F1 2017 end of season awards: The Golden Grahams
We know how this latest F1 season ended, but who are the real winners? Here are The Golden Grahams: awards as prestigious as their name…
Driver of the year
This one brings home that whatever may be wrong with F1, driving talent ain’t among them. Max Verstappen continued his sharp ascent. Fernando Alonso got the most out of his equipment arguably. Sebastian Vettel for the most part performed with the sheer relentless of his title winning pomp. Esteban Ocon rose to celebrity. Yet Lewis Hamilton pips all of them – against a formidable title foe he rose to the challenge, particularly at the crunch point. And in this game there’s much to be said for Getting The Job Done.
Motorsport Week will be presenting its top 10 drivers of the season tomorrow!
Race of the year
It seems another age now, but early on this season we thought F1 on track had got it right. We enjoyed a series of intense Lewis vs Seb fights, often – such as in China – with plenty of exciting overtakes and not of the cruise past with DRS sort we’d got used to (Alex Wurz concurred post China, tweeting: “Overtaking this year is a matter of size of balls!”). But Spain topped the lot. A topsy-turvy no holds barred battle, won eventually by a breathless Lewis after a fine pass at a track not known for them. Honourable mention also to Baku for wackiness.
Team of the year
Among the competing squads there were a few stories of ‘same again’, but they were no less noteworthy for that. Mercedes remained the sport’s standard bearers even after a big technical change. Red Bull again refused to go away and in the latter part of the year may again have had the best chassis. Force India again made the best of what it had and exploited the underachievement of others. But Ferrari gets this one as reward for its resurgence. Whatever you think of the Scuderia, and yes its late-season unreliability cost it, its challenge to Merc was strong and provided much of the season’s entertainment and suspense. Without it we would have had a simple and largely inevitable Lewis cruise to honours. And don't forget that prior to testing almost no one predicted such a strong campaign.
Drive of the year
Reflecting the standard of the drivers mentioned there were a few credible contenders for this one. But Alonso getting his McLaren to sixth place in Hungary, throwing in a fine pass of Carlos Sainz and somehow getting fastest lap, takes it on points.
Overtake of the year
Believe it or not there were actually a few strong contenders for this one too, perhaps demonstrating that if overtaking is harder those that do occur are more memorable. We had Daniel Ricciardo passing three cars at once to set up his Baku win, Seb clearing the same Ricciardo on the outside in China, and Sainz’s in then out then shake it all about pass of Sergio Perez in Austin, among a good few others. But none beat Ricciardo’s outbraking of Kimi Raikkonen from barely the same postcode at Monza. “That wasn’t even an overtaking opportunity,” noted an admiring Martin Brundle.
Qualifying lap of the year
It’s tempting to give this one to Nando for topping Silverstone’s Q1, when faced with an early bath and bolting on slicks on a drying track then crossing the line with nanoseconds to spare. But it has to go to the year’s polemaster Lewis, who a few times stunned even his engineers with his sudden death Q3 efforts that his car didn’t deserve. Not least with his pole won against the head in Malaysia.
Newcomer of the year
I am interpreting newcomer strictly so no Stoffel Vandoorne or Ocon. And just as Dangermouse’s sidekick Penfold once came third in a Penfold lookalike contest, Lance Stroll doesn’t win this one despite being the only newcomer on the initial entry list.
OK, slightly unfair, as we had four debutants in the end. Stroll’s peaks were high but separated by extended excavating troughs. Antonio Giovinazzi won lots of friends in Melbourne but then lost a lot of them by binning it twice in the same place in China (then he binned a Haas in Hungary). Pierre Gasly arrived near the end of the year and performed admirably, albeit sprinkled beginner’s errors. Thus Brendon Hartley wins this one for doing roughly as Gasly did but without the mistakes. It’s also gratifying when F1 gives a chance to one previously overlooked.
Radio transmission of the year
Alonso as ever was quite the treasure trove (such as his talk of Jolyon Palmer’s “karma”), and Verstappen squeezed plenty into a single afternoon in his saunter to victory in Mexico (“Simply, simply lovely”).
As indeed did Perez in Abu Dhabi:
SP: “What did you do with the front wing?”
Engineer: “Exactly what you asked.”
SP: “And what did I ask?”
But out of pure arbitrary preference I pick Valtteri Bottas’s highly apt “minimal talking” request as he motored through the field at Silverstone.
These are indeed arbitrary awards. The clue is in the name really.
Team-mate collision of the year
There were a few of these. Verstappen accounted for his fellow Red Bull of Ricciardo in Hungary (and the latter wasn’t happy), the ever-warring Force India pair got together at Spa, Baku and banged wheels in Hungary, while the Toro Rossos sort of got together at Baku and actually did in Silverstone. But there can only be one winner – Ferrari in Singapore for the sheer gravity and on more than one level. Perhaps it can get an auxiliary award for providing the photo of the year too.
Elegant brush off of the year
“Suck my balls”.
Best new F1 logo of the year
Neck of brass award
Vijay Mallya at the Autosport awards considering his Force India squad’s fourth place in the constructors table as reason to tick off everyone who doubted him …the day before starting a court case to fight extradition proceedings, had impressive aloofness. But nothing can beat Seb’s straight faced denials of making any contact with Lewis’s Merc post Baku and all that. To borrow from The Thick of It, I’m not sure what level of reality I’m supposed to be operating on.
Ignominious error of the year
Marcus Ericsson trashing his Sauber under safety car conditions in Monaco.
The Max Verstappen award for youthful chutzpah
Max Verstappen’s struggles to make himself go as slowly as those way behind in Mexico.
Engineer: “OK Max. So we're just going to want to cover Bottas’s lap times.”
MV: “Alright son, I'll take it easy.”
Engineer: “OK, so that was the same lap time as the previous lap Max...”
MV: “Yeah, I’m really sorry!”
Christian Horner: “Well done Max that was fantastic. Couldn’t you go any slower?"
MV: “Yeah I'm so sorry mate, I was cruising he he. I was about to cut the track, you know, just for fun. Maybe I get a five-second penalty then it gets a bit more interesting.”
Unlikely matter to become a thing of the year
‘I’ve got something in my eye…and my other one’, moment of the year
Felipinho Massa’s radio message to his dad after the Brazilian round. No, you’re tearing up.
Foreseeable problem award
Dumping more downforce onto the cars this year was always likely to have a downside. “My belief is that the more downforce you have on a car, the harder it is to follow. And this  car has more downforce,” said Pat Symonds stating the obvious two years ago. “For me it’s the worst idea,” added Hamilton on the same subject; “it just shows for me that they don’t really know what they’re trying to solve.” And sure enough passing dropped by 50%.
Pointless controversy of the year
Lewis’s attire at the FIA prize giving. Really some of you need to get a life. Especially those of you who eulogise James Hunt’s rebelliousness in your next breath.
Close second are those who dissed Liberty for not yet having sorted aero, engines and the financial distribution when it was very obvious those wouldn’t be the work of a moment.
F1 isn’t all bad award
It had to be Spain’s crying child in the tribunes who was compensated and then some by meeting his hero Kimi. Honourable mention also to the young Bottas fan who got to meet his hero post Silverstone too. As well as the Japanese acolyte of Chase Carey’s mo. He also got to meet his, um, hero.
Daniel Ricciardo moment of the year
As ever there were several contenders – including his theories espoused in Silverstone on Seb’s birthday invites, filming ‘incognito’ in the Merc garage during the break in Monza quali, and ‘toasting’ his team-mate’s victory in Malaysia.
But it has to be the following in Singapore.
Flatulence is funny. Don’t try to deny it.
Good innovation of the year
It was the year in which F1 tried to lighten up as well as to think a bit more about the paying punter, in both cases not before time. The reconvened Canada rowing race was fun (hopefully we’ll get some drivers and a few more team principals take part next year). Bigger numbers – something long argued about but, whaddayaknow, scarcely caused a problem when at last brought in – made a difference. London Live hopefully was the first of many such things. But the best of all, and the award’s recipient, is the inaugural F1 eSports Series. It got six million views. And were you not entertained?
Odd innovation of the year
The revolving podium in Mexico. Kimi’s bewilderment was fitting.
Lord Lucan award
The Pirelli hard compound tyre.
Welcome development of the year
This season we had a governing body and commercial rights holder acting as one, and the latter with a long term plan for F1’s expansion and improvement. Whatever you think of the detail thus far those are two things we’d lamented the absence of consistently for years. We yet have cause for optimism. And that seems a good note to end on.