Mercedes’ once comfortable looking lead may start to look a little less secure if they cannot get on top of their car issues and see themselves overhauled by Red Bull and Scuderia Ferrari at the next event in Japan and beyond. If either, or both, of the chasing teams can outscore the Silver Arrows in Suzuka this weekend, then we could well be in for a thrilling fight to the end of the year for not just the drivers’, but the constructors’ championship as well.
Max Verstappen, who has otherwise had a dismal season thanks to unreliability and on-track skirmishes, became the fifth different driver to score a race victory this season, by taking advantage of Scuderia Ferrari’s engine issues at the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix. From the top teams, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen is the only driver yet to step on to the top step of the podium. However, social media was quick to point out that had racing been normal and team orders weren’t at play, Kimi could have scored at least five wins this season — Monaco, Azerbaijan, Hungary, Singapore and Malaysia:
Monaco – on pole, led till lap 33, got beaten by Sebastian Vettel in the pits, as Ferrari pitted Kimi, but let the German driver stay on track.
Azerbaijan – collided with Valttery Bottas on the first lap, could have won given Lewis Hamilton’s head-rest issue and Sebastian Vettel’s penalty.
Hungary – Kimi Raikkonen played the role of a perfect wingman by protecting Sebastian Vettel, who had steering issues from the first parte of the race at the Hungaroring track.
Singapore – Kimi was the fastest starter among the top four drivers and the Finnish driver would have had the lead into the first corner.
Malaysia – From second place on the grid, Kimi Raikkonen could have overtaken Hamilton for the lead of the race, leaving Max Verstappen behind too. The Ferrari was the quickest car in Sepang taking into consideration Sebastian Vettel’s pace during the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix.
Whether it was due to unfortunate racing incidents, bad strategy decisions or simply bad luck, Kimi Raikkonen was not able to get on top of the podium with five races until the end of the 2017 Formula One season, but his performance was acknowledged and rewarded by Scuderia Ferrari with a new contract for the 2017 Formula 1 championship.