2017 was a fairytale campaign for Mercedes, despite the fact it had to fight Ferrari hard for its fourth-straight title double. The Silver Arrows headed to pre-season testing with plenty of confidence, despite sweeping technical changes to make the cars faster and far more challenging to drive, ensuring only the toughest can win.
SOUNDBITE (English) LEWIS HAMILTON,
F1 DRIVER, MERCEDES:
“...so far from what I’ve seen, underneath this car is the most sophisticated car and most detailed car that Mercedes have ever built - so I saw it yesterday and I’m like, yeah, it looks right!”
The W08 may have looked right as an aerodynamic weapon, but it was nicknamed “the diva” due to the difficulty in setting it up – its sweet spot a narrow window for Lewis Hamilton and new teammate Valtteri Bottas to pinpoint. Though it wasn’t to prove a serious issue.
All in all - the W08 took 12 wins from 20 races: Hamilton in China, Spain, Canada, Great Britain, Belgium, Italy, Singapore, Japan and the USA. Bottas in Russia, Austria and Abu Dhabi.
Regardless of the end result, it was only from Italy onwards that Hamilton took the lead of the drivers’ standings.
Vettel had a strong start winning Australia, Bahrain and Monaco, but it was Hamilton’s victory in England that closed the gap. Vettel won Hungary, but the Brit effectively ended his momentum with the next three victories.
Bottas proved himself with 13 podiums, including three race wins, despite a late arrival to the team in mid-January – all of his victories earned under maximum pressure, from Vettel and Hamilton.
And many in the paddock believe that there’s not only more to come from Bottas, but Hamilton as well, the four-time F1 World Champion on the roll of his life, riding high on confidence.
SOUNDBITE: (English) DAMON HILL,
1996 F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
"He's in a very small group of people and I think that he's still on an upward trajectory. So, very good chance we'll see him break into an even more select group. I mean one more championship and he's up with there with Fangio. One more than that, there's no one else but Michael Schumacher.”
Retaining its strength will be Mercedes’ biggest challenge in 2018, as the headline fight at the front between Hamilton and Vettel intensifies, two four-time World Champions going wheel-to-wheel for the first time ever in F1. A mouthwatering prospect for fans.
It’s again all on the line as we head into 2018.