The Clash Of The Titans
F1 Racing UK|October 2017

It’s a fight for the ages: triple champion Lewis Hamilton vs four-time champ Sebastian Vettel. Each has a competitive car; each is at the peak of his ability. But who will prevail? We ask a sports psychologist, a tech expert, team bosses and two hard-boiled team-mates to adjudicate

The Clash Of The Titans

This championship battle has been ten years in the making. Remarkably, since they first burst onto the F1 scene, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have never properly fought head-to-head for a world title – until now.

Between them they have claimed seven convincingly earned drivers’ championships, yet Hamilton and Vettel have seldom shared a racetrack while on peak form in closely matched machinery. When Hamilton won his first championship, in 2008, Vettel was busy confirming his future-star status with some storming drives for Toro Rosso, culminating in that unforgettable victory at Monza – a first for both team and driver. Vettel was promoted to the senior Red Bull team a year later, just as the Milton Keynes massive were about to hit their stride with a series of Adrian Newey-authored cars that enabled Vettel to be largely dominant over four seasons from 2010 to 2013.

Until the end of 2012, Hamilton remained at the wheel of a McLaren, which, for the most part, lacked the final edge of competitiveness needed for him to string together a title bid. He came close in 2010, only to fall out of mathematical contention at the final grand prix in Abu Dhabi. Then, in 2011, he seemed unfocused and off the boil, and it was his McLaren team-mate, Jenson Button, who finished second to Vettel. Hamilton came back fighting and switched to Mercedes for 2013, just as they were about to emerge as the pre-eminent team of the hybrid era. He added two drivers’ titles (2014 and ’15) while Vettel was a frustrated bystander – first in a less competitive Red Bull, then, from 2015, a Ferrari.

This story is from the October 2017 edition of F1 Racing UK.

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This story is from the October 2017 edition of F1 Racing UK.

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