off Vettel on balance – on balance, Vettel would have been one point better off if Bottas had been back in 5th, behind Hamilton, than in 2nd and keeping him off the podium as a result.

              The only two races where Hamilton would have been definitely better off would be Monaco and Hungary – in Monaco, if Hamilton were to move up a position, he would have gained two points, whilst in Hungary he would have gained an additional three points if he’d kept third place.

              It could therefore be argued that, rather than hurting his position, having Bottas on an even footing with Hamilton and therefore being able to compete directly with Vettel probably helped Hamilton to the tune of four points in the WDC standings.

          3. “The thing is vettel had to be aggressive and make those moves because his car was worse and just to be in the competition he needed to take full benefit of any chances he could get.“…

            Sorry, but did you actually watch the 2017 season? How was Vettel’s car worse? Vettel the championship leader for half the season. Come on man, stop it.

            1. Wherlein finished ahead of Palmer, hence the Sauber is better the Renault

            2. If you add the best results of the Mercedes, Hamilton would have been leading from much earlier as his teammate won two races when he qualified much lower, the qualifying record as well as the consistency of Mercedes winning or finishing second from either driver shows its strength.

            3. imho, Ferrari should have won the WDC and WCC last year. The car had the performance but both the drivers and the team through reliability screwed it up.

              Hamilton understood the situation early on and adjusted his tactics. He knew he had to be ahead at the start of the race and stay ahead and he had to save all the points he could to win. Vettel didn’t adjust (and he’s too emotional to be able to string a veteran season together) and he paid the price at the end. Generally when there’s tight competition Vettel’s chances depend on the other driver’s misfortunes and his own good fortune (2010 Alonso Abu Dhabi and Webber Valencia) and Alonso’s and Hamilton’s misfortunes in 2012, not to mention the crash in Brazil in 2012:-)

              The Ferrari could have been in total command of the WCC and WDC in 2017 – Mercedes simply had the better drivers and the better team but not the overall best car.

            4. @freelittlebirds

              Vettel didn’t adjust (and he’s too emotional to be able to string a veteran season together)

              LOL, Vettel basically completed the entire 2011 and 2013 seasons without a single significant driver mistake and maybe 1 bad race. Hamilton has always had 2 or 3 mistakes/bad races per season in him, even during his best years.

              As for Ferrari being superior, this is pure delusion. There were at least 5 races where Mercedes was uber-dominant and was 0.5 seconds/lap quicker than Ferrari (Canada, Baku, Silverstone, Monza, Abu Dhabi). The only time Ferrari had that kind of advantage over Mercedes was Singapore. Bottas was very close to Ferrari in Russia, Monaco and Hungary. Hamilton just failed to deliver in those weekends.

              If Hamilton had delivered in weekends like Russia, Monaco and Hungary. He would have won the 2017 WDC regardless of Vettel’s mistakes.

            5. @kingshark I agree that Vettel’s seasons in 2011 and 2013 were flawless but that’s reinforcing my point. Vettel excels when there’s no competition. We saw how he dealt with Webber when he perceived him as a threat and couldn’t even accept a single race victory for the other side of the paddock (multi-21). He didn’t do as well with Ricciardo.

              We obviously disagree on which car is superior. In my opinion and Mercedes’ the Ferrari was unpassable – even at Baku where there’s a 500 mile straight, the Mercedes could barely make ground. The Mercedes was faster in qualifying but that was not a given either if the drivers failed to set it up properly or Lewis tried hard to get pole to “stay” in the championship.

              Ferrari lost the championship by 144 points because they failed to take 72 points away from Mercedes or conceded points to Red Bull when they shouldn’t have. That 3.6 points per race.

              Singapore was 20-53 points and Baku was 9 points and Vettel won the lottery getting any points there and the following race which should have been a ban. The stewards gifted Ferrari and Vettel 30-40 points that day alone…

              Do you still believe that the Mercedes was the superior car?

              Cause if it was the superior, then Vettel was the best driver of 2017 but I just showed you 2 races where Vettel unequivocally could and should and have cost 100 points in a season when they scored 450 points… And let’s not forget Raikonnen who could claim he was even better given the team’s favoritism and strategies:-)

            6. Michael Brown (@)
              12th February 2018, 20:09

              @freelittlebirds I disagree on 2010 because Vettel’s misfortunes were equal to his championship competitors. But in 2012 he didn’t lose as many points as Alonso did.

            7. @freelittlebirds
              Mercedes was perfectly capable of overtaking Ferrari on track. It happened twice in Spain and USA. Ferrari was completely incapable of overtaking Mercedes even when it was tucked up in the slipstream as we saw in Belgium. Mercedes was just too fast.

              Mercedes was faster in more qualifying sessions, faster in more races, and had better reliability than Ferrari. It’s basically impossible to argue that Ferrari was better.

            8. the number of races where mercedes was faster than ferrari… im talking about dominantly faster… is higher than the number of races where ferrari would be the dominant one… it was simply imposible unless hamilton had realibility problems (which he basically didnt have..) for ferrari to take the championship…

              and the constructor? bottas was a better number 2 is not that ferrari favor vettel over kimi in a blatant way, is simply that kimi didnt deliver or wasnt there to fight.. he spent most of the time fighting the redbull around 4, 5 and 6

        2. You are forgetting about Canadian GP as well. Tbe golden boy left door open in opening corner for Verstappen to cut through and then being a 1st lap nut case. Also mexico was another prime example of the golden boy being a 1st lap nutcase who would rather take out opponent rather than accept defeat.

      2. @kingshark, the thing is, in both of those races that you highlight from 2017 (Russia and Hungary), Hamilton was slightly trailing Vettel in the WDC when he went into those races, not to mention being a bit further back on the starting grid than usual.

        He’d been a bit off the pace as well in those races, so I think it was more of a case of realising that the most he could hope for was a clean race and simply to maximise his points haul – particularly since both the Russian and Hungarian GP’s usually see accidents at the start (just think back to Vettel in the 2016 Russian GP, or the clash we saw between Ricciardo and Verstappen in the 2017 Hungarian GP).

        Now, it is true that some of those moves were, to some extent, calculated risk taking – some of the moves he pulled off during the Canadian GP were moves of controlled aggression. However, inevitably that risk needs to be balanced off against maximising your points haul where you can, and sometimes I feel that Vettel didn’t quite strike the right balance on that front.

        1. the thing is, in both of those races that you highlight from 2017 (Russia and Hungary), Hamilton was slightly trailing Vettel in the WDC when he went into those races, not to mention being a bit further back on the starting grid than usual.

          Hamilton was cautious because he knew the WDC would come back to him as the season progressed. The majority of circuits favored Mercedes.

          If Ferrari was actually quicker than Mercedes, Hamilton would have been forced to take more risks.

      3. As @todfod mentions, while you are right about Vettel often having been on the backfoot with the car, without his own mistakes due to not handling that pressure he could have won it.

        I think that Hamilton has probably learned a lot since 2011 too @kingshark. He has been in a car was not expected to always win for a few years and he was even beaten to the title by his teammate in 2016. He has probably learnt to deal with setbacks a bit better, just look at the occasions last year when things were not going his way. He never looked like he was losing it.

        1. I think Hamilton won the championship because he realized early on that the Mercedes wasn’t capable of passing the Ferraris or the Red Bulls on track under any conditions. He knew that the only way to win would be by taking pole and staying ahead because he could then do what the Ferrari and the Red Bull did to him that way even if wasn’t as quick. Contrary to popular belief he was pushing the car to the absolute limit as evidenced by the meager, by Lewis’s standards, results after he won the championship. Otherwise, after winning the championship and having no pressure, Lewis would have qualified 1 second faster than Vettel in his super fast Mercedes and lapped him in the race, right? :-)Obviously that wasn’t the case.

      4. @kingshark Perhaps Lewis took calculated risks as opposed to every possible risk in every possible race including creating risk which Vettel did in many cases. To give an example, Lewis knew that Max would not hesitate for a second to take both of them out to win a race after having a terrible start to his season. Points didn’t matter to Max and there was a 50% chance his car would finish anyway so the prospect of winning a race or even leading a race was one Max was going to grab at any cost. Lewis did the bright thing and stepped aside.

        On the other hand, Vettel felt that Max should yield to a 4 time WDC on his way to his 5th championship. Max had already made it plenty obvious that he knew that Vettel and Lewis would have to yield if he poked his nose at their cars so it was really crazy Vettel would think that Max would let him by for a second. And when was the last time that Max yielded at the start of the race when he could be side-by-side with another driver or pass him? Never really…

      5. Agree slightly. Singapore was his fault but also slightly unlucky, bit of luck could of got away with that. Hamilton stuffed it in Brazilian qualifying and clammed up in some races like Russia, the engine issues had nothing to do with pressure. Mercedes had a better car on balance, both drivers were very good and Hamilton won the title by being a little bit better here and there on balance across the whole season. No one major factor to it in my opinion.

    3. Valid points hence the very reason for Formula One is this design driver team sponsors fans sort of mix and there are many unlucky good drivers who only participate, others have some success but in the end limited because the very lucky have cars that perform because of changes. Both Vettle and Hamilton have had multiyear periods of good luck with
      Great cars. They happened upon them when the drivers part, his gift at commanding these crazy high speed machines, was possible because of so many factors. Would Lewis have shown enough if driving the Manor or the Toleman. I think Lewis is mighty lucky to have believed in Mercedes so many years ago and it is possible this luck to continue for years. With the new cars being revealed soon we will see who has the most different parts and will they payoff. Seems like those preseason top five Hamilton Vettle Verstappen Alonso And the Rest….well it will be tough to beat these top four. So do the math and who else can win without much luck. I think Lewis is motivated with a great car and is supported by a fine running machine the Mercedes. Fans dig him, his style and is popular world wide. He is one lucky dog.

      1. Disagree that it’s luck. We all now look at the moves Mercedes was making in the sport and say that it’s obvious they were going to have an advantage. Lewis saw it sooner. Having superior knowledge of your sport driving your decisions, that’s not luck. The question is, did Lewis see that and market himself to Mercedes, or did they show this to him because they headhunted him. Either way, someone’s talent got the pairing together, not luck

        1. @Will Jones You’re wromg mate. First of all Renault pushed for these V6 engines and Mercedes simply addept to it, back in 2012/2013 people claimed that RBR or Ferrari would be the team to beat, nobody had faith in Mercedes and people even questioned Hamilton’s move to Mercedes. Hamilton had to courage to sign for midfield team Mercedes and it worked out good for him, stop this nonsense about Hamilton knew about it and bla bla bla, seriously.

    4. “In my first year I achieved goals that I had actually set out to achieve over the next few years,”

      Find it ridiculous the Stroll said he achieved the goals he set out for himself. He had one fluke podium in Baku and one decent quali session in Monza. The rest of the time, he didn’t even look F1 material. If he keeps kidding himself, he’s going to get nowhere in this sport.

      1. His reported last few comments are starting to annoy me, and many other I suspect. I and many other are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt as last year was his 1st season in an F1 car which was capable for almost half the season of scoring good points. I hope I am wrong on this but, he seems to confuse been in F1, at Williams, and scoring that 1 podium as the best he could have achieved with that car last season. Instead of realising what most of us think, which is that he may have some talent, but has yet to show he would be in F1 on that merit alone, instead of his father’s millions. Put it this way, if you had say Ocon or Perez in that car, I have not the slightest doubt they would have had a Stella season to remember under exactly the same circumstances.

      2. First of all he has to promote himself as something other than a complete failure. I do understand Stroll but i dont understand people who thinks he achieved something other than buying a drive last season.

    5. I was going to pay for the official @F1 stream this year …

      I’m quite happy to be corrected, but as far as I can tell there won’t be an offical F1 stream of races this season. As an aside, if there was, then I can’t see why someone would HAVE to watch it live, why couldn’t they see it after the race is finished?

      1. Pay for live and watch the replay, sounds like a deal!

        1. (detecting some sarcasm, @rethla)
          I WOULD pay for that; watch the race integrally at a time that suits me.
          Even local races I could watch at night rather than cutting short vistiting my mother in law.
          (yes, now I’m sarcastic).

          1. Hope you really are, if you stop a race to visit your mother in law you don’t deserve to come to this page!

      2. @drycrust There will be, It just won’t be available in all but a small handful of country’s due to existing deals with broadcasters.

        I’ve seen USA, Mexico, Germany, France, Netherlands & Spain mentioned as where it will be available this year.

        1. Add a good VPN service and everybody can enjoy it ;-)

          1. There where illegal streams available 2017 aswell.

    6. Young Mr. Stroll is making it a bit difficult for himself. Doubtful he is the next Jaques or Gilles Villeneuve nor even Dale Carnegie either.

      1. My humble apology, *Jacques.

      2. Stroll isn’t even the next James Hinchcliff.

      3. Perhaps he is the next Jacques Villenueve Snr.? (Gilles’ brother, Jacques, attempted to qualify for the Canadian Grand Prix twice, and also for the Las Vegas Grand Prix. On none of these occasions was he successful).

    7. Verstappen: Red Bull would dominate F1 with Mercedes power

      My friend would also fight tigers and fly into space if his wife did not make him do the dishes all the time.

      1. Sometimes I get the impression that Red Bull think they ‘deserve’ the best PU in the field.

        1. @praxis They think they’re the best team on the grid, and nothing appears to convince them otherwise, so that logically follows the erroneous notion…

      2. Dominate is a bold word. But they would certainly be more competitive.
        Renault, though, is in a fabulous position – not afraid of supplying to two solid car developers. If there is no favouritism, there might be fantastic battles between drivers of the calibre of Alonso and Max V and Ricciardo while drivers like Vandoorne, Hulkenberg and Sainz would have solid references.

    8. ”Verstappen: Red Bull would dominate F1 with Mercedes power” – Not necessarily/automatically.

    9. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
      12th February 2018, 8:29

      It’s going to be impossible to gauge how good the Williams drivers and car is this season. Is the car good and let down by average drivers? Are the drivers performing better than anticipated or flattered by a good car? Has Stroll improved dramatically or is he beating a poor team mate and vice versa for Sirotkin? I actually think Sirotkin will do okay, hopefully somewhere around the level Massa was, possibly faster but without the advantages Massa’s experience brought.

      1. I would rather be keen to see how Kubica performs compared to both the Williams drivers if he gets a few more practice sessions this year and what role he plays on car development. In my view Williams is a sensitive car and there could be performance swings across different tracks and weather conditions. Without the feedback of an experienced driver towards fine tuning on Fridays, it would be a difficult year for the team.

        1. @pinakghosh Kubica was decent, nothing special TBH. Renault had no faith in Kubica hence Renault did not signed him, same with Williams. Kubica simply was too slow in race trim and quali trim.

        2. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
          12th February 2018, 18:18

          Yes I agree I think Kubica will find his old pace with more track time. Age isn’t on his side anymore, I felt this was last chance saloon to have a decent bash at a comeback.

      2. It’s not like Bottas was a lot faster than Massa (in 2015-2017) and Massa was clearly better this season. If we use Bottas as a comparison I don’t think anyone would do more in that Williams, maybe Alonso/Hamilton would find 0.3-0.5 in one race or another.

        1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
          12th February 2018, 18:17

          As a Williams fan I was very grateful for Massa’s performances last season.

    10. Lance Stroll needs to shut up and drive.

      1. Shut up and pay up is more like it.

        1. Well, Dad pays up, Lance just has to drive.

    11. Why is Stroll giving an interview everyday?

      1. Because its hot stuff as you can see.

      2. Either he’s bored, or the Canadian press have realised there’s a looong way to testing and are releasing pieces of some previously-done mega-interview to try to fill in the gaps.

    12. I hope that Flavio has to spend atleast one night in jail, but I doubt he will. There are different rules for rich crooks.

    13. Yes, finally a bit of justice to Briatore, even if I suspect he’ ll Be released after 1 night as well. One of the worst characters in F1. About Williams, I for one think that they would have benefited much more with another year with Massa than sticking with 2 rookies. What Williams need this year is consistent drivers to pick up pints every race, now that the midfield battle will be much harder. Another wasted year for them I suppose. As for the question wether Mercedes or Ferrari were the best car, for me it’s clear that overall Mercedes were the best ( aside the first five races and Hungary and Singapore). They always had the upper hand in qualify as well, and this makes much more easier job for their drivers in the race, where they must take less risks than Vettel did. But, it’s true that Vettel have put himself in a difficult situation in key moments by his own mistakes. I think both Hamilton and Vettel aren’t the best drivers to deal with pressure as other greats like Alonso, Prost, Senna, and even Piquet. For me, when they face strong opposition they tend to be more error prone.

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