The Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton stormed to a record-equalling fifth British Grand Prix victory at Silverstone, cutting the championship deficit between himself and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel down to just one point at the halfway stage of the F1 season.
Following a masterclass on how to gain pole position around Silverstone on Saturday, Hamilton carried on the utter domination of the weekend with an easy win, equalling the great Jim Clark and Alain Prost’s records of five British Grand Prix victories. The Brit never lost control of the lead once, scoring the fastest lap on his way to the top step of the podium. More importantly however, Hamilton was able to capitalise on what was a rather disastrous race for Ferrari in the end to cut the championship lead down to just a single point. Effectively resetting the championship bid.
“That’s a feeling I can’t really describe,” said a jubilant Hamilton after the race on the podium. “It feels amazing to be up here. I’m so proud to see these great flags everywhere. The support this weekend has been immense. I’m really proud I could do this for you all. The team were faultless this weekend, Valtteri did an incredible job as well so it’s the perfect weekend for us. There’s a long, long way to go [in the championship].”
Hamilton’s team mate Valtteri Bottas was able to capitalise on the final lap dramas and finished the race in second following an impressive fight back through the field. Bottas had a five place gearbox penalty which saw him start ninth on the soft tyres, the Finn recovered strongly from his grid penalty to overtake Vettel for third before he set his sights on Kimi Raikkonen in second. He had been chasing down his compatriot when Raikkonen suffered a tyre failure of some kind three laps before the end of the race . Bottas saw his opportunity and overtook him for a Mercedes 1-2. Bottas’ second place means he closes to within 23 points of the lead of the championship, cementing himself as a potential contender. Raikkonen meanwhile limped home in third place, reflecting on what could have been for Ferrari today if he had not suffered a puncture.
“I didn’t hit anything. I don’t know what happened. I was lucky [to still be third] and l was unlucky.” A rather philosophical and upset Raikkonen said after the race.
It was a much better race day for the Red Bull’s than they have had recently, with both cars getting home in high points finishes. Despite also pitting with two laps to go with a puncture, Max Verstappen took fourth today, ending his run of five non finishes in seven races. While his team mate Daniel Ricciardo provided a lot of the overtaking entertainment of the race. Initially Ricciardo made up seven places at the start, but following a costly mistake he dropped once again to the back of the grid with it all to do again. He climbed and battled his way back up to fifth place, and was rewarded driver of the day in the fan vote for his efforts.
Nico Hulkenberg capped off a brilliant weekend for his side of the garage with a sixth place finish, the team’s best result in a race since they returned to the grid last season. However his team mate Jolyon Palmer faired much worse at his home Grand Prix. The luckless Englishman, who is yet to score a point this season, was unable to even take the start after his Renault’s brakes failed on the formation lap. Forcing him to park up at the side of the track.
The current championship leader Vettel trailed home in seventh after another dramatic tyre failure for a Ferrari just two laps from the end of the race, dropping him from fourth position. The sudden nature of the tyre failures on both Ferrari cars proved both costly and, in the initial aftermath of the race, confusing. The German’s race did not get off to the best start, with an apparent break fire on the starting grid. Despite this, Vettel made the start of the race, but had to concede his place to the Red Bull of Verstappen. The two provided some of the entertainment of the race when they went wheel-to-wheel on successive laps from Stowe to the Vale chicane. Both drivers were quick to complain the other had pushed them off the track, nevertheless the stewards never considered the matter worth investigating. Ferrari eventually got Vettel ahead of Verstappen by undercutting him at the pitstops. The issue came that Vettel never really made a significant impact on the gap to Raikkonen in front, and instead in the closing stages was overtaken by Bottas. The puncture at the end was the finale of a race to forget for Vettel.
“[The weekend] could have been a little bit better, for sure, but disaster? I don’t think so,” insisted Vettel. “We had a good car, especially in the corners, the balance was alright. In the race, the brakes caught fire from the start and from then it was a difficult race.”
Elsewhere the Force India’s managed another double points finish with Esteban Ocon eighth and Sergio Perez ninth. However, once again this does look to be at the expense of some team moral between the pair of drivers. In a situation that was almost the reverse of Canada, Perez felt that Ocon was holding him up. Like Canada though the team refused to intervene on the behalf of their drivers, leaving Perez to try to overtake Ocon himself. The Mexican didn’t manage the overtake and ruefully had to settle for ninth. Meanwhile the Williams of Felipe Massa scored the final point with a tenth place finish, on a weekend where the team honestly expected more from their cars.
Despite their best efforts, Force India do not walk away with the biggest team mate drama award, that award is reserved for Toro Rosso, following yet another first lap incident for their boys. This time however, rather than take out innocent bystanders up and down the grid, they took out one another. The two team mates were battling for position on the first lap of the race, when Kvyat ran wide before re-joining the track, making contact with the Toro Rosso of Sainz. Both cars span off the road with Kevin Magnussen also sustaining damage on his Haas at the same time as a result of the incident. Sainz was forced to retire, while Kvyat was able to continue albeit at the back of the field. The collision caused an early Safety Car and Kvyat was handed a drive-through penalty for ‘rejoining the track unsafely’ by the stewards. He went on to finish the race in 15th position and a lap down.
Rather concerningly for Kvyat and Toro Rosso, he has moved to within three points of an F1 race ban after being handed two more points by the Silverstone stewards, just a week after picking up two points in Austria for his opening lap crash with Verstappen and Fernando Alonso. That takes Kvyat up to nine points in the last 12-months, and if he receives another three points before the United States Grand Prix in October, he will trigger an automatic one-race suspension.The only other driver to join Sainz and Palmer on the side-lines was the McLaren of Alonso, who once again suffered an engine issue in the closing stages of the race. It was a rather lacklustre end to the weekend for him, especially after reaching the dizzying heights of the fastest time in Q1 on Saturday.
Overall Silverstone did not disappoint once again with it’s ability to provide good overtaking opportunities, fast paced action, and drama by the bucket load. There is something about this magical circuit that just brings everything together to culminate in a great race every time I watch it. Admittedly it would have been nice to se the post race rain turn up a little sooner to cause even more havoc to the final stints. But Silverstone once again proved today that you cannot take anything for granted. Ultimately it’s where you cross at the finish line when that chequered flag falls that will decide how you did. As a reporter this weekend, I wanted to tune in and see a great race which I got. As a Brit however I will admit I wanted to see a British driver win Silverstone, which I also saw. You may say it’s British bias, but I genuinely feel that was a lesson in how to take a dominant win today given by Lewis Hamilton. The man looked impossible to beat around here this weekend with the fans willing him on at every opportunity they had, and their reward was seeing him win. Simply put, Hamilton was faultless when it mattered, and his prize is immortality in the racing books alongside Jim Clark and Alain Prost.
I’ll leave you now with my highlight of the weekend, and while Hamilton was out being a Rockstar and crowd surfing he left the other podium attendees, Valtteri Bottas and the chattiest man in F1 Kimi Raikkonen, to wait for him in the post race press conference. Needless to say both men were not exactly impressed by what had happened…
— Sean Kelly (@virtualstatman) July 16, 2017
British Grand Prix result
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
2. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes,
3. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari,
4. Max Verstappen, Red Bull,
5. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull,
6. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault,
7. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari,
8. Esteban Ocon, Force India, +1 lap
9. Sergio Perez, Force India, +1 lap
10. Felipe Massa, Williams, +1 lap
11. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, +1 lap
12. Kevin Magnussen, Haas, +1 lap
13. Romain Grosjean, Haas, +1 lap
14. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, +1 lap
15. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, +1 lap
16. Lance Stroll, Williams, +1 lap
17. Pascal Wehrlein, Sauber, +1 lap
18. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, DNF
19. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, DNF
20. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, DNS
Feature Image Credit: Mercedes AMG Petronas Press Release