Hamilton faces challenge to fend off old foe Vettel

By on Sunday, May 14, 2017

Lewis Hamilton faces a huge challenge in his bid to recapture his Formula One crown, with the re-emergence of his old foe Sebastian Vettel at the top of the standings.

The German frustrated Hamilton’s attempts to dominate early in the decade as he won the Drivers’ Championship four seasons on the spin.

Hamilton bounced back following his move to Mercedes, triumphing in 2014 and 2015, and was only narrowly beaten out by his teammate Nico Rosberg in the last campaign.

The Brit was heavily touted to have little problem regaining his title this term, but the resurgence of Vettel and Ferrari have put his hopes of glory in jeopardy.

The 29-year-old’s two victories in the opening four races of the campaign have left Hamilton trailing in the Drivers’ Championship standings, but he has more than enough time to reel the German in.

The Mercedes driver has the ability to string wins together like no other driver in the field, including Vettel, with Hamilton being backed in the latest F1 betting odds at 6/4 to secure the crown for the fourth time in his career.

Although the 31-year-old missed out on the title in 2016 to Rosberg, he had finished the last campaign with momentum on his side, winning the last four races of the season to leave himself only five points behind his victorious teammate.

The retirement of Rosberg left Hamilton with a new colleague for 2017 with Valtteri Bottas replacing the German at Mercedes, while the duo were provided with an improved vehicle for the campaign in the form of the AMG F1 W08 EQ Power+.

It did not blow away the team during practice sessions with its speed, while the news emerging from Ferrari and the testing of their new car will have put the pressure on Mercedes. Those fears were slightly allayed when Hamilton claimed pole position at the Australian Grand Prix.

However, Vettel surprised with his speed on the track and his tyres stood up to the terrain better than that of his rival, allowing the German to claim his first win since Singapore in 2015.

Mercedes and Hamilton needed a strong response to the challenge thrown down by Ferrari and the 29-year-old. The Brit was electric around the track during qualifying to clinch pole for the second race on the bounce and this time he was able to produce a clean performance to secure the victory at the Chinese Grand Prix, his fifth at the circuit in Shanghai.

An error from the 31-year-old was to hit his hopes of building on his victory in China as he was penalised for five seconds in his bid to slow Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo. Vettel capitalised and snatched the win away from the Brit, despite Hamilton’s superior speed around the track.

The Brit endured further frustration in Russia as a poor qualifying session left him in fourth place on the grid behind the two Ferraris and his teammate Bottas. His inability to pass Raikkonen in the early stages was to cost him as heating issues with his car prevented a charge towards the end of the race, leaving him well off the pace in fourth.

As a result of those two performances, Hamilton trails Vettel. Frustration has occasionally gotten the best of him in the past, although those experiences will stand him good stead to remain on course to match Vettel win-for-win this season.

The issues with his vehicle should not hinder the Brit throughout the season, while he will know that Ferrari will have a tough time on their hands remaining clean throughout the campaign.

Vettel and his team have come out swinging this term, but Hamilton knows all he has to do is remain on track to ensure that he has a chance towards the end of the season of tasting glory once again.

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