F1 2017 Mid-Season Review: The top five teams

The 2017 season started with the curtain-raiser in Australia offering F1 fans their first glimpse of the exciting 2017 challengers in race trim back on 26th March at Albert Park in Melbourne. The first eleven races over the next four months has seen a championship battle between the two top drivers of their generation and a close battle between their teams. It has been an exhausting season for the main protagonists so far and the summer break is finally here. This is a much needed one-month cooling down period for all personnel, as the factories shutdown back at the base of the teams. The races have spanned across the continents and both the drivers and team personnel need this break to recharge their batteries. They can then renew their battle in right earnest at the historic Spa-Francorchamps circuit for the Belgian Grand Prix on the last weekend of August 2017.

F1 2017 Mid-Season Review: The top five teams

The cars as promised have been super fast, smashing decade-long lap records at all the race venues so far. The season has seen an intense battle between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship, in parallel with their teams Ferrari and Mercedes battling it out in the Constructors’ Championship. Since the hybrid-era started Mercedes has been so dominant that both title races have been dominated by the team and its drivers. Though Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were locked in an intense and sometimes bitter battle in the same machinery for the drivers’ title in the last three seasons (2014-2016), the fans were a bit disappointed that no other team or driver offered the Silver Arrows any semblance of a challenge. The current battle between the two drivers from different teams in different cars is far more exciting to watch and has been a welcome relief for fans from the Mercedes domination in the last three years.

Ferrari with the personnel changes in their technical team and their traditional difficulties at the beginning of a new era in regulations was not supposed to offer Mercedes such a stiff challenge this season. But they have provided their four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel with the car to do battle with the Mercedes drivers. Red Bull Racing with their well-known capability in the aerodynamics department was tipped to be the main challenger to Mercedes in 2017. But they disappointed at the start of the season, but seem to be making a slow recovery in the last few races. Force India has been the surprise package this season with their strong performance that sees them sitting comfortably in fourth place in the constructor’s title race.

With the Ferrari and Mercedes cars taking turns to dominate the races depending on track characteristics and the two drivers, Hamilton and Vettel, possessing a top notch skillset and opposites in their personalities, the nine races after the summer break are going to be as intriguing and exciting as any championship battle in the recent past. In the end it might come down to who has a bit of luck and which team develops their car until the last race. We review the team by team performance of the 2017 season so far.


Constructors’ Championship Position: 1st (357 points, six wins, eight podiums)
Drivers’ Championship Positions:
Lewis Hamilton: 2nd (188 points, four wins, two podiums)
Valtteri Bottas: 3rd (169 points, two wins, six podiums)

The dominant team of the last three seasons is finally being challenged by another team.  The current championship leader has a 39 point lead over Ferrari and has been helped by the solid performance of their new driver Valtteri Bottas. The six wins in 11 races seems like a dip in performance because of the complete dominance of the Brackley-based team in recent seasons. The team is guilty of throwing away some points through strategy errors and more importantly a win in the race in Baku because of a faulty headrest. Hamilton, the three time world champion, has shown decent form with four wins though he has struggled on the tighter street circuits. Bottas has put in a noteworthy performance with two wins and is very much in the picture in the drivers’ title race.

The Silver Arrows’ only worry for the rest of the season seems to be their difficulties at the tighter, less power-dependent circuits and in hot weather conditions. The races in Singapore and Brazil might prove tricky in this department.


Constructors’ Championship Position: 2nd (318 points, four wins, eight podiums)
Drivers’ Championship Positions:
Sebastian Vettel: 1st (202 points, four wins, four podiums)
Kimi Raikkonen: 5th (116 points, four podiums)

The oldest and most successful team of F1 is in the midst of a title drought since 2008. Under pressure from their Chairman Sergio Marchionne to deliver championships, the team has made a surprisingly promising start to the season. With four wins and three pole positions, the Maranello-based team has been a genuine challenger this season. Sebastian Vettel their lead driver and title hope is in first place with a 14-point lead in the championship. If they are going to snatch one or both of the titles from Mercedes, there is no margin for error for this four time world champion and his team during the rest of the season. Brain fades like the one in Baku could seriously undermine his title chances. Kimi Raikkonen has looked speedy and close to his best on occasions. But the aging former world champion has been inconsistent and not looked like winning a race. Slowly he has been reduced to a supporting role to Vettel and currently is in fifth position in the drivers’ championship.

Expectation and consequently the pressure is always huge on this team. They have closed the gap to Mercedes, but still need to keep up in the development race. With more power tracks that favour Mercedes in the nine races left, the Italian team has its work cut out to win one if not both titles.

Red Bull Racing

Constructors’ Championship Position: 3rd (184 points, one win, five podiums)
Drivers’ Championship Positions:
Daniel Ricciardo: 4th (117 points, one win, four podiums)
Max Verstappen: 6th (67 points, one podium)

The Milton Keynes-based team has been the disappointment of the season, as much was expected of them in the new aerodynamics dominated era. The Red Bull chassis has looked better in recent races and if the promised update from the Renault engine provides some much needed horsepower, this team might be in the mix to upset the applecart of the top contenders in the title race. Daniel Ricciardo has been outshown by his younger teammate in the season so far. But the points table presents a different picture as his teammate has been beset with reliability issues and the Australian picked up a win when the top drivers fumbled in Baku. Max Verstappen has shown once again that he is the real deal and is by far the most exciting young talent in the sport. A combination of reliability issues and his own impetuosity has seen the young Dutchman retire in five of the eleven races.

This team will continue to develop and get closer to the top two teams, but need an engine upgrade soon to challenge for wins.

Force India

Constructors’ Championship Position: 4th (101 points)
Drivers’ Championship Positions:
Sergio Perez: 7th (56 points)
Esteban Ocon: 8th (45 points)

The Silverstone-based team is coming off their best performance of fourth in the Constructors’ Championship in 2016. Force India has a reputation of making the best use of its limited resources. The team’s performance this season has seen it consolidate fourth place and they have been by far the most consistent team in the midfield. The team has two of the most talented drivers in F1, Sergio Perez and the young Esteban Ocon. The two drivers have been the model of consistency and looked set for a podium finish until their unfortunate on-track clash in Baku. The drivers have pushed each other with their performances and a podium should be realistically possible for either driver.

The team has a comfortable 60-point lead over its nearest rival for fourth place and aiming for a podium should be its biggest goal in the second half of the season.


Constructors’ Championship Position: 5th (41 points, one podium)
Drivers’ Championship Positions:
Felipe Massa: 11th (23 points)
Lance Stroll: 12th (18 points, one podium)
*Paul Di Resta drove in place of the sick Massa in Hungary and did not finish.

This marquee British team has struggled this season and though it has retained the fifth position from last season, it has never looked like challenging for fourth place. The car and the drivers have been inconsistent all season. The technical leadership under the new Technical Director Paddy Lowe has yet to yield tangible results on the track. The driver pairing of Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll has struggled to perform from race to race. Massa has been a bit more consistent with six point finishes in ten races. The young rookie Stroll after a miserable start to the season showed surprising maturity in Baku to clinch a podium as more experienced drivers around him fell apart.

Williams has a challenge on their hands to stay competitive and retain this fifth spot as the team has only a two-point lead over their nearest challenger.
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