By Rebecca Hawksworth

If you had surveyed Formula One fans before the start of this season and asked them who would be leading the Drivers’ Championship going into the summer break, not many would have opted for Sebastian Vettel in the Ferrari.

Eleven races in and with nine still to go, Vettel currently leads the Drivers’ Championship by 14 points ahead of Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes. However, with Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas just 19 points behind him, it’s a tight three horse race for the title this year.

Mercedes have dominated the past three years of Formula One since the introduction of the turbocharged hybrid V6 engines, but their dominance is under real threat this year with the resurrection of the Ferrari team.

Vettel has won four races to date, and not by luck either. In Australia, Bahrain, Monaco and Hungary, the Ferrari was simply the faster car as the German claimed all 25 points at these circuits. Hamilton also has four victories to his name this season, but his inconsistency in qualifying is often costing him big on race day.

Having won in Russia and Austria, Valtteri Bottas certainly isn’t out of the title race but the second half of the season is expected to be dominated by the head-to-head battle between Vettel and Hamilton – a battle which got fiery in Azerbaijan when Vettel twice collided with Hamilton under the safety car period.

Red Bull have suffered from a variety of different mechanical problems this season, resulting in them being unable to pose a real title threat. However, Daniel Ricciardo did come through victorious at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix and the Australian is the only other driver to have won a race this season.

At the back of the grid, McLaren-Honda’s woes have deepened this season with Fernando Alonso becoming increasingly frustrated with the car’s sheer lack of pace. McLaren are now looking ever-more likely to sever their partnership with Honda at the end of the season and team up with a different engine supplier for 2018.

BA (Hons) Football Business & Media student, Ella Perry, offered her thoughts on how the first half of the season has progressed:“I think this season has been more competitive than ever – we have three drivers challenging for the Championship. It’s so close this year, I think Ferrari’s pace and Vettel’s refusal to back down will have come as a bit of a shock to Mercedes.”

The Formula One season resumes with the Belgium Grand Prix on 27th August.