Hamilton v Vettel?

Grand Prix 2017 sees battle of the champions

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Battle of the champions

Will 2017 see a power shift in Formula One?

Last season was all about the indomitable Mercedes duo, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, battling it out for the championship.

But with Rosberg retiring after his title triumph, Hamilton has found himself with a new rival at the front of the grid.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel backed up his team's preseason optimism by topping the podium in Melbourne at Australian Grand Prix and later in Bahrain, beating Hamilton into second place on both instances. But in China the order was reversed as the Brit came in six seconds ahead of his rival.

Following Hamilton's win in Spain this weekend, there are now just six points separating the leader Vettel from his nemesis, but at this early stage, no-one is predicting the winner.

The good, of course, is that for the first time since perhaps 2008, there appears to be two teams capable of fighting it out all season for the world title.

And after a decade of waiting for Lewis Hamilton v Sebastian Vettel, two of the sport's brightest stars finally appear ready to occupy the same orbit. Fernando Alonso should quibble with Hamilton billing the fight as 'the best against the best' but a 'champion of champions' contest between Hamilton and Vettel is a mouthwatering prospect, writes Sky News. In Spain this weekend, the Mercedes driver's 55th career win was hard-fought and tense, with Ferrari's Vettel seizing the lead from Hamilton at the start and in the hunt all the way as the tyre strategies played out.

Hamilton took the chequered flag 3.4 seconds clear of the German, who did all he could to beat him with a thrilling move to pass the Briton's team mate Valtteri Bottas that will be replayed for some time to come.

According to CNN, all this begs the question, is Hamilton vs. Vettel the contest that will define this year's F1 season?

In terms of the numbers, it's difficult to separate the two drivers. Hamilton has won 28% of his races to Vettel's 24%, while the German holds four world championship titles, one more than Hamilton. The Circuit guide to the F1 driver lineup

In 2010, Vettel, then racing for Red Bull, beat Hamilton's record to become F1's youngest ever world champion by 164 days.

Ferrari hasn't won a constructor's championship since 2008, while Mercedes won all but two races last year on its way to clinching a third-straight crown.

But armed with the experience of Vettel and 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen, 2017 could be the year that Ferrari returns to its former glories.

Driver standings

1 Sebastian Vettel Scuderia Ferrari 2 104 2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team 2 98 3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team 1 63 4 Kimi Räikkönen Scuderia Ferrari 0 49 5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 0 37 6 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 0

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