British Grand Prix: Hamilton at Home

Lewis Hamilton took out his home Grand Prix after inheriting the lead from his team mate’s retirement. Valtteri Bottas stormed his way to the second step of the podium, making up twelve places throughout the race. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo just managed to keep his tyres intact to fend of Button to come home in P3. It was a very long first lap at Silverstone. Rosberg maintained the lead from lights out through the first sector. Vettel was caught sleeping off the line, and immediately conceded a place to Button and Magnussen. Lewis Hamilton had a good start from P6, coming up to challenge Vettel for position. The two made contact through the Farm Curve, but kept control of their cars. Hamilton took the place from Vettel however, pushing him back to P5. Further back in the pack, Perez was turned around by Vergne, pushing him off track at the exit of Abbey. The race was only to continue for another hundred metres after a terrifying incident involving Kimi Raikkonen saw the race red flagged. Kimi ran wide at Aintree to avoid contact while trying to pass Gutierrez. As he came back on track the Ferrari appeared to catch a bump, immediately losing control and sending the F14 T straight into the barriers. It was a terrifying moment watching Kimi be flicked from the barriers across the track, narrowly missing the Caterham of Kobayashi and Williams of Massa in the fray. Massa was bogged down at the back of the grid when his anti stall kicked in. As he caught his way back up to the field, Raikkonen’s crash was blocked from view by the Caterham. It was extremely smart driving, and lightening quick reactions on Massa’s part to avoid Kimi. Only the monocock and right rear tyre remained of the Ferrari, while the Williams suffered rear suspension damage. Just to give us another reason to love him, Kimi’s first reaction over team radio was “is Felipe OK?”. It was over an hour before race restart. Eventually the grid snaked it’s way back through the circuit behind the safety car and the race resumed in a less theatrical manner.

Hamilton had a competitive race, getting off the line well to make up for his poor qualifying position. Unsurprisingly, the Brit made easy work of passing the McLaren’s and Red Bull, and was playing catchup to Rosberg by lap 3. The shoe was on the other foot for the Mercedes driver, as it was Hamilton’s turn to keep his F1 W05 racing while both cars suffered from mechanical issues. Rosberg led the race from the start (both of them), though gearbox issues for downshifting saw the points leader retire on lap 29. While Rosberg was lapping Chilton the Mercedes got stuck in fifth gear, slowing down and passing the lead on to his team mate. The win for Hamilton shrinks the points gap with Rosberg down to a 4 point difference, putting him back in stronger contention for the championship.

It was a bittersweet day for Williams after such a promising race for the team. Massa unfortunately never made the race restart after getting caught up in first lap fray. Bottas had a flying start off the line, and throughout the race demonstrated the more than competitive pace and aerodynamic advantage of the FW36. The Finn appeared to effortlessly carve his way through the field, choosing the favour the outside of Stowe for overtaking.

Ricciardo changed his MGU-K was changed in Parc Ferme before the race. The energy recovery unit failed after qualifying, with the RB10 looking much more competitive during the race. Ricciardo made up a brilliant five positions during the race to finish, once again on the podium and ahead of his team mate. Vettel amazing battles between Alonso, but the RB10 just didn’t have the pace on the straight to keep the Ferrari at bay. The battle for position between the two world champions was the highlight of the race. The Red Bull would catch up in the corners, before the Ferrari would extend the lead again on the straights. Every move the Red Bull made to over take, the Ferrari would have a counter move to match. Finally, Vettel put it all on the line, moving alongside Alonso with DRS assistance, the Red Bull outbroke the Ferrari going in to Brooklands and took P5.

Perhaps McLaren should stick to their wet weather set up, even for a dry race, as the MP4-29 hasn’t been this competitive all season. The podium once again eluded Button at his home race, though he was unlucky not to take the final step. Button maintained his competitive qualifying position throughout the race, and was closing on Ricciardo for P3. However, there just weren’t enough laps left in the race, and just too much grip left in the Red Bull’s tyres. A P4 finish at their home Grand Prix is still a huge success for Button and the team. Kevin Magnussen was also on form in the McLaren, finishing P7 making it a double points finish for the team.

Ferrari get full marks for theatrics after Alonso delivered a spectacular race from the back of the grid, putting it all on the line to make up ten places throughout the day. It wasn’t an easy race for the Spaniard. From the first race start, Alonso lined his Ferrari up halfway through his grid slot. Though the advantage was short lived, he was handed a 5-second stop-go penalty. Despite the penalty, Alonso raced to take Hulkenberg at Stowe for P5. However, it was Alonso VS Vettel that delivered the most exciting battle of the race. The two played cat at mouse during the final stages, demonstrating just how world champion drivers should race. Alonso was defending his P5 from Vettel, skilfully closing the door on any attempt from the Red Bull to pass. A highlight of the battle occurred on lap 35, where Vettel had managed to take the position coming into the corner, Alonso flicked the F14 T back in front on the exit of Copse. Magnussen, who was following the two, ran wide at the corner no doubt in awe of what he had just witnessed. Eventually the Ferrari’s tyres started to go, and Alonso conceded the place to Vettel, finishing P6. Despite being a short race for Kimi, he too added to the Ferrari spectacle, but not in the way we would have preferred. Thankfully Kimi avoided serious injury from his accident, suffering from a bruising to his ankle and knee. It will be a fortnight of rest, ice, and pain killers for the Finn*. In all seriousness, we wish you a full and speedy recovery.

Hulkenberg got off to a flying start, though he seemed to lose steam throughout the race. The Force India driver was involved in several cat and mouse battles for positions against the Red Bulls and the remaining Ferrari. The team chose to run a one stop strategy for both Hulkenberg and Perez, which didn’t exactly pay off. Hulkenberg’s second stint on the more durable hard compound tyres, kept him within the points though only for P8. The team put Perez on the medium compound tyres after the race restart, leaving him just outside of the points in P11.

It was a good day Toro Rosso, with both Kvyat and Vergne picking up points. The race unfolded largely without incident for both drivers. Similarly to Force India, Kvyat opted for a two stop strategy, finishing on the hard compound tryes to finish P9. It appeared to be the more competitive strategy, as Vergne on a one stop finished P10.

Lotus had a disappointing race with Grosjean finishing outside of the points, and Maldonado retiring on the penultimate lap. Grosjean was lapping around a second faster than his team mate, though he spent the entire race outside of the points in P12. The E22 looked to have improved slightly over the weekend with better balance and grip, but wasn’t competitive enough for the race. Maldonado was involved in a racing incident (which wasn’t his fault…) with Gutierrez in the early stages of the race. The E22 became airborn after a shunt from the Sauber, and it was with some skill on Maldonado’s part to keep the Lotus in control as all four wheels made it back on track. Unluckily for the team, Maldonado stopped on lap 50 due to exhaust damage.

Sauber continued to have a difficult weekend with the C33. Sutil was the sole Sauber to finish the race back in P13, though complained of brake issues throughout the race. Gutierrez’s race was short lived after retiring following accident damage on lap 11. The Sauber driver made contact with Maldonado’s Lotus while attempting an overtake into Vale. It appeared that Gutierrez failed to turn in to the corner, resulting in payback for Bahrain with Maldonado’s E22 being flicked up into the air. The collision caused damage the C33, and Gutierrez went off into the gravel pit shortly after.

Marussia finished just behind where they qualified due to race retirements. Bianchi’s race unfolded without incident, finishing P14 ahead of Chilton’s P16. Chilton served a drive through penalty after the race restart for entering the pit lane after the race had been red flagged.

It was another retirement for Ericsson, as the Caterham came into the pits on lap 12 with a very wonky looking CT05. On a positive note for the team, credit needs to be paid to Kamui for avoiding an out of control Kimi on the opening lap. The Caterham was close behind, and made the split second decision to move left across the track to avoid further collision. Escaping over the grass, Kobayashi suffered nose damage which was repaired before the restart. While his team mate suffered from mechanical issues, Kobayashi kept his Caterham running until the final lap, finishing P15.

As the season progresses, the Williams developing incredibly, matching the Mercedes for competitiveness. It’s only really due to bad luck collisions and tyre strategy that the margin isn’t smaller. Though Mercedes are still set to walk away with the constructors championship, the gap for the drivers between Hamilton and Rosberg has shrunk down to four points. The championship moves on back to the mainland for the German Grand Prix in a fortnights time. Hopefully Williams will have some better luck, until then, goodnight.

– Alex

Qualifying Pole Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
Podium Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
Valtteri Bottas (Williams-Mercedes)
Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull Racing-Renault)
Fastest Lap 1:37.176 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

* Vodka is a painkiller right?

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