The 2017 Formula 1 season set off on Sunday as the first Grand Prix was won by Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel. Although the win wasn’t surprising to many, this was the first win for Vettel and Ferrari since 2015. This also marks Vettel’s 43rd career victory in Formula 1.
While Lewis Hamilton started off strong on pole, a minor mistake allowed Vettel to overtake the Mercedes driver early on and he proceeded to hold on for the rest of the race. Kimi Raikkonen finished well in fourth place, which means they are currently edging out Mercedes for the Constructor Championship. Considering this is the first race of the season, it is too early to make anything of this, but Ferrari will clearly try to maintain this energy going into the Chinese Grand Prix in two weeks.
Hamilton and newcomer Valtteri Bottas still managed to secure second and third place for Mercedes. Even though Hamilton lost his position due to a strategic mistake, it seems they are still the favorite as their dynasty continues to grow. Not only did they manage to avoid major technical problems, it seems that the relationship between Hamilton and Bottas will bode well for the team.
Bottas was not as aggressive towards his teammate as his predecessor Nico Rosberg was, but that may have something to do with his single year contract with Mercedes. Provided he does little to anger his teammate and continue to show up on the podium regularly, it seems the Bottas could have a long career with the Silver Arrows.
Unfortunately for Red Bull Racing, their weekend was less than perfect. Max Verstappen managed a fifth place finish, however Daniel Ricciardo was unable to finish the race in his native country. The Australian driver started off 2 laps behind when his car was locked in sixth gear. Following this, Ricciardo admitted to having a “fuel pressure issue” as the engine turned off.
It is quite clear that these will be the teams to beat this season, and that Red Bull will need to find some consistency early if they plan on competing as they did last year. Fans will get a much better idea how these teams will fair in the upcoming season, as Formula 1 heads to Shanghai for the Chinese Grand Prix on April 9th.