Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate, emerged victorious in the final race of the 2017 Formula One season – winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in convincing fashion after an impressive weekend. Hamilton, now a four-time world champion after claiming the title earlier this season, was forced to settle for second ahead of long term rival Sebastian Vettel. But now, the primary focus will be on the 2018 campaign.
Vettel did his utmost in 2017 but it just wasn’t enough – bookies favourite Hamilton’s efforts in the second half of the season were too great. Ferrari will now go back to the drawing board as they look to regain their place at the top of the Formula One ladder. It is now a decade since Ferrari’s previous triumph and nine years since the Italian outfit last won the Constructors’ title – a clear power shift in motorsport has been obvious.
Is Hamilton destined to surpass the great Michael Schumacher at the summit of the Formula One rankings? With four titles, he is well on the way to matching the Ferrari legend’s seven world championship triumphs. Hamilton now stands tall as the greatest British driver of all-time and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see the Mercedes man dominate in 2018. Based on current form, both driver and team are well ahead of the rest of the field.
At just 32 years old, Hamilton has time on his side. He is already the record holder for most pole positions and he will be targeting a fifth world title in 2018. At the time of writing, he is fancied to do just that and plenty of punters will be keen to side with Hamilton in the build-up to the upcoming campaign. The 2017 season has only just finished but it is still difficult to look past the Mercedes star ahead of what could be a competitive year.
Bottas himself will put up another solid challenge. With three Grand Prix wins in 2017, he was well off the pace compared to Hamilton but he may be the main beneficiary if the Brit’s engine struggles return in 2018. After a slow start, he eventually finished third – 12 points behind Vettel. At the very least, a second placed finish will be Bottas’ target in 2018 as he looks to hold down his long term place with Mercedes.
Meanwhile, Red Bull won’t be as far off the pace either in 2018. Daniel Ricciardo and highly touted youngster Max Verstappen will be right in the mix to compete at the top level, and it would be foolish to write Red Bull off just yet. Ricciardo (5th) finished above Verstappen (6th) in the final standings but the latter snagged two race wins compared to his teammate’s sole triumph. Talent-wise, there’s no question that Verstappen is the more gifted driver.
Formula One fans, don’t be disheartened – the 2018 season will be here before you know it and there is plenty of reason to be optimistic. After a fairly stale era of predictable success, the current crop of contenders are all capable of producing title-winning form and that bodes well for a fiercely competitive title race next season.
Verstappen almost looks destined to win the world title at some point in the future but he is still very young. The Red Bull Racing star’s next step is to take over the reins as number one driver for the team and from there, he can push on and build momentum. Bottas and Vettel are Hamilton’s closest rivals for the title in 2018 but the British star is a class above in terms of strategy and style. He will be difficult to stop in his pursuit of world title number five