Source: Natalia F via Twitter
Sebastian Vettel has come out swinging in his battle to regain his legacy from Lewis Hamilton in the early stages of the 2017 Formula One season.
The two men have enjoyed a fierce battle over the last decade to be considered the dominant driver of the modern era.
Hamilton won his first crown in the 2008 season, but Vettel took the mantle from him by winning four on the spin to take control of the sport during the early part of the decade.
However, the Brit’s switch to Mercedes saw the balance of power swing back to his direction, responding to Vettel’s wins with back-to-back triumphs.
Nico Rosberg’s victory last season ended a six-year cycle where either Hamilton or Vettel had won the Championship, but the German’s retirement appeared to have left the door open for Hamilton’s return to the top.
The re-emergence of Ferrari and Vettel has ignited the battle between the two great drivers – with their battle to be remembered as the greatest of the era playing out in front of spectators this season.
Both men have had advantages in the past, with the German’s Red Bull being far superior to Hamilton’s McClaren when Vettel was at the height of his power. The roles reversed when the Brit moved to Mercedes, first outpacing Red Bull and then Ferrari over the last three campaigns.
However, both Mercedes and Ferrari appear now to be on even footing in terms of speed – with the success of the driver hinging on skill alone, although a tinge of luck may also play its part over the course of the season.
The race for the crown is still in its infancy, with the odds still balanced between Hamilton and Vettel evenly matched – therefore using a site like Oddschecker to line up a free bet may be prudent – with either of the drivers capable of reeling off victories on the bounce to pull ahead.
Source: Motorsport Week via Twitter
The 32-year-old is facing similar issues as his campaign last year, with early setbacks leaving him off the pace of Rosberg. Although his problems have not been as significant as the 2016 season, Hamilton still needs to find his rhythm.
Valtteri Bottas’ success at the Russian Grand Prix bailed out Hamilton and Mercedes, with his car suffering faults that limited his progress at Sochi, finishing in fourth place.
That result has left him narrowly off the pace of Vettel following the German’s two victories in Australia and Bahrain, with Hamilton notching just one win thus far in Shanghai.
Playing catch-up cost the 32-year-old the crown last term, despite his four victories on the bounce to end the term.
With legacy on the line both men know there is little margin for error, with Hamilton already making a glaring mistake in Bahrain in the pitt lane.
His five-second penalty for blocking Daniel Ricciardo allowed Vettel to snatch the win from under his nose, which could well play a pivotal role in deciding the outcome of the Championship.
Both men are at the top of the sport in terms of quality as there is little to choose between the pair in their skill behind the wheel.
Mental mistakes and ability to handle the pressure down the stretch will play an even bigger role than talent in the race for the crown and perhaps defining the reputation of the driver in the era.