Formula One has become accustomed to Mercedes dominance in recent times, very much in the same way that the sport did with both Ferrari and Red Bull. The Red Bull era, led by team principal Christian Horner, was lined with Sebastian Vettel winning world championships but the German has since moved on and is in a position to add to his collection.
This time he is doing it as an underdog... or at least, so say the betting markets. Here are FIVE reasons why Vettel’s 11/10 price to win the title is a beauty…
Rivalry With Lewis Hamilton Reignited
Lewis Hamilton thrives under the condition of racing rivalry. Well, he’s meant to. Instead, the Brit can become embroiled in driving aggression and adrenaline rather than winning.
The first couple of instalments of Hamilton versus Sebastian Vettel have been blockbuster, but the German is the only one set to gain with each episode.
Holding a comfy lead over his rival at this stage of the season, each lap wasted in personal grudge racing plays into the hands of Vettel.
Bottas Quietly Picking Up Points
Oddly, Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, could prove a roadblock for Mercedes’ number one. Way out of the reckoning to win the title – but still comfortably third at 16/1 – Bottas has proven his worth as Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg replacement, notching a couple of important wins for the team in the process.
Team orders could come into the discussions should Bottas continue to push Hamilton and Vettel, but the presence of the Merc new-boy only clutters the issue as podium contention will define the title race.
'Been There, Done That' - Experience Could Be Key
The tireless clichés that experience of winning matters across sport can be overused. In Formula One, though, there is an element of calmness that is emitted by serial winners and Sebastian Vettel undoubtedly joins that category.
Vettel might have strode to his Red Bull titles with relative ease, but the German – much like Hamilton, in fact – is no stranger to the pressure of leading a Formula One season from the front. Rash decisions have seldom been an issue even under the heaviest expectations for Vettel.
Points Already On The Board
Sebastian Vettel is 14 points clear of Lewis Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship. It is a lead that can be overturned in one unfortunate afternoon for the German, but also a margin that should make Vettel the clear favourite at this stage of the season.
Nine races remain in the 2017 season, and nine chances for Vettel to edge that lead greater. Each victory increases his chances, and we can surely expect the Ferrari man to win at least two of the remaining races considering he has won four already this year.
Hamilton might have a string of podium-topping performances in him, but Vettel’s 14 point lead at this stage cannot be undervalued.
Fortunes In Qualifying Could Flip
Hamilton has had the upper hand over Vettel in qualification for the majority of this season.
Bottas has got the better of his teammate on a few occasions, but the Mercedes have the flying lap pace. That might be of detriment on a Saturday, but the race-wise Vettel has the edge on the Sunday – and has had a fair bit more fortune than Hamilton.
We are told that luck evens out over the course of any given season, but Hamilton’s may find that hard to believe over the last couple of years. Vettel has a quick car and a wave of momentum at the moment, which is something hard to stop in any sport.