The season is over and as we approach the winter holidays, it about time to review the season gone by. Previously we brought you the best overtakes from the season. This time its time for the top disappointing Formula 1 moments.
The 2017 season started on a high. The shifting momentum between the two title protagonists kept us glued to each racing weekend. But that was not all. There was plenty happening up and down the grid to make the season exciting.
However, the season wasn’t without disappointing moments too. So let’s take a look at Formula 1 disappointing moments for the 2017 season:
When McLaren partnered with Honda from 2015 onwards, there was talk all around of repeating the 1980s era of dominance. But the moment the cars hit the track, the bubble burst for everyone. The British-Japanese alliance endured a horrible 2015.
Things improved for the 2016 season and McLaren-Honda climbed upto 6th on the points table. McLaren claimed they have bettered their chassis department and Honda respectively boasted of now having a better understanding of the world of F1.
Come 2017, bigger things were expected from McLaren-Honda. The Japanese marquee had revised its engine architecture in a bid to aim for the big boys. But as soon as the winter testing started, it was a repeat of 2015. The engine had no power and no reliability. Recovery plans were made but Honda failed in all of them.
In merely first 8 races of the 2017 season, McLaren-Honda had amassed a total of 115 Grid Penalties between its two drivers!
To say that the McLaren-Honda alliance was one of the most disappointing Formula 1 moments for the season would be an understatement.
2. Renault reliability
Another manufacturer that was having troubles with engine reliability was Renault. Ever since the start of the V6 hybrid turbo era, Renault has suffered problems second only to Honda. It was rather ironic as Renault was the major voice to demand a shift to V6 engines. When F1 did shift to these engines Renault was neither fast nor reliable.
Over the course of 3 years Renault did progress and by the end of 2016, their prime customer Red Bull was challenging for race wins. Coming into 2017, major pace and reliability progress was expected from Renault.
But the French marquee started once again with a stumble. Facing troubles in the winter testing, the engine maker had to switch back to last year specification of the ERS while work on the new specification continued to be introduced later. But Renault never got around to that.
Reliability was so poor for Renault that they had to scrap their plan of introducing performance upgrades altogether and switch focus to improving reliability. Yet out of the 6 cars on the grid that ran the Renault engine, at least 1 car suffered an engine related issue in every race.
Twice Hulkenberg suffered DNF while running in podium contention and on numerous other occasions the team lost valuable points. Jolyon Palmer, on the other hand, couldn’t even start his home grand prix because his engine blew up on the formation lap.
Renault’s reliability was one of the biggest if not the biggest disappointing Formula 1 moments of the season.
3. Verstappen and Ricciardo retirements
Another painful and disappointing thing to see this year was watching the Red Bull boys coming to a grinding halt on numerous occasions. From challenging the mighty Mercedes on Sundays in late 2016 to barely seeing both its cars cross the finishing line in 2017, it was Formula 1 disappointing moment for the whole season long.
The first half of the season saw Verstappen retiring from races one after another due to engine issues was damning. What compounded the fact was that he was running in the top when those failures happened. At other times he was a victim of first turn disasters, not because of his own doing but rather because of overzealous attempts of others. Be it Spa or Singapore, a lot of times we were robbed of the masterclass that Verstappen is.
The other garage of Red Bull did not have things easy for him either. While Ricciardo enjoyed a good spell in the middle of the season, he did not have a lack of bad moments either. To put things into perspective, Ricciardo’s season started with a DNF in Australia and ended with a DNF in Abu Dhabi. And in between, he suffered a spate of reliability issues that more often than not send him to the back of the grid.
Watching either of the two retire race after race was one of the most disappointing Formula 1 moments of the 2017 season.
6. Renault-Toro Rosso feud
Coming to the end of the season, the works Renault team and Toro Rosso were embroiled in a fight for P6 on the constructor’s table. On line was an increased earning of 6.5 million USD. While Renault has been taking hits by its engine failing for all the three teams, Toro Rosso was suffering double the engine related issues than any other team.
When Toro Rosso suffered engine issues on both its cars on Friday in Brazil, Abiteboul commented that the issues were down to how the Italian team was using the engines their cars.
This incensed the feisty Franz Tost who on next day released a press statement indicating that the engine troubles could be Renaut’s was of leaping ahead of Toro Rosso in the points table.
Taking this comment as against to the integrity of Renault, the two parties were engaged in a battle off the track. Rumors even made rounds that perhaps Renault will take the engines back from Toro Rosso for the last two races.
The senior Red Bull team was dragged into the whole issue and only after Helmut Marko and Christian Horner played peacekeeper between the two, the issue was resolved.
What’s disappointing was to see these two players fighting like children. And hence this feud is yet another addition to the most disappointing Formula 1 moments of the 2017 season.
7. New engines clash
Since 2014, the V6 hybrid turbo engines have been criticised a lot. Fans, manufacturers and even pundits called for a change of scenario. There was a lot of optimism when parties to the strategic meeting agreed on a simpler, cheaper and better sounding engine for 2021 onwards. The participatory to the meeting boasted of big names like Aston Martin, Porsche, Cosworth etc.
The new engine regulations retained the V6 turbo elements for road relevance and costs purposes. In a bid for simplification and cost reduction, a bigger emphasis is on standardization. The most troublesome component, the MGU-H, was removed.
While the newer participants gave a thumbs up to the new regulations and called it encouraging. The existing ones, however, have decided to throw their toys out of the pram. Mercedes and Renault questioned the new regulations citing the reason that it’ll start a cost war.
It’s really disappointing to see the established players acting this way. The engine saga is expected to roll on for quite a long duration. And till the time it does, it’ll be one the most disappointing Formula 1 moments not only for this year but also the next year.
6. Treatment meted out to Kvyat
Russian driver Daniil Kvyat is out of Formula 1. He may have been pushed out of the sport this year but the foundation was laid down in 2016 itself. Despite scoring podiums for the team in 2015 as well as 2016, the Russian was removed from the A team and demoted to Toro Rosso to make way for Max Verstappen. The move was said to have broken the teenager psychologically. Maybe perhaps Kvyat never recovered from this heartbreak.
What’s worst is that at the start of this year, he was promised to be retained for the next year. But Pierre Gasly was waiting in the wings and by mid-season, rumours became rife that he’ll be shown the way out.
In the Malaysian Grand Prix, he was ruthlessly benched and Gasly was given the chance. Even past Red Bull Young driver programme member, Brendon Hartley was called in. Kvyat was unceremoniously dropped from the team without a proper send-off.
The treatment meted out to Kvyat shows how harsh the Red Bull world can be. It shows how drivers too can have disappointing Formula 1 moments.
5. Pascal Wehrlein losing out to Marcus Ericsson
Formula 1 is, unfortunately, a world where more often than not, money triumphs talent.
The list is long and another name added to that list is Pascal Wehrlein. The Mercedes junior driver and the youngest DTM champion till date proved his worth twice in a row. Scoring with backmarker Manor in his rookie year and then shading Ericsson in qualifying and races this year.
The German scored all of the 5 points for Sauber this year. The short on cash Sauber team decided to forge a greater alliance with their engine supplier Ferrari. This sealed Wehrlein’s fate as no better seat up the grid was open. The alliance has resulted in Sauber effectively becoming the Junior Ferrari team. It also sees the return of Alfa Romeo brand name to F1.
While Charles Leclerc was guaranteed to occupy the seat for 2018, there was a tussle for the other seat. A ray of hope did appear for Wehrlein whose point scoring run for Sauber meant he one of the contenders for the seat.
So merit dictated Pascal to be chosen. Sauber’s backers and Ericcson’s financers pushed for the Swede to be retained. Ferrari, on the other hand, wanted Giovinazzi to occupy the other seat.
In the end, money won and Ericsson was chosen along with Leclerc for 2018.
4. Hamilton asking Bottas to help him in Baku
While Baku may be remembered for a much bigger incident, one of Hamilton’s act was no less disappointing. Leading the race from lights out and surviving a clash with Vettel, bad luck struck for him. The Mercedes headrest came undone and the Brit was forced to pit to change it or face a black flag.
This dropped him behind the Ferrari of Vettel and Hamilton couldn’t find a way past the Ferrari.
Dejected Hamilton suggested and later asked his team to use Bottas who was ahead of the two. He asked his team to ask Bottas to slow down and in turn push Vettel into the clutches of the other Mercedes.
Fortunately, the team did not oblige for Bottas was engaged in his own battle for P2 with Stroll. But it was disappointing to hear Hamilton ask for something like this from his team and his teammate. This is why it makes it on our list of disappointing Formula 1 moments.
3. Baku incident
Not 12 months had elapsed since Vettel went on an expletive-laden rant against Charlie Withing in Mexico.
Everyone figured that Vettel would be a more well-behaved boy after it. And he was that is until Baku.
Tailing the Mercedes of Hamilton behind the safety car, the duo made contact which resulted in Vettel losing a portion of his front wing. In a moment of red mist and anger, and under the assumption that Hamilton had brake tested him, the German drew parallel and banged wheels with his rivals.
The whole incident made a great viewing experience on TV and a field day for Journalists. It was in equal parts a very disappointing thing to see.
Whats more disappointing is the fact that the stewards waited to give a penalty until it became a necessity due to Hamilton’s woes. The cherry on the top is that the FIA let Vettel go scot free in lieu of a public apology. Now I’m not saying that he should have been barred from the race. But at least some sort of penalty (even monetary) should have been imposed on the German.
To see him go without any penalty was definitely of the most disappointing Formula 1 moments of the season.
2. Ferrari failures
The first half of the season was incredibly great with Mercedes and Ferrari going toe to toe. The second half, however, was equally anticlimax.
Not helped at all by the fact that the air from Ferrari’s charge was taken away by reliability issues. In Malaysia, where Ferrari was the favorite to win the race, a turbo issue forced Vettel out of Q1.
The German started from the back of the grid and could only make it to P4. In a race where he was supposed to gain points on Hamilton, Ferrari ended up conceding points.
The biggest heartbreak came in the next race in Japan where a faulty 59 Euro spark plug misfired on the Ferrari. Vettel retired from the race after a few laps. Ferrari’s championship bids were finally over. They were in all essence some of the most disappointing Formula 1 moments of the season.
1. Vettel Singapore
If the failures in Malaysia and Japan were the final nails in the coffin, the death blow to Vettel’s and Ferrari’s title dream can be said to be Singapore.
In a race where he was on pole and his rival down in P5, Vettel made a poor start and tried to box in Verstappen. The move ended up with a big clash on turn one with Raikkonen involved and it put Vettel out of the race.
Worst, his rival went on to win the race. Vettel had killed his own title hopes and that clash tops the list of most disappointing Formula 1 moments of the entire season.