This was the year that many F1 fans expected the Prancing Horse to be just too powerful for the Mercedes, with or without Lewis Hamilton at the wheel for the Silver Arrows. The major front-end update on the SF71H model was expected to make all of the difference for the rest of the F1 GP calendar but that hasn’t gone to plan.
Hamilton won five of the last six GPs
Instead, it is Hamilton that has powered home to claim five wins in the last six races. Vettel recently reflected on the technical side of this year’s results: “I don’t think we lost direction. I think we’ve made progress with our car, the steps we have planned, the steps have been coming. Now, you never know where you are in comparison with the others, maybe they have done smaller steps or bigger steps, I don’t know.”
This weekend sees Vettel try to close the gap behind Hamilton at the Suzuka Circuit in Japan. But Hamilton sounds confident that he is really finding the Mercedes car better to drive each time. Rather than this being down to an upgrade, Hamilton claims that it is all down to him developing a better understanding of the car.
Mercedes pace was surprising
The pace-setting in Singapore and Russia was perhaps more of a surprise than the fact Hamilton won the last three races. Hamilton admitted that it was surprising even for him: “We were not expecting to be as fast as we were in the last race.”
He went on to talk about how he and the team have a greater understanding of the car now: “Our understanding of the car is continuing and our understanding of the car is where we are making the biggest steps. All around the car feels great.”
Hamilton is firmly on his way to picking up a second consecutive championship title and his fourth in five years. There seems to be no stopping him right now but could that change in Japan?