Wednesday, November 29, 2017

2017 Formula One Predictions: Revisited

The Formula One season ended with another Persian fireworks show and now we look back at the predictions made for the 20-race 2017 schedule. Nineteen drivers scored points and 25 drivers took part in a race over the course of the season.

1. Lewis Hamilton Beats His Teammate in the Championship By At Least Three Spots
Wrong! Hamilton won the championship but he only beat Valtteri Bottas by two positions, not three. It is a combination of things. One, Bottas did really well in year one with Mercedes and two, Red Bull Racing did not have the reliability to get the results I thought the team would be able to get. Bottas held his own in year one teamed with Hamilton but he clearly has a long way to go to beat his teammate. The Finn did win three races this season, his first three career victories and he picked up four pole positions.

2. Nico H├╝lkenberg Finally Gets a Podium
Wrong! The German has appeared in 137 races and made 135 starts and he has yet to finish on the podium. It feels like if he hasn't done it yet then it is never going to happen. He has been nothing but consistent in his career with championship finishes of 14th, 11th, 10th, ninth, 10th, ninth and 10th. He isn't a slouch but how he has never had a breakthrough after seven full seasons is staggering.

3. There Will be at Least One Race Red Bull Bosses
Correct! Max Verstappen dominated Malaysia and Mexico. Perhaps Hamilton could have challenged him at Malaysia if Hamilton wasn't racing for the championship but Verstappen pulled away and even if Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel didn't get into each other at Mexico Verstappen probably would have still ran away with it.

4. Haas Has More Finishes in the Points But Do Not Finish Ahead of any of the Top Seven in the 2016 Constructors' Championship
Partially Correct? Haas did have more points scoring finishes than last year with 13 points finishes to five but Haas finished ahead of one team that finished in the top seven in 2016 and that was McLaren. The team scored 18 more points than it scored in 2016 and it matched its Constructors' Championship finish in eighth. However, McLaren took four steps back.

5. Lance Stroll has an Incident That Leads People Calling for His Head
Correct! Where to start? His handful of accidents at preseason testing? Making contact with Marcus Ericsson at Melbourne? Retiring from the first three races? Veering into Sebastian Vettel on the cool down lap at Sepang? His lack of attention during qualifying at Austin? Pick one.

To be fair, Stroll did really well this year and I bet few people had him finishing 12th in the championship and only three points behind his teammate Felipe Massa and three points outside of the top ten in the World Drivers' Championship. He also finished third in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix and started second on the grid for the Italian Grand Prix. He is 19 years old, he is going to be the third-best driver on his own 24 Hours of Daytona team between Felix Rosenqvist and Robin Frijns but he is going to be in Formula One probably for the rest of our lives. Get use to him.

6. McLaren Gets Podiums
Wrong! Very wrong! I am surprised how wrong it went. Even worse is 30 points is probably an overachievement considering where McLaren was at the start of the season. Fernando Alonso put on some monumental drives. He qualified sixth at Barcelona. The car kept breaking down on him. He finished sixth and ran fastest lap at Hungary. A podium was never going to happen. He ended the season with three consecutive finishes in the points... and now McLaren switches to Renault. The timing is either on the money or off again for Alonso and McLaren.

7. Max Verstappen is Alive for the Championship Entering Mexico
Wrong! Verstappen was eliminated from championship contention in his turn one accident at Singapore with the two Ferraris. He was probably going to be eliminated that weekend anyway because he entered 170 points behind Lewis Hamilton with 175 points left on the table. The bright side for Verstappen is he at least won at Malaysia and Mexico.

8. A Non-European Country Wins the Race Promoters' Trophy and It Is Not Mexico
To be decided! It hasn't been announced yet but it seems like the Mexican Grand Prix should be the favorite to win it again. A 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit the region six weeks prior to the race but from the size and the enthusiasm of the crowd you would not have known such a devastating event had occurred.

9. At Least One Driver Loses a Race Seat Midseason Due to Financial Reasons
Correct... I guess? You could say the entire Carlos Sainz, Jr., move to Renault was financially related with out being financially related. Jolyon Palmer wasn't scoring points. Renault needed a driver that could score points. Renault got its driver. Renault jumped Scuderia Toro Rosso in the Constructors' Championship thanks in part to Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso scored one point in the final four races after the departure of Sainz, Jr. Renault made an extra few million dollars.

10. At Least Three Races Do Not Feature a Mercedes-Benz on the Front Row
Correct! There were five races where Mercedes-Benz was absent from the front row. Those races were Russia, Monaco, Hungary, Singapore and Mexico. Ironically, those were the only five races where Ferrari won a pole position. You would have thought there would have been one race where Sebastian Vettel won pole position and Lewis Hamilton started second but that didn't happen. That hasn't happened since the 2013 Korean Grand Prix, the fourth and final Korean Grand Prix! I expect that to change in 2018.

11. We Will Not See a Standing Restart in 2017 and If We Do, Standing Restarts Will Be Removed From the Championship During the Season
Correct! We didn't see it. I wonder if we will forget about it come 2018.

12. Nico Rosberg Does the Podium Interview at Least Once in 2017
Wrong! At least I never saw him get up on the podium with a microphone in his hand. I thought we might have seen a little bit more of Rosberg's personality come out now that he is retired from competition. While he was at the racetrack a few times, he remained silent and out of the spotlight. The 2016 World Drivers' Champion remained mostly a stranger in 2017. I bet he liked it that way.

Five and a half out of 12 with a chance of breaking 0.500 when the Race Promoters' Trophy is announced at a later date. Whatever the result is it could have been better.