On the eve of the first race of the 2017 Formula 1 World Championship let’s have a look at some of the most promising rivalries to look forward to during the season ahead…
Verstappen vs Everybody
Let’s be honest, Max Verstappen doesn’t really mind who he goes wheel-to-wheel with – he’s not going to take any prisoners. Max was involved in numerous battles last year and even forced the authorities into a rule change due to his aggressive defensive manoeuvres. Notable clashes last year included Lewis Hamilton (Japan), Kimi Raikkonen (Belgium) and Sebastian Vettel (pretty much everywhere). With the relaxing of the so-called ‘Verstappen’ rule, we can expect to see Max rekindling his highly-aggressive driving style as he begins his first full season with Red Bull Racing.
Excitement rating 4.5/5
Vettel vs Verstappen
Numerous flash points last season – most memorably in Mexico where Verstappen angered the 4-time World Champion so much that the air in the famous red car turned blue and that famous index finger was used in anger rather than in celebration…With Red Bull and Ferrari both expected to be running near the front of the grid, these two will again probably be left fighting over the same pieces of tarmac. Expect the sparks (and possibly carbon fiber) to fly between these two!
Excitement rating 5/5
Hamilton vs Vettel
The two early favourites for the world title. Despite racing in the same era and being two of the most decorated drivers in F1 history (piling up 7 world titles, 95 wins and 107 pole positions between them), there’s no real history of incidents between these two, as their time in winning cars hasn’t really overlapped. However with a resurgent Ferrari and a predictably fast Mercedes we can expect to see these two finally going head-to head and battling it out at the front of the grid for pole positions, race victories and ultimately, this year’s world title.
Excitement rating 4/5
Hamilton vs Bottas
First season together as teammates. It’s going to be interesting early on to see how they match up. Most assume that Hamilton will comfortably edge it against the Finn and at first glance it seems that there shouldn’t be too much tension between them (despite a collision last year in Bahrain). Bottas is a fairly placid personality and will be eager not to annoy his new employers early on. However, the proximity of being in the same team and fighting for the world championship turned boyhood friends Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg into fierce rivals, so who knows what might happen?
Excitement rating 3/5
Ricciardo vs Verstappen
Daniel Ricciardo has already started up the war of words on the eve of the new season, saying that he wants to derail the Verstappen hype-train. There were lingering notes of jealousy from the usually super-cheerful Ricciardo last year in the face of constant praise for his teenage team-mate but these two have a pretty clean history in terms of on-track engagement. They both have a reputation for daring overtakes and the battle between two drivers in the same team always makes for an intriguing battle. With a more competitive Red Bull this season expect the pressure to be magnified.
Excitement rating 3.5/5
Alonso vs Honda
Poor old Fernando. All he wanted was a car that would give him a shot of being anywhere near the front of the grid so he could have one last crack at winning a 3rd world title. Now he’d probably just settle for a car that has a chance of the top 10. His 2nd stint with McLaren has been dogged by….well, a complete dog of a car really… The Honda engine was badly down on power and reliability again in pre-season testing. Expect to see those Orange liveries running somewhere near the back of the grid (or being wheeled back into the garage halfway through the race) and Fernando cracking out the deck chair again. Without improvement in the Honda power unit we can also expect Fernando’s patience to disappear as he rips into the Japanese engine manufacturer.
Frustration factor 5/5