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F1’s 2017 can match 2013’s mark of no back-to-backs this week

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One of the interesting nuggets about this 2017 Formula 1 season, as the year has ebbed and flowed between Mercedes and Ferrari on top with the occasional Red Bull surprise, is that a single driver has not recorded back-to-back victories through the first 10 races.

Sebastian Vettel kicked proceedings off at Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix, with Lewis Hamilton then winning his first race of the year in Shanghai in the rain at the Chinese Grand Prix.

From there, it’s gone Vettel, Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton, Vettel, Hamilton, Daniel Ricciardo, Bottas and Hamilton heading into this week’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

When looking back in the archives, you only need to look four years ago to 2013 to find the last time a season started with 10 races and no drivers having won back-to-backs Grands Prix – a streak which ran 11 races.

Kimi Raikkonen won at Melbourne to start the year, with Vettel then winning his first race of 2013 in controversial fashion in the infamous “Multi 21” Red Bull team orders fiasco with Mark Webber in Sepang at Melaysia.

Fernando Alonso then won for Ferrari, followed by Vettel, Alonso (that being his most recent Grand Prix win, Spain of 2013), Nico Rosberg, Vettel, Rosberg, Vettel, Hamilton and Vettel. Hamilton’s win at Hungary in 2013 was his first win for the Mercedes AMG Petronas team after switching from McLaren.

But from here, Vettel won the Belgian Grand Prix, Round 11 of that season, for what was his fifth victory of the season… and promptly ran the table from there. After there were no back-to-back winners in 10 races, Vettel won the last nine consecutively. His radio call after winning at Circuit of The Americas – “cherish these times” because you don’t know how long they’ll last – was particularly prescient as he never won again for Red Bull after 2013, then departed for Ferrari in 2015.

A year earlier, the 2012 season set an incredible mark with the first 14 races occurring before a driver recorded back-to-back victories, and again, it was Vettel who was first to win two in a row when he did at Singapore and Japan that season. Prior to that, the campaign opened with seven winners in as many races (Jenson Button, Alonso, Rosberg, Vettel, Pastor Maldonado, Webber, Hamilton) with a handful of those then winning further races from there.

As it sits now, Vettel hasn’t won since Monaco and the Hungaroring in Budapest – a similar low horsepower, high downforce type of track – represents his best chance to win his fourth Grand Prix of the season.

Hamilton, meanwhile, is already a four-time winner this year and a five-time winner in Hungary in his career.

A Vettel win would keep the streak of no back-to-back winners alive, with 11 races without a driver going back-to-back. A Hamilton win would end it at 10 and make him the first driver to put together a streak this year.

Either way, it’s been a refreshing change of pace because here have been the runs drivers have gone on since that 11-for-11 start without back-to-backs in the last five years (three race in a row or more win streaks; there have been several more two in a row streaks):

  • 2013: Vettel wins last nine races in a row (Rounds 11-19)
  • 2014: Hamilton wins four straight (Rounds 2-5), then wins five straight (Rounds 13-17)
  • 2015: Hamilton wins three straight (Rounds 14-16), Rosberg wins three straight (Rounds 17-19)
  • 2016: Rosberg wins four straight (Rounds 1-4), Hamilton wins four straight (Round 9-12), Rosberg wins three straight (Rounds 13-15), Hamilton wins four straight (Rounds 18-21)

Hungarian Grand Prix on NBCSN concludes busy July for F1

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The third Grand Prix for the month of July and fourth in the last six weeks for Formula 1 after races in Baku, Spielberg and Silverstone takes place this week with the Hungarian Grand Prix from Budapest.

After a couple races on CNBC, the channel is simple this weekend: it’s NBCSN for all sessions on TV with free practice two (Friday) and qualifying (Saturday) both live at 8 a.m. ET, with a full one-hour countdown for the race from 7 a.m. ET on Sunday before lights out at 8.

As per usual the NBC Sports App will live stream free practices one and three, with all sessions streamed during the weekend.

The British Grand Prix two weeks ago brings this year’s F1 season to an interesting point. With Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton’s win, it brings him to within just one point of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel for the championship lead. Vettel is at 177 with Hamilton now at 176.

And Hungary’s been a place where both drivers have succeeded. Hamilton won here last year while Vettel won in 2015. Overall Hamilton has a record five Hungarian Grand Prix victories (2007, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2016) and will look to match his Canada total with a sixth this weekend. Vettel’s 2015 win is his only triumph at the circuit.

Other Hungarian Grand Prix winners in the field are Daniel Ricciardo (2014), Kimi Raikkonen (2005) and Fernando Alonso (2003).

Beyond the top two, Valtteri Bottas will look to upend proceedings and continue his own title battle for Mercedes. He sits third in points with 154, in a spot of his own well clear of fourth on back and just under a full race distance behind the leaders.

Here’s the schedule, with stream links and TV network if applicable:

  • Practice 1: Friday, July 28, 4 a.m.-5:30 a.m. ET (Streaming)
  • Practice 2: Friday, July 28, 8 a.m.-9:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Practice 2 (Replay): Saturday, July 29, 6:30 a.m.-8 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Practice 3: Saturday, July 29, 5 a.m.-6 a.m. ET (Streaming)
  • Qualifying: Saturday, July 29, 8 a.m.-9:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Pre-Race: Sunday, July 30, 7 a.m.-8 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Race: Sunday, July 30, 8 a.m.-10 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Post-Race: Sunday, July 30, 10 a.m.-10:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Race (Replay): Sunday, July 30, 9:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Formula 2: Sunday, July 30, 6 a.m.-7 a.m. ET (NBCSN)

The next race is the Belgian Grand Prix, on August 27, after F1’s traditional summer break.

Hamilton plans to see out Mercedes F1 contract to end of 2018

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Lewis Hamilton is planning to see out his Mercedes Formula 1 contract until at least the end of the 2018 season despite reports suggesting that he may consider quitting the sport at the end of the year.

Hamilton clinched his fifth British Grand Prix victory at Silverstone last weekend, drawing to within one point of F1 drivers’ championship leader Sebastian Vettel in the process.

Hamilton’s contract with Mercedes is up at the end of next season, but speculation had emerged suggesting that a move to Ferrari could be of interest for the Briton as he nears the end of his career, or that he could even opt to retire from racing.

Hamilton said in a press conference after the race that he “can’t really say what’s going to happen six months from now”, as per Reuters, but he was quick to clarify that he expected to see out his contract with Mercedes.

“I just think in life you don’t know what’s going to happen,” Hamilton said.

“Right now I love driving and then in six months I might… it’s very unlikely because I think I’m always going to like driving, I’m always going to like doing crazy stuff.

“I’m still enjoying it and I still have a contract with the team for at least a year so I plan to see that out at the moment.

“Even in getting another championship, it will never be: ‘OK, now it’s time to hang up the gloves’. I’ll always want to win more.

“Even when I do stop, something inside me will say I still want to get more.”

Hamilton praises ‘faultless’ Mercedes after comfortable Silverstone win

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Lewis Hamilton paid tribute to his “faultless” Mercedes Formula 1 team after easing to his fifth British Grand Prix victory at Silverstone on Sunday, leading home teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton went wire-to-wire to record his fourth win of the season and move to within one point of the drivers’ championship lead after Sebastian Vettel hit late trouble, causing him to finish seventh.

Hamilton was in a jubilant mood on the podium after the race, having tied the record for British Grand Prix wins and taken his fourth on the bounce, his victory streak stretching back to 2014.

“It wasn’t so easy, it’s never easy,” Hamilton said on the podium. “That was a feeling I can’t really describe. It feels amazing to be up here. I’m so proud to see all these great flags everywhere.

“The support this weekend has been immense, and I’m really proud that I can do this for you all. Thank you so much for all the support, for pushing us.

“The team was faultless this weekend. Valtteri did an exceptional job as well, so it’s a perfect weekend for us.”

Bottas battled back from ninth on the grid to finish second, completing his fightback when Kimi Raikkonen, Vettel’s teammate, also suffered a tire blowout in the closing stages.

The result saw Mercedes take the maximum score of 43 points from the Silverstone weekend, extending its lead over Ferrari in the constructors’ championship to 55 points.

As well as having Hamilton just one point shy of Vettel at the top, Bottas has moved to within 23 points of the lead, creating a three-way fight at the halfway point of the season.

Hamilton eases to fifth British GP win; Ferrari hits trouble

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Lewis Hamilton went wire-to-wire en route to his fifth British Grand Prix victory at Silverstone on Sunday, cutting Sebastian Vettel’s lead in the Formula 1 drivers’ championship to just a single point after Ferrari hit late trouble.

Hamilton led every single lap of the race for Mercedes and never came under threat at the front of the pack as he finished over 10 seconds clear of the field, coming home ahead of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

The result saw Hamilton tie with Alain Prost and Jim Clark’s shared record of five British Grand Prix wins, and extended his winning streak at Silverstone that dates back to 2014.

Valtteri Bottas took second for Mercedes after completing a fightback from ninth on the grid with a reverse strategy, blitzing past Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen as both Ferrari drivers suffered front-left tire failures in the final three laps.

Hamilton made a great start off the line to retain his lead ahead of Raikkonen early on as Vettel dropped behind Max Verstappen, the Ferrari man’s brakes having been smoking on the grid.

The race was put under the safety car on Lap 2 following a clash between Toro Rosso teammates Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Jr. at Maggots and Becketts. After running wide at the high-speed right-hander, Kvyat came across into Sainz’s path and shunted him out of the race, receiving a drive-through penalty for his efforts.

Hamilton was quickly able to re-establish his lead upon the restart on Lap 5, easing clear of Raikkonen as Verstappen and Vettel duelled for third.

Vettel was pushed off-track through the final sector at one point as Verstappen boldly defended his place, leaving the Ferrari driver frustrated as he slipped over 15 seconds clear of title rival Hamilton. All the while, Valtteri Bottas was able to latch onto the back of the battle as he recovered from P9 on the grid to run fifth on the soft tire.

Vettel and Verstappen’s battle went to the pits when Ferrari looked to get its car ahead using the undercut. The team turned Vettel around quickly at the end of Lap 18, with Red Bull responding by bringing Verstappen in one lap later. An issue with one of the wheel nuts slowed Verstappen down, causing him to drop behind Vettel at pit exit and halt the battle that had raged between them.

Hamilton pitted at the end of Lap 25 from the lead, emerging just ahead of Bottas, who was taking his soft tires deep into the race before stopping. Hamilton was told not to hold Bottas up, only to immediately put the hammer down and pull clear out front once again.

Bottas was brought in by Mercedes at the end of Lap 32, taking a set of super-soft tires that would give him a pace advantage in the closing stages. The Finn emerged from the pits in fourth place, behind Vettel and ahead of Verstappen, and had 18 laps to try and capture a podium finish.

Bottas was able to quickly whittle away the gap to Vettel, who began to struggle with his tires entering the closing stages. After a side-by-side battle, Bottas was ultimately able to dispose of Vettel with seven laps to go, but soon turned his attention to Raikkonen in second.

Just as Bottas appeared to be running out of laps to catch up, Raikkonen suffered a front-left tire failure that forced him to limp back to the pits and drop back, handing Bottas second place.

Further drama hit Ferrari just one lap later when Vettel appeared to suffer a similar failure, albeit with further to make it home to the pits, causing him to fall all the way back to sixth place.

At the front, Hamilton had very little to do besides negotiate traffic and ensure he made no mistakes, looking after his tires and car through the closing stages.

With 51 laps in the book, Hamilton crossed the line to clinch his fifth Silverstone victory and end a two-race absence from the podium, moving to within one point of Vettel at the top of the standings.

Bottas took second place, 14 seconds behind Hamilton, while Raikkonen managed to complete the podium ahead of Max Verstappen.