Drivers who could affect the race for the Drivers’ Championship

Lewis Hamilton ensured that the battle at the top of the Drivers’ Championship standings remained close between him and Sebastian Vettel by winning the Spanish Grand Prix.

Just six points separate the two drivers after the opening five races of the campaign, with the duo seemingly destined to fight out over the course of the season for the title.

After the 32-year-old’s setback at the Russian Grand Prix, it was vital that the Brit got back on top of the podium to ensure that Vettel was not able to further extend his side lead in the standings.

Hamilton’s odds to claim his fourth Formula One crown have shortened as a result to just 4/5, which have made him the leading candidate for the crown. Therefore, it may be worth taking advantage of bookmakers’ welcome bonuses, such as the bet £10, get £30 offers compiled by comparison sites like Oddschecker, to maximise a potential return on the Brit.

Hamilton and Vettel’s fate could be affected by other drivers in the field, which could play a crucial role in deciding the title.

We’ll now look at the men who could help or hinder the two men leading the charge for the crown.

 

Valtteri Bottas

The 27-year-old made the move to Mercedes to replace Nico Rosberg following his retirement after winning his maiden Drivers’ Championship. Bottas endured the second-worst campaign of his career in 2016, finishing in eighth place after mustering just 85 points over the course of the season.

The Finn had delivered a strong level of consistency in his previous two terms with Williams Martini Racing, securing fourth and fifth-place finishes.

Due to the difference in quality between his vehicle and that of the top teams in the sport, he was never able to get a victory under his belt, although he did record eight podiums, including two second-place finishes.

Replacing Rosberg was always going to be a challenge, but the 27-year-old has already shown the appetite for the tough road ahead. He battled to clinch a place on the podium in Melbourne on the opening day of the campaign, while he did the same in Bahrain with another fine drive.

Bottas announced his arrival on the Championship scene by claiming the first win of his career in the Russian Grand Prix. The Finn passed the two Ferraris on the grid ahead of him and held off the advances of Vettel to secure top spot and the 25 points.

The 27-year-old has proven that he has the ability to compete at the top and given the team he plays for he could play an influential role in aiding his Mercedes’ teammate.

 

Daniel Ricciardo

 

The Australian made his breakthrough in the 2014 campaign with Red Bull Racing as he came out of nowhere to finish third in the Drivers’ Championship.

In his first full two seasons in Formula One, he had struggled to make an impact at Toro Rosso, with his best outings coming at the Chinese and Italian Grand Prix, placing in seventh in both races in 2013.

However, his move to Red Bull brought out the best in his and he quickly notched his first win at the Canadian Grand Prix, finishing ahead of Rosberg, while Hamilton was forced to retire.

Ricciardo proved his quality to match the two Mercedes with back-to-back victories in Hungary and Belgium, and although he finished the rest of the season with consistency, the Australian was unable to sustain a title challenge.

He took a huge step back in the 2015 season, failing to make an impact over the course of the term, only securing two podium finishes.

Following significant improvements at Red Bull, Ricciardo was back in contention last season. He was mediocre in the early stages of the season, but at the turn, he found a surge of form with back-to-back second-place finishes and a triumph at Malaysia that almost handed Hamilton a lifeline in the race for the crown.

Issues with his car have been to his detriment this campaign, but when he has finished, the Australian has performed well enough, earning his first podium in Spain.

The 27-year-old has the quality to put ructions in the race for the crown, especially on the circuits towards the end of the campaign.

 

Kimi Raikkonen

The most experienced of the drivers that could play a role in the race for the crown given the tactics that he could be employed to use to aid his Ferrari teammate Vettel.

The 37-year-old is a long way removed from the man that won the crown in 2007, with middling performances since his return to the Italian outfit in 2014.

Raikkonen last recorded a victory four years ago at the Australian Grand Prix and has not shown signs of managing to end his drought, despite boasting one of the strongest vehicles in the field.

He was passed too easily by Bottas at the Russian Grand Prix, forcing him to settle for third place. Matters got even worse for him in Spain as he collided with Max Verstappen and Bottas at the first corner, which ruled him out of the race after just one lap.

Unless he stages a dramatic improvement in form, he’s not going to be able to even threaten at the top of the leaderboard. However, he still has the pace to take up a place on the podium and thwart Hamilton from catching his teammate.

Raikkonen could be an important factor in the race for the crown – even if his skills are far removed their best.

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9 responses to “Drivers who could affect the race for the Drivers’ Championship

  1. it’s disappointing to see you shamelessly plugging bookies. you’re better than that.

  2. If Riccardo can have an effect on the WC I wonder why Verstappen can’t?

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