The 2017 F1 season, just like any other season of Formula 1 was not void of controversies, disagreements and heated discussions. These controversies reflect the passion that drivers and their fans have for the sport. So here are the top controversial moments of season. Lets get the debate started!
It is a no brainer to include the race at Baku. This is probably the most talked-about moment from the 2017 F1 season. So let us just get it out of the way.
The safety car was out and Hamilton was trailing the safety car, ahead of Vettel. Just before the restart, as Hamilton was backing up the pack, he picked a little speed while turning in a turn and then slowed down at the turn’s exit. As a result, Vettel’s car touched the diffuser of Hamilton’s slowing car. Thinking that Hamilton has brake checked him on purpose, Vettel went alongside the GP leader and turned into him to bump tires. Both the drivers and their fans went crazy.
It was later revealed that Hamilton never really braked and Vettel apologized for his actions.
What started in 2016 saw its climax in the 2017 F1 season. First Kvyat was replaced by Pierre Gasly for the Malaysian GP. While everyone thought that RedBull was done with Kvyat, the team’s upper management put such rumors to rest. Kvyat got another drive at the US GP following Carlos Sainz’s move to Renault. Though he finished in the points, his drive did not secure him a place in the team. It was soon announced that the team has now let go the Russian.
2017 brought new specifications of power units and new rules for how these can be used. The height of the issue was demonstrated at the Italian GP. Nine out of 20 cars got some kind of power unit related penalty, shuffling the grid massively. Not only this, Alonso got 35-place grid penalty while both Daniel Ricciardo and Stoffel Vandoorne for 25-place grid penalty in a grid of 20 cars! In total, 150 places were taken away from the nine drivers
Extending track limits is a tricky business in Formula 1. Always has been. The issue was highlighted when Max Verstappen spectacularly overtook Kimi Raikkonen on the last lap to get on the last step of the podium. Later Verstappen was given a five second time penalty, promoting Kimi back to third. These series of events started a whole new debate. While many though it was correct, others thought the ruling was harsh. Many called out on other instances of track limit extends. Like the battle between Bottas and Ricciardo and others.
It sparked a whole lot of debate involving the entire paddock with divided opinions. Read more about it: Verstappen Overtake Saga and Aftermath: Reactions
Renault while supplying engines to Toro Rosso, was also competing with them for a larger part of the year for sixth position in the constructors trophy. During the later half of the season, when Renault’s engine’s reliability became worse with Toro Rosso, it was quick to suggest that the issues were primarily due to how the engine operated within the car at Toro Rosso, thus shifting the entire blame on to the team.
Toro Rosso was quick to point out facts against the same further suggesting that this was deliberately done by the French manufacture to take the lead in the constructors (which they ultimately did take).
To give you a hint of Toro Rosso’s miserable situation, Brendon Hartley, in his debut race at the US Grand Prix took a 25 place grid penalty for using fresher power unit components. This was followed by a 20 place grid drop for both Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly at the Mexican Grand Prix.
In the following race, in Brazil, Hartley took another 10 place grid drop and Gasley a 25 place grid drop. In the final race, Hartley took yet another 10 place grid penalty.
And all of these were due to one or the other power unit components being changed.
The situation at Toro Rosso became so miserable towards the end of the season that there were rumors of the team sitting out the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix due to lack of spare parts, which of course, turned out to be wrong.