Driver of the weekend
This award goes to Lewis Hamilton purely on the presumption that he won his fourth title this weekend in Suzuka. Even though his rival Sebastian Vettel had dramatically retired from the race, Hamilton still had to work hard for his win against Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
This effort bestowed a massive 59-point lead upon Hamilton, and with four races to go it would take a miracle for him to lose the title. Technically, it would take Ferrari’s bad luck to move on to Mercedes and cause the entire team to break down, something few people would be willing to put money on.
Team of the weekend
Obviously, I could say that Red Bull was the team of the weekend after getting both drivers on the podium, but for me the performance of Haas was even more impressive. After a poor middle part of the season, the American team managed to get both of their drivers into the points in Suzuka.
Kevin Magnussen finishing eight and Romain Grosjean ninth meant Haas had one of their best races of this and last year combined. Their tally of six points got them ahead of Renault in the constructors’ championship by one point, and they now sit only nine behind Toro Rosso in sixth place. If they keep this up, Haas could finish 2017 strongly and make a charge to the top of the midfield.
The ‘Dad’ award
There have been many good scraps between the Force India drivers this year, sometimes going too far and damaging the team’s efforts. After Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez collided in Belgium this August, Force India stated that they would not let their drivers fight freely anymore. We saw this policy in action in Japan, where the pair found themselves fighting each other yet again.
Both ‘Pink Panthers’ had great pace to get ahead of other midfield cars, but this wasn’t enough for Sergio Perez. The Mexican was driving behind Ocon, but got tired of it and asked if he could overtake his teammate. The response from the team was a strict ‘no, you may not’. Clearly, Force India were not joking when they said they were going to take serious measures to avoid another crash inside the team.
The ‘thank you’ award
The somewhat long-awaited news came out ahead of this weekend that the Japanese Grand Prix would be Jolyon Palmer’s last for the Renault F1 team. Palmer is making room for Carlos Sainz, who now gets an early start for 2018 with his new team.
Palmer’s journey in Formula 1 with Renault had been everything but a fairy tale. In 2016, Renault returned to the series after several years away and signed Jolyon to drive alongside Kevin Magnussen. Even though 2016 was a difficult year for the entire team, it was especially difficult for Palmer. He managed to score a single point during the entire season compared to Magnussen’s mathematically dominating tally of seven points.
This year Palmer got a new teammate in Nico Hulkenberg and a new chance to prove his talent. However, from early on it was clear Palmer was lost. Coming to Singapore in September, Hulkenberg had collected 34 points while Palmer had none. Evidently, Palmer’s race in Singapore will be remembered as his best performance, finishing sixth in challenging circumstances.
I wanted to offer Jolyon Palmer my thanks for making so many appearances on other people’s articles and mine this season and I’m certain we won’t forget this great man, at least until the next grand prix.
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