Race Report: Vettel wins British GP

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Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the British Grand Prix at Silverstone was a Mercedes-flattering circuit, it has been since 2012, and if you picked Lewis Hamilton to win his 6th home race, it was a good choice. Unfortunately, Ferrari had other plans and they brought some serious performance to the British Grand Prix.

There was no doubt that after all three practice sessions a story was developing with Ferrari’s pace so Mercedes knew they had their hands full. If there was an argument to be made about how much difference a driver makes, Lewis’s pole lap was testament. IT was a close-run thing and Mercedes knew it…so did Ferrari.

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As it turns out, Ferrari’s jump off the start and a turn 3 spin for Lewis Hamilton made life difficult for the 4-time champ. The race ended with a nice battle between two Mercedes and two Ferraris with Sebastian Vettel passing Bottas for the win followed by Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen for the podium.

Win

A win for Ferrari who brought some serious performance upgrades for Silverstone. Seb had a terrific start and even when challenged twice by Safety Car sessions, he managed the disruption as well as an issue with his neck that plagued him all weekend to win. The Mercedes strategy focused on Hamilton’s recovery drive but it did leave Valtteri Bottas exposed to Seb’s fresh tires.

You may not consider the race a win for Lewis Hamilton and that’s true but his recovery drive was definitely a win. Falling to dead last after colliding with Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis began a methodical march to the front and the team’s strategy call to leave him out during the first safety car paid off as he was one of the quickest on his Medium compounds. A gamble but Mercedes knew it was the best chance they had to limit the damage and Lewis was driving wonderfully and his tires were holding on for second place.

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Kimi Raikkonen had a moment in turn 3 with Hamilton and that cost him a 10s penalty for his efforts but he did fight his way back through the Red Bulls and the Mercedes of Bottas, as well as 10 seconds, to finish on the podium.

Thanks to some attrition ahead of him, Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg managed to best his normal finish position by one better in 6th. Equally, the Force India of Esteban Ocon managed to secure 7th while both their teammates struggled.

Fail

On one hand, you have a championship contender in Lewis Hamilton making an epic race back toward the front in a very inspired recovery drive and having let him down last week, they needed to try to get Lewis back on top. In the process, they left both cars out during the Safety Car period and that strategy played well for Lewis who had the pace but it didn’t work out for Bottas. Toto Wolff said it was the right call and perhaps finishing 2nd and 4th was better than what they were running before the stop but it was a reversed running order slightly better and that focus on Lewis cost Bottas. I don’t believe Bottas let Lewis by him in the waning laps because Valtteri couldn’t keep other behind him either. His tires just didn’t have it and because of that, one might argue that they should have split strategies and boxed Bottas when Ferrari boxed during the SC period.

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A fail for Sauber who failed to finish both cars. Ericsson had an off on lap 33 and his teammate retired earlier with a misfit rear wheel on lap 20. That retirement hurt as Leclerc was in the top 10 once again and heading for the points.

A fail for Toro Rosso who had a suspension failure on Saturday and couldn’t get the car ready for Brendon Hartley on Sunday. They tried very hard and started from the pit lane but parked the car after one lap.

A fail for Romain Grosjean who needed to have a clean race but managed to find the same part of the track as Carlos Sainz sending both into the wall and prompting another SC period. Both drivers need to up their game. Both Haas drivers came together at the start and it damaged Kevin Magnussen’s floor hampering the rest of his race.

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A fail for McLaren who had an 8th place finish with Fernando Alonso and a 12th place for Vandoorne. After jettisoning Eric Boullier, the team have a lot of work to do and admitted that it will take time and the chassis isn’t as good as last year’s car.

A fail for the Williams F1 team and even the presence of Sir Frank couldn’t solve their aero-stall issues and poor results.

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WTH

Normally you hear driver asking the Safety Car to speed up so they can get heat in the tires but I loved how Vettel was asking for it to slow down so the Mercedes of Bottas would take longer to get his harder compound tires back into the heat window. Cheeky.

Okay, now I know I’m a Ferrari fan and I want to be as open-minded as I can but I am finding it very difficult to follow Lewis’s hint on the podium and Toto’s near-accusation that Ferrari deliberately spun Lewis (potentially suggesting the Bottas incident last week with Vettel). Sure, it’s the heat of the battle and you get angry and say things but those a very big accusations or implied intent. I think Jenson Button said it best when he said no one races like that anymore and it was far from deliberate…and he’s English and no big fan of Ferrari.

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Just a week or so after Charlie Whiting said they would have much more leniency on 1st lap incidents, some argued the Raikkonen penalty was a bad call but Kimi himself said it was his mistake and the penalty was justified.

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I think the accusations are unbecoming of Mercedes and ignores the fact that Vettel’s incident with Bottas didn’t do his race any favors. It sounds a bit like sore losers and while I have come to expect grand conspiracies and mobocracy outrage from fans on social media, I think tinfoil-hat accusation from a team is base. A poor start from Lewis left him in the clutches of Kimi but it’s the first lap and Lewis put himself in that spot with Kimi locking up trying to take the corner.

“It is a lot of constructors’ [championship] points. In [technical director] James Allison’s words, ‘do you think it is deliberate or incompetence?’, so this leaves us with a judgement.”

As I said, the Mercedes and Lewis fans may start to weave tales of cheating, tricks and nefarious acts of the “Red Team” and that’s par for the course but for Mercedes to be dog-whistling this kind of thing is unfortunate.

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There was also the questions over Lewis’s absence in Parc Fermé after the race. The champ chose to go directly to the cool-down room and skip the interview. Social media was ripe with accusations of whinging and crying baby GIF’s but in the end, he had a lot of pressure on him. He wanted to deliver as England did in World Cup and he was not happy or emotionally excited so taking a moment to cool off, collect his thoughts and calm down makes sense to me. He’s an emotional guy and needed a moment to decompress. He wears his heart on his sleeve and sometimes you need time to get that heart slowed down and covered up.

Race result

PosDriverCarLapsGap
1Sebastian VettelFerrari521h27m29.784s
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes522.264s
3Kimi RaikkonenFerrari523.652s
4Valtteri BottasMercedes528.883s
5Daniel RicciardoRed Bull/Renault529.500s
6Nico HulkenbergRenault5228.220s
7Esteban OconForce India/Mercedes5229.930s
8Fernando AlonsoMcLaren/Renault5231.115s
9Kevin MagnussenHaas/Ferrari5233.188s
10Pierre GaslyToro Rosso/Honda5234.129s
11Sergio PerezForce India/Mercedes5234.708s
12Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren/Renault5235.774s
13Lance StrollWilliams/Mercedes5238.106s
14Sergey SirotkinWilliams/Mercedes5248.113s
15Max VerstappenRed Bull/Renault46Not running
Carlos SainzRenault37Collision
Romain GrosjeanHaas/Ferrari37Collision
Marcus EricssonSauber/Ferrari31Spun off
Charles LeclercSauber/Ferrari18Retirement
Brendon HartleyToro Rosso/Honda1Retirement

Driver’s Championship

PosDriverPoints
1Sebastian Vettel171
2Lewis Hamilton163
3Kimi Raikkonen116
4Daniel Ricciardo106
5Valtteri Bottas104
6Max Verstappen93
7Nico Hulkenberg42
8Fernando Alonso40
9Kevin Magnussen39
10Carlos Sainz28
11Esteban Ocon25
12Sergio Perez23
13Pierre Gasly19
14Charles Leclerc13
15Romain Grosjean12
16Stoffel Vandoorne8
17Lance Stroll4
18Marcus Ericsson3
19Brendon Hartley1
20Sergey Sirotkin0

Constructor’s Championship

PosConstructorPoints
1Ferrari287
2Mercedes267
3Red Bull/Renault199
4Renault70
5Haas/Ferrari51
6Force India/Mercedes48
7McLaren/Renault48
8Toro Rosso/Honda20
9Sauber/Ferrari16
10Williams/Mercedes4
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19 Comments
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Ralph Beentjes

The last part of the race was amazing, with the battles between Vettel, Hamilton and Bottas, but also the amazing duel between Raikkonen and Verstappen. It was too bad Verstappen had a DNF thanks to problems with his breaks and gearbox as he certainly deserved those points. Regarding the accusations against Raikkonen and Ferrari, people who claim that can take a hike. I get it from heated fans, but from Hamilton and Toto Wolff, that’s just low and classless. And I’m not even close to a Ferrari fan, I have discussions with the Red Fans all the time. It just… Read more »

_ROTE_

You stole my ground effect!

Screenshot 2018-07-08 at 3.36.45 PM.png

subcritical71

Great race, nice to see close battles throughout the race. Ferrari are finally showing what the car is capable of. I’d still give a fail to DRS as it made passing a bit bland and easy, but hey thats what the fans asked for, right! On Buttons’ point, while I don’t think Kimi made the contact with Lewis on purpose, to say that no one races like that anymore is a bit of a stretch for me. Sure, Briatore is not on any team today but I wouldn’t say that no one would try any shenanigans. We’ve already seen Mercedes… Read more »

B52RockLobster

Your tire and “easy pass” examples are not even close to the same as accusing a team of intentionally hitting another team. Not only is it a stupid thing to do as it risks your own car getting taken out of the race, it is actually against the rules and if proven the team would be in a load of trouble.

Mercedes and Lewis should just own up to the fact that Lewis had a bad start, and when you get dropped back into traffic incidents can (and do) happen.

JakobusVdL

It’s difficult to understand Hamilton’s mindset.
He seems very fragile in some ways, all the accusations against the Mercedes team when Rosberg was taking points off him, all the coddling and pep talks he needs in the car if something goes against him, now the veiled accusations implying Ferrari are deliberately ramming the Mercedes.
I guess its to do with being hyper competitive, but it does mean that he comes across as a bit of a tosser.

Fast Freddy

Here is my crazy idea to increase passing and action. Invert the starting order from qualifying. Give them points for qualifying enough to make sandbagging not a great idea, but we all know it will happen, just think of it as strategy.

Damien Bintley

Then the qualifying session becomes a slow bike race

B52RockLobster

Annnnd we’re right back into talking about inconsistent penalties.

If we are only penalizing actions (NOT outcomes) then RAI should have only received a 5s penalty like VET in France. The only explanation is they were penalizing the outcome (RAI continuing on, HAM last after the incident).

Also the last laps after the restart gave us a great look at how much these cars are aero dependent. VET couldn’t hang at all with BOT through maggotts/becketts/chapel due to the aero wash. The helicopter shots showed it very well.

Damien Bintley

I’d say penalties are always reactive. What I mean there is you can’t always pre-empt exactly and for every scenario what a suitable penalty is. First, second, third offence etc… Should be taken into consideration also. I think grosjean would be on about 3 minutes penalties at this point!! Vettel was probably fortunate with only5 seconds, 10 seconds was a fairer penalty and shows that stewards do lean from previous experience, sometimes. I thought Kimi was unlucky at the start anyway, as with vettel before, the Ferrari just got mixed up with the poor start again of the Merc. Kimi… Read more »

zack

“Hamilton wasn’t giving quite as much room as some commentators would suggest.” I agree with this. Hamilton kept it very wide approaching the corner and then rotated the car and cut across the apex. Had Raikkonen managed to brake without locking up and kept to the apex, Hamilton still would have clipped him with the right rear, and it wasn’t even a lunging pass from Raikkonen. Kimi initially braked very early, I think he would have been better off running it much deeper and being alongside Lewis in the turn. Speaking of commentators, I was pretty sure Paul Di Resta… Read more »

JakobusVdL

This season keeps throwing up exciting races, and the racing is all the way through the field (apart from Williams, unfortunately).
It often comes about after a period of rule stability. (Are you listening Liberty Media?)

subcritical71

I agree 100% with rule stability, but I wouldn’t blame liberty for the mess we are in today. Before the hybrid change the teams were more or less equalized, or at least in a zone of diminishing returns for $ spent. I think we need smaller yearly changes instead of big multi-year agreements. I’m thinking how much better the racing would have been in the last 4 years if instead of going full hybrid they would have stepped in the technology over several years. I think we are seeing that with the changes to be introduced next year which is… Read more »

JakobusVdL

Hi SubC, I wasn’t blaming L.M, just hoping they don’t get sucked into endless changes to ‘spice up the show’, when periods of stability allow the field to even out. The ‘challenge’ with the incremental changes, is that they don’t financially destroy the smaller teams – see how two seasons of change have hammered Williams, and Force India. I understand your point about keeping the teams out of rule setting. I guess we might get a sense of how much influence they have had when the 2021 rules are announced – L.M have been doing a good job of stopping… Read more »

subcritical71

Is that a cracked halo? I’d love to see the high speed camera view of that hit.

Screen Shot 2018-07-09 at 8.11.45 AM.png

jtr

Very disappointing race for Haas. They looked to have all the momentum in the midfield battle coming into Sunday; Magnussen took 6th in France, the strong 4-5 finish in Austria, and then qualifying 7 and 8 at Silverstone. So it’s a big disappointment to watch them damage each other in a friendly fire incident and then have Magnussen in 9 and Grosjean DNF. They seem to have found some magic that’s letting them get more performance out of the Ferrari motor than the other customer teams, but they need to get into the rhythm of stringing together clean race weekends.… Read more »

jtr

Very nice race for Kimi to overcome the 10-second penalty and end up on the podium. This is his third good race in a row, after a solid France and a great Austria. He’s 12 points up on Bottas, who’s playing a similar role in probably a better car. I think perhaps Kimi’s demise this season has been a little bit exaggerated.

The Captain

I just really really hope Bernd Maylander found Vettel after the race and said something like ‘Sorry, I hear I was driving to fast for you.’

Also most of the social media I saw was in support of Lewis even non-Lewis fans, since a lot of people hate the interviews happening right when they get out of the cars.