After Lewis Hamilton’s no show at the F1 live event in London, he has been subjected to a lot of criticism, whether it from fans or respected members of the F1 community. So what better way to silence those critics with a dominant display at Silverstone that never really looked in jeopardy, eventually winning the race by 14 seconds, securing his 4th win in a row at the Northamptonshire track and equalling the current record at the circuit with a total of 5 wins.
Lewis, as well as Kimi, got a great launch at the start. Kimi’s was arguably a touch better, but Lewis covered the inside of Abbey to slot into 1st place. Max also got a good start, leapfrogging Sebastian into the final podium position, thus making it harder for a potential swap around between the two Ferrari drivers to maximise Sebastians points haul in order to maintain a healthy lead at the top of the Championship. Not only that, we also saw some of the best racing all season between Sebastian and Max in the opening stages. With Hamilton showing formidable pace upfront, Sebastian knew he had to pass the Red Bull if he was to stand any chance of winning the race. The German closed up down the Hangar straight on lap 13, launching an audacious overtake on the inside of Stowe. Seb then forced Max onto rumble strip, but that wasn’t going to intimidate the young Dutchman was it? He kept his foot on the throttle, going side by side with Sebastian before squeezing him out on the inside of Vale.
Unfortunately the defensive moves proved to no avail for Max as he was jumped by Sebastian after he successfully executed the undercut. From then on it was a bit of a lonely race for Max, coming home in fourth place in the end, but I am sure he will take great satisfaction from seeing the chequered flag, a rarity for the Red Bull driver over previous races.
The battle with Max had put Sebastian on the back-foot; not only had it put the German almost a pit-stop behind Hamilton, but also meant he would have to nurse his tyres for the remainder of the race. In a normal race, this shouldn’t have been a problem; the problem was that the Mercedes of Valteri Bottas was running an alternative strategy after his grid penalty. Valteri ran long on the softs and then switched onto the supersofts to benefit from a pace advantage. It wasn’t long until he caught up with Vettel, making light work of the German on the Hangar straight.
It looked like the Ferraris would score a solid 2nd and 4th place going into the closing stages of the race, until both cars were hit with bizarre punctures. Kimi picked up a puncture first, nearly giving Sebastian an unlikely podium. The German however suffered the same fate, picking up a puncture at Luffield, meaning he had to spend half a lap trundling back to the pits. The puncture demoted Vettel to 7th meaning, what looked like a 10 point gap in the championship became just a single point going into Hungary.
“In the end, we were lucky that we could get back [to the pits] and still see the chequered flag. Kimi had something similar with the tyre that was six laps fresher,” he said. “For sure the tyres were not brand new. They were on the tyre for 30-odd laps, but from what we predicted in terms of wear it should have been no problem to carry on.
The Ferrari’s misfortunes were Valteri’s gain. It looked like the Finns salvage mission would yield a respectable 3rd place position until Kimi’s unfortunate puncture promoted Bottas to 2nd place and a 1-2 for Mercedes. Although the Silver Arrows didn’t bring any updates to Silverstone, it is evident that the team has improved the car, particularly in race trim, and this shows in the Constructors. At one point the two teams were neck and neck, but going into the Hungarian Grand Prix, the gap now stands at 55 points. Ominous form from the current Champions…
Lewis Hamilton and Valteri Bottas are all smiles after securing a 1-2 at the Silverstone Grand Prix
Elsewhere, Daniel Ricciardo produced a driver of the day performance to finish in 5th place after starting on the back row of the grid. It was an almost faultless performance (except for a little off between Luffield and Woodcote after the safety car restart) for the Aussie, producing some great overtakes whilst also managing his tyres to good effect. Although the podium streak comes to an end, another solid haul of points for Daniel going into Hungary. Is there anyone on the grid currently driving better than the Honey Badger?
Trouble maybe brewing within the sister team of Red Bull with the two Toro Rosso drivers coming together on the first lap; Carlos Sainz went wide at Copse, giving Kvyat an opportunity to get by his team-mate. Going side by side through Maggotts, the Russian driver got caught on the kerbs, lost control and careered into the side of Carlos Sainz, causing the Spaniard to pick up his fourth retirement this season. The stewards deemed the Russian to be at fault, issuing him with a ten second penalty and two penalty points on his super licence. With one driver picking up a bad boy repuation and the other evidently wanting out of the team, tension maybe rife going into the next race weekend.
Not only that, but rumours are circulating that Carlos could be in the Renault following the summer break. Jolyon had yet more bad luck at Silverstone; at his home Grand Prix, he didn’t even get the opportunity to take his place on the grid after succumbing to a hydraulics problem on the formation lap. He has had his fair share of bad luck, but I really wouldn’t be surprised if he was to make way for the Spaniard.
On a final note, it is great to hear that Martin Brundle is fine and on the mend. During Sky Sports broadcasting before the race, the commentator was taken ill at the last moment. A double shame as he was going to receive a trophy in commemoration to the 20th anniversary of his gridwalks. David Croft revealed that it was a stomach virus, but he was able to leave the track unaided. Best of wishes Martin!
The Championship pendulum has well and truly swung back toward Lewis. Having all but wiped the deficit he had to Sebastian in one race has surely filled the Brit with great confidence going to another favourite track of his. On top of that, Valteri is still creeping his way into the title fight; he is now less than a race win behind Vettel after a somewhat fortuitous weekend, I’ll hedge my bets and say that Lewis may well be leading the Championship for the first time in almost a year going into the summer break.