As predicted while previewing the 53rd edition of the British Grand Prix, British homeboy Lewis Hamilton stormed to a dominant record equalling British Grand Prix win at Silverstone. The Mercedes driver equalled the tally of Scot Jim Clark and Frenchman Alain Prost with his fourth home win in a row to add to his first win for McLaren in 2008.
It was a perfect Sunday afternoon for Lewis Hamilton at his favourite track, as the Brit delivered in style for his home fans, starting from pole, leading all the way and setting the fastest lap of the race. Hamilton got to Northamptonshire over the weekend needing a good result to close the worryingly large championship gap to Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
The 32-year old who was heavily criticised for his decision to snub formula one’s showpiece event at Trafalgar square, London on Wednesday was quick to dedicate his win to the teeming British fans in attendance at Silverstone. “The support has been incredible this weekend,” he said. “I am so proud I could do this for you all. Now the plan is to win the championship.”
The win cut Sebastian Vettel’s championship lead to just a single point after late tyre dramas hit both Ferraris. The unfortunate late tyre drama also allowed Valtteri Bottas to grab second from Kimi Raikkonen to secure a Mercedes one-two, as Vettel trailed home seventh.
Ferrari’s fortunes deflated as Sebastian Vettel suffered a front-left tyre failure when running third with two laps to go, dropping to seventh. The same problem had hit Vettel’s team-mate Kimi Raikkonen the lap before, costing the Finn an almost certain second place, promoting Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas to a Mercedes one-two. Raikkonen recovered to finish third.
They key beneficiaries from Ferrari’s late blip were off-the-pace Red Bull’s Max Verstapen who finished fourth and Daniel Ricciardo who finished fifth after battling his way up from P19 on the grid.
On a Sunday afternoon which the huge British crowd got exactly what it came for, the complexion of the world championship fight was turned around. Sebastian Vettel may head into the second half of the 2017 Formula One season as the world championship leader, but only with his advantage slashed to just one point after a dominant victory for Lewis Hamilton.
However, it remains to be seen how crucial this momentum shift could be in the course of this year’s increasingly enthralling title fight as the 2017 formula one season reaches its halfway point!
Mercedes [Lewis Hamilton, P1; Valtteri Bottas, P2]
Having claimed a commanding pole position earlier on Saturday, his fifth British Grand Prix pole, Lewis Hamilton found himself lining up with two ravenous Ferraris hoping to snap at his heels immediately behind him. Meanwhile, last weekend’s race winning Mercedes driver, Valtteri Bottas, had been forced to start from the midfield after a five place grid penalty for a gearbox change.
Lewis Hamilton kept his focus and did his job in supreme style. The race start, and restart, were executed superbly. He was untouchable for the remainder of the race as he secured his 57th career victory.
The 32-year-old converted pole position – earned with a spectacular lap on Saturday afternoon – into a first-corner lead and simply drove off into the distance. Hamilton was 1.6 seconds clear after the first lap before the race was neutralised by a safety car following a collision between the Toro Rosso drivers. After the restart on lap five, Hamilton edged clear, building a 3.1-second lead after 12 laps and five seconds after 18, before he began to cut loose as the pit stops approached.
Suddenly Hamilton was lapping a second faster than Raikkonen, pulling out five seconds behind Raikkonen made his pit stop on lap 24, Mercedes calling Hamilton in for his stop on the next lap. Hamilton returned to the track with a 10-second lead over Raikkonen and cruised to the flag as attention now turned to the battle for the remaining podium positions.
Bottas was on an inverted tyre strategy, starting on the soft tyre from ninth place after a five-place penalty for changing his gearbox. He ran long on his first stint, battling past the cars in front of him and up into fifth place by lap five and then not stopping until lap 32 and rejoined 4.2 seconds behind Vettel with 18 laps to go. Bottas was soon setting fastest laps and was on Vettel’s tail by lap 42. Bottas swept by on the Hangar Straight a lap later and set off after Raikkonen.
Ferrari [Kimi Raikkonen, P3; Sebastian Vettel, P7]
A late blowout may have cost him second at Silverstone, but Raikkonen had still done enough in the race to pit and seal a podium – the 87th of his career, and his 36th with Ferrari. It was nonetheless a perfect riposte to Sergio Marchionne’s recent ‘laggard’ comments.
Raikkonen looked set to secure second position when the incident occurred, forcing the Finn to pit for fresh rubber with four laps remaining. It relegated him from second to fourth initially, only for teammate Sebastian Vettel to suffer a similar issue with the same tyre on the penultimate lap, meaning Raikkonen inherited the final spot on the podium.
The Finn is convinced he had not hit anything before the incident.
Recalling the moment the tyre delamination occurred, he said: “Everything was going more or less smoothly and in the end the gap was fine for us but then all of a sudden two laps from the end I don’t know what happened. Just before Turn 6, on the first straight, the front left tyre … it didn’t explode but the rubber part kind of came off suddenly in the middle of the straight.
“I don’t think I hit anything, everything felt normal before that moment. If I came back quite fast I would destroy the front wing after that because the tyre was flapping around but we managed to get into a decent position in fourth.
Red Bull [Max Verstapen, P4; Daniel Ricciardo, P5]
Red Bull’s decision to call in Max Verstappen late at the British Grand Prix was the most sensible thing to do after seeing Kimi Raikkonen suffer a rather dramatic tyre delamination.
Raikkonen’s dramatic tyre issue came with three laps remaining, with Verstappen running fifth behind Sebastian Vettel. However, the teenager had also been suffering from severe tyre degradation and Red Bull decided to call him in immediately after seeing Raikkonen’s delamination to pit for a fresh set of tyres to avoid a similar incident.
Eventually, the stop turned out to have been the right call, as Vettel suffered a front left puncture in the other Ferrari, allowing Verstappen to jump to fourth. Verstappen had suggested over his radio that the stop was not necessary but team boss Christian Horner believes the team would have risked losing a lot of points.
Daniel Ricciardo’s superb afternoon of recovery took him from the back of the grid to fifth. The performance earned the Australian formula one fans’ Driver of the Day award.
Renault [Nico Hulkenberg, P6; Jolyon Palmer, DNS – hydraulic leakage]
Fifth on the grid for Nico Hulkenberg was Renault’s best starting position since they returned to F1 at the beginning of last season.
It was a different story for Jolyon Palmer who struggled in comparison with team mate Hulkenberg on his home track, having comfortably outpaced him the previous weekend, but even so was well placed to challenge for the points from 11th on the grid. He didn’t even make it to lights out though, with his Renault’s RS17 car quitting on him during the original formation lap, leaving him to walk home.
“Going out at the start of the race is really frustrating,” he said with serious understatement. “We had a hydraulic leak, which is pretty gutting as I think we were in a good position. Eleventh with new tyres, a car that was working really well with lots of different options on strategy: all was looking good to get some points. I have had so much support all weekend that it would have been sweet to get them here.”
Force India [Esteban Ocon, P8; Sergio Perez, P9]
Force India scored six points on a British Grand Prix where Esteban Ocon finished in eighth place ahead of Sergio Perez in ninth.
It was a straightforward race for Force India with Esteban Ocon getting the jump on Sergio Perez at the start. From there it was line astern to the flag with both drivers following similar one-stop strategies.
Williams [Felipe Massa, P10; Lance Stroll, P16]
Felipe Massa finished 10th and Lance Stroll 16th in the British Grand Prix. Both drivers had a strong start to the race on the soft tyre, gaining several places to end lap one in P10 and P12, from 14th and 15th on the grid.
Lance pitted for a new set of supersoft tyres on lap 22 and rejoined in P18. He was able to quickly pass Kvyat move up to P17. Felipe pitted on lap 25 from P8. He rejoined the race in P14. Both drivers were able to move up the order as others pitted. Felipe was in P11, before the late-stopping. Magnussen decided to come in, which moved Felipe into the points in P10. Lance wasn’t able to make his supersoft tyres last due to bodywork damage and was forced to pit on lap 42 from P14 and went on to cross the line 16th.
Felipe kept the pressure on Perez for several laps, but he wasn’t able to make a pass in the closing stages and finished in 10th.
McLaren [Stoffel Vandoorne, P11; Fernando Alonso, Retired Lap 32]
There were to be no points for McLaren on Sunday at Silverstone – but Vandoorne was mighty close, finishing less than 4s off Felipe Massa in tenth and less than 7s off Esteban Ocon in eighth. So while the Belgian’s wait for a first top 10 of 2017 continues, he did score several other breakthroughs on what was a strong weekend overall.
On Saturday for example he out-qualified Alonso for the first time – and in the process secured his highest ever starting spot of eighth. He also spent nearly half the race inside the top 10. The only time he has managed before was Monaco, a track more typically suited to McLaren’s strengths.
Haas [Kevin Magnussen, P12; Romain Grosjean, P13]
Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean finished 12th and 13th respectively, in the British Grand Prix Sunday at Silverstone Circuit.
Both drivers were on a one-stop strategy for the 51-lap race around the 5.891-kilometer (3.660-mile), 18-turn track, but the timing of their stops differed drastically.
Grosjean started 10th and made his pit stop on lap 23, swapping the Pirelli P Zero Red supersoft tires he started the race with for a new set of Yellow softs. This dropped Grosjean to 15th.
Magnussen was the last driver to pit, running 37 laps on his Yellow softs before coming in for a relatively new set of Red that had only three laps on them. Staying out for so long allowed Magnussen to climb to as high as seventh, but with the tight midfield cars turning laps behind him on fresher tires, there wasn’t enough of a gap for Magnussen to keep the spots he had earned. Magnussen returned to the race in 14th, but quickly passed the Wiiliams of Lance Stroll to take 13th on lap 40.
Ten rounds into the 20-race FIA Formula One World Championship, Haas remains seventh in the constructors’ championship standings with 29 points.
Sauber [Marcus Ericsson, P14; Pascal Wehrlein, P17]
Sauber drivers Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein finished the British Grand Prix in P14 and P17 respectively. Both drivers put in maximum performance based on their race strategies.
Toro Rosso [Daniil Kvyat, P15; Carlos Sainz, Retired Lap 0]
Toro Rosso race was ruined by the needless collision between their two drivers on the opening lap of the British Grand Prix.
Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz had been battling through Copse, before the Russian driver got wide at Becketts and lost control of his car. That spun him across the track and into Sainz, who had been on the outside of the corner, forcing the Spaniard into an immediate retirement.
Though Kvyat continued on, he soon received a drive-through penalty and two points on his superlicence, taking him to the cusp of a one-race ban. Though happy to accept his own role in the incident he insists Sainz should be held equally responsible.
My Take on the Weekend
At the half way point in the season, all of the back and forth between Ferrari and Mercedes, Vettel and Hamilton has yielded a gap in the championship of just a single point.
With the long summer break just one race away, the events of the weekend’s British Grand Prix will go a long way in affecting the psychology of this increasingly entertaining championship season.
As it stands, the momentum has swung in favour of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian needs all the psychological and technological strength he could muster in order to secure his fifth world championship.
Writer: Soliu Adeyemo
He is a renowned Formula 1 Expert. Follow him @SolihuF1 on Twitter and Instagram for more updates and analysis.