Heading into this weekend’s 50th British Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton was facing what a seminal race for the 2008 world champion. Lodged 29 points behind his teammate, Nico Rosberg, and slowly drifting backwards in a year which could easily be another championships given the clear domination of the Mercedes AMG Petronas car.
On Saturday the British weather wreaked havoc on qualifying and Lewis made a grave mistake by aborting his final lap in Q3 while five other drivers, including his teammate, chose to go for it. This gritty determination paid dividends with Nico Rosberg securing pole position leaving Hamilton to start from 6th on the grid. It was a decision that left Hamilton visibly stunned.
On Sunday, fortunes reversed as Hamilton and his side of the garage had chosen to use a strategy that ran longer than Rosberg but in the end, it was simply sheer pace that kept Lewis in tow and headed to victory as Rosberg experienced a DNF with a gearbox failure. Regardless, just as qualifying proved, you have to make your own luck in Formula 1 and being determined to recover from 6th place at the start was always Hamilton’s mission. Lewis caught himself on the podium when he said he won Sunday because “you never give up” and then quickly recalled his “giving up” just 24 hours earlier but explained that was different. Not really, Lewis.
A seminal race now became a launching pad back into the world championship as Hamilton cut his point deficit to just four points. As the series heads to Germany, things will begin to get tight and it continues to point toward that final race in Abu Dhabi for double-points as a possible disruptive element in either driver’s championship bid.
Hamilton claimed his 27th career victory at the 50th British Grand Prix.
The race was red-flagged following an accident on the opening lap, with an hour’s delay for barrier repairs. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen crashed after running off circuit and re-entering at speed. The Finnish driver complained of ankle pain and it is unclear as to if he will participate in next week’s scheduled testing session or in Germany in two weeks.
A two-stop strategy was used by Hamilton to win the race, but the rest of the podium – and seven out of the top 10 – was made up of one-stoppers, at one of the toughest circuits of the season. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, who finished third, made his final set of medium tyres last for 37 laps.
The teams will now remain in Silverstone for a two-day in-season test on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Valtteri Bottas started 14th and drove and outstanding race to finish 2nd which is only his second podium appearance if his career in F1. While his teammate, Felipe Massa, was collected in the Raikkonen debacle, Bottas held the flag high for local team Williams F1 in a stellar performance of composure and tire management.
Another big win was that of Jenson Button who has been slightly at odds in the press lately with his McLaren team’s boss, Ron Dennis. The British champion also faced what might be a seminal race for his career and securing 4th was the best the McLaren has looked in quite a while. If Dennis felt beating his rookie teammate was important, Button certainly did that in spades.
While things were rather pedestrian up front until Rosberg’s gearbox issue, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel put on a great display of passing, defense and radio frustration for several laps.
Daniel Ricciardo drove another great race on worn tires to secure the final podium position in what is becoming a theme this year of beating his 4-time championship winning teammate, Sebastian Vettel—who seemed to be more interested in crying foul against Alonso than getting on with the program.
Which reminds me…if I heard Alonso’s radio communication properly after being passed by Vettel, he appears to share the same love of DRS that Paul Charsley and I do and that’s a big win in my book. Alonso alleged that Vettel’s flap was opening where it shouldn’t be.
Certainly one could look at Rosberg’s gearbox failure as a low-light of the race as he had matters in control and looked to be sailing to a victory. No one likes to see DNF’s but then Lewis has had his share this year so perhaps it was time for the boot to be on the other foot for change and it does tighten up the championship—if only between two cars nonetheless.
Another fail had to be Lotus F1 this weekend with a disqualification for Pastor Maldonado in qualifying for a lack of a fuel sample after running—which is required by the FIA and no mystery to any team. Ultimately Maldonado retired from the race with an exhaust problem while his teammate, Romain Grosjean, puttered around to 12th place.
Not to be outdone, Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez tried his hardest to ruin Pastor Maldonado’s race by launching him into the air and then promptly retiring with damage. The young Mexican driver will face a 3-space grid penalty for the German Grand Prix.
Placed to do well, Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, as well as teammate Sergio Perez, struggled with car handling the entire race and couldn’t turn luck into fortune with a great qualifying position. Hulkenberg nearly lost his 8th place finish to a charging Daniil Kvyat in the Toro Rosso as wel who finished just 0.6s behind the German.
Certainly Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen has to be a “WTH” moment of the race as race-driving basics tell you to ease your way back on track. The Finnish driver kept his foot in it and attempted to re-enter the track at the exact spot there was a large bump which unsettled the rear end causing his crash and the end of Felipe Massa’s race as well.
Another WTH moment had to be the Gutierrez clash with Maldonado which most likely ended both driver’s races.
Another odd WTH moment was Marussia’s call to bring Max Chilton in as the race was red flagged. The British driver cruised down pitlane at the exact time that team personnel were trying to get out to the grid to stage their cars for a re-start. This situation could be very dangerous indeed and the race stewards handed Chilton a penalty because of it.
The world feed gets my WTH finger as well as coverage was slightly disjointed trying to find action on track. It got choppy and failed to catch a few key moments that I felt would have been nice to see.