Leading the 2017 Formula 1 World Championship at the halfway mark with 357 points, Mercedes find themselves in both the familiar position of leading the constructor’s championship, and the unfamiliar position of fighting to hold onto it.
Enduring the most challenging season since their run of dominance began, the Silver Arrows have taken only six of the first eleven races, compared to ten last year, and nine each in 2014 and 2015.
Compared to those previous seasons, the team’s car has been particularly temperamental, but even with those struggles they’ve managed to delivered once again the fastest outright package, and overall are in good stead for a fourth-straight constructor’s title.
Having to fill the big shoes of departed world champion Nico Rosberg, Bottas has proved to be a capable, if not perfect replacement for the German so far. Compared to Rosberg he hasn’t quite pushed teammate Lewis Hamilton the way the former did, but some of that is to be expected in the early going, and after his low-point in Bahrain where he was asked to move aside for Hamilton, he has rebounded impressively, outdoing his teammate on several occasions and picking up two victories. Still, barring something miraculous he’s unlikely to challenge for the 2017 driver’s title, but he’s certainly done enough to cement his position within the team.
Having endured a disappointing 2016 through no fault of his own, 2017 has been another strong season for Hamilton, albeit one with some momentary blips amongst the regular displays of brilliance. Few would argue he is the outright fastest in qualifying trim – with particularly dominant performances in Canada and Silverstone coming to mind – but his struggles in places like Russia and Austria have shown he isn’t untouchable. That said, even with his 14-point deficit to leader Sebastian Vettel he remains the favourite for the driver’s championship, and taking the sum of his performances, he’s a hard man to bet against.
If only by their own impossibly high standards, 2017 has been a slightly disappointing season for the Silver Arrows. Yes, Ferrari deserve plenty of credit for doing what they’ve done to close the gap, but it has also been partially of their own doing with the difficulties they’ve had adapting the W08 across all tracks, even if there has been marked improvement after the first seven races. Still, it’s hard to really knock a team who’s won more races than they’ve lost, and assuming the Mercedes from Canada to Silverstone is the real one – and not the team that showed up in Hungary, the expectation remains they’ll be repeating as champions once more.
Big Question: How do you rate the job Mercedes and their drivers are doing so far this season?