Since 2008, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton have been dominating the F1 circuit. 7 of the last 9 world titles have been won by the two, and on the occasions that they did not win (2009 and 2016), one of them finished as runner up in the Championship standing. With 96 wins between them, they have only been championship rivals only in 2010. 2008, 2014-16 has seen Hamilton fight for the title with Vettel behind, and 2011-13 were the Sebastian years.
While many were hopeful for a Sebastian-Lewis duel in 2016, Ferrari were far off the pace set by the Silver Arrows. This year, fans may get to see what they have been waiting for years – Lewis Hamilton vs Sebastian Vettel fighting for the championship. It’s still just the first race of the season, but Ferrari have been able to match Mercedes for pace and seem to be easier on the tyres. After 3 years of waiting, people are hoping there will be at least another team challenging Mercedes.
Not only will two powerful automobile names take each other on, two of the best drivers in the 2010s will finally be locked in battle. Unfortunately, Formula One has seen too many dominant seasons in the last few years. 2011-16. Red Bull Racing or Mercedes were the number one team, far ahead of the rest. This monopolization meant at most 2 drivers were fighting for the title. Fans were desperate to see a rival step up (Ferrari nearly did in 2015, when Vettel beat the Silver Arrows thrice that year).
It’s not a complete assessment to completely judge Ferrari and Mercedes, from the pre-season testing and the first race of the season. However, it is clear that the teams are similar in pace (Is there any reason for Mercedes to sandbag the first race of the season). Fans would love to see a show down and this is what Formula One needs.
Both drivers are capable of pulling ahead when in the lead, controlling their pace and can manage their tyres very well. Both have shown in the past that they are more than capable of charging up the field should the need arise. And unlike the more frosty relationship that they had with teammates during their championship years, the two have a respectful-jocular relationship in the past. They certainly entertain the F1 world with their post-race interviews (Canada 2016, Russia 2015), just to add some fun onto a podium.
Another good reason for a Vettel vs Hamilton duel, is the fact that their teammates and the Red Bulls will make sure that they have to go through a fight to get the points in each race. This season promises a more intense fight for the championship, led by two of the best drivers on the grid today.
Has the showdown finally arrived?