Pic keen on leaving Europe in good fashion

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Caterham’s Charles Pic is hoping to finish the European leg of the 2013 Formula One season on a high next weekend in Italy, coming off the back of a difficult weekend at Spa-Francorchamps last time out.

The Frenchman qualified last after failing to take advantage of the change in conditions, whilst teammate Giedo van der Garde managed to squeeze into Q2 for the second time this season. In the race, despite making a good start, Pic was eventually forced to retire due to an oil leak. However, the Frenchman is remaining positive ahead of the Italian Grand Prix.

“Monza’s a great place to race F1 cars. It’s so quick, the atmosphere is amazing (even though it’s almost only Ferrari supporters out there!) and it’s a track that has a lot of history, some of which you can see in the old banking on the way out of the track to remind you what it used to be like,” Pic explained.

“It’s our last race in Europe this year and it would be good to finish the European season on a positive. We’d put in strong performances in the three practice sessions in Spa but we were unlucky, both with the call to the weighbridge in Q1 and the oil leak in the race so Monza gives us a chance to move straight on and put that bad luck behind us.”

Caterham have enjoyed a good start to the season, pulling clear of closest-rivals Marussia in recent races. However, they still trail their fellow backmarkers in the constructors’ championship by virtue of Jules Bianchi’s thirteenth-place finish at the Malaysian Grand Prix earlier this year.

F1 2017 driver review: Sebastian Vettel

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Sebastian Vettel

Team: Scuderia Ferrari
Car No.: 5
Races: 20
Wins: 5
Podiums (excluding wins): 8
Pole Positions: 4
Fastest Laps: 5
Points: 317
Laps Led: 286
Championship Position: 2nd

2017 was supposed to be the year Sebastian Vettel finally fulfilled his ambition of emulating Michael Schumacher by returning Ferrari to its championship-winning heyday.

Instead, it ended in disappointment and frustration – once again.

Ferrari arguably made a greater step across the change in technical regulations for 2017 than any other team, living up to its pre-season tag as favorite by winning the opening round in Australia in fashion.

Vettel and Ferrari led their respective championships following the Monaco Grand Prix as the German ended a 16-year win drought for the Prancing Horse in the principality, and even heading into the summer break, a shot at both championships was looking good.

However, cracks had started to appear. Vettel’s remarkable antics behind the safety car in Baku sparked controversy after driving into Hamilton, suggesting the tension of the title fight was beginning to take its toll on the German.

The final run of flyaways was where things really fell apart for Vettel, though. Singapore looked to be a slam-dunk win, only for a start-line crash also involving teammate Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen to put 25 free points in Hamilton’s pocket.

Reliability woes then struck in Malaysia and Japan – two more races Vettel could realistically have won – to make it game over in the title race, with Hamilton wrapping things up in Mexico.

Vettel only finished the year 46 points back from Hamilton, proving the impact the three bad races in Asia had. Realistically, this was a title race that should have gone down to the wire in Abu Dhabi. Instead, Vettel remains a four-time champion, level with Hamilton, who had just one to his name back in 2013 when his rival secured his fourth.

Ferrari’s internal issues will come under the microscope over the off-season, and Vettel himself knows there is plenty to work on. Staying cool under pressure and not letting things boil over as in Baku is the most obvious area for improvement.

But there is reason for hope. If Ferrari can keep up with Mercedes and repeat its impressive step into 2017 through the upcoming off-season, we may well be treated to another Vettel/Hamilton scrap at the front of the field, perhaps settling once and for all who is the greatest driver of the post-Schumacher era.

Season High: A crucial win in Hungary despite battling with a broken steering column.

Season Low: Letting tensions flare in Baku and hitting Hamilton behind the safety car.