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Vettel ‘surprised’ by suggestion of F1 team orders at Ferrari

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Sebastian Vettel is “surprised” by suggestions that Ferrari uses team orders in its Formula 1 team, believing teammate Kimi Raikkonen is pushing as hard as possible to win races.

Vettel has spearheaded Ferrari’s charge through 2017, claiming four race wins to sit at the top of the drivers’ championship heading to the team’s home grand prix at Monza this weekend.

While the rival Mercedes team has operated with a joint number one driver policy between Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, Ferrari has been accused of backing Vettel over Raikkonen, believing the German to be its best bet for a first title since 2008.

Raikkonen has struggled to match Vettel for form this year, scoring 92 less points, but saw opportunities for victory in Monaco and Hungary pass by, losing the former thanks to Ferrari’s strategy call.

Vettel knocked back the suggestion when asked about team orders during Thursday’s FIA press conference ahead of the Italian Grand Prix, making reference to Raikkonen’s failure to pass him in Hungary despite struggling with a handling issue.

“I’m a bit surprised by the way things are put. Kimi and myself, I can’t speak for other people, but we’re racing each other the whole year,” Vettel said.

“I read or heard after the Hungarian Grand Prix that he was protecting me. I think if you speak to him he’ll make it pretty clear. He wasn’t leaving anything behind. If he had the opportunity to properly pass me, I think he would have tried.

“That’s fair enough. I think it would have been the same the other way around. We’re racing for the team, we’re trying to do our best. You’re racing for yourself, but you’re also racing for the team.

“It’s something you need to keep in the back of your mind. I don’t know what other teams are doing, but for us I think we both go flat out and see what happens.

“You can always talk about scenarios and so on, but it always turns out to be a bit different.”

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.