LONDON. - Formula One team bosses have voted Lewis Hamilton as the sport’s top driver for the fourth year in a row but Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas slipped to 10th place in the rankings.
The poll, published by motorsport.com yesterday, put four times world champion Hamilton far ahead of closest rival Max Verstappen. Bottas, winner of three races this year after joining as now-retired 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg’s replacement, was listed in 10th place after bosses awarded points according to the regular F1 scoring system.
That represented a drop of one place on where Bottas had been with Williams in 2016. Hamilton scored 233 out of a maximum 250, with Red Bull’s Verstappen on 143. Ferrari’s 2017 championship runner-up Sebastian Vettel, also a four times champion, was third and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo fourth.
Force India’s Mexican Sergio Perez dropped out of the top 10 entirely but his French team mate Esteban Ocon made his entry in fifth place, one ahead of McLaren’s double world champion Fernando Alonso. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Renault’s Carlos Sainz tied in seventh place with Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg a new entry at ninth.
Meanwhile, Honda has restructured its under-performing Formula One operations after the split from McLaren, with Yusuke Hasegawa to stand down as head of the Japanese company’s F1 project at the end of the year. Honda, starting a new partnership with Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso from January, said in a statement yesterday that Hasegawa’s position would be split into two separate functions.
Toyoharu Tanabe, an experienced Formula One veteran who worked as race engineer to Austrian Gerhard Berger at McLaren in the early 1990s, had been appointed as F1 technical director. Tanabe, who was also chief engineer to Britain’s Jenson Button at BAR and Honda Racing between 2003 and 2007, will run operations at the racetrack and in testing.
An operating officer, yet to be named, will take charge of research and development at Sakura in Japan while Hasegawa remains executive chief engineer. - Reuters.