The halfway point in the Formula One season arrived as Lewis Hamilton crossed the line at Silverstone to cut the gap in the drivers' standings to a single point from Sebastian Vettel.
With seven titles between them, Hamilton and Vettel have finally been pitched in head-to-head combat after a near-decade of fighting for glory while the other has been out of the picture.
The leading pair's fight at the front only scratches the surface of a thrilling campaign to date, in which the likes of Valtteri Bottas, Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll have confounded doubters.
Here we assess the progress of the teams and the top six drivers at the halfway point.
Mercedes (330 points) - The Silver Arrows are finally being pushed to their limits after three years of domination, but have rarely missed a beat, save for a set-up aberration in Monaco that made the untouchable champions look very ordinary. They remain the strongest team, but not by much.
Lewis Hamilton (176 points, 2nd) - A fifth British Grand Prix win has left Hamilton a solitary point adrift of Vettel and the Brit remains untouchable when it is his day. Those 'off' weekends that plagued him last year have continued, though, and poor showings in Sochi, Monaco and Spielberg cannot be repeated if Hamilton is to draw level with Vettel's title haul.
Valtteri Bottas (154 points, 3rd) - Arguably the standout performer of the season, having taken to a title challenge like a duck to water. Following up a maiden win in Russia with another success in Austria, added to two stunning recovery drives in Baku and Silverstone has left Mercedes claiming it is a "no brainer" to keep the Finn beyond 2017.
Ferrari (275 points) – Finally the Scuderia are making an impression in the hybrid era, having produced a car that can not only match the Mercedes, but beat it comfortably when conditions suit. Their rise has given us what could be the most thrilling title race in years.
Sebastian Vettel (177 points, 1st) - Has largely returned to his title-winning, ruthless best thus far, taking to the podium in seven races to lead the way. His advantage was slashed at Silverstone in unfortunate circumstances, but it perhaps balanced out the luck that Vettel had enjoyed in Baku, when Hamilton's headrest came loose and forced him to pit after the German was punished for banging wheels with the Brit.
Kimi Raikkonen (98 points, 5th) - The Iceman has shown glimpses of his best this year and had every right to feel aggrieved after victory in Monaco was taken away from him by strategy that favoured Vettel. His performance relative to Bottas will concern the Scuderia in the constructors' race.
Red Bull (174 points) - The four-time constructors' champions have once again had to settle for third in that battle, with Ferrari's resurgence and Renault's continued power struggles hampering them. As ever at Milton Keynes, the development is swift, though, and they are already challenging at some of the less power-hungry tracks.
Daniel Ricciardo (117 points, 4th) - That the 'shoey' has already become somewhat tiresome speaks volumes of Ricciardo's achievements this year. Only Vettel has strung together a longer sequence of podiums than Ricciardo's five from Barcelona to Spielberg, while victory in Baku was another of his opportunistic classics and featured the overtake of the year so far, taking all three of Felipe Massa, Stroll and Nico Hulkenberg into turn one.
Max Verstappen (57 points, 6th) - The first two races of the season are Verstappen's only consecutive finishes of a deeply frustrating 2017. After hogging Ricciardo's limelight last year, the Australian has certainly returned the favour so far.
Force India (95 points) - Only the flawless pair of Hamilton and Vettel have scored points in more races than Ocon's nine this year. That the Frenchman has only beaten team-mate Sergio Perez on track twice this season shows just how strong Vijay Mallya's team are in 2017. Leading cars surely await for both drivers.
Williams (41 points) - Massa's retirement U-turn has added much-needed stability at Williams in their 40th year of F1, but they already look to have lost out in their battle with Force India. Williams' highlight is a brighter one, though, in Stroll's third-place finish in Baku - just the Canadian teenager's eighth F1 race.
Toro Rosso (33 points) - Cracks are beginning to show at the sister Red Bull team, with Daniil Kvyat redeveloping his 'Torpedo' reputation and Carlos Sainz Jr publicly stating his desire to move on. Sainz may get his wish, if reports are to be believed, with a mid-season loan to Renault, which could promote GP2 champion Pierre Gasly to F1.
23 de noviembre 2017
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