Mercedes Won the War – But Ferrari Can Still be Proud

Henry Kelsall

The 2017 Formula 1 titles were wrapped up in Austin and Mexico respectively, with Mercedes clinching the constructors title in the US and Lewis Hamilton the drivers in Mexico City.

Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel’s challenge had fizzled out from Singapore through to Mexico and the German now has to secure second place from Valtteri Bottas. But despite the issues the team and driver have faced and the failure to secure either title, they can still be proud of what they have achieved in 2017.

You have to take a step back and reflect on where Ferrari has come since Vettel joined them in 2015. That year saw a revitalized Scuderia take second in the championship and Vettel secured three wins and a pole position on his way to third in the title race, his first win in Malaysia throwing him right into the championship mix at that point.

It all seemed to set up a potential title challenge in 2016 and after the opening race of that year in Australia, it looked like it could be on. Ferrari took the lead at the start of the race, ran 1-2 for the majority and only lost out thanks to a DNF for Kimi Raikkonen and a poor strategy call. But that was perhaps the closest the team got to securing a victory all season.

The team took only 11 podiums across the 21 races, with no victories or pole positions. It was 5 podiums less than what the team had managed in 2015, and Vettel never really featured in the title fight which was eventually won by Nico Rosberg.

The Scuderia slipped behind Red Bull in the constructors standings and finished in third. As 2016 drew to a close and 2017 dawned, people were expecting a battle between Red Bull and Mercedes, with Ferrari perhaps being there in third. No one really gave them a chance. But what transpired was their best shot at a title since 2008.

“The team is growing, and there are many positive aspects.

Overall, I think we are on the right path.” – Sebastian Vettel

Five pole positions, four wins and 17 podiums so far this season marked a huge improvement in form and the title battle seesawed between Ferrari and Mercedes, and Vettel and Hamilton. It all went sour with the Singapore smash between Vettel, Raikkonen, Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso and the reliability issues in Sepang and Suzuka.

Had it not been for that, Vettel would still be right in the hunt for the title and if he hadn’t endured ‘argy-bargy’ with Hamilton in Baku, he could even be leading the championship! Despite the bumps along the road, Ferrari became title contenders again – all without being given a chance coming into the new season.

This alone is why Ferrari can be proud. Going into 2017 they weren’t given a hope in hell of challenging for this title, yet perhaps produced the overall better race car of the year and really took the fight to the all conquering Mercedes team.

Vettel produced some stellar drives such as Australia and Monaco, and some of his pole laps were sensational with perhaps Singapore and Mexico the standouts in the bunch. Raikkonen’s pole lap in Monaco was also something for the books. Ferrari may have lost the war this year, but they will come back even stronger in 2018. You can bet on that.

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